Twice WWE Hall of Fame Ric Flair was among many who attended the funeral of Windham Rotunda, better known as WWE star Bray Wyatt, on Wednesday. Rotunda died aged 36 at the end of August.
The wrestling community was in shock when news of Wyatt’s death broke, and Flair was among those in disbelief.
“The Nature Boy” told Fox News Digital how his relationship with Wyatt’s grandfather, Blackjack Mulligan, and Wyatt’s father, Mike Rotunda, during their years of struggle led him to admire this what Wyatt had done for the sport.
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“Bray was a genius,” Flair said while promoting his Wooooo! Energy, which has become the official energy drink of the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA. “That gimmick he put out a few years ago with Bray Wyatt and the Lantern and all that. I had seen a lot of things spread over the years, but my God, it caught on.”
Wyatt’s entries became a quick hit with wrestling fans. Wyatt used a creepy supernatural persona that included holding different lanterns and sometimes wearing horror masks with all the arena lights turned off.
Even though Wyatt had a wrestling lineage, he was an all-around athlete, Flair noted.
Wyatt attended Hernando High School in Brooksville, Florida where he was raised. He became state wrestling champion at 275 pounds in 2005 as a senior, but football was also a major interest.
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He played at College of the Sequoias for two seasons, where he earned All-American honors as a sophomore offensive guard in the California junior varsity program. This success earned him a scholarship to the University of Troy, where he played another two years of football.
“He can work for a big kid, man,” Flair said. “He can work. Very good all-around athlete. It’s tragic.”
Wyatt died of a heart attack and was found not to be wearing a heart defibrillator recommended by his doctor that night, according to reports. He was reportedly found in his car.
“If he had worn it that night, it would still be there,” Flair said.
Wyatt was suffering from what was described as a “life-threatening illness” in August, although it was unclear at the time what he was battling.
Wyatt was trying to return to wrestling, considering a return in September before his unexpected death, according to Fighting selection.
Wyatt made his return to WWE in October in one of the most mysterious rosters the company has done in quite some time. A White Rabbit, mysterious QR codes and other messages appeared in WWE programming leading up to Wyatt’s eventual return to Extreme Rules. Hints at his return some 15 months after his release by the company in July 2021.
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Wyatt’s Fiend character was one of WWE’s favorite programs in recent years. The character thrived during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and he was embroiled in epic feuds with John Cena and Randy Orton.
Wyatt thanked fans for their support on his return to WWE.
“I’m incredibly grateful,” he said during a promo. “I’m really, really nervous to be here. I never thought this would happen. This is just me, okay? This is a version of me that I never had the opportunity to introduce yourself before. It’s just me. being me – authentic me – for the first time.
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Wyatt is survived by his fiancée Joseann Offerman, who was known as “JoJo” during her time working in WWE. They have two children together and Wyatt had two other children from a previous marriage with Samantha Rotunda.