The Austin Chronicle

WWE SmackDown Live

By Richard Whittaker, August 12, 2016, Sports

Bray Wyatt remembers the first time he saw the fireflies. That's when the WWE superstar walks into the arena, and the lights drop, the audience whips out their phones, turns on the flashlight app, and the whole room turns into a thousand glowing fireflies. It was in London two years ago, when he entered flanked by his brothers in the fearsome Wyatt Family faction, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper. "It was madness. It was a euphoric moment, and I had a hard time taking it in. Harper tugged at my shirt and said, are you seeing this? It wasn't something that I provoked or asked them to do, it's something that they just did."

In an industry dominated by flexing musclemen and soaring luchadores, Wyatt stands alone: part Leatherface, part Cape Fear's Max Cady, part Southern death cult leader. So why would a messianic maniac become a professional wrestler? "It's such a simple answer," Wyatt said. "If you have a voice like mine, that I want to project and I want people to hear, millions and millions of people watch this show every week. If you have a childhood dream to change the world, it's the perfect outlet."

Now the spotlight is on him a little brighter. Last month the WWE, pro wrestling's biggest promotion, split its two flagship TV shows apart. Rather than one roster of wrestlers working both Monday on Raw and Tuesday on SmackDown, now each has its own list of performers. Like everyone on the Tuesday show, Wyatt has his eye on the WWE world heavyweight champion, Dean Ambrose. "I have a rap sheet with him a mile long," said Wyatt, and with a smaller roster, there are fewer places for him to hide. Yet the champ is far from Wyatt's only target. "My mindset is: eradicate everyone."

The Wyatt Family seems depleted now: Harper's injured, and so it's just Wyatt and Rowan – and all those fireflies. "I always have someone with me," said Wyatt. "It's not just me, or me and Rowan, it's me and the legion."

Tue., Aug. 16, 6pm, Frank Erwin Center, 1701 Red River. Tickets at

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