Mr. Brodie Lee recently reminded me to never stop betting on myself, so I felt compelled to dedicate this month’s editorial entirely to him. As a preface, this piece is going to be a little raw (no pun intended).
Professional wrestling is one of those interests that became part of my life along the way. I think it’s a misconception that older wrestling fans are all die-hards. People don’t realize that wrestling is simply another item on The List (pun intended) of things we enjoy, similar to watching the NBA, playing Fantasy Football, or binge-watching new shows.
People who don’t like wrestling will always think it’s stupid and weird. They’ll adopt the generic, stereotypical position that people who enjoy wrestling are stupid weird. Well, my response to this lately has been, “You know what? I think people simulating rape and murder on shows like Criminal Minds is pretty fucking weird.”
If people just knew how many deaths the longtime wrestling fan must endure, maybe they’d leave us alone. When I was barely a teenager, the great Owen Hart plunged to his death during a live WWE show. I thought it was tragic and rare at the time. Now I know it was just tragic.
Fans react differently to the passing of wrestlers based on their own histories of reinforcement. Perhaps they remember watching their favorite wrestler on WCW Saturday Night with their father or maybe they have a special WrestleMania memory involving close friends. Add to this the often tragic, abrupt, and unexpected nature of deaths in wrestling, and it’s easy to see why adult wrestling fans have such strong emotional reactions to events like Brodie Lee’s recent passing.
Personally, my history of reinforcement with Mr. Brodie Lee was very brief – like 6 months of being an All Elite Wrestling (AEW) fan brief. For whatever reason, I was in one of those life phases in which I wasn’t paying much attention to wrestling when Lee was big bootin’ people as Luke Harper. I knew of his existence, but not much beyond what he looked like. But when Mr. Brodie Lee debuted on AEW Dynamite last year in the midst of COVID-19, I was paying attention to wrestling. I loved Lee’s look and mischievous energy. Watching from home, his charisma was palpable in that empty stadium.
Fortunately, due to the pandemic, I was in a life phase where I could watch AEW Dynamite every Wednesday. This meant getting weekly doses of Mr. Brodie Lee as leader of The Dark Order. I wasn’t quite sure the direction in which Lee would take this group of misfits but I was excited to find out. Then it happened. After a Dark Order segment to end Dynamite, I did a google search of “Brodie Lee” and “WWE”. The fact that I did this search outside of my allotted TV watching time signaled to me that I was now an official fan of Mr. Brodie Lee.
The articles and podcast transcripts produced by my Google search only made me a bigger aficionado of the Exalted One. I learned that Lee, real name Jon Huber, decided to leave the WWE and safe money behind to pursue new opportunities in AEW. The decision didn’t seem to be made on whim, however. After years of giving his blood, sweat, and tears to the WWE, Huber concluded he was not going to receive a huge push or promotion in the company any time soon. I got the impression he wanted to stay there – until he didn’t. Maybe he saw AEW as a more realistic path to his desired spotlight. Whatever his motivations, Huber took that path and became an AEW champion rather quickly. I must admit, seeing him destroy Cody Rhodes in a blink of an eye was pretty damn awesome to watch.
Luke Harper or Brodie Lee were never a part of my greatest memories (unless you consider watching wrestling during a pandemic good times). So why is the recent passing of Jon Huber hitting me extra hard if I was only a true fan of the man for about 6 months? Our history of reinforcement together was brief to say the least.
Perhaps it has to do with Huber’s path to that TNT Television title.
Perhaps, as a grown-ass fanboy closing in on four decades of life, I know what it feels like to scratch and claw and give everything you have – and still not achieve a desired result.
Perhaps it’s because I know what it feels like to take a leap of faith while trying to outrun father time.
And how it feels like to have to provide my credit score to people less credible than me.
Perhaps it’s because some days I want to give up.
Or perhaps it’s because Mr. Brodie Lee reminded me that it’s never too late to raise that strap.