On 12/26/2020, the wrestling world lost one of its best as Jonathan Huber, also known as Luke Harper and most recently Brodie Lee, lost his life to a non-COVID related lung issue. For years he had worked in WWE and was most recognizable as one of Bray Wyatt’s followers before spinning off with fellow Bray Wyatt follower Erick Rowan to form The Bludgeon Brothers. This is where I first took note of him as I started watching wrestling again right as Wyatt was winding down (eventually teaming up with Matt Hardy to form The Deleters of Worlds and disappearing entirely before reemerging as The Fiend) and The Bludgeon Brothers definitely stood out as unstoppable monsters that the Baby Face teams had to overcome. Despite having such an instantly recognizable look and an indelible presence, Harper wasn’t given many opportunities and he eventually left the company at the end of 2019 to join AEW a few months later. This is where he truly started to shine for a lot of people and made his big debut as The Exalted One Brodie Lee, leader of The Dark Order, but as luck would have it his debut was on 3/18/2020; the very week AEW started having empty arena shows due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite such a monumental task, he managed to not only get himself over without a live crowd to cheer him on, he more or less saved The Dark Order and made them the powerhouse at AEW that they are today. Sure, the talent was ALWAYS there with Evil Uno doing a solid job as the interim leader and Jon Silver only needed some time to come out of his shell, but if Brodie Lee hadn’t come in at just the right time it’s possible that AEW could have lost faith in the group and would have shunted them down the card. As the Exalted One, the man was an impressive powerhouse with a unique charisma that set him apart from the other Big Men at the company like Lance Archer and Dustin Rhodes; the latter of whom he had an absolutely AMAZING match with on 9/9/2020.
Beyond his proficiency inside the ring, he was fantastic on the mic and delivered some amazing promos as The Exalted One; calling out anyone who was in his way to dominating AEW. He headlined 2020’s Double or Nothing PPV in a losing bid against Jon Moxley, and there months later he utterly DESTROYED Cody to win the TNT Title. His final match was on 10/7/2020 against Cody in a Dog Collar match for the TNT title where he lost to the Cross Rhodes and wasn’t seen on AEW since then.
I don’t even know what to say about this. It’s one thing if we know someone is fighting against an illness for a while or if it’s someone who had an illustrious career that they’ve already put behind them. Brodie Lee though? He was in the midst of a career revival that was poised to be one of the best stories of the year, and its cut short without warning. A man who has said in the past how unfulfilled he was working at WWE finally found his place somewhere else getting the pushes and the creative freedom he wanted. It’s different from guys like Moxley and Jericho who we knew would land on their feet no matter where they ended up. Brodie Lee was beloved by many but was not at their level when he was working for WWE and so he took a genuine risk by making the jump to AEW; a decision that his wife encouraged him to make and is now mourning his loss more than anyone along with their two sons. You look online right now and you there are no shortage of people in the industry talking about what a great guy he was and how much he loved his family, and it’s times like these where you really want there to be justice in this world or for the universe to work in some by some sort of order. It’s just unfair that this man’s journey felt like it only just begun and now it’s been tragically cut short; that he won’t be able to get that big pop in front of a packed stadium as he comes out as the superstar MR. BRODIE LEE, and that his family is left with a hole that will never be filled. Those with more experience in this than I will have better words to say as I’m sure Dave Meltzer is writing a phenomenal piece on the man and WhatCulture Wrestling already has a heartbreaking video up from Simon Miller. I don’t know what’s waiting for any of us at the end of our own paths, but it’s days like this that I genuinely hope that there’s something after all of this and that Brodie Lee has some measure of peace for all the good he did and all the joys in this life that were so suddenly taken away from him. I guess all I can say is to try and remember the life he DID get to lead and let’s not dwell too hard on what he didn’t get to accomplish. Any loss in this industry is hard and we’ve had so many to deal with in this horrible year, but we don’t keep their memory alive by losing hope or giving up; we keep them in our hearts and minds by continuing to support the people whose lives they touched. For Mr. Brodie Lee who was a beacon of light for everyone who met him, that responsibility is a heavy one but is one that all of us should feel honored to take on.