Bray Wyatt: Becoming Immortal (2024) Movie Script

[soft music]
- Wrestling is not
a love story.
It's much more.
It's hope.
An excuse to be a kid again.
And nothing matters except
the moment we are in.
A great man once said that.
That man is my brother,
Windham Rotunda.
[cheers and applause]
But you know him
as Bray Wyatt.
[dramatic music]
Tell me this wasn't
meant to be.
He knew where he was going
from the beginning.
- There's something going on.
- Is that--you know who it is.
[cheers, laughter]
It's Bray Wyatt!
- Bray Wyatt was chaos.
The ultimate villain.
- I am Bray Wyatt,
the new face of fear.
- He had the charisma that
so many guys don't have.
- Can you feel that?
- That "it" quality.
- You hold 100,000 people
in the palm of your hand.
- You've got it all.
- When it comes to creativity,
Windham had no peers.
- Can I see
what that looks like?
- He was not scared
to push the limits.
- Yowie-wowie!
- He was a genius.
- Dreaming of all these ideas,
it's such a cool feeling.
- He changed a whole industry.
- [laughs]
- He put his heart and soul
out on his sleeve.
It's one of the geniuses
of him, but it's also
one of the things that was
difficult to work with him on.
- When you hit creative
roadblocks, you reform.
And that's what he did.
- It's time to rewrite
my own story.
[dramatic music]
The ridiculously hard times
are what strengthened me.
When I was weak, when I was
vulnerable, when I was down,
you were there.
[cheers and applause]
This is the best
I've ever felt.
- He was bigger than life,
and he was loved by millions.
- He had so much more
that he wanted to do.
- I want to leave a legacy
behind for everyone
that ever loved me.
- He's got the whole world
in his hands
- Creativity.
It comes from many places
and takes many shapes.
The place is
Western Pennsylvania.
The shape is a character
forever known as Bray Wyatt.
[soft music]
- Jason.
- What's going on, buddy?
My name is Jason Baker.
I'm a special makeup effects
artist and film director.
- Wild looking at all this.
- I know.
I had the honor of creating
most of Windham's costumes
and all of his insane ideas.
- You look and see
all the things he's done
and accomplished.
- I wish he was here
to share it with us.
- Now it's up to us
to give him something
he deserves that will
let him live on forever.
We owe him something big.
- It's going to be wild.
- Something to truly
honor his legacy.
[tense music]
- I grew up in a little town
called Brooksville, Florida.
Small little town.
You know, everybody knows
your business.
Everybody knows who you are.
Everybody knew who my family
was growing up, obviously.
- Come on and let's fight.
- Blackjack Mulligan
is my grandfather.
- Blackjack Mulligan.
What a monster.
- My uncles are Barry
and Kendall Windham.
- Barry Windham.
Kendall Windham.
Two second-generation
- And my father is
Mike Rotunda.
- Outstanding athlete
out of Syracuse.
A tremendous wrestler.
- I was wrestling
down in Florida,
and Dusty Rhodes was
the booker.
And he put Barry and I
as a tag team together.
- Barry Windham
joining Mike Rotunda.
- His sister Stephanie
came down to visit.
- My sister had come
to stay with me.
Mike, of course, being my
best friend, was always over.
You know, I noticed that
they were kind of
eyeballing each other.
- I wasn't supposed to really
be around the wrestlers.
Said I wasn't interested.
And then I married him
six months later.
And we've been married
40 years.
- Over the next few years,
the couple
traveled the world together
as Mike became a champion.
- Over the hip.
Shoulders down.
Yes, indeed!
We have new
tag team champions,
Barry Windham, Mike Rotunda.
- And competed in
the first-ever WrestleMania
in New York City.
- Rotunda now gets
the Sheik up.
Well-executed suplex.
- Eventually,
they settled in Brooksville.
And on May 23, 1987,
Windham Lawrence Rotunda
was born.
- I was wrestling in
Championship Wrestling
of Florida,
and I wrestled Ric Flair
that night.
So I get home,
nobody's at the house.
My mother-in-law and Steph
were at the hospital.
They ended up doing
an emergency C-section
because Windham was a big kid.
- He was almost 10 pounds.
Windham was named
from the beginning
'cause it's my maiden name.
He was like
the little Gerber baby.
Bright, blue eyes and smiley
and curly little blonde
ringlets of hair.
He was beautiful.
When he was a little bitty,
like, two and three,
he would stand
in front of the TV,
and he knew "Ghostbusters,"
"Beetlejuice" line-for-line.
- He would watch these movies,
and he would voice
pretty much the whole movie
at that young age.
- I remember when he read
all the Goosebumps books.
He was addicted to 'em.
But he was just such
an imaginative,
imaginative character,
and he was always
the center of attention
wherever he went.
[soft music]
- Windham wouldn't be
an only child for long.
When he was three years old,
he got a brother, Taylor.
- Windham was always
somebody I looked up to.
Most little brothers do
look up to a bigger brother.
But Windham...
I wanted to be just like him.
- And three years later,
he got a little sister too:
- Brothers are awesome,
and I had the two best.
I have felt that way
my whole life.
Windham and Taylor
were my protectors
and they were my friends
and my confidants.
- We were all really,
really close.
But in our younger years,
me and Windham
played practical jokes.
We convinced her at one point
that there was
an invisible man
living in her closet.
Anytime she was about
to tell on us, we'd be like,
do you want us to call on--hmm?
- Those kids played hard
with each other.
I remember them,
like, roughhousing
in our living room.
We were really close
to Mike and Stephanie
and Windham and Taylor
growing up.
Mike was one of my dad's
best friends.
Those kids, they were vibrant.
They, all three, have
so much personality.
[cheers and applause]
- As the Rotunda children
grew up, their father
developed a new identity
in the ring.
- My dad was IRS,
Irwin R. Schyster.
- I told you tax cheats before,
everyone pays their taxes!
No one will rest in peace
until all your taxes are paid.
[crowd booing]
- Even I shared the ring
with IRS.
- Look at this!
- I remember seeing
young Bray Wyatt
just hanging out back
watching his dad,
just mesmerized, you know,
watching his dad stretch
and work out in the ring.
You know, you could tell
he wanted to be in the ring.
- I remember
one time in particular,
I saw my dad was in
a tag match with Ted DiBiase
against The Nasty Boys.
- Oh, God. Look at this.
- Will it be the pit stop?
- I wanna see this.
- They put my dad
in the corner,
and they stuck their armpits
in his face.
And I remember being backstage
and my mom having
to hold me back
because I was a little
7-year-old kid
and I was about to run
in this ring.
That's where it started.
I knew that I had
to get in there.
I wanted to be
just like my dad.
I wanted to be in the WWE.
- By the early 2000s,
Windham used his size
to excel in
high school sports.
- Growing up, especially
if you're heavyset like I was
when I was a kid,
you had to learn
how to be tough
at a real young age.
As soon as I was old enough,
any contact sport
I could get my hands on,
I was into it.
- He was a good
football player.
Played both ways.
Made all-star teams.
- He really, really was
an unbelievable athlete.
He ran a 4.8 40.
And the strength he had
and the agility for the size
that he had, just unbelievable.
- Windham was an anomaly--
everything, but especially
amateur wrestling
and high school.
By the time it was time
for his match,
the gym would quiet down.
And when he would wrestle,
the whole gymnasium
would just stop to watch
what he was doing.
He was a draw at 17.
- Windham won the heavyweight
wrestling state title
and was all-state in football.
In 2005, he graduated
and chose to continue
playing football
3,000 miles away.
- I went and played
junior college football
at College of the Sequoias
in Visalia, California.
- Windham excelled and was
named an All-American
offensive lineman.
Two years later,
he transferred to Division I
Troy University in Alabama.
- I think that's where
I really learned to be tough.
You know, it pushed me
to the edge.
To play in Division I
football ain't no joke.
- Being a college athlete
was incredibly challenging.
It's a full-time job.
When you're coming up
in a family
of professional athletes
and you see this devotion,
you don't know anything
other than to give
everything you've got.
He dreamt of playing
for the Oakland Raiders.
And like, that's where
he wanted to be,
and that's what
he wanted to do.
- While Windham worked
towards a future in the NFL,
he often made the 6.5-hour
drive home to see his family
in Brooksville.
- I was 15, and I was
very self-conscious
because I was really
And the only thing that
made it better was Windham.
And I called him
and I told him,
I'm the only freshman
on homecoming court.
And I said, I know you're in
the middle of football season.
It would mean everything
if you could just
walk me down the field.
He showed up with
a bouquet of flowers.
And I was so scared.
But when your big brother,
who's your hero,
who's your favorite icon,
shows up
just to walk you
down the field, it vanishes.
- When I was a senior
in high school,
I was going to
the state championships.
And my brother was
a state champion.
And I wanted to be
just like him.
He wanted to come and see me.
But he said, I'm only
going to come and see you
in the finals because I know
you're going to make it
to the finals and I know
you're going to win.
And that's all I need to see.
So long story short,
I went into the tournament
and I suffered an injury
and I was unable to compete.
And the only thing
running through my head
was I let my brother down.
Finally got home,
and Windham was already
waiting in the driveway
sitting on the back
of his tailgate.
And before I even
made it to him,
he made it to me
with a big hug.
He whispered into my ear...
"None of that shit matters."
None of that shit matters.
That's really who Windham was.
It was the love
of his family and making sure
I felt OK after
I felt like I let him down.
That's what mattered to him.
- By 2008,
Windham was relegated
to a backup role on the Troy
University football team,
and his playing time
was limited.
- That was kind of a hard time
for him because, of course,
his aspirations
were pro football.
And it dawned on him that
that wasn't going to happen.
- That same year,
his 18-year-old brother Taylor
signed with WWE and joined
their developmental system.
- I was having my first match,
and Windham drove down
from Troy.
I got done and went
and met him after.
And he's like, "I'm not
going back to school.
I want to do this with you."
- That decision would change
the course of Windham's life.
[tense music]
- In 2008, Windham walked away
from the Troy University's
football team
and joined his brother Taylor
in WWE's developmental
system, FCW.
all: FCW! FCW!
- Slow down, folks.
- Windham came
from college football.
And then kind of overnight,
was just with FCW.
And yeah, everything
was new and everything
was scary and exciting.
But I think what
gave him comfort
was that his brother was there.
- He moved down to Tampa,
and we got a house together.
And we loved it.
It was one of my favorite
times of my life.
