Feature Article

WWE's Bray Wyatt And Sister Abigail Storyline Is A Bad Idea

"Her touch could save the world, but her kiss burns it to the ground."

The WWE's current Bray Wyatt/Finn Balor storyline has been going on for close to half a year. And yet, somehow, even though both men have exhausted their narrative possibilities, WWE is continuing this feud for at least another month. This past Monday, we learned that Bray Wyatt will finally introduce Sister Abigail--his oft-referred to mentor from his promos. This is a terrible idea.

At one time, back when Wyatt was the heir apparent to the Undertaker, this might have been exciting. Now, it feels like a cheap, short-term solution rather than a long-term commitment to Wyatt's success. Sadly, that's nothing new.

Like the Undertaker, Bray Wyatt debuted as a heel; the two of them share the same dark appeal. Undertaker had his Creatures of the Night. Wyatt has his sheep-masked Fireflies.

The Undertaker was supernatural. He could shoot lightning. He could float from the rafters. He could shrug off beatdowns and sit up like Dracula. A brand new wrestler, attempting the same sort of schtick in 2017, would probably be laughed out of arenas.

And this is why WWE grounded Bray Wyatt in reality. He was a backwoods cult leader who--with the exception of a 2015 feud with the Undertaker--had no magical or otherworldly powers. His only powers were his charisma and his voice, which dripped with religious fervor. Like Undertaker, Wyatt was a monster. But unlike Undertaker, Wyatt could conceivably exist. And that's what made him so disturbing.

Wyatt's promos made little sense, but that was the point; they were the product of an addled, delusional mind. And it was during these monologues that fans learned about Sister Abigail.

What we know about her has been relayed through rambled mutterings, and Bray himself is not the most reliable narrator. But the basic idea is that she raised him, probably in the abandoned cabin that Wyatt delivered his promos from. The now iconic rocking chair is probably hers. And she made Wyatt the leader of her cult before she died. Fans have speculated that she might have been a nun, which is where her "Sister" designation comes from.

Sister Abigail is dead and buried beneath the floorboards of the Wyatt cabin. We know this, because the week after Randy Orton burned down the cabin, Wyatt went inside to retrieve Abigail's ashes, which he then used to "baptize" himself..

At least on the surface, introducing Sister Abigail might seem like a good idea. But it doesn't hold up to scrutiny. This will be akin to killing a golden goose--the "unmasking Kane" moment of 2017.

It's better to leave this part of Wyatt's personality and personal history vague and abstract. Not everything needs to be spelled out and defined. A character like Wyatt's thrives on mystery and half-truths, left open to interpretation. Take away the mystique, and the character loses its appeal. It's that hope of learning more that keeps fans coming back.

Whoever WWE assigns to perform Sister Abigail will face an uphill battle. Thanks to social media, fans will treat her as the wrestler who is performing Sister Abigail, rather than Sister Abigail herself. And narratively, because Sister Abigail is dead in-storyline, this whole premise is a stretch. How did she come back to life? Was she alive all along? Was she resurrected? Has her spirit possessed another wrestler's body? WWE fans know this is all fiction, but we still look for consistency--the fictional universe has to abide by its own rules.

Speculation is running rampant over Sister Abigail's casting. Due to a suspicious looking tweet, many fans are theorizing that NXT wrestler Sage Beckett will perform the role:

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And then on Thursday, there was another, more substantiated rumor floating around that Wyatt himself would be Sister Abigail--that she is an alter-ego, who Wyatt will put on a different costume and makeup for. This seems a bit odd, but it might actually be the best solution, as it reaffirms that Bray is just an unstable man rather than an otherworldly being.

But whether Sister Abigail is Beckett, another NXT prospect, or Wyatt himself, there is one thing for certain: A one-off gimmick, no matter how cool and creepy it is, has not and will not get Wyatt over by itself. It didn't work in 2014, when Wyatt paraded a choir of sheep kids out on Raw. It didn't work in 2015, when he possessed the Undertaker's powers. And it didn't work earlier this year, when he fought Randy Orton in a gonzo-style House of Horrors match.

Because you see, Wyatt ultimately lost all of those feuds. The solution to getting Bray Wyatt over does not require lighting tricks, lens filters, 'found footage' camerawork, or Sister Abigail reveals.

Wyatt just needs to actually win--decisively, consistently, and cleanly. There is no amount of smoke and mirrors that can compensate for a losing track record.

Wyatt has expressed frustration with this fan perception, most recently in an interview with Uproxx:

“Is that true? Do y’all really believe that? What are you talking about? You don’t know. You don’t know. So shh! Shut up, all of you, shut up! Shut up! … I was just World Champion. I was a Tag Team Champion last year. I beat Randy Orton, I beat Seth Rollins, I beat Finn Bálor on Monday. What are y’all talking about? What are you talking about? You don’t know. You don’t know.”

While it's true that Wyatt held these titles, he held the tag titles for less than a month. He held the WWE championship for less than two months. Heck, Jinder Mahal has held the world title for longer than Wyatt did. It's also true that Wyatt has individual wins over most major superstars, but many of those wins are due to hocus pocus shenanigans. And even if he wins a match here or there, he still loses the larger feud.

Wyatt shouldn't even be feuding with Balor, because this is a feud that he cannot win. The company clearly wants to push Balor to the moon. Even if Wyatt wins this upcoming, inevitable Sister Abigail battle, he's still going to lose the bigger war.

Wyatt needs to stay in the midcard, at least for the time being, where he can mentally torture someone for weeks and emerge victorious. His recent match with Goldust was a great example of what Wyatt can do to get his notoriety back.

There's no rambling promos. There's no "lights out" special effects. One cannot build a career on gimmicky spots. One builds a career on wins. So long as Bray Wyatt is stuck in high profile feuds as a glorified jobber to the stars, he will continue to produce diminishing returns. This upcoming Sister Abigail reveal is yet another small crack in his mystique. And if WWE continues on its current path, then Wyatt won't even have that a couple of years from now.

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