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Opinion

Mishal: Thank You, Jon Huber

Mishal takes some time to reflect upon, and be thankful for, the career and amazing life of Jon Huber (Brodie Lee/Luke Harper).

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Brodie Lee AEW TNT Championship Jon Huber Luke Harper

Mishal takes some time to reflect upon, and be thankful for, the career and amazing life of Jon Huber (Brodie Lee/Luke Harper).

The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind of emotion for any wrestling fan.

Death is never an easy event to tackle, regardless of who you are. It’s an unexpected, sudden and harsh reminder of just how short life is, but more importantly how suddenly it can be taken away without even the slightest of warnings. More than anything it provides a reality that the life we all live is never as constant or safe as we’d like it to be, and when we least expect it, the things that add so much value in their small bursts can just vanish in the blink of an eye.

And that’s how the last 24 hours feel, like a blur, something that simply doesn’t feel real despite the harsh reality we must all force down.

2020 has been filled with loss, more for some than others. Whether it’s friends, families, loved ones from your social circles, celebrities, idols, mentors or even pets, loss has been a common theme we can all relate to during these exhausting times. Some of us have even lost the capability to live as freely as we were once used to, others are forced to restrict their lifestyles because of the hazard they could represent to older generations of people around them, and I think it’s all of this that makes yesterday’s developments so much more devastating.

The wrestling world has been no stranger to loss in 2020. From the legendary Pat Patterson, Kamala, ‘Soulman’ Rocky Johnson, Road Warrior Animal and now, Jon Huber, to us WWE & AEW fans, known as either Luke Harper or Brodie Lee, respectively.

No matter how or when we knew him, no matter the character he portrayed, no matter the promotion he was signed under at the given time we reference or which side of the wrestling aisle he sat at, Jon Huber’s death stings in many ways I wasn’t expecting it to. I’ve been watching him steal the show in every ring he’s set foot in since the days of CHIKARA, where he went to war against the likes Claudio Castagnoli (now known to us as Cesaro) or Bryan Danielson (who we know as Daniel Bryan) amongst many other names I won’t mention here. And ever since my first introduction to him as a young wrestling fan, he always stood out to me as an oddity different from all the others around him. The Brodie Lee character was always intimidating because not only was he amongst the biggest men in the room, he was also amongst the most agile in that room as well. Placing a character of such size and agility into the squared circle is never a joke as it breaks the mould of the prototypical big-man the business so frequently tries to sell to us. Generally, men over 6 foot 6 are normally presented as being all about the size, a more limited move set without the variety someone in a lower weightclass would possess, but not Brodie.

Brodie Lee was one of wrestling’s few exceptions, in the vein of the likes of The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Sheamus, Braun Strowman or Keith Lee, a mammoth of a man towering over smaller opponents that could mimic any of their offense that would normally give them an advantage. He was a talent, a special one at that, one that always made the man across from him look good even in loss.

My early exposure to Brodie Lee was a unique one because of that distinct look his character presented, an attire and posture that wasn’t too frequently seen in the business. Beyond the odd, calculating stare laid a swiss army knife of tricks out of the wrestling handbook that nobody could be prepared to see, which was displayed in spades as his career grew to the heights we saw it in his later years.

His WWE debut brought a tonne of eyes to the character that had previously not been exposed to his work prior which made for a world of potential for him to grow. And despite his run under the WWE banner being somewhat mixed from many fans perspectives, I’m just glad the wider mainstream world of professional wrestling got to see his talents first hand, regardless of the hiccups his character may have had. Brodie, now known as the unpredictable Luke Harper, tangled as part of The Wyatt Family with both Bray Wyatt & Erick Rowan, a group which has become one of the most iconic in the modern-day era of professional wrestling. It turned out that being a member of cult obsessed with purifying the talents they faced in the ring would be the ideal fit for Luke Harper at the time, even with the limitations it brought his character down the road.

Harper would start stealing the show not just as a stable, but in singles competition, taking part in some of the most underrated matches of the last half decade I can think of. Many singles matches against the likes of Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Roman Reigns and a criminally overlooked match against Dominik Dijakovic that doesn’t receive near the level of attention that it should have at the time are just prime examples of how good the man was at being a professional wrestler, at embodying the character he played for a good portion of his career.

For the longest time Luke Harper was a part of the most overlooked moments of the last number of years in WWE, including some of the best angles the company created on each given year he competed in. He was, and still is referred to as one of the most overlooked competitors that WWE just never used to his fullest potential despite some real highs in a career under the brand many felt never reached the levels it was capable of.

But that’s where AEW comes into the fold.

As devastatingly brief as his work with AEW was, few would ever contest that this was the point where Brodie Lee started coming into his own element entirely. Portraying ”The Exalted One” didn’t just give him the perfect gimmick to bounce off of following a WWE run that left much to be desired, as well as positioning himself as the saviour of The Dark Order, a stable that up to that point was barely clinging onto relevancy due to the influx of talent the company was receiving at that point in time.

