Brodie Lee was an exceptional wrestler, able to work many different styles, showing remarkable agility for a big man. More importantly, though, Lee was a family man who loved them with all his heart. This retrospective will provide insight into the career and life on Jon Huber.
On December 26, 2020, Jon Huber, the wrestler known as Brodie Lee and Luke Harper in WWE, passed away, leaving his wife and two sons behind. Brodie’s career in wrestling began in 2003 when he started as a backyard wrestler going by the name Huberboy #2, with his real-life brother going by the name Huberboy #1. This name has led to friends, like Chris Harrington (@Mookiegana) referring to him as HB2 throughout the many personal messages left in his wake.
Eventually, Huber sought formal training from Kirby Marcos & Rik Matrix in his home of Rochester, New York, and subsequent training from Tony Mamaluke as well. He initially debuted with his original character of Huberboy #2 under a mask, but later in the year unmasked and started working under the name he would be known for the longest: Brodie Lee. Lee took his name from the film Mallrats, combining the name of the actor Jason Lee and his character portrayed in the film, Brodie Bruce.
Lee would go on to debut for CHIKARA in 2007, replacing Reckless Youth, who no-showed an event. This led to Lee spending time as a big man in a promotion filled with smaller men. Lee would use his size to his advantage, bullying smaller wrestlers, but using his agility to keep up with their pace. In the land of cartoon characters, time-traveling via Deloreans, literal ants who formed The Colony, and UltraMantis Black forming various cults, Brodie Lee stood out.
Lee adopted the nickname of Big Rig at this time, taking on a character that was a trucker. Lee continued to bully and dominate smaller wrestlers until 2008, when Claudio Castagnoli (WWE’s Cesaro) grew tired of seeing him push around the wrestlers who were smaller than him. Castagnoli, a big man in his own right, feuded with Lee over several months. After both men were disqualified for accidentally attacking the referee in separate matches, their feud culminated in a cage match that saw Castagnoli go over, defeating the villain to end the feud.
Lee would go on to form a stable with Eddie Kingston and Grizzly Redwood, aptly named The Roughnecks. Lee teamed with Redwood, though to little success, which led to Lee turning on Redwood and starting a feud with him. Redwood would prove to be a thorn in the side of Lee for, as the two had several matches. Eventually, Redwood was able to win the favour of Lee, and they resumed teaming.
Lee’s final run in CHIKARA began when he tried to enter the 12 Large: Summit to become the first-ever CHIKARA Grand Champion but had to leave the tournament due to injury. Lee made his final appearance in CHIKARA in 2012, challenging Eddie Kingston for the CHIKARA Grand Championship in a losing effort, before going to WWE.
Lee also made an impact in several other indie promotions around the United States, seeing work for Squared Circle Wrestling, where he was the 2CW Heavyweight Champion. Lee also worked for Ring of Honor, joining Jimmy Jacobs’ stable, Age of the Fall. This saw Lee feud with the famous Necro Butcher, before ultimately losing to Delirious in his final match in ROH after Delirious turned on The Age of the Fall. Lee also worked for Evolve, JAPW, Dragon Gate USA, and Dragon Gate in Japan, along with several other smaller indies before joining WWE in 2012.
Upon arriving in WWE, Lee took on the name of Luke Harper, where he was introduced as a member of the Wyatt Family. He would see tag team success with his partner, Erick Rowan, in NXT before being called up to the main roster with Bray Wyatt in 2013, seeing him feud with the likes of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, & Goldust, and many others.
Lee was a part of a major feud with The Shield, leading to a critically acclaimed 6-man tag between the Wyatt Family and The Shield at WWE Elimination Chamber 2014. Harper and Rowan would go on to feud with the Usos over the WWE Tag Team Championship for the next little while before Wyatt “set him free,” which led to him working on his own for a short time. Lee would go on to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship from Dolph Ziggler, giving him his first taste of championship gold in WWE. His reign was a short one, as he soon thereafter lost the title back to Ziggler.
Lee battled Dean Ambrose in a series of excellent matches, ending when he lost a Chicago Street Fight to Ambrose . It was not long after that Lee resumed his tag team with Erick Rowan, rejoining the Wyatt Family and feuding with Undertaker and Kane. Lee won the tag team championship with the Wyatt Family, though in a roundabout way, as Randy Orton and Wyatt won the titles, but allowed it to be defended with the Freebird Rule, meaning any member of the Wyatt Family could defend the titles.
