11 Scary Moments That Made Bray Wyatt WWE's Nightmare King

The horror genre is tantalizing. Even if you're not a fan of scary things, sometimes something so terrifying catches your eye that you simply cannot look away. There's an itch you can't scratch in the quest to learn more about the supernatural, despite the desperate need to hide your eyes behind your fingers or change the channel. That's similar to one of the best parts of professional wrestling: the suspension of disbelief in these storylines excites you and makes you need to know more. When it comes to horror meshing with wrestling, though, few gimmicks have truly captivated fans like the Bray Wyatt character.

The late Windham Rotunda, better known to WWE fans as Bray Wyatt and "The Fiend," was the master of nightmares. We'll refer to the horror genius as Wyatt from here on out but know the man behind the character was invested in telling stories and weaving these tales that often left WWE fans on the edge of their seat, wondering if that's what they really just saw and what was coming in a Wyatt storyline.

Bray Wyatt debuted in WWE in 2010 and predominantly worked there until Windham's untimely passing at the age of 36 in 2023. As we approach the Halloween season, we ask the Fireflies to light up their phones in tribute as we look back at some of the most terrifying moments Rotunda provided us with.

The Fiend Debuts

In 2019, Bray Wyatt began teasing "The Fiend" through a series of vignettes that aired on WWE programming. These vignettes originally included creepy toys and bizarre exercise segments, but "The Fiend" debuted during an episode of "The Firefly Funhouse."

During the episode of the "Mr. Rogers"-esque children's show (which makes the entire storyline of "the Fiend" more unnerving), Wyatt told the puppets he had been working on something and had something to show them. It was a "secret" he'd been working on. He told the puppets he needed the help of "all his fireflies" before spinning in the middle of the Funhouse and transforming into the being in the mask that still haunts nightmares to this day.

When "the Fiend" made his first entrance during SummerSlam before his match against Finn Balor, the full horror of the mask was revealed in its full glory. Prior to the match on pay-per-view, "the Fiend" appeared in the ring to attack Balor, briefly showcasing the mask to the live crowd, seemingly appearing out of thin air to hit his opponent with a Sister Abigail.

The lighting in the arena helped "the Fiend's" live debut be even more terrifying, with the lights playing across the mask in a terrifying way to "holy s***" chants from the audience, giving everyone a peek into what we would be seeing at SummerSlam. It's a chilling sight to go back and watch to this day, but it's entirely captivating to see just where the horrifying character that lived in Wyatt's mind began.

The Lantern

If you thought "The Fiend's" mask was pure nightmare fuel, Wyatt only added to the fire when he came out with a lantern resembling his own severed head when he debuted his aforementioned demonic gimmick for his first match. During his SummerSlam debut, "The Eater of Worlds" replaced the usual lantern carried by the cult leader Bray Wyatt character with something much, much scarier. 

The gruesome accessory had Wyatt's trademark locks with its eyes sewn shut and seemed to symbolize the death of Wyatt's previous character. It was so gruesome that WWE edited the video of his debut to not show the lantern on YouTube, though the company seemingly confirmed the lantern would stick around after the bout. After the initial shock of it at SummerSlam, Wyatt wasn't seen with the severed head lantern again for a few months until he wrestled a match at an event in Saudi Arabia.

The Fiend Title Belt

The cult leader Bray Wyatt character won the WWE Championship in 2017, but "The Fiend" got his chance to hold gold with the Universal Championship in 2019. "The Fiend" captured the title by defeating Seth Rollins in a Falls-Count-Anywhere match. Shortly after winning the championship, Wyatt revealed a new, custom belt. Wyatt debuted the belt on a "Firefly Funhouse" episode on "WWE SmackDown" to both the horror and amazement of all fans watching.

For those who were already terrified by "the Fiend's" mask, the new championship was equally as terrifying. The belt featured an image of Wyatt's demonic alter ego's face on the front, mouth agape, eyes glowing and all. The belt almost looked as though the "leather" was "the Fiend's" face being pulled away. The words "hurt" and "heal" adorned the sides of the title. The handcrafted belt was created by Tom Savini Studios, who also created "the Fiend" mask and severed head lantern.