We did everything together.
We went to work together.
We talked about work.
And we ended up starting
to tag together.
And we were
Bo and Duke Rotundo.
And that was our life.
- I was 16.
I got my driver's license.
And the first place
I ever drove
was to the Brooksville armory
to watch my brothers.
- From Brooksville, Florida,
Bo and Duke Rotundo!
[cheers and applause]
- Proud papa. Proud mama.
My parents were both
really proud of the boys.
- They didn't get any
roads paved for them
or silver spoon handed to them.
They had to come in
like everybody else.
- What an opportunity here
to see two
homegrown guys, man,
right here.
Duke and Bo, man,
this is going to be
a really special outing
for them.
Big ol' Duke just
a roughhouse.
He's a little green still,
but he's got the get-go will.
- This is a really,
really tough business.
But to have someone
that you can trust
with absolutely anything
is unheard of in this business,
and I had that.
You are looking at
the most explosive tag team
in FCW, the Rotundo Brothers.
- And it's high time that
we bring those titles back
to their new rightful home,
Brooksville, Florida.
- We have new
tag team champions,
the Rotundos, Bo and Duke.
- Right away,
the Rotundo Brothers
impressed a WWE legend.
- I had offered my gym
Hard Nocks South
as the first developmental
strength territory.
So I used to see Windham
all the time.
We separated them into groups
based on their
athletic ability,
and Windham was in
the top group.
But he was the only guy
that would have
everyone laughing all the time.
He would come up with sketches
in the gym, bring costumes.
- It puts the lotion
on its skin,
or else it gets the hose again.
- Do you want to get
dipped in water?
- Yeah.
- You can't swim
with Saran wrap on.
- Bad boys don't get headbands.
- It's one of those things
you see on and be like,
he's on to something.
- Look into these eyes, boy.
A demon lives
behind these eyes.
A demon that you created.
- I mean, you could go back
and find old tapes of Windham
at promo class.
You could take any one
of those characters
and put them right on TV.
- Windham's magnetic
personality and work ethic
didn't go unnoticed.
Within a year,
the 23-year-old would be
featured on a new show
called "NXT."
- "NXT" was a game show
where, essentially,
you had up-and-coming
wrestlers who would compete
to be the next breakout star.
And then we had a group
of what were termed to be
pros who were acting
as judges.
- And Windham got a new name.
- I don't believe Cody Rhodes
is that enthused
about his rookie Husky Harris.
- Well, he was called
Husky Harris.
- I thought it was a little--
you know,
it wasn't complimentary
by any means.
- I know Windham really
didn't like the name.
He felt it was poking fun
at his physique
more than anything.
- What can you say about
Husky Harris
that you can't see?
- He's husky.
- Come on, baby!
- Husky Harris?
I don't know, man.
I can only imagine
how frustrated
he must have been with that.
I don't know if,
in my most creative hour,
could I have made this work.
- She wants me. Hmm.
- Oh, God.
- Terrible.
When I look back
at the Husky Harris,
I just see that sad
little boy.
It was just a terrible,
terrible time.
And it was a figment of
someone else's imagination
that they tried
to push on a person.
- I feel like he knew in
his heart that wasn't what
his destiny was supposed to be.
That Husky Harris character,
it allowed him to want more.
It drove him to want more.
- While Windham wanted
more professionally,
personally, he was thriving.
Windham had been dating
his girlfriend Samantha
for three years.
And on November 14, 2010,
they welcomed
their first daughter, Cadyn.
- He was on the European Tour.
And it started getting
closer and closer.
And I called him and said, I'm
going to go to the hospital.
I'm going.
He's like, oh, God.
It was hours that he was
just on the phone with me.
And she was born.
And he heard the whole thing.
I refused to let anybody
see her until he saw her.
And she was about two,
three days old.
And he was like, oh, my God.
He didn't know how to hold her.
I said, like a football.
You're good.
- She was a happy-go-lucky
little girl and beautiful.
And she looked just like him.
- For sure,
it changed his life.
It gave him direction
and a purpose
because it wasn't just
about him anymore.
It was about
his beautiful child.
[soft music]
- At that time, Paul Levesque,
also known as Triple H,
was head of creative
for WWE Developmental.
- Windham was in the company
as Husky Harris.
Didn't feel like
it was working.
Didn't feel like
it was going to work.
I think we have him miscast.
He's really talented.
Let me take him,
put him back down in Florida,
and let me see
what I can get out of him.
- He didn't want to be this
cookie-cutter--little tights.
Windham from day one was
like, no [bleep] way, man.
That's not my stuff.
I'm different.
And he was sent back to FCW.
He got in the car smiling,
laughing like, listen, listen.
The entire 3 1/2-hour ride,
he was just showing me videos
and telling me ideas
and all this stuff.
It was crazy
and all over the place.
And I'm like, what are you
even talking about, man?
And he was telling me
about Waylon Mercy
and we were watching
videos of that.
- Waylon Mercy,
he's a peaceful man.
He likes his peaceful
- Those are the eeriest,
strangest-looking eyes
I've ever seen.
Look at this.
- And he's telling me about
Robert De Niro's demeanor
from "Cape Fear."
The next week rolled around
and we had promo class,
and it blew everybody's mind.
- Because I am like God,
and God like me.
You know, I'm as large as him.
He is as small as I.
- And just like that,
Bray Wyatt was born.
- He really attributed
a lot of Bray
to growing up in Brooksville.
- He had a really, really
close friend growing up,
Brae White.
Still to this day, the craziest
mother[bleep] I've ever met.
And this is a real person.
He got in a car wreck
when he was younger
and his head went
through the windshield
and he lost all
feeling in his face,
so he'd just headbutt
And a lot
of his characteristics
were taken and put
into the Bray Wyatt character.
- I have never seen so clearly
in all my life.
- Windham's cousin's name
is Wyatt.
So Windham kind of mixed it up
and came up with Bray Wyatt.
- And they say, Bray Wyatt,
well, he's crazy, man.
He's a psychopath.
- He came out,
and everything about it--
the presentation
and just the energy--
we were like, oh, this is good.
This jumps off the page.
- [laughs]
- It blew everybody away.
You wouldn't even know
if he was there.
And then all of a sudden,
Bray Wyatt would emerge.
And it was truly like
he walked into a phone booth
and came out as Superman.
- A lot of times,
those promos on promo day
will be 60 seconds.
90 if you ask for it.
Windham would go
up there sometimes
for, like,
six or seven minutes.
I think Dusty gave him
just a lot of room
to explore and to find
that character
and to find the voice.
- Dusty knew there was
something special there,
and he wasn't
going to let it go.
He knew Windham had
something that was
going to change the business.
- Said he was Bray.
As we started
to enlighten the world
who this Bray Wyatt
character was,
Windham is such a unique kid
that he understands--
he believes that.
That's who he is.
That's what makes him so good.
- Dusty called me one day
and he said,
"Kid, remember Husky?"
And I was like, yeah.
And he goes,
"He's got a new character.
"You're going to love it.
You got to come check it out."
And he cut this promo,
and it was so bizarre.
And Dusty said,
"What do you think?"
And I'm like,
this is a movie character.
- Within months,
Windham had an idea.
He wanted an on-screen family.
But his brother Taylor was
already an established singles
competitor known as Bo Dallas.
Enter John Huber,
also known as Luke Harper.
- I had flown to FCW
for the tryout.
And then I get a call
from Windham.
And about 10 minutes later,
I hang up the phone.
I hadn't said a word.
And this guy had--
Bray--had rattled off about
a million different things.
And I was like, oh, my God,
that dude's nuts.
Like, wow.
- Windham and Luke had
an immediate bond.
They just connected.
So initially, it just
started as Bray and Luke.
We created this
environment where,
is he really talking to people
or is this all in his mind?
- Here we go.
In three, two, one.
- Can you feel that?
Come with me, and I will show
you a love that is power.
- The first shoot,
he's on the river.
It's in the forest
right down from our house.
And the guys had to go back
in with the alligators
and the mosquitoes
and everything.
- I almost fell
on that one, buddy.
- Our first house was
on 10 acres, and we
were next to a zoo that
had lions and big cats
and started hearing,
like, lion roars at night.
So unique stuff would happen.
And he pulled from that.
- I wish you'd quit
lying to your children,
telling them that there's
things out there that
won't go bump in the night.
What they going to do, man?
What you going to do
to something like me?
What can they do?
[tense music]
- There was something special
and something interesting there
that could resonate.
- My name is Bray Wyatt.
Pleased to meet you, man.
Help me welcome the first son
of the Wyatt family,
Luke Harper.
- This is getting weirder
by the second.
- What is happening?
- At the time,
I got this Viking gimmick.
And I remember being
called into an office like,
"OK, we want you
as the second son."
And I was like, that's cool.
What am I wearing?
- Bray wanted Rowan
to wear a mask.
So Rowan had a duffel bag
full of masks.
And he pulls out
this sheep's mask.
And Bray was like,
oh, I love it.
That's perfect.
- We are strong.
We are dangerous.
We are family.
- I would bring home
these big rocking chairs,
and he and I
and Taylor and Mike
would just mess them all up
and make them look
rough and beat up.
And that's
the one they'll see
in the scene in the barn.
- We were having a blast.
Sometimes, we would watch
old interviews
with people that
were on death row
because we're trying to see
how they speak.
Why do they think
they're right?
Just their mindset.
And I think a lot of that
plays into, like,
what he was able to create.
[soft music]
- At age 26, Bray Wyatt
was an immediate hit.
As Windham's stardom grew,
so did his family.
He got married to Samantha.
And on February 7, 2013,
his second daughter, Kendyl,
was born.
- Because he had missed
the first birth,
I wanted to do
everything I could
so he could be there
and experience it.
Because I feel like
that's something
that you have to experience.
So we elected to be
induced with our second.
That way, he could be there.
- Windham was born to do a lot
and to be a lot of things.
But being a daddy
was number one.
When he loved,
he loved massively.
And he had a whole heart
to give to his babies.
- We all knew Windham was
going to be a great father.
I mean, one of his strongest
qualities is how much he loves.
And he already had plans
on where he was going
and what he was going
to do, but his children,
they just further instilled
more and more drive in him.
- Three, two...
- Good. Good. Good.
Tell them.
Tell them, Bray.
- There we go.
Deep in the woods.
- Real deep dive.
- [laughs]
- Come on, guys.
Start it over.
