It’s been almost a year since Brodie Lee, then known as Luke Harper, requested his release from WWE. It didn’t work out well for him, with WWE adding time to his contract, and aside from one brief return last year, keeping him from wrestling at all. But finally WWE’s position on releasing talent changed, and once his non-compete agreement ran out, Brodie Lee was able to debut on AEW the week before last, revealing himself as the Exalted One behind the Dark Order.
Now, as is becoming the custom for workers who leave WWE for AEW, he’s gone on Talk Is Jericho to discuss his problems in WWE, and what’s different about All Elite Wrestling.
First of all, that thing you’ve heard about how Vince didn’t like Luke Harper because he didn’t have a Southern accent? Turns out that’s true.
So I think the way I do talk, Vince doesn’t see a person that looks like me talking like me. And I don’t think he could get over that. He saw a backwoods hillbilly who talked in a southern drawl, and being from Rochester, New York and being somewhat eloquent, he didn’t understand, and it just didn’t compute with him.
He had his own ideas for things he could do in WWE, but none of them ever got approved:
I wanted to be a collector of some sort, almost like, I’m very into serial killers, and stuff like that, so I wanted to collect something from each person I would beat, and then the problem just become that I wasn’t beating anybody, so it’s hard to collect from people to do that. I also wanted to be maybe a smart monster, a very intelligent monster, where I can speak like I do in a very intelligent way and break my opponents down in a certain way that I wasn’t doing in the Wyatt Family, and then just have the same matches I was having, and look the same exact way, so be this slovenly character but just very also intelligent, almost like a Bruiser Brody, and again, I just don’t think he could see that way of talking.
After all those years of doing what he was told and often being told to do nothing, AEW was a whole different world, where the workers have control over their characters.
So then I would start doubting myself, too, like maybe I don’t have it. This happened actually last week with AEW, where it’s like, “Hey, go do this promo.” And coming from WWE, it’s like, “OK, well what do you want me to talk about?” And it’s like, “Well, whatever you want, it’s your promo.” So then it’s like, the stress was like, holy shit. So now I have no one to blame, so if it’s not good, it’s on me, and it’s like, can I do this? So then it became that whole thing too. Even Cody came in the room and he’s like, “Well, what do you got?” And I read it to him and I totally stumbled over everything I was gonna say to him, just I don’t even know, and he goes, “OK, go ahead, good luck” and he just left. And I was like, well, here we go.
The day of his AEW debut, Brodie was incredibly nervous, but once he’d done it he felt much better.
It just didn’t feel right all day, I guess. I was very stressed out about it. More than I thought I would be, and not, I think, as excited or pumped up as I should have been. And then it came on like super fast. They’re like, “Well, the tag match is in the ring, you guys are next.” And I was like, “Holy shit, it’s time to go.” And then that’s when it got keyed up and I was all pumped up. And like doing the promo and the way it came out, I felt really good about everything.
In fact, AEW President Tony Khan had given him the option to delay his debut for a show with a live audience, but Brodie couldn’t wait any longer to be back in the ring.
Tony very specifically texted me and said, “Hey man, if you don’t want to do this, we won’t do this.” And I wrote back, I was like, “No man, I’m all in for Wednesday, just let me know what you need me to do.” And that’s the thing, I had a way out if I wanted it, but I just didn’t think, I’ve been cooped up for so long, and I think I told you this last week, I want to get out, I want to do something, I need to be creative, I need to just fly a little bit, so even that little bit last week was something.
It’s great to see a talent like Brodie Lee in a company that appreciates what he can do, and wants to let him do it. I’m interested to see where the Exalted One goes from here.