The Miz Home Invasion

Wyatt took his feud with The Miz in 2019 one step further by invading his home, bringing all of his "Firefly Funhouse" puppet friends to play with the Miz and Maryse's daughters. The video segments were extremely well done, but also absolutely chilling when you truly thought about the deranged Mr. Rogers-like character, who can turn into a monster at the drop of a dime, being around the two young girls. 

In one particular segment, the "Funhouse" puppets are seen in one of the girls' cribs via a baby monitor before Miz and Maryse run into the room, making it all the more creepy. While the "Fiend" character himself didn't appear throughout these segments, rather leaving the job to the unnerving children's show character, it was terrifying enough, especially for parents watching. 

The storyline was yet another perfect, nightmarish tale with just enough sense of realism weaved by Wyatt, being unnerving and scary without being outright horrifying this time.

The Man In The Woods

Prior to the "Fiend" character even debuting, Wyatt laid the groundwork for the character on WWE's YouTube channel in their "Superstar Ghost Stories" series. In his video, Wyatt told the story of "the man in the woods," saying it was a story from his childhood.

Wyatt explained that Abigail rescued him and his family, taking them to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, but that the freedom came with a price. Abigail told them to "beware the man in the woods... for he is the eater." Wyatt said one day he and his brothers were in the woods when they heard what they thought was a bear, but the noises the creature made were getting louder. Wyatt's brothers fled, leaving him alone and at first afraid, but then intrigued before following the noises.

Wyatt then describes a tall being on two feet, with long, yellow hair and yellow eyes like a cat that reached out to him. He explained he went back to Abigail in the cabin, who remained calm, and said Wyatt was the man in the woods.

Years before the "Fiend" character ever debuted on TV, watching the video again, it seems like Wyatt is describing a version of the masked monster and the storylines to come. The way a seemingly simple, scary ghost story video on WWE's YouTube came full circle is again is a nod to Windham Rotunda's genius as a scary good storyteller.

Wrestling With Your Feelings

Though this could be seen as somewhat silly on a list of nightmarish moments caused by the genius of Windham Rotunda, "The Fiend's" appearances in promotions for WWE on Fox were still scary. In the promos, the character is seen sitting in a psychologist's session with then-Fox talent Rachel Bonnetta for a segment called "Wrestling With Your Feelings."

The tone of the commercial for WWE on Fox quickly changes from a therapy session that could be seen as a joke, with the lights going out and scary music playing as Bonnetta disappears as the "Fiend" appears on the other end of the office, moving from the psychiatrist's couch to the chair himself as he covers his ears from the creepy noises.

Here, the mainstream impact of the "Fiend" and the nightmares brought on by the character can't be ignored. Many more eyes saw the commercial than just loyal WWE viewers, scaring the masses across the board. Who knows, maybe some of them actually did tune in to see this nightmare Joker-like character and all the terrifying things he brought to "SmackDown."

Imitating the Undertaker

While we were sadly deprived of a feud between Wyatt's "Fiend" character and the "Dead Man" himself, we did get to see Wyatt vs. The Undertaker at WWE WrestleMania 31, and the build to the match helped solidify Wyatt as a nightmare king, as well as an incredible storyteller. Wyatt faced off against the Undertaker the year after The Streak was broken by Brock Lesnar, so a Wyatt win here did seem possible, but what didn't was the Undertaker appearing regularly on television to set up the feud. That part was left up to Wyatt.

And set up the feud himself, he certainly did. One of his shining moments throughout the build was doing Undertaker's entrance himself at WWE Fastlane in 2015. The druids, gongs, and smoke are nightmare fuel enough as it is when 'Taker does it, but it was extra eerie when it was revealed to be Wyatt at the end of the entrance, who popped up grinning from ear to ear, knowing he tricked the fans into thinking they were actually going to see the legend himself.

It was a simple tactic for Wyatt to challenge the "Dead Man" to a match. It's also an important moment in Wyatt's history as a spooky character. The fact the build to this WrestleMania match was basically one-sided and he was able to do so much and get the fans so invested is just a testament to the creative genius of Windham Rotunda.

