Wrestling World Reacts To Death Of WWE Superstar Bray Wyatt
By Jason Hall
August 25, 2023
Rotunda, 36, a former WWE champion and two-time Universal champion, was reported to have died "unexpectedly, according to former WWE wrestler turned chief content officer Paul 'Triple H' Levesque announcing Rotunda's death, citing the wrestler's father, former wrestler Mike Rotunda.
"Just received a call from WWE Hall of Famer Mike Rotunda who informed us of the tragic news that our WWE family member for life Windham Rotunda - also known as Bray Wyatt - unexpectedly passed earlier today. Our thoughts are with his family and we ask that everyone respect their privacy at this time," Levesque wrote on his X account.
Just received a call from WWE Hall of Famer Mike Rotunda who informed us of the tragic news that our WWE family member for life Windham Rotunda - also known as Bray Wyatt - unexpectedly passed earlier today. Our thoughts are with his family and we ask that everyone respect their…— Triple H (@TripleH) August 24, 2023
WWE also shared a tribute to Rotunda on its official X account following Levesque's announcement.
"WWE is saddened to learn that Windham Rotunda, also known as Bray Wyatt, passed away on Thursday, Aug. 24, at age 36. WWE extends its condolences to Rotunda’s family, friends and fans," the company said.
John Cena, one of the Bray Wyatt character's biggest rivals, having shared the ring with him during multiple WrestleMania events, was among several of the industry's biggest names to pay tribute to the late wrestler.
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. RIP.— John Cena (@JohnCena) August 25, 2023
"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. RIP," Cena wrote.
Im 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.— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) August 24, 2023
Very unique, cool and rare character, which is hard to create in our crazy… pic.twitter.com/i9zlbJIOL3
Man…the first dude that took me under his wing when I got signed in 2009. We spent so much of our adult lives together. Praying for Jojo. Praying for his kids. I will miss your laugh & your boyish charm, my friend. Goodbye, Windham.— Ettore “Big E” Ewen (@WWEBigE) August 24, 2023
Devastated to hear of the passing of Windham Rotunda, Bray Wyatt. My deepest condolences to Mike, Bo, Barry and all his family. Rest well my friend.x— William Regal (@RealKingRegal) August 24, 2023
Heartbroken is an understatement to my feelings at the moment about this news. Windham was the consummate professional, the Ultimate Teammate and a Wonderful Father, Husband, Brother, Friend and son. Always brought smiles. Me and my Family send our Condolences & Support❤️🙏🏿 https://t.co/osbvNqvUkJ— Titus O'Neil (@TitusONeilWWE) August 24, 2023
I’m trying to process this and can’t— Corbin (@BaronCorbinWWE) August 24, 2023
Windham was a friend
I feel for his wife, his beautiful children, his parents, his brother, his sister and everyone else who knew what a incredible person he was.
Every time I was able to share a locker room with Bray Wyatt was a pleasure. Always willing to give advice or just shoot the breeze and tell fun stories on the road.— PRIME Alexander (@CedricAlexander) August 24, 2023
My and family and I send out our prayers to the Rotunda family
Rest In Peace Wyndham #BrayWyatt
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… pic.twitter.com/gSuDQ1Z12I— Mick Foley (@foleyispod) August 25, 2023
The world lost a good one today. Bray Wyatt’s story telling ability along with his unique creativity in the ring was a force that kept your eyes glued to the television screen. Windham Rotunda’s fun-loving, free spirit paired with his infectious laugh is what I will truly miss… pic.twitter.com/tV3NJCeVpY— The Miz (@mikethemiz) August 25, 2023
One of the most creative, unique minds I ever met in this industry.— Kevinn (@FightOwensFight) August 25, 2023
One of the first to welcome new guys with open arms.
One of the kindest.
One of the good ones…
We will miss you, Windham.
We love you.
Between your laugh and being able to witness your greatness every time you performed, you are truly irreplaceable.— Bayley (@itsBayleyWWE) August 25, 2023
I’m in disbelief just like everyone else. My heart goes out Windham’s whole family & everyone who knows & loves him.
🎶 You’ve got the whole world in your hand
My deepest condolences to Windham’s family and friends. Please know that you’re in our thoughts and prayers.— Shawn Michaels (@ShawnMichaels) August 25, 2023
Absolute tragedy.— GUNTHER (@Gunther_AUT) August 25, 2023
Our thoughts are with the Rotunda family.
Rotunda is reported to have died from a heart attack, according to Fightful's Sean Ross Sapp, who said he was "given permission" from the late wrestler's "loved ones [who] wanted some details clarified." The 36-year-old reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this year, which "exacerbated" heart issues, Sapp reports.
Rotunda's death came days after reports that his lengthy absence from WWE television was due to a was dealing with a life threatening illness but was expected to be nearing a return.
I was given permission to reveal that earlier this year Windham Rotunda (Bray Wyatt) got COVID that exacerbated a heart issues.— Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com (@SeanRossSapp) August 25, 2023
There was a lot of positive progress towards a return and his recovery. Unfortunately today he suffered a heart attack and passed away.
"There was a lot of positive progress towards a return and his recovery. Unfortunately today he suffered a heart attack and passed away," Sapp wrote on his X account Thursday (August 24) night. "I encourage those reading to respect the family's privacy if at all possible, but his loved ones wanted some details clarified."
Rotunda is one of WWE's biggest superstars of the past decade. The third-generation wrestler initially debuted as Husky Harris on the reality show version of NXT and later as a member of the group Nexus before later becoming a mainstay was Bray Wyatt, a cult leader-esque character flanked by Eric Rowan and the late Luke Harper -- also known as Brodie Lee in All Elite Wrestling and other promotions -- as part of the Wyatt Family.
Rotunda would go through several notable incarnations of the character, which later included repackaging himself as a Mr. Rogers-esque host of 'Firefly Funhouse' vignettes as a split personality to 'The Fiend,' a much darker character than he had played previously.
The 36-year-old was among numerous -- and arguably the most surprising of the -- wrestlers released by the company during the COVID-19 pandemic in July 2021 before making his return in October 2022, having only wrestled one televised match at the 2023 Royal Rumble prior to his death.
Rotunda was a third-generation wrestler through his father and maternal grandfather, the late Blackjack Mulligan.