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AEW Dynamite 12/30 Review: A Beautiful Tribute to the Life of Brodie Lee

Tonight’s edition of AEW Dynamite was in tribute to the late Jon Huber, formerly Luke Harper in WWE, and most currently as “The Exalted One” Brodie Lee in AEW. As we all know by now he passed away on December 26th at age 41. As we’ve come to learn over the past few days not only does he leave behind an incredible journey as a wrestler, but an inspirational legacy as a husband and father. He leaves behind Amanda, his wife, and two sons.

The last time such dedication to a memorial tribute was likely for Owen Hart. I can’t recall another show solely dedicated to one individual, carrying the weight of grief and loss.

The memorial show begins with a solemn 10-bell salute, with his family front-and-center among all the wrestlers, trainers, referees, staff, and Tony Khan himself. His son Brodie Jr. is decked out in his own custom suit and Dark Order mask, having his own identity in the stable as -1.

Red eyes everywhere, including from yours truly here. I have no shame in admitting to tear up during the show, and again as I typed this review tonight after the conclusion. This was not easy to write.

The first taped tribute is from Jon Moxley, who talks about having been through the indy scene to the big scene with Huber for over a decade, and shares his feelings of loss for himself, but for the wrestling community as a whole.

It seemed fairly obvious with each match featuring a member of the Dark Order, that team would win, but tonight was not about wins and losses. Some storylines progressed, but overall, this was all paying tribute to Brodie Lee.

The first match featuring Colt Cabana and The Young Bucks defeated Matt Hardy and Private Party. A great match, with Cabana having majority of the ring action, and pulled off moves I haven’t seen from him in such a long time. Asai moonsault off the second rope, and multiple Boom Boom hits. The Hardy Party saw a great offensive roll with multiple signature moves. However, a nice exchange where Matt Jackson goes for a superkick, Hardy ducks, allowing Matt to hit him with his own finishing move. Cabana on a roll, with signature moves to win the match. Huge chants for Colt throughout the match. Great match to start.

After the match ended, The Acclaimed attempted to ruin the moment, but SCU arrived to spoil it. Anthony Bowens and Max Caster eat superkicks and Boom Boom Elbows.

I should add Chris Jericho on commentary tonight was something special.

Darby Allin featured in the next taped tribute, sharing how he considered Brodie a mentor and how he had “no ego” at all and was a mentor, friend, and role model to everyone there.

Lance Archer, Evil Uno, and Stu Grayson defeated Eddie Kingston, The Butcher, and The Blade. Once again, great match with great tributes. Archer, dressed as old school Lee with the “clean/dirty” tank top and baggy jeans. Before the match started Kingston cried as he paid his respect, but in true character still ran down his opponents. Archer and the Dark Order members worked really well together, and despite losing Butcher and Blade continue to impress. Perfect finish to the match, with Grayson and Uno hitting the Fatality for the win. Uno and Grayson embraced with tears, and Archer as well couldn’t hold back any longer.

It’s truly a sight to see the emotion on live television. Every time they cried, I cried.
The next tribute package featured Dax Harwood, Arn Anderson, Colt Cabana, all focused on Brodie as a family man. The final individual, referee Bryce Remsburg, poured out his soul, discussing how they didn’t talk wrestling, but talked about family and their children.

This one hit me hard.

The next match, was a great, fun one. “Hangman” Adam Page teaming with Alex Reynolds and John Silver, defeating MJF, Santana, and Ortiz. Funny moment, MJF reveals his wrestling trunks to match with Santana and Ortiz, with a bandana as well. The match starts wonderfully with Silver and Reynolds, wearing full Dark Order gear, pulls out “The Papers” and bashes them in the face. Hangman does it too. Great tributes. During the match, MJF yells at Brodie Jr. which comes back to haunt him during a scuffle, as -1 cracks MJF over the head with a kendo stick. Fantastic. Just fantastic. Things get even more intense, as Wardlow steps in the ring, when suddenly A WILD ERICK ROWAN (now known as Redbeard) APPEARS AND CLEANS HOUSE!!! Utlimately, John Silver gets the pinfall, he cries, Reynolds and Hangman cry. We all cry. Erick “Redbeard” Rowan returns with a sign in tribute, and I lose it right then and there.

On another note, Chris Jericho highlighted Santana to break out as a top singles wrester in 2021.

This one hit me the most. Silver is on his way to being a top star in the company, and Brodie Lee has been there every step of the way, from promos to the hilarity on the BTE YouTube show. Seeing him, Erick Rowan, Alex Reynolds, Hangman Page… I felt the hurt.

Speaking of BTE, please watch this week’s episode if you haven’t. Silver and Reynolds are the main narrators, sharing their rise and success of the Dark Order thanks to Brodie. Great recaps of their segments, featuring every F-Bomb and other vulgarity in the book. I may not have been a fan of the excessive cursing, but looking back, I can only smile.
Anna “99” Jay and Tay Conti defeated Dr. Britt Baker and Penelope Ford – I feel these four women will be the foundation for women’s wrestling in 2021. Solid workers who work great together. Very fluid match, and Jay earning the submission victory was the right touch.

After the match, Dr. Baker continued the conspiracy being rigged, much like Brodie was the “Big Rig” alluding to a former moniker. At this moment, Thunder Rosa attacked Baker, and this feud will continue to brew.

Chris Jericho’s video tribute airs, detailing his brief history with Jon Huber, summarizing him as a genuine soul and one of the best, genuine people he had ever met.

The final match of the evening, a match made by Brodie Jr., featured Cody Rhodes, Orange Cassidy, and “10” (Preston Vance) of the Dark Order, defeating Team Taz (Brian Cage, Will Hobbs, and Ricky Starks). A good match, really enjoyable to watch, and very special with “10” earning the pinfall victory with a huge spinebuster. I’d like to see more of Preston Vance, he’s done well for himself on AEW Dark and seems to have potential.

After the match ended, Team Taz overwhelmed the faces, until Darby Allin and Sting arrive to even the odds and sends the stable running. Seems Sting and Allin have found their common ground.

The final moment of the show, featured Cody Rhodes, Tony Khan, and Preston Vance together with Amanda and Brodie Jr. They present a TNT Championship to his son, while also putting Brodie Lee’s boots in the center of the ring in a retirement moment. Saying Cody couldn’t hold it together would be an understatement. No one could hold it together. Khan sounded uncomfortable, he likely had never been in a position like this before, and no one could prepare for something like this.

The conclusion was a tremendously well-done video package of Brodie throughout his career, including WWE. Photos from his time in the Wyatt Family and tag team championship run with Erick Rowan who we saw earlier in the evening.

It’s a tragedy for someone so young, unexpected, and based on what the fan community learned in the past few days, things only known to many on the inside, is what a great human being he was, and how he brought joy and inspiration to others.

I end tonight’s tribute with one word of advice. Grief and loss takes an emotional toll on us all. Sometimes immediate, sometimes later. At times we feel the initial burst of emotion, but the true effects on our emotional health gradually reveal over time. If you or someone you know is struggling with loss, or other emotional struggles, please find a counselor, therapist, or Mental Health Professional. The stigma of seeking outside help is thankfully dissipating, so please don’t wait. Taking care of one’s own well-being can have positive influence on others. 2020 ends on a sad note, but I hope and have faith Jon Huber would want us to look towards a positive 2021.

Thank you for reading.

AEW Dynamite 12/30: A Celebration of the Life of Brodie Lee is now streaming on the TNT app.

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