- Preparations were underway
to get the Wyatt family
ready for an even
bigger stage.
- As you talk about
bringing Bray Wyatt
and the family up to Raw
or to SmackDown and up
into the big show,
now, how do you
take that,
put that into an arena?
Let me talk to you
'cause I want you
to understand
the psychology of it.
- Let's go right now.
I'm ready.
- It's subtle.
That's where the lantern
came to be.
I think, when I threw it
at him, he loved--
like, all the lights
should go out
and this creepy ass dude
comes out
of the swamp holding a lantern.
And just slightly
beneath your face.
But it would give me
enough light to see that.
Those were the things that
we sort of collaborated on
a lot and put
the character together.
- That's fun. I like that.
- In the summer of 2013,
Bray Wyatt was ready
to make his debut
on the national stage.
[dramatic music]
- This is Monday Night Raw.
The WWE fans in Baltimore
are on their feet.
- We finally got the call-up.
And I don't know if we really
understood what we had.
We knew the "NXT" crowd had
responded so well to us.
We never in
a million years thought
it was going to explode
the way it did.
We're here.
[dramatic music]
- [roaring, grunting]
- Bray Wyatt's emergence
on Monday Night Raw
as the leader of
the cult-like Wyatt Family
was unlike anything the WWE
Universe had seen before.
- He was just such
a captivating talker.
And he was doing stuff
that no one else was doing.
Because in wrestling,
you get so much bombast
and you're taught to, like,
play to the nosebleeds.
But the way he could just
deliver something very softly
and it would, like,
send chills up your spine--
- Tomorrow morning
when you wake up,
you go back to being
just another one
of those anonymous souls.
- That stuff, I think,
was mesmerizing.
And in many ways, he's
portraying this cult leader,
but it almost felt real.
Like, he was gathering
people's interest.
- He put his whole heart
and soul into that character.
And that transcended through
the camera and on TV.
And you could feel it.
all: This is awesome!
- It was eerie, but you
knew that it was special
because it felt almost
like a movie character.
It felt like you were
watching something
that shouldn't be in
professional wrestling--
that didn't fit.
- Oh, my God!
- It was very interesting
to watch him create something
that made sense in our world.
- As soon as I saw Bray Wyatt
and the Wyatt Family,
I was instantly
connected to it.
I've always loved characters
that have this darkness to it,
but a darkness that
is there for a reason.
- Within a few months,
Bray Wyatt was
vaulted into a rivalry
with a top star, John Cena.
- I could be just like you.
I could sign autographs
and kiss babies
and make sure that everyone
buys all my merchandise.
- The main focus of Bray
Wyatt's character was chaos.
- I am different than
anyone you will ever face.
- The ability
to just be a person
that wants to see
the world burn.
And man, when you
start breaking down
the stuff he was saying,
it's, like, super deep.
- The loneliest man on Earth
is the man who sits alone
atop his empty castle.
Who will be left for you, John?
- But he was so entertaining
that if you didn't take
anything away from it, cool.
And if you wanted
to dive in the rabbit hole,
you were going
to some weird places.
- [laughs]
all: This is awesome!
- So it was like, holy shit,
we got something here.
- At WrestleMania,
John Cena takes on Bray Wyatt.
- Windham had made it
to the big time, WrestleMania.
- New Orleans,
a weird voodoo-based town
to get the WrestleMania
debut of Bray Wyatt.
It really was special.
- We all had dreams and goals.
And me and Windham talked
about them endlessly.
You know, like, if we can
make it to WrestleMania
and get a match on that
platform, then we had made it.
- You could find him in
- We all knew
he was going to get there,
but we didn't know he was
going to get there that fast.
- To see him go
from the lowest of lows
to figuring out who he was,
catching fire,
and then working with
one of the greatest
of all time, John Cena,
at WrestleMania,
I mean,
it's an incredible story,
and especially in such
a short period of time.
- And here we go.
This much-anticipated
match underway.
Oh! Wow.
- Growing up watching our dad
and watching our uncles
and watching our grandfather,
the grandest stage of all
is going to be WrestleMania.
And I remember sitting there
going, that's my big brother.
- Bray Wyatt is trying
to sway the masses,
and I'm not sure
it's not working.
- The shepherd leading his
- We were all excited for him.
And even Mike and I
were just, wow.
Because it's your kid,
and it's, you know,
that was the first time
I saw him bigger than life.
- Cena, second rope.
Caught by Wyatt!
Oh! That could be it!
- What an impact!
- Shoulders are down!
- Kick out in two.
- I was very happy for him.
It's a good feeling
in your heart as a parent
to see your kid work really
hard and get rewarded for it.
- Whoa, whoa, whoa,
whoa, whoa.
That stopped Cena
in his tracks.
- What is that?
- I've never seen a match
quite like this.
- 20 years from now,
they'll go, wow, this moment
happened with John.
That's what I'm
looking forward to.
- AA for Cena.
Hook of the leg.
John Cena's legacy grows.
- It was spectacular.
I'm an advocate
for, it takes 10 years
to establish sort of fluency.
And I know Husky Harris didn't
work out, but holy shit.
When he came back, it was like
fluency in six months.
That is a meteoric rise.
- An incredible scene.
And the sea of Fireflies--
what Bray Wyatt
calls his followers--
lighting the arena.
[soft music]
- The lantern, to me, is like--
this is one of the many things
I loved about your brother
is that
he could make anything iconic.
- And this one's, like,
the first one too.
So it was much simpler.
- Yeah.
This is it.
This is the very first one.
- Looking at this,
it reminds me
of the birth of the Fireflies.
to see that as
it was happening was--
I have a memory--
it was Madison Square Garden--
and I got to see his entrance.
- I mean,
because that's it, right?
Madison Square Garden is the--
- It's something
I'll never forget.
To look out...
and see the sea of lights.
The Fireflies, we had
never seen before in WWE.
And I don't know
if we'll ever see it again.
[tense music]
- We're here.
It was created by
the fans on their own.
You know, they call
themselves the Fireflies.
And it became their own thing.
And now it's become
a spectacle.
Like, almost a piece
of what you pay
to come see at a WWE show
is the Wyatt entrance.
- When you get is not just
typical fan participation.
You get this idea that
everything this character
is saying is true.
Because every little light
that is around
this darkened arena
represents somebody
that's buying in
to whatever this malicious
character is selling.
- He just found a niche.
And finding a niche
is a really hard thing to do,
you know, and make it
last for a while.
- The matches, the promos,
all of it's
just avenues that we take to do
what we're really doing here,
which is connect
with the audience.
That's it.
So if you find a way
to do that,
that's your ticket.
That's how you climb
the ladder.
And he clearly did.
[indistinct chatter]
- When people would approach
him, they wanted to meet Bray.
And Windham gave them who
he was and he took his time.
- Would you like anything else?
Oh, is this for me?
- Yeah.
- Oh, thank you.
- I appreciate
everything you do.
- Thank you very much.
- Whatever you have
going on in your life,
it matters to me.
Even if we have
a five-minute interaction,
whatever you want to tell me
is important to me
and I'm going to
genuinely listen.
And when I walk away from you,
I'm going to leave you
better than I found you.
- [laughs]
- Thank you.
- Ready? 1, 2, 3.
- He's my favorite wrestler
of all time.
I'm still shaking.
Love you, Bray.
Don't forget your autograph.
- Everything. You really are.
- He just had it.
And not only it,
he had everything else
to go along with that.
- I'm blessed to be here.
- Nice to meet you.
All right, man.
- I don't think
I've ever seen anyone
so committed
to being a character.
And when he was Bray Wyatt,
I don't know if anyone
was more believable.
I don't know if anyone
immersed you as much,
if anyone made you believe
as much as he did.
He was just one of
the most cerebral performers
I think that I'd ever met
because his preparation
was so real.
- And action.
- I'm here.
You're here.
We're all here.
- I remember being in
the backstage one time.
And as I'm walking past,
I see, like, Windham
out of the corner
of my eye like this
up to the wall in
this little alcove.
And he's just going over his
promo and going over his promo
and going over his promo.
And I remember thinking,
wow, I wish I could
have that type of focus
and that type of dedication
and that type of commitment
to the character.
He's such a creative guy.
- Windham's commitment
to his craft caught my eye.
I knew this kid was special.
And the time was right
for us to meet in the ring.
- When I got that message
that I was
going to have the luxury
and the privilege of competing
against the Undertaker
at WrestleMania,
I was immediately
like, oh, my God.
I am Bray Wyatt,
the new face of fear!
And then I remember
he was in the room.
And I remember him kind of--
you know,
when he does his finger.
[laughs] And he called me in.
And he sat me down real calm.
And he was like,
are you ready to do this?
And like, you know,
I'm like, yeah.
This is everything
I've ever trained for.
Of course I'm ready for this.
- It will be a night
forever etched in history
and legends will be born.
- It was huge.
Nobody can touch
the Undertaker.
I mean, he had his
action figures.
- You think Bray Wyatt
might be having
second thoughts right now?
- I enjoyed it because
it's like watching
the Freddy versus Jason live
or Godzilla versus King Kong.
- Bray Wyatt wanted
to dance with the devil?
Welcome to hell.
- That night on
the grandest stage,
Windham proved he was
a legend in the making.
[dramatic music]
- That, indeed, is
the new face of fear.
- That WrestleMania match
did more for me
than I could ever
put into words.
- Oh, what a WrestleMania
- At that time, I was
struggling with my confidence.
And that night,
Windham helped restore
not only the Undertaker...
- The Undertaker did it!
- But Mark Calaway, as well.
- He's like your father.
And he is responsible
for so much
of the progression
of this business.
You know, not just in the ring,
but what he did
behind the stages
to kind of show everyone
and lead by his example.
- By 2015, Bray Wyatt
was box office.
And all the while, he was
becoming a trusted mentor
behind the scenes.
- I hadn't been into
the business for too long.
The second he laid eyes on me,
he pulled me off to the side
and he was like, "I want you
to be a part of us.
I don't know how, when, where."
He was like,
"But holy cow, look at you."
- What the--
[cheers and applause]
This guy is a monster.
Look at the size of him.
- From day one, he treated me
like I was like a brother.
He taught me all kinds
of stuff in the ring.
But honestly, like,
I learned more from him about
the real world, I feel like.
You know, him being
a third-generation wrestler,
being in this business,
already been on TV,
and stuff like that,
he'd already navigated
the wolves in the forest.
