I have only been watching wrestling for about three years now, but the impact of Jon Huber’s death has really struck me. It’s odd; since wrestling has only been a part of my life for a couple of years, part of me feels like I didn’t have the same connection with Huber that fans who have been watching for much longer have, and as a recent fan, my memories of him as a fan are experienced differently than others. But here I am all the same, trying to work through my heavy feelings of the wrestling business having lost an amazing man.
When I initially started watching wrestling, I had seen Luke Harper occasionally as one of the Bludgeon Brothers. Unfortunately, I never really took notice of what he was capable of — WWE’s booking of him made it so there was never really any incentive to focus on Harper. But then one night, I messaged one of my old high school friends who was a huge wrestling fan, asking for suggestions for fun matches to watch. One of the matches she recommended was the 7-man Intercontinental Championship ladder match at WrestleMania 31. This was my first time really discovering what Jon Huber was capable of as a performer, and it made a huge impression on me. His huge stature, his enormously hard hits, and of course his amazing grizzled beard instantly made Luke Harper click for me.
Harper had some absolutely amazing spots in the match, from suicide diving into the group outside the ring, to taking out everyone by swinging a ladder around, to being choked out on the top of the ladder. But the one that has always stayed in my mind is him throwing Dean Ambrose into a ladder suspended between the ring and a barricade. It was brutal, that image is forever stuck in my mind.
From then on, I always made sure to look up from whatever I was doing whenever Luke Harper was on, no matter what the match was. He was able to take a eight minute match in the second hour of Raw and make it something special. That shaggy beard and the intensity in his eyes always entertained and at the same time terrified me.
After being introduced to Luke Harper’s potential, I sought more of his work, which of course brought me to The Wyatt Family. Stories involving Bray Wyatt’s cult faction are some of my favorite angles to go back and rewatch on WWE Network, and Harper is a large part of that. Just like that night staying up late watching the WrestleMania ladder match, I’ve spent many a night late watching old Wyatt Family promos, matches, and feuds. I’ve often found myself staying up way too late, being tired for work in the morning, but finding myself unable to go to sleep, fascinated by the Wyatts and Luke Harper.
Of course, binging old wrestling has its own charm, but it doesn’t compare to that same investment as watching it week to week as it airs. And so what I mostly associate Jon Huber with is his time at AEW as Mr. Brodie Lee.
The absolute energy he had as Brodie Lee, both in his skits and in the ring, were amazing to watch. Every single one of his matches completely blew me away. From defeating Cody Rhodes in less than five minutes for the TNT Championship, to taking a Paradigm Shift through the stage at Double or Nothing only to take another Paradigm Shift before kicking out at one — AT ONE! — the energy of his matches were always PPV worthy.
Tuning in every Wednesday night to Dynamite with my housemate is always a treat, and Brodie Lee was a big reason for my enjoyment of that weekly ritual. Both of us popped hard when he debuted and cried out in disbelief at every match. We laughed at every skit he was in and were utterly chilled by his beatdown of the Nightmare Family. Brodie Lee brought the type of storytelling to AEW that most other promotions fail to have. When he was given free rein to be creative he absolutely delivered.
However, my favorite thing about watching him will always be his discus lariat, especially the power and emotion on his face every time he hit his finisher with such total intensity. No matter what the situation, no matter how trivial the match at the time was, it always commanded respect. The image of a huge man with facial hair like no other twirling around and slamming someone with a clothesline was always awe inspiring.
It has been such a heartbreaking moment for wrestling fans. It is absolutely tragic that Huber died so young, especially because he was, judging from the outpouring of love, grief and remembrance from his peers in both WWE and AEW, he was a not only a great performer, but a great man. And purely from a wrestling standpoint, he was hitting the prime of his career as a talent. Huber’s death is tragic for so many reasons, and I know it’s cliché, but just the suddenness of it all has really hit me.
He had become a staple of my Wednesday nights. Even when he was out, he was never far from my mind — I was always eager to see him return, as I’m sure all of you reading were too. Although I never met him, he had become like a friend I welcomed into my house every week. He helped give me something to look forward to throughout this incredibly depressing year.
Of course, I can only speak about my personal experiences watching him as a fan. But looking at past interviews with him out of character, and from the stories others have told about him, he was an amazing person outside the ring — a loving husband and a dedicated family man who loved being a dad. I cannot imagine what his family and friends are going through right now. But my heart goes out to all of them. He will be missed.
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