Pro Wrestling has had a rough week. On Wednesday it was revealed that wrestling legend Terry Funk passed away at the age of 79. Then, on Thursday, it was revealed that WWE Superstar Bray Wyatt passed away at the age of 36.
The Wrestling World Mourns The Death Of Legends
Sadly, wrestling fans are far too familiar with heartbreak in this community. And when tragic passing happens, it hits fans a little differently than other fandoms. Pro wrestling is a well-known sport, but the fan base is very niche. It’s a strong community between the fans and wrestlers alike.
There are many different sports that have loyalties to their favourite teams, but there are no teams in wrestling, so fans’ loyalties are to specific performers. Though there is some tribalism in the wrestling fandom where fans are loyal to specific companies, the majority of fans have their favourite wrestlers and stick to them like glue.
Fans Mourn Bray Wyatt
Though a lot of fans have their favourites, some wrestlers conjure a cult-like following, and that’s exactly what a performer like Bray Wyatt did. Bray had a very strong character presence in the wrestling world, with fans split on his work. Some fans hated the things he was doing on television, claiming to be “too goofy” or “too unbelievable”, while others thought the exact opposite and hung on to every word that came out of his mouth like gospel.
Fans create a bond with pro-wrestlers that is unlike any other celebrity-fan bond that’s around. Much like other fandoms, some fans can go too far and get creepy, but others stay loyal and really hold down their love and admiration for their favourite superstars. And, it’s well known that the bond resonates with the wrestlers, too. Many stars have spoken out about how much the fan support means to them, whether that’s following them through their wrestling career, supporting them in outside acting projects, or even taking part in Twitch or YouTube live streams, like several superstars do, crossing over into the gaming world.
When something tragic like a death happens, that niche family of pro wrestlers and fans all come together to share memories, moments and behind-the-scenes stories about the fallen wrestler. Within minutes of both Terry Funk and Bray Wyatt’s passings this week, fans flooded social media with their favourite clips, sharing photos and videos of meeting them, as fellow wrestlers shared their memories and a real-life taste of what the performer was like off-screen, with every single post being something outstandingly positive.
These stars touch the hearts of their fellow co-workers, while they travel the roads week in and week out, spending more time with each other than they do with their own families, and touch the hearts of their fans who watch them on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis. There’s a majority of current wrestling fans who have watched Bray Wyatt from literally day one while he was in FCW, and it’s soul-crushing to think we’ll never get to see him ever again.
There’s nothing in the world like professional wrestling. Gathering comedy, drama, action, and pure passion into one big ball and letting it play out on a television screen live each and every week. It’s unlike anything you’ll ever witness in your entire life. And when a piece of that puzzle is no more, it feels like someone you knew is gone, even if they’re just a person on a TV screen.
The amount of young wrestlers gone way too soon is a gut punch to every fan. From Bray Wyatt to Hana Kimura, Shad Gaspard, Jay Briscoe, Daffney, all the way up to Terry Funk and many, many more from years past, Rest In Peace. Wrestling fans will forever miss you, as you’ll hold a special place in our hearts.
“Aren’t you tired of feeling unwanted? Aren’t you tired of feeling like an outcast and being stepped upon? Well then today is your day, because today is the day that Bray Wyatt decided he was going to change everything…” – Bray Wyatt
From: Brady Alexander