The news of Brodie Lee’s death has rocked the wrestling world. He was only 41 years old. Seemingly in the prime of his life and career, the man formerly known as Luke Harper in WWE as part of the Wyatt Family had a new lease on life in AEW, leading the Dark Order stable under the name Brodie Lee- his ring name throughout his distinguished career on the independent wrestling scene. Whatever name you knew him by, based on the many, many accounts of social media posts over the past few days, the man behind the character, Jon Huber, was a standout human being.
This has led me to bring this concept I had to Snap Mayors. I initially was planning to do a post in this vein for Eddie Guerrero, marking the 15 year anniversary of his untimely passing. Ultimately, I got a bit too busy to make it happen, but I thought that Lee/Harper was a good place to start. It’s a relatively simple idea- I deliver a write-up of 10 of a wrestler’s best matches. It’s not meant to be a definitive TOP 10, just me shining a light on great matches on a wrestler’s resume worth seeking out. And for someone who spent much of his career looking to break through that glass ceiling, why not do that for Mr. Brodie Lee?
RIP Jon Huber/Brodie Lee/Luke Harper. The wrestling world will miss you dearly.
10. Luke Harper vs. Kassius Ohno- WWE NXT (06/11/2013)
Brodie Lee was re-christened Luke Harper upon joining WWE’s NXT brand. Long before becoming the super smark friendly show packed with high profile indie wrestlers, Harper was one of a handful of guys on the roster with an impressive background on the indies. Another such man was Kassius Ohno (fka Chris Hero). Although Harper was officially a main roster member by the time this match happened, he was often paired with fellow Wyatt Family member Erick Rowan. In this singles outing in Full Sail, Harper was able to give fans a glimpse of why he was so highly touted, engaging Ohno in a heated grudge match with some snug strikes swinging. Ohno, for his part, was in fighting shape around this time and gave as good as he got, enabling Harper to show off his selling ability along with his brutal offense. A real hidden gem on the pre-Network era of NXT.
9. Luke Harper vs. Chris Jericho- WWE Smackdown (18/07/2014)
As mentioned previously, the first couple of years of Harper’s WWE career saw him primarily serve as a member of the Wyatt Family, either acting as Bray’s lackey or teaming with Rowan. As a result, significant singles opportunities were few and far between, but one big one took place on this episode of Smackdown prior to Battleground in 2014. Chris Jericho and Bray Wyatt were engaged in a fiery rivalry, so Harper stepped in to soften up Y2J heading into his PPV match with the Eater of Worlds. Despite Jericho and Harper being at two noticeably different spots on the totem pole at this stage of their careers, Jericho was very giving and gave Harper a lot of offense which led to some convincing near falls. Ultimately, the Ayatollah of Rock And Rolla would prevail, but this was a nice sample of what Harper as a major singles star in WWE could be. Also, it gives us an idea at what a battle between the Exalted One and Le Champion could have looked like in AEW.
8. WWE Tag Team Championship- 2/3 Falls- The Wyatt Family vs. The Usos- WWE Battleground 2014
This was a wild battle that stole the PPV in the opening match. Harper, along with Rowan, were dominant monsters throughout this match, and the 2/3 Falls stipulation really added drama, as the underdog Usos scored almost a fluke pin to even up the score going into the final fall. Harper in particular really shone as his motor allowed him to keep up with the smaller, faster Usos as the speed and intensity of the match increased down the stretch. The series of near falls down the stretch were incredibly dramatic, and the crowd were completely invested the whole way. Harper took the loss in the end, but it was still a great example of his talent- a truly great tag team match in a company that doesn’t always value its tag division.
7. WWE Intercontinental Championship- Ladder Match- Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler- TLC 2014
Another opening match on a PPV, another time where Luke Harper may have stolen the show. More proof that he deserved to be higher up the card. He meshed really well with his opponent, Dolph Ziggler, here. I could have chosen the match where Harper actually won the title on Raw, but I went with this because it shows Harper’s diversity as a performer. We don’t often see big men in singles ladder matches- you often get a token one in a MITB match or something, but one-on-one, they typically keep 300+ pounders away from this gimmick. Fortunately, Harper was agile and athletic enough to hold his own in this environment, and brought some innovative spots, including a slingshot using a ladder. Both men were busted open and beaten up by the conclusion of this one- an absolute thrill ride that stands out in the history of great matches at the annual TLC PPV.
6. AEW World Championship- Brodie Lee vs. Jon Moxley- Double Or Nothing 2020
Brodie Lee’s arrival in AEW was a statement that he was betting on himself after years of not being used to his full potential in WWE. In his first high profile showing in the All Elite organisation, he faced another man who had similar motivations in leaving McMahon Land- Jon Moxley. The former Dean Ambrose, Mox made a statement in his AEW debut at the inaugural event, Double Or Nothing 2019, and a year later found himself defending the AEW Championship against another WWE alumni with something to prove. Both men wrestled like they had a chip on their shoulder, and a long history in and out of major wrestling companies had created a nice chemistry here. Brodie showed that he was more than up to the task of being a main event player, and although he didn’t walk away with the championship, he did walk away with an enhanced reputation as a player in AEW.
