The wrestling world is still in mourning for the loss of one of the most genuinely nice men in the business, Jon Huber. We have paid tribute to Jon’s memory by looking back at his time in WWE and AEW, but his legacy stretches a lot further in wrestling history.
Before becoming Luke Harper, Brodie Lee spent eight years wrestling on the independent wrestling scene, including an impressive five-year run in CHIKARA which helped cement him as one of the best “unsigned talents” in the business. Working with several cruiserweights, especially in his initial year in the company where he was booked to “bully” smaller wrestlers, Lee was able to showcase his unrivalled combination of strength, agility, and intensity. Initially appearing as “The Right Stuff” Brodie Lee, an early gimmick change to “The Big Rig” – based on him being a trucker – introduced the wrestling world to the now-infamous jeans and stained vest ring attire, as well as the no-nonsense approach to beating people up he showcased so fantastically throughout his career.
Here, we run down five of Brodie Lee’s most defining CHIKARA matches.
#5 – Brodie Lee and The Olsen Twins vs. The Colony (Fire Ant, Soldier Ant, and Worker Ant):
(Here Come the International Invaders: 1st Stage “Attack of the Phantom Sith” – August 17, 2007)
If you’ve never watched CHIKARA before, Trios matches (six-man tags) were a staple of the company – evidenced by the annual King Of Trios tournament – and The Colony were arguably one of the most successful and loved groups in company history. The Olsen Twins (Colin and Jimmy) had their issues with The Colony and brought in Brodie Lee – who had given them a ride to the event – to help them in this match.
Lee twice steps into the ring to stop his opponents from harming his partners and fights off all three members of The Colony with ease. Throwing lariats and big boots with a ferocity that implies an intent to decapitate the ants, as well as a seriously impressive double-choke suplex on Soldier Ant, Lee quickly picks up the victory for his team with a running Liger Bomb.
Despite being a short match, Lee’s intense physical dominance is perfectly displayed throughout the match as a direct contrast to both the goofiness of his partners and their fun-loving Lucha Libre influenced opponents.
#4 – Brodie Lee vs. Daisuke Sekimoto:
(The Global Gauntlet Night 1 – October 18, 2008)
Another famous aspect of CHIKARA events was the ever-changing commentary team. Wrestlers, officials, and ring announcers brought their expertise and characters to the show with different combinations in each match. Eddie Kingston joins Gavin Loudspeaker as Lee takes on an icon of Big Japan Pro Wrestling during the collision card between the two promotions.
This is a hard-hitting affair, with Lee showing he can work strong style as he battles a multi-time BJW champion in Sekimoto. After a few tests of strengths, the competitors quickly spill outside for a chop-fest before Lee overpowers Sekimoto by slamming his back into the ring post. Back in the ring, more strikes and chops are followed by Lee raking the eyes to take advantage. Sekimoto fights back with a series of lariats and a hard-fought-for suplex. Lee escapes the Argentine Back Breaker, throws some huge kicks, and gets near falls with a sidewalk slam and a vicious powerbomb. Three more lariats later, Sekimoto eventually grabs the win with a deadlift German suplex.
Lee’s ability to switch his style from dominance over a smaller wrestler to realistic parity when exchanging with another physically dominant wrestler was a key part of his overall in-ring ability and was on perfect display here.
#3 – Brodie Lee vs. Sugar Dunkerton:
(Caught in a Cauldron of Hate – February 19, 2011)
The end of 2010 saw Brodie Lee reform his tag team with Grizzly Redwood as The Roughnecks, and start a feud with The Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield and Sugar Dunkerton).
Brodie slaps Sugar before the bell, and absorbs a number of retaliatory strikes, shoving Sugar back repeatedly. Lee takes advantage and dominates Sugar with measured shots to his previously injured (by Lee) ribs, including a body slam on the unprotected floor. After trading running chops in the corner, Dunkerton trips Lee and starts working his legs on the ring post. Brodie manages to escape a few submission attempts and hits a brutal half-and-half suplex for a near fall. Dunkerton nails Brodie with a series of strikes and a lariat for a two count. Brodie counters a senton from the top with knees to the back, sending Sugar outside the ring. Dunkerton avoids a powerbomb onto two chairs, but eats a big boot, hitting his head on the apron on the way down. Dunkerton is unable to beat the referee’s count, and Brodie wins by count-out.
