During his controversial Texas Death Match with Hangman Page at AEW Full Gear, some fans noticed that Swerve Strickland’s tights were reminiscent of the ones the late Windham “Bray Wyatt” Rotunda wore when performing as The Fiend. Strickland would later confirm their hunch via his Instagram Story.
Swerve Strickland’s attire was tribute to Bray Wyatt— Dark Puroresu Flowsion (@PuroresuFlow) November 19, 2023
RIP Bray Wyatt pic.twitter.com/UxjblohQkH
In a recent interview with Sam Roberts for Notsam Wrestling, Swerve talked about his relationship with Bray. It doesn’t sound like they were particularly close outside of work, but like many others shared after Rotunda’s tragic death back in August, Strickland found him to a source of joy backstage at shows:
“I was in locker rooms with him during my time doing 205 [Live]. He always gave me hugs, he was awesome. At one point I had to help him with the Fiend mask (laughs).
“He was always a good brother in the locker room. He was fun, he was really cool.”
Beyond that, it was Wyatt’s work that spoke to Strickland. He talked to Roberts about his reaction to it, and his reaction to the often negative response The Fiend & programs involving the character often got from the audience. Some of that is what drove his decision to don the red-and-black striped tights at Full Gear:
“I remember when the Fiend was really going, there was a lot of chatter of if this was for them as a fan and stuff like that. And I was like, ‘No, this is brilliant work.’ I don’t think people really appreciated the brilliance that he was bringing to the screen and a lot of risk that he was taking too.
“I think he was ahead of his time and stuff and I just wanted to show appreciation that the love and influence wasn’t lost.”
Swerve says he “got” The Fiend because of something he and Rotunda both loved — the horror genre. He tried to instill the Texas Death Match against Page with some of that, another way he paid tribute to Bray that night:
“I’m a horror person and I was just really happy to see a new age of horror brought to the screen in an industry that I love. I was like, that was revolutionary and I wanted to take a little piece of that into what I was doing that night. If anything I feel like his spirit powered that match.”
Strickland and Page did a lot of things in their match that would never fly at WWE, so we can’t know if Rotunda would have gone to all the places they did. But I suspect he would have enjoyed it.
If nothing else, the love it or despise it reaction Swerve & Hangman got is something Wyatt would have been able to relate to.
You can check out Roberts entire conversation with the Mogul here.