Former WWE champion Windham Rotunda, famously known as Bray Wyatt, dies at 36
WWE performer Windham Rotunda, better known to the world as Bray Wyatt, has tragically passed away at the age of 36.
Former WWE champion Bray Wyatt has died at the age of 36, Chief Content Officer Paul 'Triple H' Levesque announced on social media. Wyatt, whose real name was Windham Rotunda, was taken off WWE TV in February, and been missing in action ever since due to what is believed to be a life-threatening illness. Before his tragic passing, recent reports claimed he was getting closer to his in-ring return.
"Just received a call from WWE Hall of Famer Mike Rotunda who informed us of the tragic news that our WWE family member for life Windham Rotunda -- also known as Bray Wyatt - unexpectedly passed earlier today," Levesque wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. "Our thoughts are with his family and we ask that everyone respect their privacy at this time."
Rotunda signed on with the company in 2009 under its developmental talent and made it to the main roster in 2010 as part of the stable known as 'The Nexus' under the ring name 'Husky Harris'. However, it wasn't until 2014 that Wyatt's career really took off as he debuted The Wyatt Family with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. He would carry the 'Bray Wyatt' character by adding more layers to it as he introduced a dark alter-ego known as 'The Fiend' before being released from the company in 2021. During this time, Rotunda became a one-time WWE champion and had notable WrestleMania matches against the likes of Randy Orton, John Cena and The Undertaker. Rotunda also held the Universal title twice during his reign as The Fiend.
Rotunda's beginning as The Wyatt family immediately got him over with the fans. The gimmick was believed to be the 'next Undertaker' as his dark and twisted persona was a breath of fresh air. The lights would go off and he would enter the arena holding a lantern and accompanied by an earie music. He created the catchphrases 'Follow the Buzzards' and 'He's got the whole world in his hands' that really showed his ability to control the crowd behaviour – a trait very few wrestlers have mastered. In 2019, Rotunda debuted 'The Fiend', a supernatural character wearing a horror mask. The Fiend became one of the most polarising figures on WWE TV even as a mellowed 'Bray Wyatt' hosted the kid-friendly skit called The Firefly Funhouse.
After a year away from the company, Rotunda was reinstated in 2022 to much fanfare from the public and he emotionally addressed the WWE crowd in his second appearance on return. He had a couple of matches as the angle saw him being haunted by the mysterious 'Uncle Howdy'. The storyline however, ended abruptly when Rotunda disappeared, leading to a match between himself and Bobby Lashley at WrestleMania 39 getting scrapped. Reports of him being diagnosed with a serious illness also started to do the rounds around the same time. He was inactive for the past six months before the tragic news emerged.
Known to be one of the most creative and innovative minds in professional wrestling, Rotunda was a third-generation athlete of family with rich wrestling background. His grandfather Robert Windham wrestled as 'Blackjack Mulligan' in the 1980s while his Hall of Fame father Mike was a prominent figure in the 1990s as Irwin R Schyster. Even his uncles, Barry and Kendall Windham were all wrestlers. His brother Taylor Michael Rotunda, aka Bo Dallas, was too with the WWE from 2008 to 2021. Rotunda is survived by his wife and former WWE ring announced Jojo Offerman, whom he has two kids with. He also has 2 children from his previous marriage to Samantha Rotunda from 2012 to 2017.