There has been a debate between me and my friends as to whether a certain story on SmackDown deserves such big billing at WrestleMania. Step forward Bray Wyatt. The head of The Wyatt Family has been on and off with promises of bigger pushes and championship gold for the last few years, but nothing seemed to be going his way. Until the Brand Split that is.
Let’s take a step back to the week after SummerSlam, when Wyatt appeared to make Orton his next target, complete with a concoction of promos where he spoke in riddles. Standard stuff so far, with Wyatt targeting his opponent for being a hero/”come to the dark side” shtick. The initial match was scheduled between the two for Backlash in September.
However, the match was postponed, as Orton was still not medically cleared to compete, after his beating at the hands of Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam a month before. So Wyatt was given an impromptu match against Kane… and lost. I will spare a rant about how stupid this seems and put it down to typical WWE booking problems. Eventually, Orton & Wyatt faced off at No Mercy, with Wyatt mercifully winning…. thanks to a distraction by the returning Luke Harper. At this point, you could be forgiven for thinking they will face off again, with Orton winning this time.
This is where things began to turn. A few weeks later on SmackDown, Orton & Kane faced Wyatt & Harper in a tag team match….. with Orton doing an RKO to Kane, to the shock of the Wyatts. His explanation after the match: “If you can’t beat them, join them”. And thus, Orton had joined the Wyatt Family.
We all waited on the Viper to turn against Wyatt, but the family success was just around the corner. Both Orton & Wyatt were sole survivors against Team RAW at Survivor Series (pinning Roman Reigns clean amazingly), before winning the SmackDown tag team titles in December at WWE TLC. Despite losing the tag team titles & Harper from the family (he was kicked out by Wyatt due to jealousy at Orton), Wyatt & Orton were in the final three of The Royal Rumble match, with the latter winning the whole thing & a WrestleMania title shot.
A lot of rumours began circulating after this event that Wyatt would win the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber & face Orton at WrestleMania. Part one has come true, with Wyatt now the champion after this event, but we have now witnessed another twist in the tale. On SmackDown this week, Orton pledged loyalty to Wyatt and vowed not to face him at WrestleMania.
Now it may be a long recap, but I needed to straighten out in my head how a simple story has turned into a potentially big match for WrestleMania, with the WWE Title on the line. Firstly, it is a simple idea, which has been allowed to grow and remain interesting by not following the same formula. We have seen a trilogy of great matches between two wrestlers for a long time now, meaning a personal story has been lacking for some time now. From Chris Jericho v AJ Styles to Chris Jericho v Dean Ambrose, how many feuds can you honestly say were personal enough to be relatable to for the fans in the last few years? It’s an art of storytelling that has seemed a little lost on the WWE writers.
A friend of mine has mentioned there is not enough heat on this rivalry to justify the WWE World Title being included in this story. There is a slight argument there, but there is a feeling the World title kicks the story into another level. Wyatt & Orton together was a solid midcard tag team, but it has given a major rub to one particular wrestler: Wyatt himself. After all the bad booking for over three years, he has appeared stronger next to Orton (and thus dispelling the criticism that The Rock “buried” him in his promo at WrestleMania last year) and much more powerful in being able to have the “loyalty” of Orton. It only seems logical that the next step should have been the WWE Title, as justified by the fans approval at him winning the belt (over AJ Styles no less, who is a major fan favourite).
However, there is one big question mark over this story: Will Wyatt retain the World title at WrestleMania? The decision made here and the way the eventual title match is booked will be a deciding factor in how well this story is wrapped up. As of this writing, we have less than seven weeks until WrestleMania, so there are likely to be more twists in the story until then.
Does The Wyatt Family story deserve big billing on the WrestleMania card? I believe so. What started as a simple story (Orton v Wyatt), became intriguing (Orton joining the Wyatt Family), to resulting in success (Royal Rumble win, title triumphs) to leading to a family divided (Luke Harper). It’s like the SmackDown writers know how to write a story and keep it from stagnating to the point we do not want to see the final match. I await the twists to come & the outcome for the World Title at WrestleMania. It’s a deserved reward.