Rotunda as Husky Harris during his tenure as part of The Nexus in November 2010.
On June 1, 2010, Rotunda was announced as a competitor in the second season of WWE NXT under the name Husky Harris, with Cody Rhodes as his mentor. Harris made his debut on the June 8 episode of NXT, competing in a tag team match with Rhodes against Montel Vontavious Porter and Percy Watson, which they lost. After a rocky start with his pro Cody Rhodes, Harris turned heel on the June 22 episode of NXT by attacking announcer Matt Striker, just as Rhodes had done the previous week. The following week, Harris lost to MVP in a singles match, and was ranked seventh out of the eight rookies in the first poll. In the second poll, Harris moved up to sixth place, narrowly avoiding elimination. On August 9 the rookies appeared in a six-man tag team match on Raw, which Harris' team won when he pinned Kaval, but his team lost a rematch the following night on NXT. In the poll later that night, Harris climbed to fourth place out of the six rookies. Harris was one of two rookies eliminated from NXT on August 17. Following his elimination, Harris and Rhodes attacked Kaval, resulting in a brawl also involving MVP and Kofi Kingston. Harris reappeared in the season finale of NXT with the other eliminated rookies and joined in on the attack on the NXT winner, Kaval.
While on NXT, Rotunda continued wrestling in FCW while retaining the Husky Harris ring name. In September 2010 following his elimination from NXT, Harris began a feud in FCW with Percy Watson when he attacked Watson while teaming with him in a tag team match, which led to Watson being pinned for the loss. When Harris and Watson faced off in a match, they were both counted out as they brawled out of the arena. The next week, Watson defeated Harris in a no disqualification match. The feud ended in October with Harris defeating Watson in a lumberjack match.
At the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view in October, a disguised Harris and Michael McGillicutty interfered in a match between John Cena and Wade Barrett, and helped Barrett win, forcing Cena to join Barrett's factionthe Nexus per the pre-match stipulation. Harris' and McGillicutty's identities were revealed on the following day's episode of Raw, though Barrett claimed he had not asked for their help and refused to make them full-time members of The Nexus. The following week, Harris and McGillicutty cost Cena a match against The Miz, prompting Barrett to give them the opportunity to win membership in the Nexus. On the October 18 episode of Raw, Harris and McGillicutty failed to earn a place in the Nexus when they lost to Cena and Randy Orton in a tag team match. In spite of their loss, Harris and McGillicutty were inducted into the Nexus on Raw the following week. In January 2011, CM Punk took over the Nexus and had each of its members put through an initiation. Harris passed his initiation, a lashing from the rest of the group, and was allowed to remain a member of the New Nexus, alongside Punk, McGillicutty and David Otunga. Three weeks later, on the January 31 episode of Raw, Harris and McGillicutty unsuccessfully challenged Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov for the WWE Tag Team Championship. After the match, Orton attacked them as revenge for costing him the WWE Championship, and punted Harris in the head, which was used to write Harris off television "indefinitely".
Return to FCW (2011–2012)
Following the punt by Orton on Raw, Rotunda returned to FCW and debuted a new character in March 2011, that of the hockey mask-wearing Axel Mulligan, but the character never made it to FCW TV, and Rotunda continued to play the Husky Harris character on FCW TV. In August 2011, Harris became embroiled in his brother Bo's (the FCW Florida Heavyweight Champion) feud with Lucky Cannon and Damien Sandow; the brothers later teamed up to defeat Cannon and Sandow in a tag match. Later, Harris voiced his displeasure of Bo's relationship with Aksana, and when Bo suffered an injury, his title was vacated and a tournament set up to determine the new champion; Harris defeated Big E Langston to make it to the final, a fatal four-way match against Dean Ambrose, Leo Kruger and Damien Sandow. During the match, won by Kruger, Harris was superkicked by Richie Steamboat at ringside who was aiming for Ambrose. The next week, a scheming Aksana managed to get Steamboat to attack Harris again; Harris also won a triple threat match against Ambrose and Sandow to earn a match for the championship against Kruger, which Harris lost when he was distracted with Steamboat's interference. As a result, Harris and Steamboat began feuding, with their first match ending in a no contest. Kruger later defeated the pair in a triple threat match to retain his heavyweight title, and the following week, Harris defeated Steamboat in a No Holds Barred match. After the pair continued to frequently attack each other, they were suspended for 30 days. Upon their return, Harris defeated Steamboat in a Bullrope match to end their feud. On February 2, 2012, Harris and Bo defeated Brad Maddox and Eli Cottonwood to win the (vacant) Florida Tag Team Championship for the second time. The brothers successfully defended their titles against Antonio Cesaro and Alexander Rusev, but lost their titles to Corey Graves and Jake Carter on March 15.
