Listen Live

Bray Wyatt, a WWE star whose persona as “The Fiend” captivated pro wrestling audiences, died on Thursday. He was 36.

>> Read more trending news

Wyatt, whose real name was Windham Rotunda, was a WWE heavyweight champion in 2017 and also held the wrestling promotion’s Universal Championship two times. His death was announced by WWE chief content officer Paul “Triple H” Levesque, according to ESPN. No official cause of death was given.

“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 tweeted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Our thoughts are with his family and we ask that everyone respect their privacy at this time.”

Wyatt had a pedigree in pro wrestling. He was the son of Mike Rotunda, the grandson of Bob “Blackjack Mulligan” Windham and the nephew of Barry Windham and Kendall Windham. Mike Rotunda wrestled as Michael Wallstreet and Irwin R. Shyster in WWE and also performed in the Championship Wrestling from Florida promotion.

Barry Windham originally began as a “babyface” in Florida but later turned “heel” and became part of the Four Horsemen with Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Ric Flair.

Wyatt is the third big-name pro wrestler to die this week. Terry Funk, whose career spanned more than five decades across numerous pro wrestling promotions, died on Wednesday at the age of 79. Abe Jacobs, believed to be the oldest known living pro wrestler, died Monday in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the age of 95, according to The Post and Courier of Charleston.

Wyatt, a native of Brooksville, Florida, parlayed his “Fiend” character into one of WWE’s most memorable portrayals, WTVT reported.

He originally was the leader of the Wyatt Family, a cult-like group that featured fellow wrestlers Erick Rowan, the late Luke Harper and Braun Strowman, according to USA Today. The group was a hit with fans as they entered the ring with the house lights down as fans shined flashlights.

When the trio broke up, Wyatt debuted “The Fiend,” wearing a demon-like mask with red eyes, the newspaper reported.

Wyatt was released on July 31, 2021, after a dozen years in WWE, according to WTVT. He returned to WWE last September amid much fanfare but had been inactive over the past few months while dealing with an “undisclosed health issue,” ESPN reported.

Wyatt won the WWE heavyweight title on Feb. 12, 2017, in Phoenix, prevailing in an elimination chamber match. He held the belt for 49 days before losing to Randy Orton at WrestleMania XXXIII in Orlando, Florida, on April 2, 2017.

Wyatt was married to former WWE ring announcer JoJo Offerman, ESPN reported. They had two children and Rotunda had two other children from a previous marriage.