The Fiend Takes a Beating

Every WWE fan watching during the time of Bray Wyatt and Seth Rollins' Hell In A Cell match in 2019 has an opinion on the match. In fact, it's been called the worst Hell In A Cell match ever due to a referee stoppage in what is historically supposed to be a hardcore match. Throughout the match, Rollins continued to beat up on " The Fiend," to lengths fans had not yet seen the nightmarish character take.

Stomp after stomp, chair shot after chair shot, the "Fiend" kept kicking out of whatever Rollins had to give, seemingly scarily invincible. The ref finally called the match in the "Fiend's" favor after Rollins attempted to destroy the other man's head with a sledgehammer in between some steel chairs. 

The "Fiend" rising again and again, even after officials attempted to stretcher him out was terrifying to watch. It was like seeing a character try to defeat a final boss in a video game, only for him to continue to just get up. No matter your opinion on the match, that fact is just downright scary.

The Fiend Drags Seth Rollins to Hell

Prior to getting inside the cell with Seth Rollins, the "Fiend" used tactics to scare him, as well as all of us fans watching at home. He even broke through the ring to drag Rollins to hell with him. During a match against Roman Reigns on an episode of "WWE SmackDown," the lights went out in the arena as Rollins was in control. Wyatt appeared from a hole within the ring to hit Rollins with a Mandible Claw and drag him through the ring with him, presumably into darkness.

We as fans of course know what's beneath a WWE ring during a regular show, but there was something about this segment, thanks to the utter Halloween-esque genius of Wyatt, that had us believing Rollins really was taken down into the depths of hell. Furthermore, it was a very fitting way to set up their Hell in a Cell match.

Randy Orton Lights The Fiend on Fire

Both Wyatt and "The Fiend" characters feuded with "The Legend Killer" Randy Orton, and both storylines were nightmarish — possibly for different reasons, depending on your opinion of the House of Horrors match and the bugs Wyatt had projected onto the ring canvas during WWE WrestleMania 33. The scarier feud, in our humble opinion, was when Wyatt had something of a resurgence when his masked persona faced off against Randy Orton.

An absolute highlight of their second feud was Orton setting Wyatt on fire in what was known as the Firefly Inferno match, which took place inside the Thunderdome. With the theme of the match being the first person to set any part of their opponent on fire being declared the winner, you would think the match would be Orton's to lose. That wasn't the case, though he came very close after Wyatt shoved him onto a chair and flicked a lighter before Orton was able to escape.

Orton was able to counter a Mandible Claw from "the Fiend," pushing him into the fire surrounding the ring and completely lighting him on fire. The most terrifying part was the image of Wyatt still standing, back aflame, sliding back into the ring, and seemingly back into the fight before getting hit with an RKO. After the match, Orton poured gasoline onto the Fiend and lit the match, leaving him burning in the middle of the ring, an image etched into the minds of Wyatt fans everywhere.

Enthralling Alexa Bliss

Bray Wyatt recruiting Alexa Bliss into the world of the "Firefly Funhouse" just hit differently. "The Fiend" targeted and attacked Bliss on an episode of "SmackDown," and her transformation into a terrifying Harley Quinn-like character began. Her appearance began to change and she would be seen in the ring with Wyatt, doing his Sister Abigail finisher in her own matches, as well as appearing on episodes of the "Firefly Funhouse."

Following Wyatt's release in 2020, Bliss continued portraying the twisted character, even having her own "Playground" and a creepy possessed doll known as Lilly. It took multiple therapy segments and Charlotte Flair ripping up Lilly to help revert Bliss back into her "Goddess" persona. However, when Wyatt returned to the company, the allusions to Bliss returning to her "Alexa's Playground" character began again, with many wondering if she would be reunited with Wyatt and the newly introduced "Uncle Howdy." Sadly, with Windham's Rotunda's passing, we never found out exactly what the plans for him and Bliss were.

Rotunda's genius when it came to storytelling, especially in the supernatural, was unparalleled. The man told stories and wove tales like we had never seen before in professional wrestling. From a variety of characters whose lore was all interwoven together, even when we as fans didn't know at the time, to creepy puppets, an unnerving children's television host character, to the absolute horror that was the "Fiend" mask and lantern, Rotunda's legacy will live on in the wrestling world and in the hearts of fans forever.