Erick Rowan (Joseph Rudd) goes in-depth about his time with The Wyatt Family, his love for Brodie Lee, creative inspirations as an actor, where he sees the Erick Redbeard character going in the future, and much more.
We begin by asking Rudd about whether he pays much attention to his own legacy as a performer. Since first signing with WWE in 2011, Rudd was a major part of some WWE storylines with The Wyatt Family, The Rock, and a feud with The Authority. Leaving this WWE legacy behind, we get Joseph’s view on it. “I don’t think about it. You’re given an opportunity, you do it to the best of your ability and it’s a job. When it’s all said and done you give what can at that moment on that day, to the best you could and then you forget about it. I’m fortunate to have made a living doing that for so long (wrestling) and still be doing it, but as far as legacy and all that I don’t get caught up in that because it’s a job. When I go home I’m just Joe, I’m just dad, I’m just a husband you know it’s weird when they talk about legacy because if people start believing in their own hype it’s weird to me.”
In December 2020, Rudd’s former tag team partner Jonathan Huber (Luke Harper/Brodie Lee) passed away. Huber was part of the Wyatt Family alongside Rowan and was his tag team partner when they won the Smackdown and NXT tag team championships. We ask Rowan about the emotion of AEW’s tribute show ‘Brodie Lee Celebration of Life’.
“It’s not a fun place to be. Grieving, sucks. Everyone deals with grief in different ways and unfortunately for me people see how I grieve because I put myself out there to grieve. That show specifically was during covid and there were no funerals happening at that time, there’s no wakes, there’s no saying goodbye with loved ones. Everyone was backstage, his wife, his kids and that was something I really needed at that time just to be able to slowly move on with him and my mind and around everyone that loved him.”
During his time in WWE, the character of Rowan became intrinsically linked with his mask. Rowan was often hidden away behind his mask in the WWE with the mask being used both in The Wyatt Family and in the Bludgeon Brothers, we ask Joseph if there was ever a temptation to lose the mask for good and if would have led to more emotion from the character.
“Definitely, any character has a backstory you have reasons for doing everything. No matter what the storyline is, the Erick Rowan character always had this thing in my head of reasons, whether they told me or not of why the character did certain things. And it’s really funny if you think about it because it’s like I wore the mask and they wanted me to be quiet, but I wore the mask because when I took it off people would look at me and think a certain thing about me whereas if I put it on maybe these kids won’t be scared.
“It made me scarier, in the fact that adults were like ‘Why’s he not talking?’ and ‘What’s wrong with him?’ but in my head, I’m like everyone makes fun of me because I take my mask off, everybody makes fun of me because they think I’m this big giant deformed thing that walks around. So, I put the mask on to try and shelter everything out and to hold everything in. Which is the whole point of needing the Wyatt Family and needing a cult to be a part of.”
We move on to ask Rudd about the direction he would have taken the story of Erick Rowan in WWE, or Erick Redbeard in AEW if he would’ve had the chance to write his own narrative and what the end of the story would have been.
“I think the end of that story would be him being accepted for who he is. For him to be able to be himself, he’s a bit psychotic – he talks to masks. He belongs in a mental institution really but believes himself to be a functioning member of society and that everyone else is wronging him when he’s always in the right. It’s a strangely unique character because it’s not the norm.
“So many of us have these different issues going on and he’s someone who could probably have these issues resolved if somebody sits down and interventions with him. That would be interesting to, what would that character look like? Would I cut my beard, wear a suit, go higher up, and be a commentator who knows? There are so many storylines and avenues that you could do with that character, you know, that’s what I love about the unhinged Erick Rowan/Redbeard character.”
Watch the full chat here: