Whether you love or hate him, there is no denying that the returning Bray Wyatt has successfully captured the imagination of certain parts of WWE’s audience.

The viral marketing campaign that lead to his re-emergence at WWE Extreme Rules certainly got people talking and once he reappeared at the climax of the show, there was no doubt that he has somehow managed to connect with audiences again.

But how? What’s the appeal? How has Windham Rotunda and WWE ‘s creative department gotten this character over, and why is it getting so much praise?

Since his initial main roster debut, Bray Wyatt has been a polarizing figure in modern-day professional wrestling. His original character captured fans’ attention in 2013 when he and his lackeys, Harper and Rowan, debuted on Monday Night RAW. Bray Wyatt was portrayed as a mystical backwater cult leader, and the vignettes leading up to this debut intrigued audiences curious about what to expect from this new character. From a storyline perspective, it was unclear exactly what motivated the character, but his promos were excellently delivered each week despite not saying a whole lot.

From an in-ring perspective, Bray Wyatt alone wasn’t anything to write home about. While the trios matches usually hid his shortcomings and deservedly received praise, he was usually exposed when in singles competition especially when storyline gimmick matches did him no favors (Ring of Fire match with Kane says hello).

That said, Wyatt can have a decent singles match with the right opponent, with his matches against Daniel Bryan and John Cena proving that he’s not completely dirt in between the ropes. But generally speaking, he was never anything to get excited about when the bell rang.

Yet Bray still got over, and fans seemed to be willing him on to better things as he progressed. Fans romanticized Bray winning the big one, a feud of magical proportions with the House of Matt Hardy, and turning face after a nice spot with Roman Reigns that one time. But Wyatt and his character always underwhelmed when given these opportunities.

His title win and feud with Randy Orton was a decent build with a crappy payoff due to the horrible booked WrestleMania match, more memorable for the projection of maggots on the canvas than anything good.

Wyatt’s cinematic feuds with The New Day and Matt Hardy only served to flog the dead horse already seen in Impact Wrestling. And without a credible opponent to carry the bulk of his matches, he floundered when booked against the likes of The Undertaker, Roman Reigns, and Ryback. 

Wyatt eventually grew stale, and he switched gears to reinvent himself. Wyatt repackaged himself as a surreal children’s TV host with a split personality of a serial killer. Think Mr. Rogers with a Michael Myers alter-ego.

Despite the horrible idea, Wyatt was praised for his “creativity” as the new Bray Wyatt character, and Fiend alter-ego was rolled out. The gimmick went nowhere character-wise, and it’s highpoint were in-jokes to pop the boys rather than anything interesting. Some WWE hardcore fans will tell you this was an ingenious character that deserved all the plaudits it received from the same hardcore fans, but the Fiend sucked and the new Bray Wyatt sucked.

In TNA in 2007, Dustin Rhodes tried his hands at something similar with the Black Reign character. It was portrayed as the dark side of his psyche, with Dustin being a very unwell person from a mental health point-of-view and all his previous characters (The Natural, Goldust, TAFKA Goldust and child abusing Seven, yes that gimmick from WCW’s glory days) all vying for space ion Dustin’s troubled head. Dustin wasn’t in a good place back then, a notable low point in his career and a shadow of the competitor he is today. Dustin can go in the ring, but back then, he was out of shape and allegedly dependent on addictive substances, and this gimmick did nothing to get him out of his funk. I’ll admit the idea of a darker, edgier Goldust character is appealing to a degree, but it didn’t translate in execution, and the character bombed.

There are obviously similarities between both Black Reign and the Fiend gimmick. Both have the element of a split personality in the characters. Both seem to rely on gimmick matches to assist the character in connecting with the audience. And both just bombed to the live crowds. Yet Bray Wyatt is still praised as a creative and masterful storyteller, while Black Reign remains a black mark on the history of TNA wrestling.

What gives?

Maybe it’s how WWE presented the character compared to TNA. Dixie Carter and company had a shoestring budget compared to WWE; thus, Black Reign couldn’t avail of the amazing production budget Bray Wyatt’s character was offered.

Maybe it was the fact that Bray Wyatt’s character relied on supernatural character traits to appeal to the masses. Fans of spooky horror movies perhaps found the new Fiend character more endearing and appealing compared to Dustin’s psychotic Goldust portrayal. 

The Fiend always seemed like an odd choice of character on paper. His horror-inspired persona never seemed like a good fit for WWE and its PG programming. Who was it aimed at? It was too disturbing for young kids, and too infantile for teens and adults.

The Fiend’s matches were mostly duds. Bray and his horror movie nonsense, which included nauseating red lights and extremely annoying audio to signal his arrival, stunk up every PPV he participated in. Regardless of his perceived creative genius, his matches were “roll your eyes” bad and were almost always a low point at each big show.

Yet despite the horrendous character, negligent booking and horrific in-ring affairs, Bray Wyatt has been once again welcomed back to the fold in WWE land. People fell over themselves to praise his return, despite it not being much of anything. Yes, he returned after several weeks of not-so-cryptic clues and QR codes, but was the return all that and a bag of chips? He turned up at the end of Extreme Rules and did nothing. Zero. Diddly squat.

I’ve seen some fans describe his return as “amazing,” “game-changing,” and “a milestone for WWE,” yet I can’t wrap my head around what people found so great.

Was it the badly dressed characters of his lore appearing?

Was it the dreary rendition of “He’s got the whole world in his hands?”

Was it the giant door-shaped graphic on their massive LED screen?

I fail to see what was so good.

Nevertheless, Bray is back, and he proceeded to cut a “heartfelt” promo on SmackDown, which seemed very out of character for Bray. The promo was reminiscent of Dustin Rhodes’ promo before he debuted the Black Reign persona in some ways, and admittedly I am curious to see where it goes.

But let’s be real, has any Bray Wyatt character actually gone anywhere fulfilling?

His cult leader gimmick had potential that eventually had no direction. His Mr. Rogers character was too bizarre for professional wrestling, while his ghostly-powered Fiend was just too unrealistic to be successful despite the best efforts to continue with the bad gimmick. Why should I care about Bray Wyatt?

Why should I care about a man with a proven track record for creating underwhelming characters?

Why Should I be happy to see a subpar wrestler in between the rope sin any capacity again?

Why Should I let this play out when the company booking this story and character have a proven track record for not forward planning their content?

I just don’t see the appeal. Not one bit.

I don’t want Bray Wyatt near a wrestling product or new characters like him from the mind of Windham Rotunda. I don’t want to see Bray Wyatt flop through wrestling matches while relying on spooky crutches in an attempt to get him over. I couldn’t care less about his lore, his backstory, or his multiple supernatural personalities.

Bray Wyatt isn’t for me, but I can’t understand why he is for anyone. He drags the product down in more ways than one, and I fail to see what’s so brilliant about his alleged creative genius.