What’s next for Bray Wyatt? AEW? NJPW?
On July 31st 2021, WWE surprised us all when they released Bray Wyatt/The Fiend from the company after twelve years. We were just getting ready to get Bray back on TV and WWE decided they wanted to cut ties with the veteran.
On August 10, 2021, Bray Wyatt released a cryptic tweet teasing a new Fiend mask, with the caption: ‘You can’t kill it’. So this makes me believe that The Fiend, or whatever he’ll be called now, will be heading to a different company. Sure, there is TNA and ROH but today I want to look at ten potential feuds for Windham Rotunda, five from AEW and five from New Japan. Spoiler alert, there will be a lot of “hoss” fights on my list. I’ll be alternating each company and not giving them any particular order, so let’s get into it, shall we?
Yuji Nagata – NJPW
Yuji Nagata is a two-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, World Heavyweight Champion and a GHC Heavyweight Champion, making him a four-time world champion in major professional wrestling promotions in Japan, Nagata is considered one of the greatest Japanese wrestlers in history. He is the fifth longest-reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion with a reign of 392 days. He held the record for most successful title defences with 10, until Hiroshi Tanahashi broke the record at Wrestle Kingdom VI. He is the only wrestler to have won Japanese professional wrestling’s three biggest singles tournaments; New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s G1 Climax (in 2001), All Japan Pro Wrestling’s Champion Carnival (in 2011) and Pro Wrestling Noah’s Global League (in 2013). Given how good Rotunda actually is in the ring, a run in NJPW must include matches against this absolute legend of the sport. It would be absolutely criminal if Nagata vs Rotunda didn’t happen before Yuji retires.
Luchasaurus – AEW
Luchasaurus is one of the hottest acts in wrestling right now, he’s very agile despite his size and has a great look with a gimmick he pulls off very well. His gimmick shouldn’t really work but the crowd absolutely love him and is arguably the most popular wrestler in AEW. He had a serious leg injury that seems to have slowed him down a bit but he is still damn good in the ring and is someone that Rotunda could have a great match against. The Big Man could match Bray for power and he has agility on his side, so this could be a really fun and entertaining match, if it ever happens.
EVIL – NJPW
After debuting in NJPW in 2011, Evil competed in the United States on excursion, working for companies such as Global Force Wrestling (GFW) and Ring of Honor (ROH) from 2014 to 2015. He was one of the three original members of the Los Ingobernables de Japan stable in November 2015, until he turned on them in July 2020 to join Bullet Club. A former NEVER Open weight Champion, Evil was also known for his tag team with former Los Ingobernables de Japon teammate Sanada, with whom he was a two-time IWGP Tag Team Champion and two-time World Tag League winner; he is also a record-tying four-time NEVER Open weight 6-Man Tag Team Champion, making him an overall seven-time champion in NJPW. He is also the winner of the 2020 New Japan Cup, and the only triple champion in NJPW history, having held the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships and the NEVER Open weight 6-Man Tag Team Championship simultaneously from July to August 2020. People may rag on EVIL but the guy is a lot better than people give him credit for. Booking has a lot to do with things, after all. So let’s get an EVIL vs Fiend (or whatever the new name will be) match and sit back to enjoy it.
Matt Hardy – AEW
One of Bray Wyatt’s best feuds in WWE was with Matt Hardy, and AEW would be absolutely foolish not to revisit the history between these two should Rotunda sign with them. Matt has always been the lesser talented of the Hardy Bros, but he is a decent wrestler in his own right. He mostly excels with character work. His V1 gimmick was a lot of fun, and the Broken Hardy character was a sensation in the wrestling world. He will probably be most fondly remembered for his tag team work with Jeff, but Matt still deserves recognition for his singles accomplishments. He is a 14-time world tag team champion, having held the WWE World Tag Team Championship six times, the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship three times, the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship, ROH World Tag Team Championship, and WCW Tag Team Championship once each, and the TNA World Tag Team Championships twice. Should Windham Rotunda head to AEW, you should expect a confrontation with Matt Hardy to come sooner than later. After all, and as I said before, there is a fair bit of history to draw from between them and they work really well together.
