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WWE Champion Dies 'Unexpectedly' at Age 36

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The sports entertainment world was left in shock and mourning at the abrupt news of the death of Windham Rotunda on Thursday night.

The news was broken by World Wrestling Entertainment chief content officer Paul “Triple H” Levesque.

“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,” Levesque posted to the social media platform X.

“Our thoughts are with his family and we ask that everyone respect their privacy at this time,” he said.

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No cause of death was given.

However, Fightful reporter Sean Ross Sapp reported that Rotunda’s death was a heart-related issue exacerbated by COVID-19.

“I was given permission to reveal that earlier this year Windham Rotunda (Bray Wyatt) got COVID that exacerbated a heart issues,” Sapp said in a post on X. “There was a lot of positive progress towards a return and his recovery. Unfortunately today he suffered a heart attack and passed away.”

Rotunda, 36, had debuted on WWE’s main roster programming in 2010 as “Husky Harris,” a fairly nondescript character who was known more for his girth (hence the name) than anything else.

He was repackaged into the far more popular and successful “Bray Wyatt” character in 2012. The Wyatt character was a creepy, dark swamp cult leader and vividly different from the more kid-friendly offerings of WWE, immediately endearing Wyatt to WWE’s older fans.

When Bray and his “Wyatt Family” faction eventually dissolved, Rotunda was again repackaged, this time reaching deeper into the dark and macabre.

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In 2019, he returned to the WWE after a brief absence as “The Fiend,” a horror movie monster alter-ego to Wyatt’s new “Mr. Rogers” personality. Wyatt would split time as both the horrific “Fiend” and the host of the “Firefly Funhouse,” a twisted parody of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” (right down to the talking puppets).

You can see Wyatt dressed as “The Fiend” below in a tribute post from fellow wrestler Alexa Bliss:

WARNING: Some viewers may find the following image to be disturbing.

Again, this new persona resonated with audiences worldwide.

But Rotunda also left an impression on his peers.

Fellow wrestlers from the past and present expressed shock and sorrow at his sudden death.

Posts from luminaries such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Ric Flair showed just how far Rotunda’s influence ran.

Flair also noted that the wrestling world lost another great mind, Terry Funk, this week, in addition to Rotunda.

Rotunda, a three-time WWE champion, is survived by his wife and four children. His wife, Jojo Offerman, was a former WWE ring announcer, and he has two children with her. He had two kids in a previous marriage as well.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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