He was just that guy that just
made sure everyone was happy
and everyone was
well taken care of
and felt like they belonged.
- I remember coming up
and being afraid
and being scared and being
away from home.
And the warmth
and the humility with which
he talked to you like he
was on the same level as you
and with just
no pretenses about him.
- I think he really
loved people.
And I think he loved
positively affecting people.
And he loved seeing people
smile or laugh.
- Even when he was like,
you know, had been on the road
for two weeks and just wanted
to get home and see his kids,
like, he was still always
in a good mood.
He was just such a pleasure
to be around as a human being.
- Windham's lineage
and the fact that the business
is in his blood, not only was
he this interesting performer,
but he had a lot of respect
for the business.
A lot.
And he had a lot of camaraderie
with the superstars.
He was really fun to be around
and always wanted everybody
to have a good time.
- He could light up
a room in an instant.
He was the guy
who was a chameleon.
He was the guy that everybody
was best friends with.
He had a certain draw to him.
- He just had a charisma,
a zest for life.
Like, you were drawn to him.
He was a very magnetic person.
- This is the greatest night
in live entertainment.
- WrestleMania 32.
Over 100,000 Fireflies
lit up the sky
for Bray Wyatt, a spectacle
that was recognized
by one of the greatest WWE
superstars of all time,
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
- The Rock's had his eye on you
ever since you came
into the WWE.
You got it all.
You hold people in the palm
of your hands.
When the lights went out,
you came down,
100,000 people had
their phones up.
100,000 people.
- He was almost bulletproof
at that point.
I never saw him exhibit
any nerves
as he's lining up
for these huge main events.
You simply couldn't
take your eyes off him.
- After four years
on the main roster,
there was a milestone that
Bray Wyatt had yet to achieve.
- When everything
is said and done,
I will be leaving
the new WWE champion!
- Phenomenal form.
No, it's blocked by Wyatt.
Sister Abigail on AJ Styles.
- One, two, three!
[cheers and applause]
- Bray Wyatt has done it.
In the soul-stealing structure
known as the Elimination
Chamber, Bray Wyatt has won
his first WWE Championship.
- The company had put their
stamp on him and said,
this is going to be our guy.
I mean, there's not
many better feelings
from a performer's perspective
when you finally get that.
- In this hellacious match,
Bray Wyatt rose from the ashes
to taste the ultimate glory.
The era of Wyatt is here.
- He was the first
in the family to win,
which is pretty good
considering your grandfather
did it, your uncles did it,
your dad did it.
And you were the first.
So that's cool.
- Out of all of us,
that I'm the one that did it--
my whole entire life,
no matter what accolade,
what thing I did great,
the first paragraph
was about everyone else
in my family
that was not me and all
the things they had done.
And now it's like, when you
look at anything about them,
it's a whole paragraph
about me.
- When you're working
with talent,
you form a bond with them
and you know the human being
behind it
and you know how hard
they work at it.
Windham winning a title that
had eluded his entire family,
that was so special.
- I was there.
It was huge. I cried.
It was very, very cool.
- If I go back and look
at the landscape
of my life and my career here,
the ridiculously hard times
are kind of what
strengthened me.
I knew that sooner
or later I'd get to it,
it was just a matter
of how and when.
- It was huge for him.
Getting on top was one thing.
To stay there...
- Being on top means
numerous appearances,
new responsibilities,
and more time away from home.
- Me and Bray were very close,
especially for that stint.
We were working
so closely together
and we were really
telling some good stories
and having a lot of fun on TV.
- I feel like we're shooting
a [bleep] movie
for SyFy channel right now.
- But being on the road,
it's tough.
When guys start having kids
and we get a little older,
you know, things change.
It's very hard to balance,
especially when
you're a young man.
The work and home life
balance, if you will.
It's virtually impossible.
- Oh! RKO!
Randy Orton is champion!
[tense music]
- It was just after
WrestleMania in Orlando.
Things were not
what they used to be.
He was on the road
and traveling
and I was at home
with the kids.
And we ultimately
got divorced.
Our lives just grew apart.
- He was absent.
Mind, body, and soul.
The divorce in that time of his
life was a devastating ordeal.
[somber music]
- Windham's frustrations
affected his focus.
- So, guys, remember
long at the beginning.
- Just [bleep]--let's go.
- Yep. In five.
- Windham was very emotionally
attached to his work.
When things went great,
they were great.
And when they went not so great
and they were frustrating,
they were exaggeratedly
- You going to cut me?
- Sometimes the hardest thing
to talk him into was, OK, yeah,
but how do we make that work
in the ring?
I get it. That shit is crazy.
It seems genius.
It's like, man,
I'm intrigued by that.
OK. But now, ding ding.
And that was
sometimes the trick.
He was so creative
and so outside the box
that pulling it back
into a particular genre
was hard for him to do.
- While Windham's brother
Taylor was finding success
as a WWE tag team champion,
Bray's on-screen Wyatt family
was no more.
- Harper and Rowan
had branched off
and become a tag team
on their own
called The Bludgeon Brothers.
Braun Strowman had become
a bona fide
main-event superstar.
The Bray Wyatt character
kind of found himself
in a neutral position.
He was on TV, but he wasn't
really prominently featured.
- When I was working
with Harper and Rowan
doing the Bludgeon Brothers
he'd come and check it out
and give the classic, like,
oh, baby.
Oh, you guys look good. Sexy.
You know, cracking jokes.
But you'd see every time
he'd see something artistic
and creative--like,
we'd make these things
for Harper and Rowan--
he'd be like, oh, I want that.
What can I do?
And you'd see the gears
start turning.
- And that's the thing
with Windham.
And like you said,
this was around 2018.
And behind the scenes,
there was a lot
going on in Windham's life.
And a normal person,
with everything
that he was dealing with,
could have let everything go
and kind of lost
the grip of it all.
But he's always been able
to find inspiration
in places I don't think
anybody else could.
- As Windham dealt
with the stress,
he leaned on his friends.
- We were together four
or five days a week.
We cried together.
We laughed together.
We did everything together.
The WWE, it's such a family.
It really is.
Like, we're all
together so much.
We're all away from our
families and stuff
like that--
our real blood families.
We all have a really cool
- My name is JoJo.
And originally,
I started off as a wrestler.
And then I transitioned into
a role of the ring announcer.
The following
No Holds Barred match
will begin in Bray Wyatt's
House of Horrors.
We respected
each other's work.
And we slowly became really,
really great friends
through that time.
And so when we were both
able to, we started dating.
- I lived with JoJo
when I was in "NXT."
I never pictured JoJo
and Windham together.
Not for a single second.
Like, it never dawned on me.
But then you see them together
and you're like, oh, yeah.
Oh, that makes sense.
They're just these two
beautiful souls.
- JoJo made Windham happy,
and that's all
you can ask for is
to be happy in this world,
you know?
- It's just that old saying,
you can't fight fate.
And I think fate was just--
it just took a little while
for them to find each other.
- He loved her so much
and she meant the world to him.
[light guitar music]
- In 2019, Windham
and JoJo welcomed
their first child,
a son, Knash.
- When we found out
it was a boy--
[laughs] He was so happy.
He goes, "I didn't think
I could have boys.
I thought I was destined
for girls my whole life."
- Knash boy is the sweetest
little human
that I've ever met.
He looks more like JoJo,
but he has Windham's
- Two years later, they would
welcome a little girl, Hyrie.
- We got the yin and yang.
We've got the one that's
Windham, the firstborn.
And then the second one
is just full of fire.
- One of the things that I
loved the most about Windham
in general was how wonderful
a father he always was.
- Just going over
to their house,
it was like a scene
out of a movie.
Just loud and happy always.
- She changed his life
for the better.
all: Happy birthday to you
- Yay!
Time to blow this out.
- Blow it out.
- Make a wish.
- Yay!
- Windham's happiness
inspired his creative side.
By early 2019,
the idea for a new character
started to develop.
- He always joked about how
every time he's had a child,
it boosted his confidence
to come back even harder.
So we would be at home.
And we're laying in bed
and he's like,
"So I have this idea."
- Windham's journey took him
to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- For years,
Windham was always like,
"Hey, we got to do something.
Let's do something.
Let's do something."
And I'm like, well,
you have my number.
Call me.
And then out of the blue
at, like, 2:00 AM,
I finally got the call
from Windham,
in classic Windham fashion.
And he was like, hey, man,
I've been sent home.
Creative has nothing for me.
I know what that means.
I got to do something drastic,
and I need your help.
[tense music]
- In the spring of 2019,
Windham had an idea
for a new character.
- I've always been a huge
fan of, like, horror movies.
So naturally,
the progression was--
you know, when I started
watching wrestling,
it was the horror characters
that always caught my eye.
One of my earliest memories
was Papa Shango
and The Ultimate Warrior.
- Well, take a look
at Papa Shango's face.
He's in a trance.
He's in another world.
And the curse is affecting
The Ultimate Warrior.
- That type of stuff
is the stuff
that really sticks in my head,
you know?
I think that wrestling needs
that kind of dark entity
in it.
- When we were children,
we weren't hearing
the stereotypical
bedtime stories.
We were hearing Stephen King.
- They needed their daily
update of where my book was
and what it was doing.
And they would both come
to the table
with these, like, characters
all with a Stephen King basis.
They have that influence.
I didn't mean to do it,
but I did.
- We both were huge fans
of horror movies
and the contrast
between good and evil.
But not only that, to make
what you would think to be good
seem evil and what you'd
think to be evil seem good.
- So yeah.
There's a bunch
of our old concept.
Good thing I'm a hoarder.
So yeah, man.
Again, working
with your brother is
the funnest time I've ever had
professionally and personally.
I remember he just called
and he was like, yeah,
I want to come up
with this idea.
I want this mask.
- We both loved wrestling,
but I was The Rock
and Stone Cold,
and he was Kane and Undertaker
and Papa Shango.
You know, anything weird.
He was always attracted
to that, I think
because if you look at him,
he looks like a monster.
But he had the biggest
and best heart.
- I'm obviously paraphrasing,
but I remember
he said one time that
the only way to judge darkness
is through
the absence of light.
So you know, just doing that
was like this beautiful thing.
Then he's like, no, let's show
the world if you use something
that's dark, you can show
the world how beautiful
it is by contrast.
[indistinct chatter]
- Are we ready, Bray?
- I'm ready.
- All right. Let's do it.
- This new character
needed a new world.
- And action.
