Brodie Lee’s death represents a loss that can be felt across the entire wrestling industry.
On the 26th of December, the wrestling world lost one of its greatest talents in Jon Huber, known in the wrestling world as Brodie Lee. More than that, fellow wrestlers lost a kind friend. The Huber family lost their husband and father. And a gap was left in the hearts of both fans and those who knew Brodie alike.
You may know Brodie Lee from his time in WWE as a perfectly acted odd cult follower. From his time in independents such as CHIKARA as a hardened fighter. Or most recently, as the maniacal and entertaining leader of the Dark Order. But underneath this often villainous character was a man beloved by the wrestling industry.
And while I cannot memorialize Brodie Lee without personally knowing him, definitely not one who left such a lasting and meaningful impact on those around them, I hope this piece will let you see what Brodie Lee contributed to the wrestling world. There will never be another talent quite like him.
Eddie Kingston Vs Brodie Lee-It’s How You Play The Game-CHIKARA
Sunday, March 25th, 2012. Eddie Kingston had performed as one of the most beloved faces and Grand Champions of the now-defunct CHIKARA throughout the year. And for every great hero, you need an equally great villain. A pair of shoes that one Brodie Lee was more than ready and prepared to fill.
Brodie Lee brought a sensational sense of brutality to his matches. For someone who does not often practice a stiff style, this is hard to achieve. Brodie achieved that. From a slow but justified in its power, butterfly suplex from the top rope to his iconic low hanging big boot, Brodie Lee is one of the few men who can match Eddie Kingston’s sheer intensity in scrap-for-scrap performances. And he proved this every second of the match.
And while he never looked weak throughout, Brodie made sure that Kingston in turn did not either. You can’t help but feel that’s the kindness so many who knew Brodie Lee spoke of coming through. Always making sure he never “buried” anyone and letting them rise as well as he did.
I would normally put a warning for Mike Quackenbush being present on commentary. But frankly, Brodie Lee’s amazing performance throughout the match paired with a beloved smug heel demeanor quickly comes to mind when thinking of this match and whoever was on commentary.
I am no expert of Chikara lore. But from the reaction of the personal venue and the chemistry between Lee and Kingston, you can tell that Brodie Lee earned his place as a pillar of its golden age.
Claudio Castagnoli vs Brody Lee-Style and Substance-CHIKARA
I mentioned how Brodie Lee was a hallmark of CHIKARA’s greatest age. Alongside another pillar of the promotion in Claudio Castagnoli (WWE’s Cesaro) the two were matched in a heated long rivalry that was destined to end the only way it could: Inside a steel cage.
Throughout the commentary, they describe the beginning of Brodie Lee’s dominant rampage through CHIKARA as tearing through everyone in his way. And from how he tosses around the barely shorter Claudio with a sense of carelessness and apathy within the cage, it’s easy to see why this is truly deserved. When Lee wanted to, he could play the destructive heel in a fashion that only a rare few could hope to match.
This is one of the few steel cage matches-no. One of the few matches I wanted to rewatch as soon as I was finished. From the co-operation and chemistry of both men working intertwined with one another as they exchange blows or needed to sync up, such as a synchronized fall on the ropes, you can tell that Brodie Lee’s understanding nature comes through. A nature that led to amazing matches such as these but more importantly, the respect and friendship of his peers.
The match begins building up to a crescendo near the end when Brodie Lee is all but ready to break out of the cage and win. Only to be distracted by the one and only late Larry Sweeny. To see two icons of wrestling who are no longer with us interacting in such a memorable moment of independent wrestling history is something that you can only watch to feel the true weight of. And what Larry and Lee set up with this moment fully delivers on the build-up.
Why, only a flying European uppercut from the top of the cage by Claudio which is beautifully sold by Brodie Lee, allowing his body to fold up in a way even the most limber cruiserweight would struggle with.
In the youtube video intro of this, Ultramantis Black describes this as one of the best big men matches in wrestling history. It’s not only that but one of the best steel cage matches. One of the best independent matches. And one of the best matches of either man. And it solemnly reminds me that we won’t see Brodie Lee and Cesaro perform like this again.
Luke Harper Vs Randy Orton-Elimination Chamber 2016-WWE
Then going by the name Luke Harper, Brodie Lee’s WWE run was one of ups and downs through no fault of his own. Unfortunate injuries and poor booking hampered his career there. But when Brodie’s skill and ability shone through, it was one hell of an up to see.