Bad Luck Fale – NJPW
Fale is a three-time NEVER Open weight 6-Man Tag Team Champion and a one-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion. His name literally translates to “house” in Tongan, which suits his wrestling persona as an immovable force. Fale is also one of the founding members of the infamous Bullet Club, an originally all-foreigner group that has seen great success in the company. The group and his dojo, the Fale Dojo has helped add a bridge for non-Japanese wrestlers to wrestle for New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Fale plays his role pretty well: he’s not gonna be a high flying guy or a technical master, he’s a big enforcer that can hit some good looking power moves and play the big guy in matches, getting a good response from his opponent who works from under him.
Fale despite his brutal looking slams and strikes isn’t actually that dangerous in ring, and he’s pretty damn safe overall. Of course for a man his size, he’s really not that impressive, and I would never see him as a main guy, especially as he’s getting older. That being said, he’ll always have a role as a big brute who can safely work with someone in ring while also having a decent match here and there when he’s up against a guy who can really work around his limitations. When he’s motivated and allowed to wrestle more freely, Fale has some surprisingly good wrestling chops in him. I can only imagine that he would get motivated against someone as good as Rotunda actually is, so let the hoss battle begin!
Chris Jericho – AEW
Another former member of the WWE roster, and someone Rotunda has history with, comes up next in Chris Jericho. The Demo God, Le Champion, The Painmaker, Lionheart, The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rollah whatever you know him as Chris Jericho will go down as one of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of ring boots. You’ve got history between these two dating back to 2014, so a good deal that you can drum up if you wanted. Jericho has had an incredible career, that much cannot be denied. He first rose to national prominence in WCW and really had a great character but never got the push he could have or should have. Then he jumped ship to WWF, where had a really spotty first run.
There were moments of brilliance but mostly when he was in the undercard. Finally when he came back as the suit wearing psychopath I think he really got a worthy run but that also petered out to diminishing returns before the Omega match in New Japan and AEW where he was revitalized. The most versatile wrestler in wrestling history. and the only human that can get a damn clipboard over with just 5 word. if you wanna talk about the word “Re-inventing” yourself Chris Jericho is the GOD of it. And let me tell you he have worked ALL style of matches from Extreme, High flying, brawl, Big match main event, Cinematic, and Comedy. he did it all and nothing that you threw at him will surprise him any more. He seen it all, He did it all, and he’s been there done that. The man has held more than twenty titles in his legendary career and is someone that Rotunda should always be excited to work with if given the chance.
Tama Tonga – NJPW
Tama Tonga is a founding member of Bullet Club. He is the nephew and adopted son of professional wrestler Haku/Meng and forms the tag team Guerrillas of Destiny (G.O.D) with his cousin/adoptive brother Tanga Loa. He has also worked with NJPW’s partner promotion in Mexico, Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) where he has held the CMLL World Tag Team Championship twice. Upon winning the ROH World Tag Team Championship at G1 Supercard, he became the third wrestler to have won a championship in NJPW, CMLL, and ROH, behind Rocky Romero and Matt Taven. In total, Tonga has over 13 championship reigns. Clean shaven Tama Tonga has been a demonic force since returning to NJPW, but before the pandemic, he was a solid tag wrestler who did his work in establishing an aura of coolness to the rapidly declining Bullet Club. I like him but wish he’d grow the beard back and stop using the claw. Despite his years in the ring, he’s mostly viewed as a tag specialist so cutting his chops against Rotunda would be a great match for both men. Another hoss fight that NJPW would be foolish not to capitalize on.
