Posted by Chris Surrency
As a lifelong wrestling fan there have been many gimmicks that have come and gone over the years, some would last forever and generate a ton of fan support; others would come on and just fade out without much attention. Sometimes there would be one in that second group that would burn in my mind and be forever remembered as one of my favorites, even if nobody else had a clue of what I spoke. One of the biggest instances of this was a soothing, calm, southern gentleman named Waylon Mercy. I’d never seen the movie Cape Fear, but something about his character struck me and had me hooked from the first time I saw one of his vignettes, Dan Spivey played it perfectly, and I just wish it had lasted longer. Unfortunately injuries ended his career before this character could get all the way over.
There was something about this man, the timbre of his voice, the way he came across as so sincere and trustworthy. I know when Alberto Del Rio was being hyped he was being pushed in the vignettes in a similar manner, as this honest, virtuous man, in whom you could believe, but the Waylon Mercy character did it so much better. You could tell while watching him in these segments that there was something evil about this man, something dangerous, that you shouldn’t trust in him, but for some reason you really WANTED to believe he was the good guy. I may be one of the few who remembers him, and possibly the only one who really got as into the gimmick as I did, but this character was actually ranking right beneath the Deadman and Jake The Snake in my list of favorites at that time. You know, looking at my favorites may say a lot more about me than the characters I stuck with on the television.
Wrestling has been missing that evil, brooding, cerebral villain for quite some time, someone you know deep down you should hate but you just can’t seem to find it in you to go against. Festus was along the lines of a Waylon Mercy, but dumbed down as an “Of Mice and Men” kind of character. I believe the reason someone like Waylon would have been such a huge success is because we all know that someone along those lines is within us, no matter how buried it may be, there’s always that one person deep down inside us who would be the nicest person you ever met until that little mental switch in their head is flipped and they snap. It’s something that would easily get over if given the opportunity to reach the masses, I have absolutely no doubt about that, there’s a reason such a short lived and seemingly forgettable gimmick has been able to stay front of mind with some people for so long after its life ended.
Imagine my surprise one day to be watching FCW (before the NXT change) when I saw a character looked very familiar to me for some reason. Part of it would be because the man in the role had been on the main roster not too long before in another character with a horrible name, but I knew deep down there was much more to it than just that. I knew within seconds that I had seen this man before, many years ago; it was a rebirth of the Waylon Mercy character, except the new name was Bray Wyatt. The former Husky Harris (so great he was able to survive such a horrible name, I’ll touch on that side of the business in another article) had earned another fan in one very well delivered promo. Everything I’d remembered about Waylon Mercy was being thrown right back in my face in the one moment and I will admit that I marked out, as much as I can anyway, with a big grin and realization that an old friend was being brought back to life.
Bray Wyatt has legs, as has been noted by people watching NXT and the man playing the role has a ton of talent, also noted due to people like Chris Jericho specifically requesting to work with him when they show up for an NXT event. I’m eagerly awaiting his debut on the main roster as I feel this gimmick is going to be one of the best things to come down the line in a VERY long time. They could go much deeper and much further in detail of it in a TV-14 format, but I honestly feel that the PG format may work even better as it will allow more mystery to be kept in place with the character. I’ve been waiting for something like this for a long time, and it’s finally coming about. As a fan of pro wrestling, WWE, and dark, mysterious, evil characters it would appear that time…is on my side.
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