PHOENIX -- It's hard to put one of the greatest moments of your life into words minutes after it happens.
Sometimes you don't know the significance of it in real time. Other times you realize it but can't quite process it yet in a way that allows you to describe it. After all, it's hard to explain a feeling you've never had before.
As Bray Wyatt walked into the media room of the Talking Stick Resort Arena moments after winning the WWE championship in the main event of Elimination Chamber, the final pay-per-view for the SmackDown brand before WrestleMania, he shook his head as laid the belt down on a table and sat down.
"To be honest with you," he said, "I don't think I've come to grips with this yet."
His mother, Stephanie Rotunda, was waiting for him in the room and gave him a hug as soon as he walked in -- her voice nearly gone from cheering him on from her ringside seat. His father, Mike Rotunda, was outside the room wearing a smile almost as big as his son's; fielding congratulations from anyone passing him in the corridors of the arena.
Wyatt, born Windham Rotunda, has wrestling in his blood. His father had a distinguished career, in which he won multiple WWF world tag team championships as IRS. His mother is the daughter of Blackjack Mulligan and the sister of Barry and Kendall Windham. And his brother currently performs under the ring name Bo Dallas for WWE's Raw brand.
But on Sunday night in Phoenix, Wyatt became the first member of his family to win the WWE championship.
"@WWEBrayWyatt rose from the ashes in Phoenix to taste ultimate glory!" - @MauroRanallo #WWEChamber #WWEChampion #EaterOfWorlds pic.twitter.com/4MrCZRsSxc
- WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) February 13, 2017
"This is something that cements my legacy," he said, looking at the title. "This is something that I've accomplished -- but I want to accomplish more. WrestleMania is right here."
Before the event, Wyatt introduced his mother to several of the wrestlers backstage, who had never met her but were more than familiar with the legacy of her family.
"Anyone you love, seeing someone they love succeed is something to be proud of," he said. "I would be proud to see anyone I love succeed, so I'm sure anyone who loves me is proud of me right now."
While Wyatt was seemingly born to be a professional wrestler, his path to becoming the WWE champion was far from easy. Over the past eight years he has wrestled under six different names, ranging from his birth name to Husky Harris. He was viewed, at times, as a solid talent who could one day become a tag team champion like his father, but little more by his detractors. On Sunday, Wyatt silenced all of the doubters and critics he's encountered through the years.
"To me it was an up-yours to the authority, because when I walked into this, I don't think anyone ever looked at me and said, 'One day you're going to be WWE champion,'" Wyatt said. "I've seen so many come and go over the years, and so many that look the part and thought they were something special and they just weren't. And someone like me, I had to cut my teeth for years just to be recognized. No one looked at my direction. I had to grab them by the throat and make them look me in the eyes and say, 'Look at me.' This is a huge accomplishment for me, because no one else expected it but I always did."
Not only did Wyatt win the WWE championship, but he also is currently positioned to face Randy Orton in the main event of WrestleMania 33 in Orlando. Wyatt's father and uncle as well as Orton's father, "Cowboy" Bob Orton, were on the first WrestleMania card back in 1985.
"This pretty much tells me I'm in the main event at WrestleMania," he said. "That's pretty cool."
While Wyatt smiled and refused to reveal his Sunday night celebration plans, he admitted the party won't last long with his next event scheduled in less than 48 hours and a six-hour drive to Anaheim, California, awaiting him in the morning.
"I really don't get to enjoy it," he said. "After I'm done here, I have to race to get to the next town. That's what I do. That's who I am. I'm a nomad. I kept traveling and I kept working and scrapping to get by all these years, and finally I get this moment, but I'm 29 and I have so much work left to do. Tomorrow is no different. Well, the only thing that will be different is that I'll be recognized as the champion I already knew I was."