Brodie Lee, also known as Luke Harper in the WWE, made his long-rumored All Elite Wrestling debut on Dynamite a few weeks ago, alongside his former WWE colleague Matt Hardy. Initially planned to debut to a Rochester crowd in Lee’s hometown, the former Wyatt Family member instead made his reveal as the Dark Order’s Exalted One to silence and awe in a cavernous arena.
Speculation had been swirling for a while that Lee would turn out to be The Exalted One, mostly due to the cult similarities between the Wyatt Family and the Dark Order. But the last few weeks of Dynamite have shown Lee’s character to be quite different from Wyatt’s spooky, supernatural cult gimmick. Instead of turning into a Wyatt 2.0 clone, Lee’s cult leader character has gone in a completely different direction, and this is a great decision on AEW’s part.
Upon his initial introduction, Lee appeared to be frightening, but well-spoken, not someone anyone would expect to be the leader of a creepy cult. A week after this debut, Dynamite featured a vignette of Brodie Lee in a suit having dinner with his Dark Order members, and becoming outraged by simple acts, like sneezing. Many had interpreted it as a one-off shot at his previous employer, Vince McMahon. But with this week’s board meeting vignette, where Lee once again became enraged by simple actions like yawning or calling him by his last name, it seems this character becoming more than just a parody. It looks like Lee is fully committing himself to becoming a Vince McMahon-like character.
In an interview with Chris Jericho, Brodie Lee summarized his run in the WWE and explained what he’d wanted to do creatively. He said that he’d always wanted to do a character that was a smart monster who wrestled like Bruiser Brody but spoke rather intelligently. The dinner table vignette, as well as the board meeting vignette from this past week, showed a character who donned a suit and spoke eloquently while simultaneously coming off as an intimidating tyrant. It seems that now, in AEW, Lee is finally getting the chance to make his “intelligent monster” character a reality with his take on “The Exalted One.”
It does seem worth noting that nothing in the interview appeared to suggest that Lee was in any way bitter towards his former company or employer. On the contrary, he seemed to be thankful towards them. It seems quite likely that Lee’s character isn’t a parody of Vince McMahon so much as a character inspired by his traits, akin to how he infamous Mr. McMahon character originated. This new direction for his character opens up many opportunities for Brodie Lee, who found himself stuck in the WWE by the limiting role of a backwoods hillbilly saddled with a bad southern accent. By differentiating himself from not just “Luke Harper,” but the entire Wyatt Family, Lee has managed to reinvent himself into something newer and better.
This sociopathic, tyrannical boss character may just be the perfect leader for the Dark Order, which had previously struggled to differentiate itself from other supernatural cult gimmicks. By steering in the direction of a more corporate, pyramid scheme-esque gimmick, more similar to Scientology than to the Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness or Bray’s Wyatt Family, AEW is giving its fans something fresh and exciting for the faction.
This week's Dynamite featured some more insights into the character of Brodie Lee, and it's nothing like the Wyatt 2.0 that many expected.