- This is the Firefly
Fun House.
[dramatic music]
- I had the opportunity
to work
on the first
Firefly Fun Houses.
The Firefly Fun House only
existed in Bray's mind.
It was not a real place.
He would allow us
inside that head.
And you can accept it
because it was fantasy.
When you walk in,
you want to just say, really.
- Really.
- Then you'll go, really.
- Really.
- And then look back
at the camera.
[soft music]
- Shooting the Fun House
was unlike anything
WWE has done before.
And that was always
our intention
was to do something
completely different.
And in wrestling,
that's tough because
everybody's done everything
at some point.
- I'm trying
to make it different.
- Yeah. Follow the leader.
Follow the leader.
Follow the leader.
- I was blown away
by how talented he was.
- See you later! Bye! [laughs]
Can I see what that
looks like real quick?
- Windham's brain is just
like a tornado of ideas.
- Could it be warped somehow?
- He has so many different
things he wants to do,
wants to say.
And it's just so many
different things at once
that the hard part is
kind of containing it.
- What about if I deliver
the line before
while I'm standing
and then the next thing is
the music's playing
and it's just
at the end?
- All you have to do is...
- Let me in.
- His range of interests
were so wide.
He knew something
about everything
and he drew inspiration
from everything.
- Oh.
And I want to introduce you
to some very special friends
that I've met along the way.
- A key component
of Windham's vision
included multiple puppets that
would enhance his character.
This is my friend
Huskus the Pig Boy.
- Join us. Join us.
- Huskus was obviously
a representation of Bray
and the stuff that he'd gone
through with his weight.
The Ramblin' Rabbit was
sort of the personification
of people's opinion of Bray--
of him rambling
too much in his promos.
- Oh, OK.
- Mercy was a little bit
of an homage
to Waylon Mercy,
the character that
Bray drew so much
influence from.
Abby was Sister Abigail,
an imaginary sister
of Bray Wyatt in his story.
- After several weeks
of preparation,
the Firefly Fun House
premiered in prime time
on Monday Night Raw.
[cheers and applause]
- Did you miss me?
Oh, how I
have missed you.
- When I first saw
the Firefly Fun House,
I remember texting one
of the writers saying,
this is brilliant.
- Hi.
Did you enjoy my little secret?
- Really enjoyed
the Pee-wee's Playhouse
take of the Firefly Fun House.
- Sociopath is
the word of the day.
- He thought of
all that stuff himself.
Puts himself
in the genius category.
- Let me in.
- It was like Mister Rogers
meets Tales from the Crypt.
- Whenever there was
a Firefly Fun House going on,
on a screen in the back
as the show is going,
there would always be a sellout
at one of those monitors
to see what Bray was going to
do in that Fun House that week.
- Today, I have something super
serious to talk to you about.
- For him to be able to pivot
and all of a sudden go,
hi, welcome to the Fun House.
We're going to work out.
He had the charisma that
so many guys don't have.
- I really appreciated
the Firefly Fun House
because it was the public eye's
first opportunity
to see Windham be silly.
- Yowie-wowie!
You found me.
- Knowing Windham, you knew
it was going to go dark.
- I will always light the way.
And all you have to do
is let me in.
- And it was going to be scary.
- After months of hosting
the bizarre program,
in the summer of 2019,
Windham would introduce
the WWE Universe
to his darker side.
- As tight as it can go.
That's perfect.
Let's go make some nightmares.
- The Fiend.
[dramatic music]
- Yowie-wowie!
- It was a brand-new character
that lived in Bray's head.
However, it could take over
Bray's body.
And then The Fiend became real.
- The dichotomy of this
sadistic character
in the children's setup,
it was so bizarre,
and it felt wrong.
But it was one of those things
you couldn't look away from.
- Coming up next
here at SummerSlam,
it is the in-ring debut
of The Fiend.
It's Finn Blor
versus Bray Wyatt,
who went through this
bizarre transformation
in a place called
the Firefly Fun House.
- He showed up on the day
of SummerSlam,
and I seen what
the character was.
I just said, oh, wow.
This is cool.
- We're seeing so many
different forms
of intimidation
from The Fiend.
- This is just disturbing.
- The thing about
professional wrestling
is it's one of the only
forms of entertainment
where you have to do it
live in front of an audience
with no CGI,
no camera effects.
So when The Fiend shows up
in the arena
and he's literally
a horror movie monster,
I was like,
this is unbelievable.
- I love it.
- That's cool.
- Awesome.
Happy for you, brother.
[tense music]
- The Fiend is
my favorite character
in WWE, of all time.
Someone had finally pulled off
a split-personality character.
- I was like, you genius.
You just printed $10 million
worth of merchandise overnight.
- I'm really excited to see
The Fiend, Bray Wyatt.
- Seeing all these kids
wearing the mask,
just the way it captivated
the audience, it was awesome.
- Within months,
The Fiend's popularity
skyrocketed and had him on
a collision course
with an old foe, John Cena.
[cheers and applause]
- WrestleMania was
scheduled to take place
at Raymond James Stadium
in Tampa
where the Buccaneers play.
Due to COVID, we were not
able to have the audience
and be able to have the show
that we wanted to have
in front of an audience.
So we had to take it
to the Performance Center,
where we had been doing TV.
And The Fiend
did not lend itself
to be in an empty arena.
And we were looking for matches
that were unique.
We just got to thinking
one day and said,
why don't we have
a Firefly Fun House match?
- The story of the Firefly
Fun House goes like this.
We are sitting
in a conference table
at the NXT Performance Center.
Someone opens the door
and says,
"You have
a Firefly Fun House match
at WrestleMania
with Bray Wyatt."
And I said, well, what's
a Firefly Fun House match?
They said,
"Well, we don't know."
I said, [bleep] great.
This is going to be somethin'.
I was like, OK,
what story can we tell?
- There's a world that exists
beyond the realm
of our comprehension.
- Like, yo, we can make this
a meta journey.
So--and the lighting
stays the same.
And yeah.
- Boom. Boom.
So basically, this is in
two of the scenes.
That's in another scene.
That's a scene.
And then there's a scene
over there.
- If all I got is rapping,
I'll use it to my advantage,
'cause I'm like Husky Harris.
It's a weight
that I can manage.
Windham immediately channeled
right in, and he got it.
And he was like, and then we
do this, and then we do this.
- It's time to rewrite
my own story.
- No idea was off-limits.
We start working out.
And I just start working out,
and we have to stay there
absurdly long.
- Yeah.
- [laughs]
Let me tell you something.
Any idea
that I relayed to him,
he could make it better.
And any idea that he brought
to me, I was willing to do.
- I need a printout of that.
And I think yeah, everybody
should have it just
so you know
where I'm coming from.
Give it up for John Cena!
- Watching it back,
you'd think we'd had
six months to prepare for it.
But in reality,
it was, like, two days.
Somehow, it got pulled off.
- This is going to be spooky.
- You got to see all of these
different characters
come to life.
- It's like a mini-movie.
- It used to just be
challenging enough
to do something good.
That's hard.
But now in the age of content,
what's harder is
to do something memorable.
So full credit.
Because we're still talking
about it, and we still
will be talking about it
for years to come.
- Following the success
of that match,
fans were introduced
to a new Fun House character.
- He had all these ideas
for me and different ways
that the character could go.
Let him in.
He always had
these off-the-wall ideas
that once he explained them,
you're like,
that's freaking genius.
Do you like my playground?
He built this for me.
He taught me to open my mind
more creatively
and to step my game up.
And I had a lot of fun.
It's fun.
That was the best--
still is the best--
moments of my career.
- I think we can do
better than that.
By you--by we, I mean me.
- Windham's happiness
behind the scenes
translated on screen.
But he was about to experience
a heavy loss.
[somber music]
- In December of 2020,
one of Windham's
closest friends,
John Huber,
tragically passed away.
He was 41 years old.
- [crying] I didn't want
to believe it was true.
I don't think my brain let me
do it--let me believe it.
I'm struggling.
- I know he was hurting a lot.
Because I know
I was hurting a lot.
- They were so close.
They were like brothers.
When you're in a group
together with someone,
you share so much
of your lives together
and they talk about their
families and their kids
and all those things.
So I know it was
a profound loss for him.
- I know more than anybody
that no one can fill
the void that he left behind.
But I swear to God, I'll try.
- He always just carried
the heaviness around.
And he had a really,
really, really hard time.
[tense music]
- Windham struggled
and professionally.
- Bray was a creative genius
for his characters.
To work with Bray was
very challenging because--
I don't think that
Bray came from a bad place,
but Bray had his visions.
Bray had what he wanted to do
and Bray would fight you on it.
- You can't put
the sweatband on?
- No.
- What's the transition?
How do I get to the rabbit?
- I'm grabbing him now anyway.
- He didn't like when other
people were getting involved
and telling him what to do
and telling him
how the character should act
and how he should speak.
So it took a toll on him.
- Bray was
a tremendous success.
But I think he created
something that was
larger than another
individual's thought process.
- While there's a clear line
between Windham and Bray Wyatt
and The Fiend
and all those things,
they're all pieces of him
that he put out there.
Sort of his heart and soul
out on his sleeve.
He never stopped
thinking about it.
- There's something
we're missing here.
- It's one of the geniuses
of him creatively.
It's also one of
the things that was
difficult to work with him on
because he was like
this whirlwind of ideas
at all times.
Harnessing him into one thing
got harder and harder--
keeping him focused
on the one idea
at hand, getting him
to agree to the idea
that everybody was working on,
and then stay committed to it
and not, all of a sudden,
show up one day and go,
"Guys, I think we're going in
the wrong direction.
We need to start over here."
- As the tension grew,
the Bray Wyatt character
was about to undergo
a drastic change.
- We had an Inferno match.
I remember seeing
the look on his face
as he's getting covered
with just all this goop
to keep him safe.
That was a stressful day.
- So frustrated?
Yes, to put it lightly.
- The only way to win is
to light any part of your
opponent on fire.
[dramatic music]
- Oh! The Fiend's on fire!
- Oh, my God! Orton!
Orton just lit
The Fiend on fire!
- He got burned.
That was extremely
frustrating to him.
- He was very particular
with his story
from beginning to end.
You can't pay off something
if it took a turn.
He didn't know how to do that.
And I think that was
very frustrating for him.
- That was the problem
with the burnt Bray.
Because you had to have
everything on you burnt
and melted and smoldering.
No one thought about that.
