If you heard the names Windham Rotunda, Jon Huber, Joseph Rudd, and Adam Scherr, you wouldn’t think much about it. They are probably from a North American background, but honestly, we wouldn’t spend time imagining the group of people who have those names. But what if we said Rotunda, Huber, Rudd and Scherr were a group of people that included one with a family lineage in wrestling, one that was born outside North America, one with a powerlifting background and one who competed in Japan? Or that they have all spent extensive time developing their skills inside and outside the ring? Many fans that follow the WWE may not know that Rotunda, Huber, Rudd and Scherr have gone by various aliases in the past. Today, they are none other than Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Eric Rowan and Braun Strowman, The Wyatt Family.
During their time wrestling in independent promotions, Rotunda, Huber, Rudd and Scherr developed their skills and notoriety all over the world. They were being noticed, and it was only a matter of time before they transitioned from where they came from to the WWE. Once the opportunity presented itself, The Wyatt Family was born.
Rotunda, Huber, Rudd and Scherr’s careers certainly have seen their ups and downs. Much like anyone else’s career that undergoes a change, the travels of the individual members of The Wyatt Family from promotion to promotion led them to go to a number of different of places all over the world. Today, the wrestlers who are as menacing as they are savvy on the microphone have gotten noticed. We give you 13 things you probably didn’t know about Bray Wyatt and The Wyatt Family.
13. Bray Wyatt’s family lineage in wrestling dates back three generations
Many fans are probably aware of Windham Rotunda’s family lineage. He doesn’t simply boast being a second generation wrestler, but is also a third generation wrestler. His father was former WWF Tag Team champion Mike Rotunda, who also competed as Irwin R. Schister alongside Ted DiBiase as Money Inc. He is the grandson of one half of The Blackjacks, as his maternal grandfather is the legendary Blackjack Mulligan. While that may not surprise many, what would surprise some is that his family ties to wrestling extend to his uncles: he is the nephew of Barry and Kendall Windham. Barry competed in the WWE on different occasions, including once under the moniker of The Stalker. Both his father Mike and Uncle Barry were tag team champions in the early 1980s as the U.S Express. Bray Wyatt certainly has an interesting and capable family lineage which he can lean on and learn from, and I’m sure it is a hot topic during several family dinners.
12. Wyatt had an extensive amateur wrestling and collegiate football career
Wyatt’s induction into wrestling wasn’t just because of who his father, grandfather and uncles were, but because of his high school accomplishments as well. In the 275 lb amateur wrestling weight class, Wyatt won his school’s state championship. During his college days with College of the Sequoias, he played defensive tackle and guard for two years. It was during this time that he earned all-American honors as an offensive guard in his sophomore year. He was so talented that he earned a scholarship at Troy University. His football achievements say something for the type of athlete that Wyatt is. His amateur wrestling days, combined with his college football playing days, showcase how Wyatt’s deceptive frame does not dictate how agile he is both on the field and in the ring. Could you imagine if this third generation wrestler’s career had instead been parlayed into a career in the NFL? Wrestling may have been cheated of one of the greatest characters of this generation.
11. Wyatt was trained by his uncle
When someone is getting into the business they usually reach out to different notable trainers. In the case of Bray Wyatt, he didn’t have to go very far as his family was all he needed to turn to when it came to his training and development. Wyatt turned to a former WWE Tag Team Champion and United States Champion, his uncle Barry Windham. Windham has trained several wrestlers both past and present. It is remarkable that it was Rotunda’s uncle and not his father that was primarily responsible for his training and development. Rotunda was clearly in the right hands with his uncle (his uncle’s last name is his first,) who was there to explain the psychology of the sport and what it takes to achieve. While part of Rotunda’s training and development came while he was in FCW and NXT, his uncle taught him the ins and outs of the ring early on.
