'A defining Superstar': WWE world champion Bray Wyatt dies aged 36

Tributes have poured in for the 'very unique, free-spirited' three-time world champion after his untimely death. Credit: Getty Images

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star Bray Wyatt has died “unexpectedly” at the age of 36.

Tributes have poured in for Wyatt, whose real name was Windham Rotunda, since the news of his death was shared by WWE.

Former wrestler Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson was among stars to share touching words about Wyatt, saying he was "heartbroken" about the WWE champion, whom he described as a “very unique, cool and rare character”.

A statement on WWE’s website, which did not give the wrestler’s cause of death on Thursday, gave “condolences to Rotunda’s family, friends and fans”.

"Known for his captivating performances and incredible in-ring presence, Wyatt was a defining Superstar of his generation and accomplished many feats in WWE, including becoming WWE Champion in 2017," the statement continued.

"From his leadership of The Wyatt Family alongside Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and Braun Strowman to his enthralling time as 'The Fiend', Wyatt embarked on an incredible career and saw several iconic rivalries with Superstars such as John Cena, Randy Orton and The Undertaker."

In the WWE ring, Wyatt was a three-time world champion and two-time tag-team champion.

Wyatt, who was the son of Mike and Stephanie Rotunda, had several family members who went into the world of wrestling.

His father, grandfather 'Blackjack Mulligan' Robert Deroy Windham and two of his uncles, Barry and Kendall Windham, all wrestled in WWE.

Hollywood actor Johnson, also known by his ring name 'The Rock' when he was a professional wrestler, shared a photo in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. He wrote: “I’m heartbroken over the news of Bray Wyatt’s passing.

“Always had tremendous respect and love for him and the Rotunda family. Loved his presence, promos, in ring work and connection with @wwe universe.

“Very unique, cool and rare character, which is hard to create in our crazy world of pro wrestling.

“Still processing losing the goat, Terry Funk yesterday and now Bray today. My love, light, strength & mana to the Rotunda family and Funk family during this tough, heartbreaking time. As always, ‘thank you for the house’.”

Funk, who had a 50-year career in wrestling and died aged 79 earlier in the week, also made the leap into Hollywood acting. He starred in Road House opposite Patrick Swayze.

Peacemaker star John Cena wrote in an X post he was “devastated”.

He added: “My heart goes out to the entire Rotunda family. Windham brought the best out of me in so many ways. I’m forever grateful for the moments we shared. A sad day for all those he reached around the world. RIP.”

WWE chief content officer, Triple H, called Wyatt’s death “tragic news” and said his thoughts are with his family.

American wrestler The Miz, who has been in Will Ferrell comedy The Campaign, wrote on X: “The world lost a good one today. Bray Wyatt’s story-telling ability along with his unique creativity in the ring was a force that kept your eyes glued to the television screen.

“Windham Rotunda’s fun-loving, free spirit paired with his infectious laugh is what I will truly miss the most. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Rotunda family. Rest well my friend.”

Former professional wrestler Mick Foley, an actor known for 2019 film The Peanut Butter Falcon, said he was “terribly sad” for his fans and loved ones.

On X, he added: “I thought so highly of Bray Wyatt, and was so flattered when he started using the mandible claw for his finisher. He was a true visionary; one of the most compelling presences that wrestling has ever seen.

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