WWE wrestler Bray Wyatt dies at 36
The WWE announced the former champion's sudden death on Thursday.
WWE superstar Bray Wyatt, whose real name was Windham Rotunda, died Thursday at 36, according to the company.
"WWE is saddened to learn that Windham Rotunda, also known as Bray Wyatt, passed away on Thursday, Aug. 24, at age 36," the company said in a statement.
"Known for his captivating performances and incredible in-ring presence, Wyatt was a defining Superstar of his generation and accomplished many feats in WWE, including becoming WWE Champion in 2017," the statement continued.
WWE chief content officer Paul "Triple H" Levesque also shared the news of Rotunda's death on X, formerly known as Twitter.
"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.
A cause of death was not immediately made available.
Rotunda's last match was against rising WWE star LA Knight at the premium live event Royal Rumble in January in what was touted as a first-ever "Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match." Rotunda had not performed since then, reportedly due to health issues.
Tributes began to immediately pour in for Rotunda from his peers and friends on social media.
"I'm 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 "The Rock" Johnson wrote on X.
"Very unique, cool and rare character, which is hard to create in our crazy world of pro wrestling. Still processing losing the goat, Terry Funk yesterday and now Bray today. My love, light, strength & mana to the Rotunda family and Funk family during this tough, heartbreaking time," he continued.
Alexis Cabrera, known as Alexis Bliss, who performed alongside Rotunda during his incarnation as The Fiend character, said she was in shock at his passing.
"Just in shock. Really at a loss for words at the moment," she wrote on social media.
Rotunda began his career with the WWE under their developmental brand NXT in 2010 under the moniker of Husky Harris. He moved to the main roster in 2014 as the cult leader Bray Wyatt of the Wyatt Family faction whose members included Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and Braun Strowman. He was regarded as one of the premiere talkers of his generation, tantalizing the crowds with the catchphrase "follow the buzzards" and would often sing "he's got the whole world in his hands."
During his time with WWE, Rotunda won multiple championships, including the WWE Championship and WWE Universal Championship.
Rotunda was released from the company in July 2021 but made a much-heralded return in October 2022. He adopted the character of The Fiend, a demon like character who styled himself like Mr. Rogers in a Firefly Funhouse with maniacal puppets.
Rotunda, a third-generation wrestler, was the son of WWE Hall of Famer Mike Rotunda, who performed for the wrestling organization under the name of IRS.
Rotunda's grandfather was known as Blackjack Mulligan, and Barry and Kendall Windham were his uncles.
Rotunda performed alongside his brother, Taylor Michael Rotunda, known professionally as Bo Dallas.
Rotunda is survived by his partner, former WWE ring announcer JoJo Offerman, and their two children. Rotunda also had two other children from a previous relationship.