10. Who was Axel Mulligan?
One of the more interesting stories about Bray Wyatt is how he had an earlier character that was never on television. While fans know about his relationship with the Nexxus and how he went under the name of Husky Harris, he also competed in FCW under another name. In 2011, after he returned from injury, Rotunda debuted a new character that was reminiscent of something we would see in a Friday the 13th film. The character wore a hockey mask and went by the name Axel Mulligan. If the name Axel sounds familiar, it is the name used by another third generation wrestler, Curtis Axel. The name Mulligan should not be much of a surprise, as it was the name his grandfather went by during his time in the ring. Sadly, the character never made it to television in FCW. It would have been interesting to see how the Bray Wyatt character we see today may have developed had Axel Mulligan been brought to television. However, it seems reminiscent of a bad ECW gimmick that the writers were convinced wouldn’t have done very much.
9. Harper’s career started off in backyard wrestling under the moniker Huberboy #2
We are often told, as it pertains to wrestling, to never try these things at home, but in the case of Luke Harper he did compete in a rather organized backyard wrestling promotion early in his career. It was during this time that he competed under the moniker Huberboy #2, alongside his brother who was Huberboy #1, taken from their last name. Competing as part of a backyard promotion doesn’t necessarily translate to being successful professionally. However, companies such as OMEGA have been able to take backyard wrestling and turn it into something greater, which says something about how it is able to give young and promising wrestlers a way to learn their craft. The Huberboy #2 moniker followed Harper while he worked for Roc City Wrestling around the beginning of the millennium. Harper was able to take the experience competing for a backyard promotion and built on that by competing in different companies around the world. While some may believe he is an overnight sensation, Harper has been actively building a career for himself for a long time.
8. Luke Harper was part of a Faction with a Former WWE World Heavyweight Champion in a previous promotion and also feuded with him during their time in the WWE
Another interesting fact about Harper is that he has crossed paths with a number of wrestling’s biggest names. One of these experiences came when he competed briefly for Ring of Honor. Ring of Honor is known for giving a number of future WWE superstars a platform to build their craft. In the case of Harper, his brief time with Ring of Honor saw him as part of the faction The Age of The Fall. One of the notable names in this faction was Jimmy Jacobs, who was a mainstay in the company for a long time. What is interesting to note is that Harper was aligned with Tyler Black at the time. Who exactly is Tyler Black? Black now competes in the WWE as Seth Rollins. What is also of note is that Harper, as part of The Wyatt Family, and Rollins, as part of The Shield, had a brief feud with one another prior to The Shield’s disbanding in 2014.
7. Rowan’s ethnic origins acknowledged, previous football career and early training
One of the least known Wyatt members is Erick Rowan. The rather silent “white sheep” of the family is of Norwegian descent, and his family came to the United States from Norway. He grew up in Minnesota and played football for the University of Minnesota. After his college football career had ended, Rowan pursued wrestling, and was first trained by notable wrestling trainer Eddie Sharkey. Sharkey has trained several of yesterday’s and today’s wrestling talents, including The Road Warriors, Ravishing Rick Rude, Jerry Lynn, ODB, Tom Zenk and Austin Aries. Rowan certainly hasn’t earned the notoriety that other members of The Wyatt family have because he has been more in the background. Plus, Rowan’s methodical and slower moving move set certainly doesn’t stand out as much. However, Rowan’s football background and early training certainly say a lot about his athletic background.
6. One member competed under the name ‘Thoruf Marius’
Another notable fact coming out of Erick Rowan’s earlier career is that he went under the name Thoruf Marius. The name certainly reflects his Norwegian heritage, and he used it competing in several smaller promotions throughout the Midwestern United States. He also used this moniker while competing for Pro Wrestling Noah in Japan. While there, he trained and developed his skillset as part of their wrestling dojo. He also competed as part of their singles and tag team division. After leaving Noah, he came back to the US and competed for his local promotion in Minnesota, the F1 promotion. Often times the most successful characters are ones that are extensions of the wrestlers themselves, and in this case he was able to earn a name for himself simply by referencing his ethnic origins. Rowan returned to the United States in 2008 with the hopes of building on his success in Japan.
