To kick off the “Beards In Pop Culture” series of articles I am going to be writing, I decided I would go with a trio of the three biggest beards in popular culture at the moment. They belong to three superstars of WWE, the Wyatt Family. These three men are Bray Wyatt, the patriarch of the family, Luke Harper, the older brother, and Erick Rowan, the savant younger brother.
The three men are what is commonly referred to as a “stable” in wrestling, essentially a team up of like minded characters with story lines and rivalries against other groups. The Wyatt boys’ draw their flavour from groups such as the Leatherface family and the inbred back woods characters from the Wrong Turn films, with Bray Wyatt often being compared to charismatic cult leaders like Charles Manson. In fact it’s a surprise that WWE Studios haven’t made their own series of horror films about the three yet.
Let me paint you a picture. Music and lights are loud and brash in the arena and then darkness. No lights. And then a flash across the massive screens of the arena, showing crows, dead trees, a pregnant belly with something intelligible scrawled across it. Loud sounds, unknowable as to what they are, pump across the arena speakers. And then another flash followed by a face exclaiming quietly “We’re here”. Flash again and our three Wyatts stride out to the square ring. Their music plays and people in the audience have their phones lit up in their hands, showing a sea across the audience of what Wyatt likes to call “his fireflies”. They amble down to the ring, Bray holding a lantern in his hand, only to blow it out, sending the arena into darkness once more before the lights come back on and the arena is lit once again, showing Bray sitting in his favourite rocking chair, flanked by the two monsters behind him. All three stand over 6ft, with Erick Rowan standing at a full 6ft8in. Their preferred garb is a pair of dirty overalls and a beat up lamb mask for Rowan, a stained singlet and jeans for Harper and Bray Wyatt has a taste for a bizarre combination of a black tank top underneath a Hawaiian style button up shirt, matched with black cargo pants and a straw fedora. Sometimes he ditches the button up for, what I believe is a far superior choice, a leather butchers apron. Oooh. It just screams cannibal and I love it. Clothes don’t make you scary, I hear you saying. And you’re right. They don’t. But then you get a chance to pan up the faces of these three men and I have never seen the wild eyed and yet vacant stare so perfectly encapsulated on one man, much less on three men at the same time.
The three men enjoying running rampant across the rest of the roster of the WWE, picking fights with whomever they choose, ruining careers, getting in the middle of title matches and generally making a mess of the lives of many fans whose favourite superstar is reduced to a puddle after a three on one beat down. Your heart races as you see the brutality of two men well over 6 feet tall holding the limp form of your favourite wrestler between them, ready for their leader to run straight through him. It’s mean, brutal and violent. Essentially what many of the older fans of WWE want from their choice of blood sport. “Yeah. But Jack, it’s all fake, dude.” I’ll stop you there. It’s not fake. It’s scripted, but those fractured bones, head gashes and broken necks are not fake. And there it is, for me. These three are causing (scripted) trouble through what is essentially violent theatre, with each beat down ending with a rather well spoken Bray Wyatt announcing himself as either “The Eater Of Worlds” or “The New Face Of Fear” and the entire stadium going into black out. It’s a horror movie every week.
And of course, being horror movie villains, they need suitably messy back stories. Rowan’s was that he was found as a child by Wyatt, after having been brutalised, mistreated and thrown out as a youth. He was lost, hurt and tired with no one in the world. Easy prey for a creature like Wyatt to twist and form to become a mindlessly loyal puppet to his will. Rowan did have a brief “face” turn, which means he became a good guy, for a little while. This included many matches against his brother, Harper, before he turned “heel” (bad guy) again and teaming with him to form a tag team that is simply dubbed as “The Wyatt Family”.
Luke Harper’s history is even less clear, his promo shorts never detailing anything about his past, with only his actions in the ring to show us that his character’s future is as brutal and unforgiving as one would expect. Wyatt’s history is likely the darkest, with tales of being locked up, mental asylums and the mention of a “Sister Abigail”, who he named his finishing move after, a kiss on the forehead followed by a face plant into the ring. This history never comes to light, but perhaps it’s all the darker for that.
So, for the first “Beards in Pop Culture” piece, you were treated to a “three for”. Even if you are not a fan of wrestling or the WWE, the Wyatt family beards are all excellent.
You didn’t think I was going to finish without actually talking about said beards, did you? Oh no. No chance. Let’s embark on a dark little trip and talk about the Wyatt Family’s beards.
The patriarch, Bray Wyatt, pairs his dark brown beard with some very long hair. His dirty and curly, lank locks reach down past his shoulders, framing his face with hair everywhere. It gives the impression of a man who has no idea what a barber even is, much less seen one in his life.
First son, Luke Harper, enters and the moment you see him bend down you are treated to a huge bald spot on the back of his head. Is this from the stress of living in the woods? Perhaps the big guy pulls his own hair out? More than likely he is just balding earlier than most. But even with that bald spot, he has more lank and gross hair than most anyone else on the roster, before you even come close to his beard. Dark, curly and once again, perhaps most importantly, long. He shares a certain resemblance with a once prolific pirate, who himself may show up in an article soon enough.
And finally, my personal favourite of the trio, and not just because of his beard. Rowan is shaven bald with a huge, fiery red beard that pokes out well below his lamb mask. The man himself is not a looker to most, but the beard is a thing of magnificence to behold.
So go watch a match or two and enjoy looking at three men well over 6ft each demolish all before them while their hair whips in the wind and their beards defy all those clean shaven before them. It’s unnerving, but I know a few of you like to feel uncomfortable once in a while.