Miro – AEW
Another former WWE graces the list today with Miro, someone who -never- had an interaction with Windham Rotunda outside of the Royal Rumble and other Battle Royale’s. I am into Miro’s TNT run so far. I actually don’t think his WWE run was that bad, though he was misused a bit, he had a good run as US champion but most of his “misuse” was just inoffensive bit player parts, but man that Lashley/Lana stuff was criiiiiiinge city and was what finally got me to quit weekly WWE shows. Anyway, in WWE you can’t really blame talent for stuff like that, but AEW is a different story. His debut was awful and the gamer gimmick and the resulting feud with Best Friends was almost devastating to his career, at least to the US TV crowd, his comments after the criticism of it didn’t help much either.
Many, including myself, wrote him off as another “wasted talent” the WWE was right about like many before him. However, I thought the Arcade Anarchy match wasn’t bad considering I hated the feud, and the resulting title run has been really fun so far. I really enjoy how intense the topics in his recent promo get too, and like most “monster” champions he is really reliant on booking. He’s like a foreign heel of the past only way more explosive in the ring and with way more charisma. There was once a time where seemingly Rusev Day was the most over thing in all of wrestling but alas of course WWE failed to capitalise on that; now his work on AEW has been a mixed bag but at least he’s being booked as a champion. I want to see some proper single’s matches between him and Rotunda, this is one hoss fight that has money written all over it.
Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW
Ishii is currently in his second reign as a longest reigning NEVER Open weight 6-Man Tag Team Champion with Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi. He is also known for his work with the independent Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling (Riki Pro) promotion, where he also worked backstage as the chairman. Though pushed for most of his career as an under carder without any major championship wins, Ishii gathered a cult following, and in February 2013 was called “probably [one of the] most underrated guys in the business” by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Ishii’s status in NJPW finally began rising in early 2013, culminating in him winning his first title in the promotion, the NEVER Open weight Championship, in February 2014, a title he would later capture a record five-times.
Ishii won the title three more times, before capturing the IWGP Tag Team Championship for the first time in January 2017 and the NEVER Open weight 6-Man Tag Team Championship in January 2018. Through NJPW’s working relationship with the American Ring of Honor (ROH) and the British Revolution Pro Wrestling (RPW) promotions, he has also won the ROH World Television Championship once and is a two-time RPW British Heavyweight Champion. Ishii is the most “Underrated” wrestler EVER. There is no wrestler that i have watched that can touch my heart naturally. not Kobashi, not Misawa, not Kawada, not Kenny, and not Ibushi or even Tanahashi. 141 is the only person who can never have a bad match even if you book him against an ashtray. there is one thing i love about Ishii is that i want him to win against all the booking odds or his opponent odd, or even his own odds. He is probably the ONLY wrestler that i will shed a tear if he ever win a championship. He’s a legend in Japan and someone who should get a chance to test Rotunda if given the opportunity.
Malakai Black – AEW
The last person on our list today is someone that I believe should have had a legendary rivalry back in WWE, and that is Malakai Black. Prior to signing with WWE, he worked for promotions across Europe, United States, and Japan, under the ring name Tommy End. He most notably wrestled for Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW), Progress Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), and Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw), where he held numerous championships including the wXw Unified World Heavyweight Championship, wXw World Lightweight Championship, wXw World Tag Team Championship, ICW Tag Team Championship, and the Progress Tag Team Championship. Black has a cool look and is invested in the creativity of developing his character. He had some good matches in NXT but needed Johnny Gargano to have a great one.
He recently divulged his thoughts on his release from WWE. He stated he laughed that they built him up with 6 weeks of vignettes, had him close SmackDown for his big return and then they fired him less than 2 weeks later. He spoke of enjoying his time on NXT but feeling frustration at the “50/50 bipolar booking” of the main roster. Seriously, how much talent do we need to hear from who were happy on NXT but hate the main roster? FTR, Eric Young, the list goes on & on. It sickens me to think of all the work that went into his final promos in WWE from the graphics department for VKM to just throw it all out the window. He’ll flourish in AEW where his creativity will be appreciated and celebrated. Black has no matches against Wyatt (Rotunda) during his career and that needs to change, they could beat the hell out of each other and put on a match that would be close to legendary. That’s right, I said it. Book it AEW.