Sugar credits this match as being the switch from his comedy matches to being a more serious wrestler. The story of Brodie overcoming the fighting spirit of Dunkerton despite a leg injury, and being “just too much” for Sugar is incredibly told in a stellar match.
#2 – Brodie Lee vs. Claudio Castagnoli:
(Style & Substance – September 7, 2008)
The first-ever steel cage match in CHIKARA history, and the pay off to a feud between Lee and Castagnoli (WWE’s Cesaro) after Claudio took exception to Brodie “bullying” smaller wrestlers. Their two singles matches had finished in disqualifications (after ref bumps) and a no-DQ match had outside interference. The cage match was the ultimate decider.
Lee attacks Castagnoli as he’s entering the cage, and after a brawl outside, throws him into the ring. Claudio stops Lee from entering and hits a topé through the door. Brodie throws Claudio with an overhead suplex, with Castagnoli landing awkwardly on the ropes before hitting the cage. Brodie physically dominates Claudio with strikes but Claudio sends Brodie into the cage twice – once following a big swing – busting his head wide open. Both men get near falls with their signature moves. After an uppercut off the top rope, Claudio is clear to escape but instead nails a diving uppercut from the top of the cage on Lee followed by a Ricola Bomb for the victory.
The commentary team did an excellent job. They explained the referee couldn’t do anything about chokes in a cage match and covered a ref bump by describing the referees outside not being able to get into the cage (which the camera only partially showed). This was an outstanding cage match and showed Lee’s dominance at the time in CHIKARA even in defeat.
#1 – Brodie Lee vs. Eddie Kingston:
(It’s How You Play the Game – March 25, 2012)
Lee’s last match in CHIKARA after signing with WWE, against his former partner in The Roughnecks (from their original incarnation as a trio). Kingston became CHIKARA’s first-ever Grand Champion by winning the 12 Large: Summit in 2011. Brodie entered the tournament but had to withdraw after one match due to a legitimate injury.
The match is predominately a strike fest, with Lee controlling at a slow and methodical pace throughout. Lee utilises a lot of traditional heel tactics, with multiple eye gouges and chokes. Brodie gets near falls with a butterfly superplex, a sidewalk slam, and a half-and-half suplex. Kingston comes close with an uranage suplex and a powerbomb from the corner. After a ref bump, Lee kicks Kingston low and gets a two count from a Liger Bomb. Kingston wins with a backdrop driver, Back Fist To The Future, lariat, and American D combination.
With this being Lee’s last CHIKARA match, it was almost a given that he wouldn’t win the title, but he was dominant for a large part of the match. This was a perfect goodbye for Brodie Lee to CHIKARA. He finally managed to attack Gavin Loudspeaker (CHIKARA’s announcer) after chasing him out of the ring before previous matches. The match was full of Lee’s “greatest hits”, but even with the majority of the offence never made Kingston look bad. Both men included several references to Brodie’s career move with gestures and smack talk throughout, and the crowd gave Lee a fitting send-off with a standing ovation after the match.
Job Huber was a perfect fit for CHIKARA. “The Big Rig” Brodie Lee was a perfect foil for almost every other wrestler in the company. His intensity and physical presence were a stark contrast to a lot of the Lucha Libre and comic book-inspired characters. He was one of the guys to beat and represented a challenge that made people step up their game. He brought out the best in his opponents – even when being booked to be physically dominant with easy victories, he made sure they looked good.
Brodie Lee in CHIKARA was the ultimate prototype for what Huber would become with both Luke Harper and Mr Brodie Lee. His in-ring presence, psychology, and move set as an individual didn’t change drastically throughout his career, but he managed to evolve them to fit his character and continue to be a foil for whatever opponents he faced. In his work with Eddie Kingston and Grizzly Redwood in The Roughnecks, you can see elements of what was to come with The Wyatt Family and The Dark Order.
Jon Huber was an excellent professional wrestler, who had so much more to give – both in the ring and as a character. He will be sorely missed by the wrestling world.