ESPN’s coverage of pro wrestling and WWE is fascinating, as the Disney-owned company is figuring out on the fly how to fit the form’s fictional reality into the journalistic process they use for “real” sports.
New WWE World champion Bray Wyatt is a heck of a project for them to cover. The Eater of Worlds both never completely breaks kayfabe while also being completely open about some aspects of his life, such as his family legacy in the business.
If that kind of stuff interests you, or even if it doesn’t, Arash Markazi’s profile/interview of the new titleholder from after Elimination Chamber last night (Feb. 12), where he won the title after pinning both John Cena & AJ Styles in the main event, is a great read.
The article details Wyatt’s family tree, three generations of pro wrestlers including his father Mike “IRS” Rotunda and mother Stephanie, daughter of Blackjack Mulligan and sister of Barry Windham, who were in attendance last night and beaming about their son’s accomplishment backstage.
To which the Eater of Worlds said:
Anyone you love, seeing someone they love succeed is something to be proud of. I would be proud to see anyone I love succeed, so I'm sure anyone who loves me is proud of me right now.
But the pride of the accomplishment snuck through for the man beneath the gimmick, Windham Rotunda. He is, after all, the first member of his legendary family to win the WWE title. And as any of his fans will tell you, he’s been through a lot to get to this moment - something that sounds like as much a chip on Rotunda’s shoulder as it is motivation for the Bray character:
To me it was an up-yours to the authority, because when I walked in to this, I don't think anyone ever looked at me and said, “One day you're going to be WWE champion".
I've seen so many come and go over the years, and so many that look the part and thought they were something special and they just weren't. And someone like me, I had to cut my teeth for years just to be recognized. No one looked at my direction. I had to grab them by the throat and make them look me in the eyes and say, “Look at me.” This is a huge accomplishment for me, because no one else expected it but I always did.
Wyatt admits he hasn’t had time to “come to grips” with his win, and is as much focused on making the next town (a house show in Oakland, California tonight) as he is April 2’s WrestleMania 33. But he knows this likely means a main event spot on the card at the Showcase of the Immortals in Orlando. And that, he says, is “pretty cool”.
Check out the whole article on ESPN’s website here.