Remembering ‘Big Rig’ Brodie Lee: A Fan’s Perspective

‘Hey Brodie…WANNA PLAY SOFTBALL?’ a fan screamed at Brodie Lee in the middle of a match with Isys Ephex, ‘FUCK YEAH’ Brodie immediately responded. This random exchange in the middle of a match for upstate New York’s Squared Circle Wrestling promotion sealed the deal for me. I was already a Brodie Lee fan, but watching Brodie that night was different. Later on as the show came to a close, my friend Phil and I were leaving and looked up to the roof of the hall Brodie had just wrestled at for 2CW’s 50th event. We watched as Brodie climbed back into the building with a beer in hand, ready to celebrate the evening with his comrades. As a fan of wrestling Brodie stood out to me. He was larger than life but at the same time was so real and so relatable.

Growing up in upstate New York, Brodie’s ties to the area and my desire as a young wrestling fan to find quality local wrestling immediately drew me to him. From the moment I saw him hit a big boot that nearly knocked his opponent out of his socks I was hooked. I watched for years, anticipating the moment Brodie would get his big break. I made it a point to travel to shows, bringing my brothers and girlfriend along to events so they could see something new and so I could support ‘Big Rig’ Brodie Lee.

The Wyatt Family
Credit: WWE

I recall the excitement I had when Brodie was officially signed and part of the WWE roster. Watching him progress through development alongside Bray Wyatt as part of this very interesting and fun dynamic was immediately pleasing. Someone I considered ‘my guy’ might get a real shot and he hardly had to change a thing. Over the following years through the ups and downs within the Wyatt Family I watched on in glee as more people hopped aboard the hype train. I recall speaking of Brodie often because his local ties made it easy to explain to friends and family that someone from only a few hours north of our city had finally made it in a realm I could only dream of.

Every step of the way I felt like I was part of Brodie’s ride as a performer. From the legion halls of Binghamton, New York to watching him on the grand stage of WWE’s pinnacle event Wrestlemania I felt a sense of pride that ‘my guy’, my favorite from day one of being a local indy fan, had made it. Countless hours of playing WWE video games as a created Brodie Lee winning championships were now not just gameplay but a reality.

Like many fans, I recognized a sense of stagnation for Brodie (then Luke Harper) within the WWE system. I won’t say it’s the reason I turned away from the WWE product, but I will say a strong run for ‘Luke Harper’ in WWE would’ve without a doubt sucked me back in. This isn’t to say he was done wrong with his time within the WWE system, Brodie had a terrific run, but a man of his calibre the potential is undeniable.

Brodie Lee, The Exalted One
Credit: AEW

Despite being limited by the corporate glass ceiling, my appreciation for Brodie’s talent and desire to see him succeed never wavered. This made his debut as part of the new All Elite Wrestling product that much more exciting. As a fan of Brodie’s the writing was on the wall for months he would surely be making his debut for the company at their upcoming Rochester New York event. It was such an exciting time to be a fan of Brodie’s as the potential might finally be realized within this new environment. My good friend Phil was set to appear at the event live in support of Brodie capping off our ten plus year journey as fans following this man’s career.

Life had other plans however, as the Covid-19 Pandemic led to the cancellation of that show. As the wrestling world was forced to adapt on the fly, Brodie Lee made his debut in the first “empty arena” show in Jacksonville. Settling the question of “Who Is The Exalted One?” of the Dark Order’s storyline, Brodie appeared in a sinister and unnerving vignette setting the stage for the rise of The Dark Order. Throughout Brodie’s run within AEW it was no question that they had big plans for him and the confidence fans had in Brodie’s talent helped those within management see he was a clear choice for a vital role in the promotion. 

Clad in tailor made suits and a demanding demeanor, Brodie’s Exalted Persona brought to the minds of fans everywhere, a sentiment of WWE’s Vince McMahon, and comparisons ran wild. It did not take Brodie long to recognize this and make changes as he came into the role of his own character. Soon we no longer had correlations to Vince McMahon, but instead a new loud foul mouthed entertaining monster had emerged. This short and sweet transition of the Mr. Brodie Lee character should not go unnoticed as a means to act as though Brodie’s tenure in AEW was perfect. Instead, it should be highlighted to showcase Brodie’s wherewithal to change and get better at everything he did.

Brodie Lee, TNT Champion
Credit: AEW

Shortly after Mr. Brodie was revealed to be the Exalted One of the Dark Order, the group began to run the scene within the AEW roster as opponents were quick to take notice of the devastation they could bring with a leader at the helm. The Dark Order itself was finding its footing within AEW, and Brodie Lee cemented the faction as one that was dangerous, devious, and at times, delightfully entertaining.

The skits Brodie did on AEW’s ‘Being the Elite’ YouTube series highlighted Brodie’s comedic ability while also truly elevating the strengths of the talents around him. As the year continued Brodie became one of the most dominant forces in AEW, and turned a stable of devious misfits into a group of talent with a purpose. When Mr. Brodie won the AEW TNT Championship in short order, it was exciting to see the belief this company had in him and the positive direction Brodie would be on. His run as TNT Champion came to a close with one of the best televised matchups in AEW’s short run as Mr. Brodie came out on the losing end of a Dog Collar match with former champion Cody Rhodes. 

Following his defeat Mr. Brodie’s absence initially made sense, it was expected from a storyline perspective that he could handle taking some time away. However, as the weeks turned to months it became a question among wrestling circles, ‘Where is Mr. Brodie?’. Fans speculated that AEW could be planning for a big return. They had to be, they were so tight lipped about the situation and according to reports, it was just an injury holding him back from returning. Over the week of the Christmas taping for Dynamite, AEW brought in Brodie’s son for a dark segment to ‘defeat’ Kenny Omega for the AEW championship. This felt like a Christmas moment for a family member of one of AEW’s more cherished roster members, and yet, it reminded people of Brodie’s absence, and once again sparked questions on when he might return to the ring.

Credit: AEW

On December 26th, the day following Christmas, Mr. Brodie Lee, whose real name is Jon Huber, passed away. Like many wrestling fans, this passing has affected me greatly and really shaken up my current mental state. I did not personally know Jon Huber, I did not have the relationship that a number of friends and coworkers on social media shared with him, and beyond that I am not a member of his family. Yet I still feel a sense of disbelief and unexplainable grief over this moment. I followed this man’s career and really felt like we were just starting to embark on the greatest part of his journey. I will forever cherish Brodie Lee, for all the memories that are far too many to list. As a fan I am devastated and heartbroken, as a father, I am beyond disbelief and as a human I am just praying for all those affected by this passing. Rest in Peace King.