After briefly feuding with Orton, Lee started his first true babyface run in WWE, though it was short-lived, seeing him disappear of WWE television for months before being rebranded as one of the Bludgeon Brothers with Rowan. The reformation of their tag team saw Lee and Rowan win the tag titles for the first time at WrestleMania 34, before ultimately losing the tag titles to The New Day after a 135 day reign. Lee then took time off to heal from a wrist injury, and returned to in-ring action in 2019.
Lee would soon thereafter request his release from his WWE contract, but he was not initially granted his release. Before leaving WWE, Lee would briefly reunite with Rowan before Rowan was drafted to Raw, ending their tag team for the last time. In December 2019, Lee was granted his release from his WWE contract.
Upon his release, rumours began to swirl around Lee joining AEW and potentially being a major player there going forward. In March 2020, Brodie Lee debuted as The Exalted One, the leader of The Dark Order, completely revitalizing the group that got off to a very bad start in AEW. Soon, the group began to attract other wrestlers, and Brodie Lee was then surrounded with several of the stars of AEW, from Anna Jay to Alex Reynolds & John Silver, to Colt Cabana. His skits on BTE with the Dark Order became a highlight of the show very quickly, as Lee helped bring out the personality of everyone around him.
Lee went on a tear, remaining undefeated for several weeks in AEW before challenging Jon Moxley (the former Dean Ambrose), reigniting their feud from months before. This saw Lee co-main event the Double or Nothing pay-per-view, his first world title match on a national scale. Lee would lose the match to Moxley, which was an excellent, bloody brawl where both men physically destroyed each other in an effort for the AEW World Championship.
Despite losing the title match, this did not deter Lee, who would then go on to challenge Cody Rhodes for TNT Championship, completely squashing Rhodes. Lee would then defend the title for the next 2 months, defeating the likes of Dustin Rhodes and Orange Cassidy. Upon Cody Rhodes’ return to the company after losing the squash match, Lee challenged Rhodes to a dog collar match, where Rhodes ultimately won the title back in a fantastic old school brawl, and Lee was taken off TV due to an injury. This would be the last match Lee had before passing away.
While I never met Brodie Lee, to say that his career had an impact on me as a wrestling fan would be an understatement. I first encountered Lee’s work in CHIKARA, where, as mentioned above, he stood out as a giant among smaller men. I was very impressed with him and hoped to see him succeed wherever he ended up, thinking he would probably settle into Ring of Honor and work in Japan.
I stepped away from my wrestling fandom for a few years but came back around the time of the WWE Royal Rumble in 2014. Brodie Lee was a big part of the storyline involving Daniel Bryan, and when Lee and the other Wyatt’s feuded with The Shield, I was fully bought into him as a major player going forward. I was shocked to see Brodie Lee, the guy I watched on the indies, be a major part of a stable in WWE, along with being shocked Bryan Danielson was the biggest babyface in the world-leading into WrestleMania 30. I was disappointed he never achieve the main event heights in WWE that he could have reached, but was so glad for him when he was immediately pushed into the main event spotlight in AEW. I was fortunate to get to see him wrestle Kane live in a dark match at WWE Survivor Series 2016.
He may have only had 7 months with AEW before his passing, but those 7 months were an excellent run that saw him become an essential part of the show. Coupled with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the circumstances of his arrival in AEW were not the norm. There were no crowds, and wrestling was quite a bit different from what we came to expect it to be because of it. However, Lee still managed to make it work, from his great in-ring work to his fantastic promos. He played the role of the cult leader quite well, right down to his recruitment of several new members to The Dark Order.
The Dark Order was an act that was floundering and he managed to take it and turn it around into a major player in AEW, to the point now where they are an important part of everything AEW does on TV. His death has hit me hard. The love he has received all over social media from fans, friends, and wrestlers themselves shows that this is not an easy one. Lee was a good wrestler, yes, but more importantly, he was a good man. He loved his family above all else, cherished them deeply, and loved them well.
While I spent the majority of this article covering his career, in the end, the mark of a man isn’t his career, but how others speak about him. It was clear that Jon Huber was well-loved, and loved well. He was a good man in a business where good men are rare. His life touched many, from fans and wrestlers alike, and we will make sure that his children know how loved he was, and more importantly, how much he loved them. We will not forget.
It’s Monday. You know what that means.