5. Harper & Rowan vs. Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns- Hell In A Cell 2019
In what would be Harper’s final high-profile hurrah in WWE, he briefly resumed his tag team with Erick Rowan. Known as the Wyatt Family, then the Bludgeon Brothers, finally it was simply Harper & Rowan. They would take on two of the biggest stars in WWE, Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan. This match had a tornado tag stipulation, meaning that all four men were legal at the same time. The result? Beautiful chaos. Harper didn’t actually claim match of the night this time around- that honour would go to Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks for their Cell match. But this far outperformed everything else on the show- this was the one where Rollins and the Fiend basically killed the HIAC gimmick.
4. Luke Harper vs. Dominick Dijakovic- WWE Worlds Collide 2019
Assuming the records on Cagematch are accurate, this was Harper’s final televised singles match in WWE. He wrestled in a couple of battle royals, dark matches and the aforementioned tornado tag, but this was the last time Harper did his thing in a WWE ring one-on-one for the world to see. And what a match it was. Harper had publicly been requesting his release prior to this, dissatisfied with his position in the company. When he was thrown a bone with this spot on a NXT vs. NXT Alumni special, he made the most of it. Men like Dominik Dijakovic and Keith Lee are noted today as big men who can fly around the ring like much smaller men, but years before they were doing it on major stages, it was Luke Harper redefining to modern audiences what a big man in wrestling could be. Harper vs. Dijakovic was 12 minutes of mayhem, with both working their asses off and packing in double the amount of action you would normally see in a match of that length.
3. Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper- WWE Elimination Chamber 2017
There’s a couple of things we know about Randy Orton, a couple of universal truths if you will. One- he’s one of the most gifted and talented pro wrestlers of all time. Two- he will often cruise by giving 70%, because he can. Not in this match, though. Harper made him work, and this match was an underrated gem that doesn’t get talked about enough today, but it was a stellar main event level match. Matches like this are part of the reason I’ve started this series. There were several moments where Harper convinced me that he was going to claim victory over the multi-time world champion, and he looked so strong in defeat that many at the time were calling for him to be added to the Orton vs. Wyatt WWE Championship match at Wrestlemania 33. It probably would have been far better than what we got, but I digress. Go watch this match.
2. The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield- WWE Elimination Chamber 2014
Three years prior to what could have been a breakout singles match with Orton for Luke Harper, he was an integral part of this faction warfare. The Shield had been a dominant force in WWE since their arrival on the scene at the 2012 Survivor Series and they had run roughshod through the company for almost a year and a half. Then they encountered the Wyatt Family, who turned up around Summerslam 2013. Bray Wyatt was the clear leader, as the name of the group would suggest, but Harper was a true workhorse in this match, delivering devastating offence and making his presence felt at just the right times. He was also a crucial part of his team winning the match, “taking the bullet” for Bray as he stood in the way of a Reigns Spear. Harper’s work in this match helped establish Bray and the Wyatt Family as credible forces in WWE. This match is known for being one of the best matches of The Shield’s run, but it deserves attention for how Luke Harper played his role especially.
1. TNT Championship- Dog Collar Match- Brodie Lee vs. Cody Rhodes- AEW Dynamite (07/10/2020)
Talk about going out on top. The final match of Brodie Lee’s career was his best. This was outstanding. A lot of moving parts here- Lee had Anna Jay and John Silver at ringside, while Cody had Brandi Rhodes and Arn Anderson. They were used to great effect, as Silver took the bullet for Mr. Brodie Lee early and got busted open, and Arn had a chair launched at his head, confronted Lee, and wound up taking a chain shot. This was bloody and violent. They used the chain in a variety of inventive ways, including Cody dragging Lee off the apron right into a Cody cutter, Lee using the chain like a clothesline, Cody whipping Lee with the steel, Lee hitting a massive powerbomb on the chain… and the final blow. Cody wrapping the steel chain around Lee’s face multiple times and hitting Cross Rhodes. My god. This was like old school NWA meets the original ECW. What an emotional, violent, dramatic thrill ride.
The best of Brodie Lee. The best of Luke Harper. But the best of Jon Huber… that’s for his friends, family and colleagues to tell. And they sure have. The outpouring of love and fondness from literally everyone who ever came into contact with Huber speaks to the kind of person he was. By all accounts, an amazing human being. As far as pro wrestling goes, he was a tremendous pro wrestler. He deserved more opportunities at being on top. As this collection of matches shows, he gave his all to putting on a great performance and entertaining the fans. For that, I’m grateful. You guys- you’ve got some homework to do. Most of the video links I provided are highlights. Go find the full matches to really appreciate what a talent Jon Huber/Luke Harper/Brodie Lee was. May he Rest In Peace.
Until next time, take care everyone. Hope you’re making the most of your holiday season with your family and friends.