World Wrestling Entertainment star Bray Wyatt is dead at 36.
The WWE announced Wyatt, whose real name was Windham Rotunda, died “unexpectedly” Thursday. A cause of death has not been announced, but Fightful.com managing editor Sean Ross Sapp said Wyatt died of a heart attack after getting Covid, which “exacerbated a heart issue.”
“Known for his captivating performances and incredible in-ring presence, Wyatt was a defining Superstar of his generation and accomplished many feats in WWE, including becoming WWE Champion in 2017,” the pro wrestling organization said. “From his leadership of The Wyatt Family alongside Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and Braun Strowman to his enthralling time as ‘The Fiend,’ Wyatt embarked on an incredible career and saw several iconic rivalries with Superstars such as John Cena, Randy Orton and The Undertaker. “WWE extends its condolences to Rotunda’s family, friends and fans.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Wyatt was known as a happy-go-lucky character who hosted a children’s show, but when angered turned into “The Fiend.” The latter character, featuring a terrifying clown mask, quickly became popular and was one of the WWE’s top merchandise sellers.
Wyatt’s last televised performance was at the 2023 Royal Rumble, according to the Associated Press.
Wyatt was a third-generation wrestler in a family that includes grandfather Robert Deroy Windham (best known as Blackjack Mulligan), father Mike Rotunda, uncles Barry and Kendall Windham, and brother Bo Dallas. Rotunda, a 1981 graduate of Syracuse University, was a WWF star known as The IRS (a tax collector heel named Irwin R. Schyster) and won the World Wrestling Federation tag team championship twice with Barry Windham as The U.S. Express.
“Our thoughts are with his family and we ask that everyone respect their privacy at this time,” WWE’s Chief Content Officer Paul Levesque (known as Triple H) said Thursday.
Wyatt was also the leader of The Wyatt Family, a group of wrestlers that included Rochester native Luke Harper (a.k.a. Brodie Lee) and Erick Rowan (a.k.a. Erick Redbeard). Harper died in 2020 at age 41.
Wyatt grew up in Florida and played college football at Troy University in Alabama before pursuing a wrestling career.
Wyatt’s survivors include his fiancee Joseann Offerman, “Total Divas” star JoJo; four children; his parents Mike and Stephanie Rotunda; brother Taylor Rotunda (Bo Dallas) and sister Mika Rotunda; and other family members.
“I’m heartbroken over the news of Bray Wyatt’s passing. Always had tremendous respect and love for him and the Rotunda family. Loved his presence, promos, in ring work and connection with @wwe universe. Very unique, cool and rare character, which is hard to create in our crazy world of pro wrestling. Still processing losing the goat, Terry Funk yesterday and now Bray today,” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “My love, light, strength & mana to the Rotunda family and Funk family during this tough, heartbreaking time.”
“RIP BRAY WYATT. This is awful news, just terribly sad for his family, friends and fans. I thought so highly of Bray Wyatt, and was so flattered when he started using the mandible claw for his finisher. He was a true visionary; one of the most compelling presences that wrestling has ever seen,” Mick Foley added.
“Devastated by the news of the passing of Windham Rotunda. My heart goes out to the entire Rotunda family. Windham brought the best out of me in so many ways. I’m forever grateful for the moments we shared. A sad day for all those he reached around the world,” John Cena tweeted.