wrestling / Columns

On Brodie Lee, Pro Wrestling, & Superheroes

December 27, 2020 | Posted by Blake Lovell
AEW Double or Nothing Brodie Lee

I first got hooked on professional wrestling in the 1980s.

It was the era of Hulkamania, when a larger-than-life character took the wrestling world in the palm of his hand and made millions around the world believe in the power of taking your vitamins and saying your prayers.

For me, like many kids during that era, Hulk Hogan was my superhero. In my eyes, he was invincible. Every time I saw him on my television screen, he had my attention.

In my world, Hulk Hogan was real. I didn’t think about the man behind the character. All I thought about was the man with the 24-inch pythons spending 365 days a year preparing for battle with the likes of Andre the Giant and Zeus.

Brodie Lee wasn’t Hulk Hogan, but he had his own unique presence that you could rarely ignore. At 6-5, 275 pounds, he was every bit of the larger-than-life superhero character that wrestling fans have been enamored by for decades. There were comparisons to Bruiser Brody both due to his name and look, and there was no denying the man’s talent inside a wrestling ring.

Never was that more evident than during the latter part of Lee’s tenure with WWE. He had a successful run with The Wyatt Family and was one half of the highly underrated Bludgeon Brothers team with Rowan. However, fans sensed that Lee still had something else to offer. Something bigger.

When he signed with AEW, the possibilities were endless. He was introduced as the Exalted One, and wrestling fans saw a side of him they’d been waiting to see. He was no longer the supporting cast member. He was the star of the show.

Lee helped push the Dark Order into a new stratosphere, becoming the leader of wrestling’s breakout faction of 2020. He did it both as a menacing monster in the ring and a menacing comedian on Being the Elite. He made you laugh, he made you smile, and most of all, he made you care about him every single time you saw him on screen.

But there’s something I’ve learned since watching Hulk Hogan on my TV in the 80s: there’s more to the wrestler than just the wrestling.

Lee didn’t spend every waking hour plotting the demise of Cody Rhodes and the Nightmare Family, nor did he spend his time away from AEW at the Dark Order hangout trying his hardest not to laugh at John Silver’s latest hijinks.

Instead, Brodie Lee was a family man, and you didn’t have to know him personally to know that he loved his wife and children with all his heart. The messages from those closest to him told the story.

On a recent episode of AEW Unrestricted, Lee joined other AEW champions for a roundtable discussion. In an era where face-to-face interviews have been replaced by video interviews, Lee’s background was different than the others on the podcast. He was driving around with his son in the backseat. And despite playing a dastardly heel on AEW television, his happiness shined through.

He was smiling, laughing, and discussing the journey that led him to becoming TNT Champion in one of the most dominant performances we’ve seen on AEW Dynamite since the show’s inception in October of 2019.

That interview was in October. Two and a half months later, he’s gone.

When I turned on that TV in the 80s, I was convinced that Hulkamania would live forever. I couldn’t fathom the possibility of anything completely destroying my favorite wrestler’s body or spirit. I knew they’d always find a way to bounce back.

In a way, I’ve thought the same of Brodie Lee and many other wrestlers that have come along since the Hogan era. As an adult pro wrestling writer, I know that’s not how life works. But the kid inside me still wants to believe in the power of invincibility for my favorite superheroes.

For so many around the world, both young and old, pro wrestlers are indeed superheroes. There are attributes of certain characters that people can identify with, whether it be their beliefs, their look, or anything else that makes fans gravitate to them.

At just 41 years old, Lee was just getting started on his superhero journey. He was supposed to get his revenge on Cody. He was supposed to eventually win the AEW World Championship. He was supposed to lead the Dark Order for another decade before handing the keys over to Evil Uno.

Most importantly, he was supposed to raise two kids with a wife that loved him.

It’s been a tough year for wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans alike. The deaths of Lee, Hana Kimura, Shad Gaspard, Road Warrior Animal, Rocky Johnson, Kamala, Howard Finkel, Pat Patterson, 411’s own Larry Csonka, and many others in and around the business have produced an enormous amount of sadness.

Meanwhile, millions around the world have faced the challenges of life amid a pandemic, whether in battling the virus itself or battling the mental and physical effects of adjusting to a new way of life.

When tragedy occurs, more often than not, humans find a way to come together as one. Suddenly, bickering over the Wednesday night wars and star ratings seem tiny in comparison to the magnitude of losing someone or something that you care about.

We’re all human beings, and we’re all fighting different battles. The unfortunate part is that sometimes it takes a tragedy to bring out our best and most loving emotions towards one another.

Based on the outpouring of love from his family and peers, Brodie Lee didn’t wait for tragedy to show his love for those around him. He did it every day. His unexpected passing is a reminder for all of us to do the same because there’s no guarantee that we’ll get the opportunity to do it an hour from now, a month from now, or a year from now.

In an interview he did in WWE, Lee fought back his emotions while discussing love for his son and what he wanted to accomplish during his time on Earth.

“I guess if I had a goal in life, it was to be as good a dad as my dad. And I think I’m on my way.”

Turns out that Jon Huber, the loving husband, father, and friend with a heart of gold, was a superhero after all.

And he created a legacy that won’t soon be forgotten.

article topics :

AEW, Brodie Lee, Blake Lovell