In April 2012, Rotunda debuted a new character, Bray Wyatt, who initially associated himself with Eli Cottonwood while in FCW. When WWE rebranded FCW into NXT Wrestling, Wyatt debuted on the fourth episode of the rebooted WWE NXT, taped at Full Sail University, where he defeated Aiden English in a singles match. Wyatt is portrayed as an evilcult leader who believes himself to be more monster than human. The character drew comparisons to Max Cady of the 1991 film Cape Fear and Waylon Mercy. In July, Wyatt suffered a torn pectoral muscle and required surgery. Despite the injury, Wyatt continued to appear on NXT by founding a faction known as The Wyatt Family in November, with Luke Harper as his first "son" and Erick Rowan as his second. Wyatt had his first match back from injury on the February 21, 2013 episode of NXT, defeating Yoshi Tatsu. Wyatt suffered his first loss on the March 13 episode of NXT, when he was defeated by Bo Dallas. On the May 2 episode of NXT, Wyatt was defeated by six-time world champion Chris Jericho. On the May 8 episode of NXT, Harper and Rowan defeated Adrian Neville and Bo Dallas to win the NXT Tag Team Championships. The Wyatt Family went on to feud with Corey Graves and Kassius Ohno, with Wyatt defeating Graves on the May 22 episode of NXT. The following week, Wyatt eliminated both Graves and Ohno during an 18-man battle royal to determine the number one contender to the NXT Championship, although he was later eliminated by Neville. On the June 19 NXT, the Wyatt Family defeated the team of Graves, Neville and Ohno. On the July 10 episode of NXT, Wyatt pinned William Regal when the Wyatt Family faced Graves, Neville and Regal in a six-man tag match. On the July 17 NXT (taped on June 20), Harper and Rowan lost the NXT Tag Team Championship to Neville and Graves.
The Wyatt Family at WrestleMania XXX; with Wyatt (centre) sitting on the top turnbuckle.
The Wyatt Family's next feud began when they attacked Daniel Bryan and CM Punk in late October, leading to Bryan and Punk defeating Harper and Rowan at Survivor Series. The Wyatt Family continued their feud with Bryan as Wyatt attempted to recruit Bryan, and the trio defeated Bryan in a handicap match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs. On the final Raw of 2013, Bryan defeated Harper and then Rowan in a gauntlet match so that he could face Wyatt, whereupon Harper and Rowan interfered for a disqualification and beat him down. A frustrated Bryan finally gave up and gave in to join the Wyatt Family. However, after Bryan joined them, the Wyatt Family could not find success. This caused Wyatt to punish Bryan, leading to Bryan attacking all the other members of the Wyatt Family on the January 13 Raw to signal him breaking free of the group. At the Royal Rumble, Wyatt defeated Bryan in a singles match, and later at the event, the Wyatt Family's distraction cost John Cena his WWE World Heavyweight Championship match against Randy Orton. The Family then proceeded to attack Cena and left him lying in the ring.
Wyatt (left) battles John Cena at WrestleMania XXX in April 2014.
On the January 27 episode of Raw, the Wyatt Family attacked Bryan, Cena, and Sheamus during an Elimination Chamber qualifying match against The Shield, thus awarding Bryan's team the disqualification win and costing the Shield a chance to enter the Elimination Chamber match. A six-man tag match was instead set up between the Shield and the Wyatt Family at the event. The Wyatts won the match at Elimination Chamber, disabling Dean Ambrose in the stands and throwing Seth Rollins through the Spanish announce table before pinning Roman Reigns. They later interfered in the Elimination Chamber match, leading to John Cena's elimination.
After Elimination Chamber, Wyatt turned his attention fully to feud with John Cena, with Wyatt wanting to prove that Cena's heroic act was a facade characteristic of "this era of lies" while also trying to turn Cena into a "monster". Wyatt went on to accept Cena's challenge for a WrestleMania match, with Cena successfully resisting the urge to become a "monster" and overcoming interference from Harper and Rowan to defeat Wyatt at WrestleMania. The feud continued after WrestleMania based on the story that Wyatt was capturing Cena's fanbase, which was exemplified by Wyatt leading a children's choir to the ring on the April 28 episode of Raw, with the children later putting on sheep masks. At Extreme Rules, Wyatt defeated Cena in a steel cage match, after repeated interference from the rest of the Wyatt Family and a demonic child. Cena's feud with Wyatt continued with a Last Man Standing match being set up for Payback. At the pay-per-view, Cena trapped Wyatt under multiple equipment cases to win the match and end the feud. On the June 13 episode of Smackdown, Wyatt defeated Dean Ambrose and qualified for the MITB WHC ladder match.
Rotunda is a third generation professional wrestler; his grandfather Blackjack Mulligan, father Mike Rotunda, and uncles Kendall and Barry Windham (after whom he was named) were all professional wrestlers. He has a younger brother, Taylor Rotunda, who is also a professional wrestler under the name Bo Dallas, and a younger sister, Mika .
^Namako, Jason. "WWE NXT RESULTS – 5/16/13 (BIG E VS. SANDOW)". WrestleView. Retrieved June 9, 2013. "Wyatt says that ... This is not the face of a human being, this is the face of a MONSTER!! This is the face of the eater of worlds. Everytime from now on that you gaze into my face, I don't care who you are, how BAD you think you are, you can never hurt me because I am already dead."
^Chiverton, George. "CHIVERTON'S NXT WEEKLY RANKINGS & EVALUATION 7/11: Latest evaluation of new NXT talent". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved June 9, 2013. "Bray Wyatt has been a source of great excitement for me in his run-up to this debut with fantastic video packages and promos creating a mysterious atmosphere around the preacher-based character. He's evil, scary but not over the top. He comes across as having genuinely done something evil like murder, but justifies it through the faith he follows (which faith we aren't told)."
^Martin, Adam (August 11, 2010). "WWE NXT Results – 8/10/10". WrestleView. Retrieved December 30, 2011. "McGillicutty sends him to the corner and Harris, who was tagged, annihilates him with an avalanche."