- Let me bring this to you back
when I got this shit off of me.
But we ain't going
to take pictures.
This is really brutal.
- All of a sudden now you're
going from wrestling gear
and a hot mask
to a hot mask and hot gear.
- I don't know
if I can work like this.
- It was very difficult
to move in.
It wasn't as pliable.
It wasn't as easy to maneuver
and do everything
that you wanted to do.
- It moves and turns
when you grab it.
[soft music]
- Remember this one.
- Wild looking at this,
'cause we both know
what a hard time
he was having at this point.
You know, like...
- You're putting it politely.
He hated this thing.
Your brother knew
the responsibility.
I think it weighed a lot
on him, and it was hard.
And I felt really bad for him
because I know
he gave it his all,
he tried 100% to try to carry
you know, not only his
character and the brand
and the company and everything,
but it just--
- It all led
to that WrestleMania.
- Yeah.
[dramatic music]
- WrestleMania 37,
the first time in over a year
that the WWE fans
would be in attendance.
- Who are you excited to see?
- Mostly The Fiend.
- I'm really excited
to see Bray Wyatt.
I like his mind games
that he plays.
- I want to see The Fiend
go on and burn Randy Orton
down to the ground.
- Yeah, at WrestleMania,
when we finally were
in front of people,
you see the transformation--
The Fiend is stepping out
of hell and of that burnt.
And now you have The Fiend
again, and a pissed-off Fiend.
It was a way to get back
to The Fiend.
Because the burn--the whole
outfit didn't work,
and it was tough
to continue that.
- And The Fiend
has been restored.
- I think everyone was
just as excited as we were
to see the Fiend back,
and it immediately turned into
I turned on him...
- What the...
- Causing him
to lose the match.
- And now Orton
from behind with an RKO!
- And it wasn't what
people wanted to see.
- If you love something that
much and you put that much
time and effort, you want it
to go the way your vision is.
And that was, like,
very frustrating for him.
- At the time, I don't know
exactly what the downfall was.
Creative minds can often be
misinterpreted very easily.
So you can begin
to have disagreements
of how things go,
but it can be interpreted
in many different ways--
as creative differences
or he's just difficult
to work with.
I don't know the exact answer.
I just know that
it fell apart somehow.
- At that time,
WWE was still dealing with
the fallout of the pandemic.
And they released
a bunch of superstars,
one of them being
Windham's brother, Taylor.
And then a few months later,
they ended up releasing
Windham as well.
You just kept clicking, trying
to find the thing that goes,
no, that was fake.
That's not true.
No, of course it's not true.
- We all were shocked.
In retrospect, I can look back
and I can look at pictures
and I'll zoom in on his eyes
and I see it destroyed him.
That was bad.
- Aside from being invested in
his family and his children,
wrestling was his life
and that was his art
and that was his outlet.
And all of a sudden,
instantaneously was--
that's supposed
to be just gone?
- For the first time
in over a decade,
Windham was not part of WWE.
In its place,
he found a new passion.
- So we're here in our home.
And this room, in particular,
was Windham's art room.
It was his space where
he created a lot of his magic.
And it has been untouched
since he's been here.
So this is it.
This is the mind of Windham.
The first piece he did,
and it's of me.
So it's one of the first pieces
he actually completed.
And it's spray paint.
[soft music]
This one right here,
it's Kendyl and Cadyn.
He wanted to recreate
the picture that he had
in his phone of his girls.
And it's a beautiful picture
of them standing
like that in the street.
He was in the middle of doing
this as a gift for them.
I don't know if he ever
truly felt like
anything was quite finished.
He did this over a course
of two years.
He kept working on this--
stopping, starting over.
But he always kept that part,
which I thought was
really cool.
And he kept it because
I told him how much I loved it.
I was like, oh, I love
those eyes, the face.
I said,
you did so good with that.
And he always kept it,
which I thought was
really cool.
This one hung in our home
in St. Pete.
And it reminds me a lot
of when we got engaged.
He surprised me by getting down
on one knee in St. Pete Pier.
So this art really ties in.
They're pieces that I won't
let go of ever in my life
because it reminds me
of that time.
- 100% art is where he really
just threw himself into that,
and he loved it.
Just always, oh, come do
this with me and let me
show you this latest thing
I'm trying out.
- Next thing you know,
he would be showing us
these paintings.
Then we're like, you did that?
I cannot believe you did that.
He's like, I've been working on
this for three nights in a row.
[laughs] Go to sleep.
It was amazing
to see, once again,
this anomaly of a human.
When he invested
into something
that he was going to do,
it was going to be phenomenal.
[light twangy music]
- While he immersed himself
in his art,
Windham also started filming
a reality TV pilot
with his brother.
- [laughs]
Can I touch it?
- Yeah. Yeah.
- We got the opportunity
to go shoot a pilot
hunting monsters and cryptids
and conspiracy theories
and going after cults.
- I can't believe
we're in here, man.
- Our whole lives,
we've always been into
the odd things in the world.
- When I was a little kid,
when you watched, like,
"The Goonies"
and all that stuff,
I remember thinking,
oh, man, that's so cool.
I would love to just go around
with my friends one day
and do that.
So this is how
horror movies end.
- The more we hung out
and started working on that,
the more it kind of morphed
back into talking
about wrestling.
- I dive in and I think
about it to the point
where it almost makes me nuts.
- We got excited again
and realized maybe
we don't want to do this.
Maybe we want to go
back and wrestle.
The more we talked,
the more we collaborated,
the more we needed
to make it back.
- In the summer of 2022,
after a year away from WWE,
Windham started talking about
making a return to the ring.
- There is not a lock
on the door to the WWE.
And I think the audience was
craving some Bray Wyatt.
- From the first time I got on
the phone with him to discuss,
do you want to come back--
like, hey, I'd love
for you to come home.
And his part,
hey, I'd love to be home.
I think that very first
conversation we had,
it went from, hey,
what are you thinking
about potentially coming back
to us riffing ideas
for an hour and a half.
- He wasn't done.
He wanted to fix things
about his legacy
and he didn't want
to go out unexpectedly.
He had a lot more stories
to tell the WWE Universe.
- He was in the gym a lot.
Like, three, four hours a day.
He really busted his ass.
- In the fall of 2022,
Windham, now 35 years old,
was preparing for his return.
- He was coming back.
He was working for it.
[tense music]
- So when Windham was
negotiating with WWE
to make his return,
he reached out to TJ
and asked TJ,
hey, I need you
to keep this to yourself,
but would you and Natty
be OK if I started
coming down to your ring?
- Bray was super motivated
at that time.
I did want to gauge
where he was mentally.
And he said, TJ, I know.
He said, I'm super excited.
And he went from it being
kind of a private thing to him
going around and giving
each person specific,
individualized advice.
That just shows you
how his brain was working
from a creative standpoint.
- You could just feel
that excitement.
You felt, like,
that childlike wonder.
He really wanted to get in
the best shape of his life
and he wanted this
to be his best run ever.
- He started talking to me
about what my ideas were
and if I should go back.
And I decided I was going
to pursue a conversation
with the company again
to see where I would stand
and started getting
excited again
like it was my first time
getting into the ring again.
- About the same time
I brought into the company
a guy named Rob Fee.
- I met with Hunter and Bray.
If I would ask him
a question and be like, hey,
what do you think about this
thing, an hour and a half
later of completely
off-the-wall ideas,
we'd land on something.
And I'm like, man, if he's
bringing this energy back
to WWE, it's going to be
a wild ride.
- It sort of started this kind
of three-way collaboration
on this project.
And Bray would
call us both and say,
hey, I have this idea.
[tense music]
- Who...
- Killed...
- The...
- World?
- You...
- Did.
- We started coming up with
all these crazy, Easter-eggy--
like, how could we riff these
ideas to lead to this return?
That was me, Bray.
And Rob was
really instrumental.
- It was Bray coming up with
crazy bits of lore.
Then he'd be like, here,
make this into something.
- Friday Night SmackDown!
- Brought up
the first QR code.
It led to a puzzle.
I believe viewership was up
25% because people were
so excited to see
what this was leading to.
- The White Rabbit teases
are all that
any wrestling fan wants
to talk about.
It was so vague
and complicated that
it allowed us to just speculate
wildly for weeks at a time.
- We did rabbits in the crowd.
We had latitude and longitudes
in Italy that if you
viewed it from overhead,
was this giant pink bunny.
All the clues were just enough
to where it felt like
a Bray thing,
but it wasn't for sure.
The final one we did,
fire shoots out
and it brings up the date
of Extreme Rules.
'Cause we were like,
at this point, you know,
let's stop [bleep] with them
and just show them
exactly what it is.
- October 8, 2022.
The day had finally arrived.
After 15 months,
Windham was home.
- I didn't know I could draw
a year ago.
You want to see something cool?
I was really proud of this.
It's the first time
I ever did this by myself.
This is the concept art.
Sitting at home for a year
by yourself and painting
and kind of, you know,
thinking about these things
and designing all these ideas
that I'm dreaming of--one day,
maybe we can get a chance
to do this stuff--
it's such a cool feeling
to be on the cusp of it.
This is always the most
exciting part for me,
this joy you get from creating.
And you're stressing me out
hovering over me
now that I'm doing it.
This is how I keep calm
kind of in
stressful situations.
[tense music]
- He was nervous, for sure.
I was not there
for Extreme Rules.
But I remember
he would call me
and he'd just be like, ugh.
He'd pace back
and forth constantly.
He was like, I can't.
I just can't right now.
And I'm like, OK.
But just to make sure
that it was
done the way
he wanted it to be done
was so much pressure on him
that it made him nervous.
He's like,
I got to do this right.
- I always think, oh, no,
so this person is not
going to like this.
This person is not
going to like that.
- 15,944 WWE fans
are here tonight.
We are sold out
for Extreme Rules.
- I remember Hunter came
on the bus and was like,
we just think it'd be
kind of cool to just
show your characters
just sort of invaded back
into the world of WWE.
And we're like, yeah,
sounds like a plan.
Bruce and Hunter are like,
we want The Fiend, as well.
We were just going to grab
a random extra or somebody.
And Windham goes, "No.
"Jason, you're
the only person I trust
and you're the only person
that deserves to do it."
- You got this, man.
- The honor is definitely
not lost on me.
- You only get this a couple
times in your life, you know?
The feeling of pure bliss,
you know?
The nerves.
The bliss.
It's pretty wild, man.
