Windham Rotunda, also known as Bray Wyatt, passes away

Shortly after Bray Wyatt's death, it was revealed that he had been battling COVID-19, which had exacerbated an existing heart issue ...

WWE – WWE is saddened to learn that Windham Rotunda, also known as Bray Wyatt, passed away on Thursday, Aug. 24, at age 36.

Known for his captivating performances and incredible in-ring presence, Wyatt was a defining Superstar of his generation and accomplished many feats in WWE, including becoming WWE Champion in 2017.

From his leadership of The Wyatt Family alongside Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and Braun Strowman to his enthralling time as “The Fiend,” Wyatt embarked on an incredible career and saw several iconic rivalries with Superstars such as John Cena, Randy Orton and The Undertaker.

WWE extends its condolences to Rotunda’s family, friends and fans.

Bray Wyatt

Windham Lawrence Rotunda (May 23, 1987 – August 24, 2023) was an American professional wrestler. He was best known for his tenures in WWE from 2010-2021, and then again from 2022 until his death in 2023, where he performed under the ring name Bray Wyatt.

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Rotunda was a third-generation professional wrestler, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Blackjack Mulligan, his father Mike Rotunda, and two of his uncles – Barry and Kendall Windham. His younger brother Taylor Rotunda is also a professional wrestler, best known as Bo Dallas.

Alongside his brother, he held the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship twice while in WWE’s then-developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), where he wrestled under various ring names between 2008 and 2012. He briefly wrestled on WWE’s main roster from 2010 to 2011 under the ring name Husky Harris, most notably as a member of The Nexus.

After returning to WWE’s developmental territory, which had been rebranded as NXT, Rotunda was repackaged as Bray Wyatt. Portrayed as the villainous leader of The Wyatt Family, a bayou-dwelling cult, he returned to the main roster alongside Wyatt Family members Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in 2013.

He subsequently became a three-time world champion in WWE, holding the WWE Championship once and the Universal Championship twice. He also held the SmackDown Tag Team Championship (with Luke Harper and Randy Orton under the Freebird Rule) and the Raw Tag Team Championship (with Matt Hardy) once each.

After a hiatus from August 2018 to April 2019, Wyatt returned with a new gimmick. Portrayed as suffering from a transformative multiple personality disorder, he randomly switched back and forth between two characters: his “good side” of Bray Wyatt, a Mr. Rogers-esque children’s TV host, and his bad side of The Fiend, a grotesque horror-themed monster clown.

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He was released from WWE in July 2021 but returned at Extreme Rules in October 2022, with a new character that claimed to be his “real-life” self but gradually re-incorporated his multiple personalities in addition to some new ones. His second return would be cut short as after taking time off beginning in February 2023 due to contracting COVID-19, he unexpectedly died of a heart attack that August. During his second return, he only had one televised match, which was at the 2023 Royal Rumble.

Early life

Windham Lawrence Rotunda was born in Brooksville, Florida, on May 23, 1987. He attended Hernando High School, where he won a state wrestling championship at 275 pounds (125 kg) in 2005, the year of his graduation. He also played football as a defensive tackle and guard. Rotunda played at the College of the Sequoias for two seasons, earning second-team All-American honors as a sophomore offensive guard. He earned a football scholarship to Troy University, where he played collegiate football for two years. He left Troy 27 credit hours short of earning a bachelor’s degree after deciding to become a professional wrestler.

Professional wrestling career

He made his in-ring debut in dark match on the February 5, 2009 episode of Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), defeating Brian Jossie. Rotunda made his television debut in April 2009, using the name Alex Rotundo. He later changed his name to Duke Rotundo. In June 2009, he began teaming with his brother Bo. At the FCW television tapings on July 23, The Rotundo Brothers defeated The Dude Busters (Caylen Croft and Trent Barretta) to become the #1 contenders to the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship.

That same night, they defeated Justin Angel and Kris Logan for the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship. They went on to retain the championship against Dylan Klein and Vance Archer and the team of Curt Hawkins and Heath Slater. At the FCW television tapings on November 19, The Rotundo Brothers lost the championship to The Dude Busters.

On June 2, 2010, he joined NXT under the name Husky Harris, with Cody Rhodes as his WWE Pro. Harris made his televised in ring debut for the show the following week on the June 8 episode of NXT, competing in a tag team match with Rhodes against Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) and Percy Watson, which they lost. Harris turned heel on the June 22 episode of NXT by attacking announcer Matt Striker, just as Rhodes had done the previous week.

The following week on NXT, Harris lost to MVP in a singles match, and was ranked seventh out of the eight rookies in the first poll. In the second poll, Harris moved up to sixth place, narrowly avoiding elimination. On August 9, the rookies appeared in a six-man tag team match on Raw, which Harris’ team won when he pinned Kaval, but his team lost a rematch the following night on NXT. In the poll later that night, Harris climbed to fourth place out of the six rookies.

Harris was one of two rookies eliminated from NXT on August 17 and, following his elimination, Harris and Rhodes attacked Kaval, resulting in a brawl also involving MVP and Kofi Kingston. Harris reappeared in the season finale of NXT with the other eliminated rookies and joined in on the attack on the NXT winner, Kaval.

While on NXT, Rotunda continued wrestling in FCW while retaining the Husky Harris ring name. In September 2010 following his elimination from NXT, Harris began a feud in FCW with Percy Watson when he attacked Watson while teaming with him in a tag team match, which led to Watson being pinned for the loss. When Harris and Watson faced off in a match, they were both counted out as they brawled out of the arena, which led to a no disqualification match that Harris lost. The feud ended in October, with Harris defeating Watson in a lumberjack match. …

Death and legacy

Rotunda died at age 36 on August 24, 2023, of a heart attack. His death was announced by WWE chief content creator and former wrestler Triple H on Twitter. Prior to his death, Rotunda had been dealing with an undisclosed illness since February, which was reportedly life-threatening.

According to reports just days before his death, he had been making positive progress towards recovery, and had been medically cleared for a WWE return just two weeks prior to his death. Shortly after his death, it was revealed that the illness was COVID-19, which had exacerbated an existing heart issue.

Fellow wrestling legends, including The Rock, Mick Foley, Ric Flair, and John Cena, paid tribute on social media.

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