7 Best Matches in The Wyatt Family's First Year at WWE
In just a single year of terrorizing WWE, The Wyatt Family has already produced an impressive anthology of stellar matches, including several against The Shield.
Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan first appeared on Raw on July 8, 2013, three monsters emerging from the swamp. The three up-and-coming stars have been a part of a number of memorable and moving bouts either as a trio, tag team or with the patriarch entering battle alone.
The seven best of these offerings are ranked here. The excitement of the in-ring action, effectiveness of the story leading up to and during the bouts as well as the amount of big moments determine which ones end up on top.
Wyatt has a great chance to extend this list when he goes up against Chris Jericho at Battleground. His "brothers" will look to outdo that contest and their previous efforts should they get another crack at The Usos.
As their greatest-hits collection has shown so far, The Usos are fantastic rivals for them. However, no one brings out their best like The Shield.
- Erick Rowan and Luke Harper vs. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan (Survivor Series 2013)
- Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt vs. The Usos (Raw, Jan. 13, 2014)
- John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt (WrestleMania 30)
Rowan and Harper's first high-profile opportunity on their own flowed well. Punk and Bryan provided an intriguing contrast to their brute force, but there weren't enough highlights to have this stand out more than The Wyatt Family's best work.
There wasn't as effective a buildup to that clash either.
Bryan and Wyatt's Cage match against The Usos is almost the inverse. It had a huge, memorable moment in Bryan breaking away from the family. The story leading up to it compelled as well.
Wyatt's abusive treatment of his follower had the audience waiting for the inevitable explosion between them.
The ring work, though, wasn't at the level of other Wyatt Family matches. Battles with The Shield and other meetings with The Usos had fans in a more frenzied state and featured more jaw-dropping moments.
Cena's WrestleMania meeting with Wyatt was a strange experience. The narrative of Cena trying to resist his dark side was the best part of this. It made their clash a work of theater.
It felt like both men were holding back, though. It wasn't until Payback that the beast and the warrior truly went to war.
7. 12-Man Tag (Raw, Nov. 18, 2013)
Before The Shield and The Wyatt Family faced off, they teamed together against a collection of fan favorites.
Tension between the two heel trios added to a match that featured a captivating energy. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan's homage to the Hart Attack, Luke Harper squashing Rey Mysterio with a powerbomb and The Wyatt Family and The Shield knocking their foes off the apron were among the many highlights.
There isn't much story here beyond the basic face-versus-heel dynamic and The Wyatt Family and The Shield bristling as they worked together.
This could have been a Survivor Series classic, complete with added buildup, but instead, it was one of The Wyatt Family's best TV efforts, a whirlwind of violence and crowd-pleasing two-counts.
6. The Usos vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan (Money in the Bank 2014)
By the time The Wyatt Family challenged The Usos for the Tag Team titles, they had locked horns several times over.
Each collision entertained. Their chemistry always led to a fun match. Both duos managed to outdo themselves with a show-stealing effort at Money in the Bank.
For much of the match, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper played the aggressors, chewing up Jey Uso in their corner. When Jimmy finally tagged in, he exploded into attack mode. Superkicks, splashes and flying forearms all contributed to a high-energy affair.
While being a well-executed, classic tag team match, there isn't enough in terms of lasting images or narrative to have it rank any higher.
5. The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield (Raw, March 3, 2014)
Seth Rollins left his partners to suffer the fangs of three monsters.
Tension between the members of The Shield had this stand out, adding a new layer to this rivalry. Chaos, normally The Shield's home field, was where The Wyatt Family thrived.
The wildness began early on, the members of The Shield flying at their enemies before the bout began. The highlights continued.
Luke Harper hit a suicide dive that sent Roman Reigns over the announce table, Reigns speared Erick Rowan over the same table and Rollins landed on his feet despite Harper's superplex attempt.
Longer, more narrative-rich matches just edge this out, including the other rounds of the fight between The Wyatt Family and The Shield.
4. The Wyatt Family vs. the Shield (Main Event, April 8, 2014)
The Wyatt Family did its part to prevent a WrestleMania hangover, composing an instant classic against The Shield just two days after the marquee event.
Each team felt so powerful by this time that just a pre-match staredown had the crowd abuzz. The in-ring action had plenty to love, including The Wyatt Family delighting in abusing Dean Ambrose, Ambrose slapping Erick Rowan's mask off and the hectic pace that these two teams have consistently delivered.
Their meeting on March 3 felt it like ended a few beats too early.
With most of the Main Event episode to work with on April 8, these two squads outdid that match but couldn't thrill fans as much as Bray Wyatt's best singles bouts and the highly anticipated first meeting between The Shield and the backwoods clan.
3. Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan (Royal Rumble 2014)
No match had Bray Wyatt look more like a destroyer before he met Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble.
The Eater of Worlds grinned as he wrenched Bryan's limbs, clawed at his face and hurled him into just about everything in and around the ring. Bryan was a pit bull here, fighting valiantly against his attacker.
The viciousness, creative moves and buzzing tension made for an early Match of the Year candidate.
WWE would later top itself in terms of story when Wyatt challenged John Cena. The narrative of Wyatt punishing Bryan for abandoning him was plenty powerful, though.
As fantastic as each man's performance was, it slips down to No. 3 thanks to a more hectic collision at Payback and The Wyatt Family's best work against their biggest rivals.
2. Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena (Payback 2014)
The climax to the John Cena-Bray Wyatt feud resulted in a Last Man Standing match worthy of discussion as one of the best of its kind.
The rubber match featured a beautiful pace; it was a slow, grinding slugfest that morphed into a dizzying battle. Wyatt danced with his foe, and Cena smashed him into the ring steps—all before The Usos and The Wyatt Family got involved.
Erick Rowan and Luke Harper vs. The Usos provided a thrilling subplot and a number of breathtaking violent moments. A wake of broken tables trailed behind their fight.
Fans will no doubt argue endlessly about the result, about Cena not losing to the monster to further elevate him. Wyatt, though, upped his stock with the showing. He added another display of brutality to his resume and entered his name into the Match of the Year discussion again.
The Wyatt Family's first year has seen only one match that has been more powerful and more unforgettable—an electric collision with The Shield.
1. The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield (Elimination Chamber 2014)
The straight-forward narrative of WWE's two most rugged groups began with greatness.
The Wyatt Family and The Shield were out to prove who truly belonged atop the WWE food chain. Both groups had run over combinations of top stars. Both teams felt like charging trains about to collide.
It's no surprise, then, that fans were chanting "This is awesome!" before the first blow was thrown.
The action delivered again and again. A conveyor belt of suicides, suplexes, acrobatic feats and battering-ram-style offense made this the most exciting meetings between the two groups.
The big moments saw Seth Rollins suffer a chokeslam through a table and Luke Harper take a spear for his leader. Other matches had more complicated stories, but the tale of two sets of alpha males did well to burn this melee into fans' brains.
For The Wyatt Family to top this, the trio would need to have another set of enemies that fans longed to see them smash into as much as The Shield, that culled their best efforts out of them. That would be like finding a second soul mate, though.