I want to show everybody
what all the hard work is,
you know?
It's time, bro.
- Windham emerged
just 15 minutes before
his long-awaited return.
- They knew something was
going to happen on the show.
And this was after
the main event.
So you know, they're like,
did we miss something?
Was it wrong?
The logo comes up
at the bottom.
You think the show's over.
[cheers and applause]
- Corey, are we still
on the air?
- He's got the whole world
[crowd roaring]
In his hands
[eerie music]
- God, what the--
- He's got
the whole wide world
In his hands
He's got the whole world
In his hands
He's got the whole world
[dramatic music]
[cheers and applause]
all: Holy shit!
Holy shit! Holy shit!
Holy shit! Holy shit!
[crowd roaring]
[soft music]
- I don't think
I've ever experienced
a sensation quite like that.
I felt like I was just
hovering out there--
like I wasn't walking.
I've never felt
anything like it.
Bro, I seriously--like,
I'm on [bleep] edge right now.
I feel like I was just almost
in a car wreck, you know?
Holy shit.
- It literally blew the effing
roof off the place.
And I was like, holy cow.
It was a sight for sore eyes.
- We're going to make this way
bigger than it's ever been,
all right?
- I'm down.
- When you talk about blowing
the roof off of a place--
they may still be trying
to put it back on.
It was an explosion
when Bray returned.
They knew.
They wanted it,
then they got it.
- Not everybody gets to spend
their 40th birthday
dressing up
as their best friend
and helping them
come back to their job.
- Biggest thing in wrestling
in a very, very long time.
- Yeah.
I've never heard anything
that loud in my life.
It was insane.
- It was so cool.
It's just wild.
And just seeing this jacket
and his re-debut, coming back.
And he sparked a fire
under me like I never felt.
And it was all him.
- Part of professional
wrestling is
the theater of the mind.
It's to take you away
from reality.
And when you have a character
that you look forward
to seeing each week
and then they're gone,
you can't wait
to have that back.
There was something about him
that made people feel better.
And people missed
seeing that on TV.
[crowd chanting]
- [laughs]
I don't know if y'all
can read this on me,
but I am incredibly grateful.
And I'm really, really
nervous to be here.
I never thought that
this would happen.
This right here,
this is just me, OK?
This is a version of me
that I've never
got to introduce
to you guys before.
This is just me being me--
genuine me--for the first time.
- I felt like people were
just so grateful for him
and grateful to have him back.
And then that promo where
he was just kind of raw
and spoke more as Windham was
so unique and so different.
- I can sit here right now
today and I can look all of you
in the eyes and I can say
that you were there
when I was weak, when I was
vulnerable, when I was down.
So I just wanted
to say thank you.
You all saved my life.
[cheers and applause]
- That's my favorite
Bray Wyatt promo.
Because not only do
they already love him
for his commitment
and for everything he's done
and for the rides
he's taken them on
with these different
characters all these years,
now they get to see
a window into him
as the actual person.
When he did that promo, I was
like, oh, now we're cooking.
[crowd chanting]
- He forgot how much
he meant to people.
When he got reminded of that
is what I loved.
[somber music]
- If I didn't have
such passionate fans,
I wouldn't be here.
I really wouldn't.
- What's the best part
about being a wrestler?
- The best part is--
you know,
this may sound corny,
but it's the truth--
is the fans.
To have fans that are
so into what I do,
it feels like it's part
of their life too.
- Oh, my God.
- Are you trying to scare me?
It's them that led me
back here.
This is the best
I've ever felt.
- He felt like he was
getting a second chance,
and he had a lot
more perspective
on what that could be.
And so he was excited
to bring as much of himself
into that character.
- Bray wanted to take
the audience on a journey.
Here I am.
I'm Windham Rotunda.
I'm just a regular guy
just like you.
But yet, I'm different.
[dramatic music]
- My emotions, they don't work
like most other people's.
I don't have control.
And sometimes, they can send me
to a very, very dark place.
- Bray Wyatt once had
a family.
The Fiend had his Fun House.
But this time,
Windham needed someone else--
his brother.
- We wanted to use Taylor
all along.
And I thought it was
a pretty cool concept.
- The whole thing came
from this nightmare
that he used to have
when he was a child
that would haunt him
in his dreams.
That was the catalyst
to create
the Uncle Howdy look
and design.
- To be able to freely work
with him for the first time
as colleagues and as brothers,
it was like a dream come true.
Windham had already
the most unbelievable things
you could do in this business.
And his only goal left
was to do it together.
[somber music]
We were both becoming
I was going to work just
to hang out with my brother.
That was my job.
You know,
and to play with my brother.
- What is that thing?
- Oh, that's Uncle Howdy.
- Being two little kids again,
developing the characters,
and coming up
with ideas for them
to be able to work together
and complement each other
was awesome.
- Uncle Howdy just launched
himself off the top!
- We're going to be
in WrestleMania together.
We always had that dream.
And that dream never changed.
It only got stronger
and more real.
That time period where
we were working together...
- And Sister Abigail!
- It meant everything to me.
- You're welcome, Montreal.
[cheers and applause]
- It was too good to be true.
- All of a sudden,
he had this, like,
second lease on life.
Man, it came out
of everything he did--
the joy of it.
And you know, as we were doing
it, sometimes, we would talk,
and then we'd get done
an hour of creative whatever.
And then he'd call me back
two seconds later and be like,
hey, man, I just want you to
know how much this means to me
and how much fun I'm having.
And it made me want
to work harder for him.
It made me want to run
through a wall for him
to get this stuff done and to
get it where it needed to be.
[tense music]
- February 26, 2023.
- Here I'm getting to stand
across from a guy
who had really built a name
and a whole aura for himself.
That's huge.
He said that his calf
or his knee started to, like,
seize up or something.
And I was like, are you good?
Are you good?
And it was just like,
all right, well,
we were trying to work
as best we could
to kind of protect him.
- Nobody knew at the time--
not even Windham Rotunda--
that he had just completed
his final match.
[tense music]
- March 2023.
The Bray Wyatt character
was suddenly
absent from WWE programming.
- I was at TV and found out
Windham wasn't there.
And I called him like,
where are you at?
And he was at home.
He had COVID.
- He went to the hospital.
He tested positive for COVID.
They were like, oh, my God.
They admitted him.
His heart.
He had to go do stress
and echocardiograms
through this period of time.
- It was a weakened heart.
It was like, the way his heart
performed and functioned,
it was not where
it needed to be.
It kept making him feel off.
He kept saying, I feel off.
- I didn't think
it was that serious.
I mean, to me,
he's my big brother.
Nothing can hurt him.
- He didn't share
too many details.
He just always wanted to assure
everybody that he was fine--
I'm fine.
But I could see that
he didn't feel amazing.
- He worked with
a cardiologist.
And he was on medication.
He was already cleared
to work out, but not a lot.
They'd say just light cardio
was fine, so he would do that.
He was doing a little
bit better and then
it kept getting better
and better and better.
And then a couple times,
it kind of backtracked.
- My sister, she was staying
at his guest house.
And when she walked
in the garage,
there was a rattlesnake.
So we freaked out
and drove there.
And we had to lift up
some stuff and get to it.
And afterwards--
he always sweated,
but it was more than that,
and in his eyes.
And he said, I don't feel good.
I just got to take a nap.
And it was, like,
3:00 in the afternoon.
And it crossed my mind.
And I worried for him
because he's my brother.
In that moment,
I go, are you OK?
And I asked him then.
Yeah, yeah, I'm fine.
But I never really worried.
I never thought,
oh, Windham is really sick.
Never for a second.
I was just waiting for the call
to come back as monsters
like we both wanted.
- He was still under
the doctor's care.
And we were right there
to where, oh, he's fine.
He should be able
to go back soon.
But he didn't feel good.
And they set him up
with a vest that
was actually to where it
would shock him if he stopped.
And they released him
from the hospital with that,
and he swore he would wear it.
Mike and I picked him up
at the hospital
and brought him home.
We watched it get fitted
and everything, and he wore it.
And then he went for
the follow-up with his doctor.
- Thursday, August 24.
Windham had a morning checkup
with his doctor.
- He called me and he said,
probably, at some point,
I'm going to have to do
a pacemaker or something.
So he didn't tell me there
was good news or bad news,
but he was--
Ma, I'm going to be fine.
- It was that morning.
I had called him
and he answered the phone.
And he was like,
hey, what's up Sam?
I said, well, do you want to
get the kids from school today?
And he was like,
I would love that.
Yeah, I'm going to pick
the kids up from school.
I said, OK, cool.
I think this was, like,
10:00 in the morning.
- He walks in the house,
he's excited.
Just, hey, guys, what's up?
All the kids jumping on him
and everything.
So he was just
really, really happy.
And he's like,
I'm going to go take a nap.
And I was like,
all right, cool.
He goes to sleep
around 2:00 PM.
[tense music]
So I'm doing my thing
in the kitchen.
My mom's there.
And then his alarm
starts going off at 3:00.
And so then I walked over
and I was like, babe,
your alarm's going off.
And then I touched his leg,
and he wouldn't move.
And so then like I started
shaking him and hitting him,
and he wouldn't move.
And so I screamed for my mom.
I call 911 immediately.
In the meantime,
my mom is calling his mom.
- She's screaming, Windham's
having a heart attack.
Windham's having
a heart attack.
And I'm like,
no, no, no, no, no.
Put him on the phone.
Put him on the phone.
And I immediately
called Taylor.
- She said she didn't know
the details.
He just stopped breathing.
- I'm following them
with him in the gurney.
And I kept yelling at him.
I'm like, please
just come back to me.
I'm like,
please just come back to me.
[somber music]
- My car was in the shop,
so I had to call Taylor
and say, Taylor,
I need you to come get me
and the baby now.
And I remember getting
my baby dressed.
And I just kept saying to her,
everything's going to be OK.
Everything's going to be OK.
And in the back of my mind,
I just knew it's not OK.
- As soon as we walked in,
they pulled us
in a room alone.
The doctor walked in.
And it's like something you see
a million times in movies,
but you really don't know
what it feels like
until it happens.
He said, we got bad news.
He's gone.
And it's like time slowed down.
I could see the reaction
of everybody in the room.
My mom and dad crumbling.
And my sister, she's got her
baby wrapped to her chest
and she's falling.
And I've never been more sad.
But something in me--
and I still to this day
think it was Windham--
something in me gave me
the strength to go, stop.
