Wrestling can be weird. A lot of times, it can be straight-up bizarre. Then, there are stories like the one between Alexa Bliss, Randy Orton, and Bray Wyatt that challenge us and create a whole new definition of weird. When a character appears and disappears or blood spills from someone’s mouth out of nowhere, safe to say the angle is pushing boundaries we didn’t know even existed.
The story also serves as a reminder of why rules exist in the worlds created by storytellers. The parameters tell us what’s possible and what’s impossible, along with providing stakes. Hence, we know how to feel when terrible things happen to people we care about.
The Randy Orton vs. Alexa Bliss and Bray Wyatt feud is in dire need of some established rules. What started interesting is turning meh at a record pace.
Last night (March 21) at Fastlane, the Fiend pulled his best Freddy Krueger impersonation and came back to life as a charred shell of his former self. This gnarlier version of his already creepy visage crept from the bowels of the ring after several minutes of Alexa making Randy Orton her plaything. On the real, she did Bray’s schtick better than Bray. A world where she’s Mrs. Voorhees to his Jason is one I’d not only live in but buy multiple properties just to ensure I have as many front row seats as possible. But I digress.
Commentary sold a man resurrecting with less intensity than they would for an RKO out of nowhere. The impossible was treated as mundane, with little to no questions asked outside of the oh so tired “what did we just see” routine. Two years in, and we still don’t know the rules of the road for the Fiend. There’s no explanation of his powers, no baseline for what he can and can’t do, and no rhyme or reason for why Ms. Bliss seemingly has the same abilities.
This isn’t to say WWE can’t do the supernatural thing. The Undertaker is exhibit A-Z that it can work really well. For years, the company told us Taker’s powers came from the urn. When that gold object wasn’t around, those powers diminished. As the character evolved into different iterations, the urn’s significance came and went but was no longer needed as a permanent fixture in the house that Mark Calaway built.
But we didn’t get there overnight; WWE established rules to govern his powers. It’s the only way to make sense of the fact a man who can summon lightning with the flick of his wrist can ever get beat down in a match, much less lose one. That work paid off in moments like the Deadman losing a casket match against Yokozuna in 1994 and his last contest against A.J. Styles in 2020. Someone had the bright idea to explain the unexplainable, and years down the line, we rarely questioned anything we saw.
On the flip side, WWE never established how Bray and Alexa work in this world. Simple things like, ya know, interview segments or exploratory vignettes are seemingly out of the question. As dope as last year’s Firefly Fun House match was, I don’t recall a single broadcaster asking how it was even possible. It’s just a thing that happened, and we should all accept it because reasons. However, the “reasons” excuse only goes but so far.
Those boundaries I mentioned earlier? It’s only possible to push them when they exist. When the Fiend first appeared and started snapping necks like pieces of dry pasta, it didn’t make sense because, by our understanding, a neck snap equals death. Or at least excruciating pain far beyond that of a backbreaker. But it was sold—or no sold—as just another “devastating maneuver” an opponent could walk away from. Just like Randy “dodging fireballs” and just like Wyatt getting burnt alive and living to tell the tale. Not to say these things can’t be done, but if WWE isn’t going to do them right, they shouldn’t do them.
At WrestleMania 15, Undertaker hanged Big Bossman. Yup that is a thing that happened. Not only was it forgotten for the rest of the show, but Bossman was back on Raw like nothing occurred. It’s one of a handful of missteps for Calaway’s character because there was no way WWE could properly sell the ramifications of that action and maintain Taker’s credibility.
WWE is refusing to learn from its past and in the process, straining the integrity of its two most unique wrestlers.
And all they have to do is make it make sense.