WWE wrestler Windham Rotunda, best known by fans as Bray Wyatt, died unexpectedly Thursday at the age of 36, WWE Chief Content Officer Paul “Triple H” Levesque announced.
The company confirmed the news of Rotunda’s death in a statement shared on Twitter by Levesque, who noted his father, WWE Hall of Famer Mike Rotunda (a.k.a IRS), disclosed the information.
“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,” said Levesque.
While the details behind Rotunda’s death have not yet been disclosed, reports in recent months noted the three-time WWE champion had been dealing with an unidentified illness. Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp reported Aug. 10 that Rotunda, who last appeared on WWE TV in February, was “actively recovering from an illness that was both career and life-threatening” and had still yet to receive clearance to return.
A beloved member of the main roster for more than a decade, Rotunda returned to WWE to much fanfare at the Extreme Rules premium live event on Oct. 8, 15 months after a July 2021 release that ended his initial 12-year run in the company. His last and only televised match since his return came on Jan. 28 at the 2023 Royal Rumble.
Prior to his release, Rotunda’s stardom reached incredible heights during his run as cult leader Bray Wyatt, which began in 2012 following a two-year main roster stint as ex-NXT standout “Husky Harris.”
As Wyatt, Rotunda led “The Wyatt Family” faction, and its members Erick Rowan (Joseph Ruud) and Luke Harper (Jonathan Huber, d. 2020) while also wrecking havoc as a singles star. He would claim the WWE Championship once and Universal Championship twice and earn two tag title runs during his Wyatt era, feuding with legends such as The Undertaker, John Cena and Randy Orton.
After the Wyatt Family disbanded in May 2017, Rotunda pressed on before taking a brief hiatus and returning in April 2019 as “The Fiend,” a frightening character known for his haunting vignettes and uniquely creepy persona. He would again step into the ring as the character upon his return last fall.
Outside of his WWE tenure, Rotunda spent time in FCW (Florida Championship Wrestling) wrestling as “Alex Rotundo” (and later Harris) after playing football at Troy from 2008 to ’09. The latter name was a play on his famous family surname, comprising a long line of wrestlers including his dad Mike and brother Taylor (Bo Dallas), as well as his grandfather Robert Windham, a.k.a Blackjack Mulligan, and uncles Barry and Kendall Windham.
Rotunda is survived by his two daughters, and a son with his fiancé, former WWE ring announcer JoJo Offerman.