Friday, August 25, 2023
Windham Rotunda, better known to WWE fans as Bray Wyatt, has died at age 36.
WWE chief content officer Paul Levesque shared the devastating news on social media noting that Rotunda's passing was unexpected.
A three-time champion in WWE, Bray Wyatt re-signed with the promotion last year, returning to significant fanfare at WWE Extreme Rules on Oct. 8, 2022. Bray Wyatt was in the middle of a programme involving a mysterious and manipulating force called "Uncle Howdy" but was quietly removed from WWE programming in late February amid injury rumours.
"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," wrote Levesque, better known to fans as Hall of Famer superstar Triple H.
"Our thoughts are with his family and we ask that everyone respect their privacy at this time."
No further information is available regarding the nature of Rotunda's death.
Windham's father, Mike Rotunda, previously wrestled in WWE as Irwin R. Schyster (IRS). He was best known for his association with Ted DiBiase. Windham's younger brother, Taylor Michael Rotunda, also wrestled for WWE as Bo Dallas. It is believed that Taylor is signed to the promotion and had been working with his brother under the mask of the "Uncle Howdy" persona.
Windham Rotunda's extended wrestling family included grandfather Blackjack Mulligan (Robert Windham) and uncles Barry Windham and Kendall Windham, for whom he was named.
Rotunda pushed the boundaries for modern character portrayals in not just WWE but all professional wrestling.
He started with WWE in 2009 as a relatively generic superstar named Husky Harris before later being repackaged as Bray Wyatt. His unnerving portrayal as the cult leader of the Wyatt Family captured the imagination of fans worldwide and made him one of the company's most popular superstars.
A later adaptation of his character, The Fiend, was a masked, sinister entity that became a focal point of programming and earned him two reigns as WWE universal champion.
Wyatt also won the WWE championship and two tag team championships. He famously wrestled legendary superstars Randy Orton and John Cena at two of WWE's biggest shows, losing the WWE title to Orton at WrestleMania 33 and beating Cena in a one-of-a-kind "Firefly Fun House" match at WrestleMania 36 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
His death comes less than three years after his best friend Jonathan Huber -- former Wyatt Family member Luke Harper and AEW wrestler Brodie Lee -- died unexpectedly at age 41.