You need to hold them up.
He gave me strength
in a moment where
I would think I would crumble.
And I really believe
it was him.
And he was telling me,
be there for Mom.
Hold her up.
- Taylor had to pick me up
off the floor
and I just remember
his hands felt so big.
He just held me, picked me up.
There was nothing we could do.
It was absolute disbelief
that this isn't happening.
This is not real.
And I kept looking
at Mike going,
Mike, you got to do something.
Fix this. Fix this now.
- It was just heartbreaking.
Somebody sticking their fist
in your chest
and pulling your heart out.
- My sister called me.
And all she said was...
Windham is gone.
- My phone rang when I was
sitting on the plane.
And I answered it,
and JoJo said, he's gone.
And I said,
what do you mean he's gone?
He's dead.
And I literally was
walking off the airplane,
I dropped to my knees
on the jet bridge.
And I just--
I felt like, all of a sudden,
something was missing from me.
- I got a phone call,
and it was Jo.
She goes, Windham's gone.
And I screamed.
- All I could think about is,
how am I going to tell
my children--
they're three and four--
that they just lost their dad?
- People say like,
it was a nightmare.
But you don't know what
that feels like until
you live a nightmare.
- It was and will forever be
the worst day of my life.
- He didn't have the vest on.
Don't know what happened.
- Windham Rotunda passed away.
He was 36 years old.
Just 24 hours after
Windham's passing,
WWE's Friday Night
SmackDown program
was set to air live
from Louisville, Kentucky.
Life is short.
This doesn't tell you
anything else.
It's short.
It still feels--
it's still surreal.
I still feel like I just
haven't seen him
for a little while, you know,
because he was so
larger-than-life as a person
and so big personality-wise
and everything was so good.
And for somebody that young,
it's just a crazy--
I don't know how
to put it into words.
36 years old.
Cherish it.
Cherish each other.
- Sitting here doing this
whole thing about Windham,
and even now, there's still
a huge part of me
that's in total denial.
You know what I mean?
- I just didn't believe it.
I just thought it was bullshit.
I just thought it wasn't real.
Sometimes, even now,
I still don't think it's real.
Yeah. I don't know.
It sucked. It still sucks.
- Everything we wanted to do
was a tribute to Bray.
Just to say thank you.
[bell dinging]
- Just a barrage of different
feelings in my head.
I miss him.
- He was just a light
in everyone's lives.
- He was one of the greatest
people I've ever met.
And I wouldn't be
where I am in my life
without meeting him.
I miss you. I miss you.
- He touched a lot of people.
He was loved by millions.
- Windham's sudden passing
left the entire WWE Universe
in shock.
Honoring his legacy
would be a tall task.
all: Thank you, Bray!
Thank you, Bray!
Thank you, Bray!
Thank you, Bray!
- Following Windham's passing,
in arenas across the country,
superstars and fans paid
tribute to Bray Wyatt.
- I know that all of you
can feel the spirit
of Bray Wyatt in this building.
[cheers and applause]
- That was the one time
where I kind of struggled.
It started to break me.
I had to look at the ceiling
to keep everything together,
and just big deep breath.
- This one is for Windham.
Hug the ones that you love.
He was a special human being.
He was a good human being.
There's just not very many
people like Windham Rotunda.
There's nobody
like Windham Rotunda.
- I'll always think of him
for the rest of my career
every single time
I see these fireflies.
[cheers and applause]
It was the only therapy
that I was able
to get was in that ring.
He was truly a beautiful soul
inside of the ring and out.
- It was touching to see
so many people care
and know that he touched
so many people.
- He really touched lives
from all over the world.
- It was just overwhelming--
really overwhelming to see
how much he was loved.
I was like, wow.
He was loved.
[soft music]
- September 6th.
Two weeks after
Windham's passing,
a service was held
in his hometown
of Brooksville, Florida.
- To go and plan
your son's funeral
is the worst thing
in the world.
It was the hardest thing
in the world.
- We wanted it to be very
Windham down to his urn.
Very much like him.
And it's a flame.
- The smoke going off
and the red lights,
it was a Windham funeral.
And it made me smile.
- Seeing everyone together--
how important he was
to so many people--
that speaks volumes
for the man that he was.
- I did get to go
to the funeral.
And there was
some closure there.
But at the same time,
how can there be closure
on a guy who was just stepping
into his prime, really?
- I was hurting more that day
than I ever thought possible.
I really don't know how
I'm going to get through this.
But I know Windham would
have done this for me,
and he would have
ended up killing it.
He really would have.
He wasn't just my big brother
or my best friend.
He was my idol.
- Windham was
Taylor's superhero.
The eulogy that Taylor gave
at Windham's service
was unbelievable.
- He is and always will be
the most beautiful,
amazing person I've ever known.
I love you so much, Windham.
- I could feel
Windham's comfort
as I stood up there to speak.
A couple months ago,
I had this unique opportunity.
My dad actually asked me
to do it.
He's working on a book.
And he said, you know,
set something up with the boys
and interview them
and get some transcripts.
Just talking about
our family and the values
and how we grew up.
I had no idea that
Windham was going to tell us
how he wanted to be remembered.
- I want to leave a mark
that makes me
a first-ballot Hall of Famer
and makes all my kids proud.
But honestly,
at the end of the day,
when I go into the dirt,
I think that
I will be remembered
for far more things
than just wrestling.
Making sure that my kids
and JoJo, everybody,
that they know
they can count on me
and that I will be there
for them no matter what.
- Windham was gone,
but his ideas live on.
He still has
one final creation
to share with the world.
- He was here a bunch.
He came, like, three
or four times over the summer
spitballing ideas--
I want to do this.
I want to do that.
And from there, we started
working on the new Fiend.
We made the new lantern.
We threw a little
animatronics in there
so the eyes move
back and forth.
We made the new mask,
started talking about gear.
Windham always wanted
something new,
something fresh,
something different.
What would the next evolution
of The Fiend be?
[soft music]
We 3D sculpted
a body form of Windham.
The mask had already
been approved by Windham.
This jacket was actually
something he had purchased,
and his mother and father
had sent it to us.
So we were able to use that.
Windham always loved
little Easter eggs.
When we did the original
lantern, if you look,
the eyes just look
like stitches,
but they're actually
Roman numerals
of Knash, his son's, birthday.
So we just kept
that tradition going.
The pinstripe,
Windham got the idea
to do each one
of his children's names.
He loved making you look
at something twice to find
something else more about it.
The stitches we did in a way
to where they're actually
the Roman numerals
of what would have been
his wedding anniversary,
which is December 6th.
12 on this side.
And then here, we have the six.
One of the ideas
that Windham had was,
instead of doing the spider
walk where he leans backwards,
if we did something where
he could lean forward.
His hair would
kind of fly up over.
So when he was crawling around,
he would expose
the second mask,
which would be hidden
by his hair.
Gross, disgusting face
on the front.
But then on the back,
we'd have this beautiful face.
And to Windham, the most
beautiful face was JoJo's.
So we 3D scanned JoJo's face.
And we were able to make a copy
of that and then sculpt it.
And we decided to put
these mockingbirds on there.
That's another homage to JoJo.
Windham's nickname
for JoJo was Mockingbird.
It's devastatingly
heartbreaking that
this is the last thing
I ever get to work on
with my best friend.
But I couldn't be more proud
of my crew and everyone
that came together that
helped us bring this to life.
I think it really
just hurts the most
that I never got to tell him
how much he meant to me.
It never felt work with him.
I just felt like I got to
hang out with my best friend,
and I miss that.
If I can give this to his fans
which meant the world to him,
then not all of him
is completely gone.
So if I get to help
my friend live on
in some way or capacity,
I'll be OK with that.
I can do that.
- He's not gone,
because the art he left
and his ideas will
live on forever.
- The real him was
much, much more
and much more entertaining
than any of his
characters could be.
He was very entertaining
And he did that for them,
but you know, we got him.
And he's missed a lot.
[somber music]
- January 2024.
It's been five months
since Windham passed.
While he is gone,
you can still see him here.
- We can put a little bit
of pink on the rainbow.
- Good idea.
- His smile.
His life.
His hope.
- My name is
Cadyn Cole Rotunda.
- My name is
Kendyl Marie Rotunda.
- I like to play sports.
I just like shoes. It's fun.
I just liked it 'cause like,
me and my dad did it together.
So yeah.
- I want to travel everywhere
and become an artist.
- He's definitely
in all four kids.
They all four take after him
in some way.
- Hyrie, I'd probably say
Cadyn, probably smart.
Knash, he's just a dinosaur.
Just a dinosaur.
- Knock on wood--if you
believe in afterlife,
you know,
we will get to see him again.
- My fire and love
for the business
has to burn brighter
than it ever has
because he's given me
the strength and passion
to want to carry his legacy on.
If you asked him what he was,
he would say he's an artist.
- He's got the whole world
In his hands
- The dad he was,
the son, the brother...
Everything of who he was,
he was the best at it.
- I'm something
completely different
than has ever been in the WWE.
We're here.
- Windham once said,
wrestling is not a love story.
It's much more.
It's hope,
a spectacle no one can deny,
an excuse to be a kid again.
And nothing matters except
the moment we are in.
- Walk by my side, and I will
lead you to paradise!
[dramatic music]
- And that is how
Windham Rotunda lived.
- I am the color red in a world
full of black and white.
- One of the most
unique minds.
Changed the landscape.
- He inspired
not only the fans,
but a lot of the boys
in the locker room
to push themselves
to be more creative.
- There's a love
for this industry.
And what he gave to it
was something special.
- Nobody ever has taken
the risks that he has.
- He opened up a world
that no one could ever do.
- I am forever.
- I think he is the template
for taking chances
and the template
for being brave.
- Do I have your attention now?
- The greatest human I have
ever known, hands down.
- One of a kind.
There will only be one Windham.
- He's got the whole world
- OK. Stand by.
Ready to roll.
[funky music]
- I've been very honored
to be asked
to be part of this project.
It's kind of bizarre to know
that I worked with Mike.
And then I remember meeting
both boys
when they were small kids.
And then actually working
at WrestleMania with Windham.
You talk about things
coming full circle.
I could always see in Windham
that he was so different.
And you have very few people
that come along
that actually think
outside of the box.
He was obviously taken
from us way too soon.
I know what
he would have been,
and it would have been
really, really special.
- Broken-hearted love
[eerie music]
- Run.