5. Braun Strowman is a member of the American Strongman Corporation
Before he struck fear in the hearts of the WWE roster, Braun Strowman was a card-carrying member of the American Strongman Corporation. It isn’t hard to see why, given his sheer size and strength. Strowman not only competed in strongman competitions, but was successful as well: he captured the US Amateur National Championship in 2011 and won the Arnold Amateur Strongman World Championship in 2012. The win in 2012 earned him an invite to the 2013 Arnold Strongman Classic. Strowman also participated in the SCL North American Championships, finishing in fifth place. Strowman didn’t only compete in the United States, as he participated in Poland in the Giants Live Event, finishing in seventh place. Strowman also finished first in the Central GA Strongest Man competition in 2011, and first in the Monster of the Midland competition in 2010, just to name a few of his strongman accomplishments.
4. A member of the faction previously wrestled under a name inspired by the Kevin Smith film Mallrats
In 2003, Harper began competing under another name. The Huberboy #2 name had run its course, and it wasn’t until he took on the name Brodie Lee that he began to earn recognition, while working for the Rochester Pro Wrestling promotion (RPW). The name itself was inspired by both a character in the film Mallrats, and the actor that played the character. Harper took actor Jason Lee’s last name and combined it with the first name of character he played in the film, Brodie Bruce. While competing as Brodie Lee, he captured several titles within the promotion including their Tag Team championship, TV title and Heavyweight championship. The name of Brodie Lee provided just the right amount of something that gave him a springboard to succeed. Do Kevin Smith or Jason Lee collect any royalties from the use of the names? Probably not, but for Harper it certainly earned him championships on several occasions.
3. One member starred on a reality television program
Rowan didn’t only build a career for himself throughout the Midwestern United States and Japan, he competed in something that was a little more entertainment and a little less sports. In 2010, he was on the reality television series Alt of Norge. Alt for Norge was promoted in the United States as The Great Norway Adventure and debuted in 2010. As part of the show’s inaugural season, Rowan finished in fifth place. Much like other reality programs like Survivor and The Amazing Race, Alt for Norge focussed on the physical endurance needed to achieve success. For Rowan, it was less about the competition, but rather the publicity that competing on a reality program could bring. How the opportunity came about isn’t officially noted. However, one could speculate that his size, structure and Norwegian ties may have been a contributing factor to the show casting him to take part.
2. A member of the faction was in the WWE Performance Center for two years and never competed on television for NXT
While many hadn’t seen Strowman before he joined the Wyatt family on Raw, he wasn’t new to the company. Considered maybe the best kept secret from anyone watching the WWE or NXT, Strowman had been learning his craft and developing his skill set while in the WWE Performance Centre for over two years. He was reported to have signed with the WWE in May of 2013, and didn’t wrestle his first match for NXT until December 2014, more than a year later. He didn’t appear on television, as his match was at an NXT live event. It takes time before anyone is ready to compete, let alone someone that has never wrestled before. So it is a credit to Strowman and his hard work that he has taken what he learned and elevated as quickly as he has. The competition can attest to the fact that Strowman’s size and shape are quite imposing to anyone he is in the ring with.
1. Wyatt’s relationship with his real life brother WAS acknowledged in NXT
There was a time in Florida Championship Wrestling where Bray Wyatt and his real brother were tied in their booking. While fans often discuss the Rotundas’ relationship, but there was a time when the relationship was featured while they were developing their skills. In 2011, Rotunda was caught in a feud alongside his brother Bo, current WWE wrestler Bo Dallas, who was the Florida Championship Wrestling Heavyweight champion. It was during this time that the Rotunda brothers took part in a feud with Damien Sandow and former FCW talent Lucky Cannon. Also, during their time together in developmental, Wyatt expressed how unhappy he was with Bo’s onscreen girlfriend Aksana. Fans will often make comparisons as to the success of the brothers in the promotion. So while Bo achieved a great deal of success and notoriety in FCW and later in NXT as their heavyweight champion, it has been Bray that has been elevated in WWE being one of the most haunting characters the company has seen in recent memory.