This match was the beginning of Brodie’s second singles run. And the crowd was here for it. From the momentous pop of his return from injury a few months earlier, it only rose and rose and rose since then.
When you look at Brodie during this match, you can see the appreciation and joy in his face, even beneath his amazing character work. Interacting with the crowd and putting an extra “oomph!” on his taunts, this was a man who had so much to give the fans of wrestling and was finally getting the gratitude he deserved for it.
And as is in-character for Brodie Lee, he gave the fans what they asked for in an astoundingly dynamic match with Randy Orton. From brutal brawls on the outside, even drawing some never before seen energy from the sometimes lethargic Orton, Lee highlighted how he could bring a sense of brutality to the sanitized WWE without the need for weapons or shock tactics.
This was such a drag-out barfight of a match, that I briefly forgot the outcome in my rewatch. I-and I am not joking-said “No!” when Orton hit an RKO on Brodie Lee to win. It takes a special kind of wrestler to achieve this in a fan. But as I’ve said, Brodie Lee was a rare talent.
Luke Harper Vs Dolph Ziggler-TLC 2014-WWE
Remember how in the last section I said Brodie Lee doesn’t need weapons to bring violence to a match? Well, just because he doesn’t need them, doesn’t mean he can put them to very good use.
Throughout this ladder match for the Intercontinental Title, Brodie Lee makes Dolph Ziggler look like a million bucks in front of Dolph’s hometown. And this is done by absolutely brutalizing Dolph throughout the match. Tossing Dolph around the ring like he weighs nothing and putting the ladder to work in a creative manner such as wrapping it around Ziggler for a slingshot, Brodie highlights just how much of a different variety of monster heel he could be.
And this only serves to make Dolph’s comeback all the more shocking and impressive. All the more astounding when his rising goal of claiming the title breaks through the intense amount of punishment Brodie put him in. All to make Dolph look like a star in front of the crowd.
It takes more than just laying down to make someone look strong. You need to make them work for it. In the words of Eric Bischoff “I want my babyfaces to fight dragons. Not salamanders.”
Brodie Lee is many things. And one of those is a bloody dragon of a heel that no-one can deny.
Brodie Lee Vs Cody-AEW Dynamite
All of these matches I have mentioned have Brodie Lee taking losses. And that is not meant as a slight against the man. But when I thought of the No.1 slot for this piece, I immediately knew it would be this match. This was the match where Brodie Lee received everything he pushed and worked for throughout the years. And he damn sure deserved it.
Cody, easily the biggest clean-cut Face of AEW, had been on an astounding run against both roster talent and the best of the independent scene in defending his AEW title. With the world title out of grasp due to storyline reasons, it seemed the sky was the limit for Cody while holding the TNT Belt.
And then, Cody met Brodie Lee. And Brodie Lee, in no uncertain terms, absolutely decimated Cody in a one on one match. The few seconds of rushing Brodie into the corner was the only sense of accomplishment Cody had in this match as Brodie manhandled the all-star and made himself look like a walking apocalypse.
An apocalypse that was capped off with a sickeningly beautiful standing powerbomb from Brodie Lee, followed by the three-count that resulted in a new TNT Champion.
Now, Brodie would soon lose that title upon Cody’s return match in an equally brutal dog collar match. But for that moment, surrounded by his followers in the Dark Order, holding the title aloft while declaring his victory to an awestruck Tony Schiavone, one thing was clear.
Brodie Lee earned this moment. And anyone who knew anything about wrestling agreed.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about Brodie Lee’s hard work in the ring. His ability to make himself and others look strong. His popularity with the crowd. But if I’m going to end my thought on Brodie Lee’s life, it will be with the fact that upon the tragic news of his passing, there was something that stood out.
No-one had a single bad thing to say about Brodie Lee. From long past coworkers. To current. Or fans who only briefly knew him. Everyone had only kindness and support to say of what they got from Brodie Lee. He was a man who knew that while wrestling mattered, who you were, in reality, matted a lot more.
It’s near impossible to be a universally beloved wrestler. It’s even harder to be a universally beloved man. But like I’ve said in this article, Brodie Lee was a rare enough person to achieve both.
Rest in peace, Jon Huber. You will always be missed.