Chants of “You Deserve it!” are commonplace among the WWE crowds of modern times. AJ Styles, Sasha Banks, Kevin Owens and Finn Balor are among the notable wrestlers to receive this chant after winning their first World title (or in Banks’ case, the Women’s title). On this week’s edition of Smackdown, Bray Wyatt was the most recent recipient of this chant. But just because a crowd chant it, does it make it valid? Did Bray Wyatt deserve to win the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber 2017? I can’t fault his character in anyway. While his mumbling, enigmatic but empty promos lost their attraction after his feud with John Cena, for the past few months they’ve regained their power. However, character is not everything in WWE. Wins and losses and feuds matter as well. In those areas, Wyatt is severely lacking. So does he really deserve it?
When Sasha Banks won her first Women’s Championship? “You Deserve it!” When anyone has won the Universal Championship? “You deserve it!” No doubt Bayley will receive the chant on the next Monday Night Raw. But, just like the crowd’s insistence that a particular match is awesome, it’s more about the crowd than the person/people in the ring. I think NXT is partially to blame for the crowds’ love of itself, but from ruining ring-out counts to cheering heels and booing faces, the modern WWE crowd wants to make every show about the crowd. That’s not always a bad thing, but it often undermines the in-ring product. What’s the point in chanting ‘this is awesome’ halfway through a bout, for example? Why shout over the referee’s ten count with the word ‘ten?’ The crowd’s chants always make me think about the opposite of what they’re chanting.
It was inevitable that Bray Wyatt would get the “you deserve it” chant on Smackdown Live. There’s no doubt about his in-ring work. It’s not great, but it’s distinguishable from the usual WWE style of wrestling. It fits perfectly with his character as well, one of the best gimmicks in recent times. I saw potential in him in his ‘Husky Harris’ year in NXT (before it was the NXT we know and love!). A tank with a Ferrari engine was the description of his in-ring style, and it fit well then as it does now. His character is mysterious, constantly keeping the viewer guessing about what he actually means. However, five years on from his debut, do we know any more about Bray Wyatt than we did back then? Has his character progressed in any meaningful manner? I’d argue no.
That’s no small fault of the WWE’s booking of Bray Wyatt, which is also the main reason why I think Wyatt doesn’t yet deserve a title run. A quick Google search of his win/loss record gives this fact: 163 wins, 393 losses. That’s 28.85% wins, a whopping 69.56% losses. When reduced to merely PPV bouts, the record is more palatable: 19 wins, 14 losses. Yes, it’s emblematic of WWE’s 50/50 booking to pretty much anyone who isn’t a part timer, John Cena or Roman Reigns. But still, it’s not great, is it? At Backlash 2016, he lost to Kane! Yes, Kane! Now, a win/loss record isn’t everything. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts was a jobber to the main eventers, but he’s remembered as one of the best of all time.
But think about the quality of feuds Wyatt has had and the likelihood of his feud victories. Think of his big feuds: John Cena, Undertaker, Roman Reigns. Wyatt lost all three. The first two almost finished off Wyatt’s character. Much like Cena later feud with Rusev, a feud that incorporated a WrestleMania match was meant to bolster Cena rather than an up-and-coming star. There may have been some decent matches between the two, but I’ll always remember Cena’s hand being raised in the end. As for his ‘Mania match with ‘Taker, that was meant to rebuild Taker after the streak was broken. It was a poor match as well. Of course, everyone loses to Reigns, in the end. Wyatt may have won feuds against Chris Jericho, Dean Ambrose and Daniel Bryan, but in the long run, they didn’t count for much. For example, Ambrose’s feud with Wyatt was more of a break in between Dean’s feud with Seth Rollins.
In terms of feuds, Wyatt has been involved with more that defined him as a loser rather than a winner. Who remembers victories against Jericho when he lost a bigger match to Undertaker at WrestleMania, for example? But like I said, wins and losses aren’t everything. But in-ring quality matters a lot more. And here, Wyatt is lacking. I don’t doubt his in-ring abilities, but I can only recollect a few great singles matches from Wyatt since his WWE debut. His Hell In a Cell effort against Roman Reigns was a big spot-fest, but a memorable one. His Royal Rumble 2014 match against Bryan was the best match on the card. His matches with John Cena were good, but not great. As for other matches? His No Mercy 2016 match against Randy Orton stunk up the arena (which doesn’t bode well for their probably ‘Mania clash). Like Dean Ambrose, he’s a reliable performer, but one who doesn’t scream out ‘match of the year’ quality in every clash he’s involved in (unlike, say, AJ Styles or Kevin Owens). He’s not even won a mid-card belt!
Yes, he’s better than average in the ring, but I think that’s more because of his distinct style than inherently great talent. What also bothers me about his title victory is that it seemed to be ordained after Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble. Is that anyway to book a title victory? A title should be earned after victories over several established stars. Of course, that’s not how WWE book title victories nowadays, but again that’s WWE’s fault rather than Bray Wyatt’s. Yes, he defeated Orton last year, but who else has he beaten on Smackdown to earn a title victory? It seemed obvious after Orton’s Rumble win that Wyatt would win the WWE Championship. We wouldn’t be subjected to another Cena vs Orton match! That is a sign of decent booking, to be honest. The Orton/Wyatt Family story has been simmering nicely for a few months now. But does that mean it should end in a fight for a World title?
No, it shouldn’t. If the Wyatt Family had been portrayed as running roughshod over everyone, with Bray securing important singles victories over big stars, then the implosion of the Wyatt Family could culminate at ‘Mania for a title match. However, the Wyatts plus Orton won the Smackdown Tag Team titles only to lose them a few weeks later to American Alpha. Why not have them hold the titles longer? Have Orton and Harper hold the belts and Wyatt hold the Intercontinental belt (a belt he should have won a long time ago) until the time is ripe to rip the Family apart. Orton and Wyatt still feels like a mid-card feud. Yes, it’s an example of the WWE creative team being unusually patient with a story (think of when Bryan joined the Wyatt Family for all of two weeks until he turned on them), but should a rare example of good booking be applauded? It should be the norm!
I don’t think Bray Wyatt deserves a title run. Not yet, anyway. He needed a lengthy mid-card title run, big victories over established stars, and more memorable matches to solidify his stature. Most of the blame can fall on the WWE creative team, with its insistence on 50/50 booking, Cena/Reigns supremacy, and falling out of interest with characters who are gaining momentum. Sure, Wyatt isn’t great in the ring, but he’s just good enough to belong in the main event. But where’s the epic run leading to a title victory? It was Orton’s Rumble victory that set the wheels in motion for Wyatt’s World title reign, nothing else. That’s no way to book a title victory. To paraphrase Proximo, he’s good…but he’s not that good. He could be magnificent. He’ll probably prove me wrong with a blinding title run. But it could also end in a boring main match against Randy Orton. Do we really need another Orton ‘Mania main event? Or another Orton title reign? His time has passed.
Do you think Bray Wyatt deserved a World Title victory? Leave your thoughts below!