Brodie, however, grabbed the bull by the horns and thrust The Dark Order into a position in which it received significant attention on the card, including spotlights in the AEW World Title scene, as well as an incredible squash match which saw Brodie topple Cody Rhodes to claim the AEW TNT Title in dominating fashion. Brodie’s title reign didn’t last as long as many would have wanted it to, but it did accomplish a multitude of things; memorable matches against talent such as Jon Moxley, Cody, Dustin Rhodes & Orange Cassidy, bringing relevancy to a previously forgotten unit in AEW, re-establishing himself as the star he simply wasn’t regarded as with the competition and presented us a character that had endless potential down the line if the circumstances had been different.

While the length of his tenure is certainly disappointing when we reflect, what he accomplished in the short space of time he was in AEW is remarkable. Proving not just to us, but more importantly to a number of other industry leaders that he was what they doubted him to be, a star, and a master of his craft.

Up until this point this article has been a brief run-through of the career of Brodie Lee, Luke Harper or the man himself Jon Huber and just highlight of how much quality came out of such an under-appreciated character. But more than anything, it should teach us all one thing, how quickly we can lose someone that all of us, fans, friends, family or otherwise hold near to our hearts.

The life of Jon Huber will be remembered for many things. He’ll be remembered for being a father, a husband, a great friend to many around him, an incredible entertainer to the fans no matter the opponent across him, a champion worthy of more than he even accomplished, a superstar capable of achieving the highest of highs and having met him on a few occasions at live events when they existed, a stand-up guy who welcomed everyone like they were a member of his family. Jon Huber’s death is a bleak reminder of the times we live in when all the things we value are at risk and just how devastating a loss can feel when someone forges a connection with you regardless of your location on this planet. And I’ll admit, the weight of losing him didn’t hit me until the minute I read about it.

Having met and seen him perform in the ring on more than one occasion, there’s no doubt of the kind of person Jon was, and that’s why the pouring out of emotion is so unlike anything we’ve come to see in the small community that professional wrestling bolsters.

What we all need to remember is that death is never the end of our journey, for many it’s a brief pitstop. For others death doesn’t define your ending, the impact you make following it keeps the spirit of the person alive longer than his or her own lifespan can. And without question Jon is going to be talked about long, long after this heartbreaking period.

I think I speak for everyone, fan or otherwise when I say thank you to Jon, for making us laugh, scream, cry, stare in awe at his abilities, but most importantly, for bringing us together at a time when we couldn’t be more divided as a community in general.

Rest in power Jon Huber, you’ll never, ever be forgotten.


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Opinion

AJ’s Controversial? Wrestling Opinions 10.12.21

AJ feels like spouting off about a few wrestling topics that bug him. How controversial are they though?

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As Eric Bischoff, President of WCW once said, Controversy Creates Cash…no I’m serious; it’s even the title of a book that he did. Everyone has their hot takes on professional wrestling and some are always wide eyed and kind of shocking to some. There are some of us that will have same opinions or chastise me on a show or an article maybe but hey, don’t hate the player, hate The Game.

Maybe there are some that the readers at home agree with or you want to also be the one to chastise me, @PhenomenalAJB on Twitter. This one is going to be fun!

#1- There are more things than just WWE/AEW and are better majority of the time

There are many people that will rant, rave and complain that the mainstream product is so bland and boring and the classic, “Who even watches this trash?” Whether you love the flippy dippy do’s like I don’t or long drawn out storylines that peter out very quickly because fans aren’t invested in a story or character. To those people, I will say something very bold, very confusing and very… very controversial…

THERE ARE OTHER COMPANIES YOU CAN WATCH ON VARIOUS PLATFORMS IN VARIOUS MEANS ON YOUR OWN TIME!

I don’t know how and I don’t know why that this is even a topic. “TNA has been dead for years” No it hasn’t. Pay $1 USD for Impact Plus on YouTube so you can watch it without commercials at 8:30 Eastern. “Two hours is too long!” NWA and MLW both go for an hour on their respective YouTube Channels as well and if you want to watch, you can hop in at any time. Everyone has something for everyone and you might find your new favorite wrestler in a matter of minutes into an episode. I would never have known who Eli Drake (now LA Knight on SmackDown Live), Alexander Hammerstone or even in the early stages of TNA Impact, AJ Styles, was! You can watch more than what is broadcasted on your TV. Is it easier? Of course but, there is so much more than just the popular option.


#2- Belt Collecting now is just redundant and moronic

Back in 1996, Ultimo Dragon famously has a picture of him holding TEN championships looking like an amazing superstar with amazing defenses. What people don’t know is, that was because eight championship belts were united in a tournament called “The J-Crown Championship” with the adage of ‘All or Nothing’. He lost them one by one but, it was to show that he was the best Junior Heavyweight (or Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight) out of everyone in various promotions.

People after that really haven’t belt collected other than unifying championships to a grand caliber… then Austin Aries showed up. Aries kind of revised the gimmick and brought it back to light. Newer fans might have thought this was cool but older fans kind of groaned and grumbled. I was one of them but, nothing is original in anything anymore so it’s a fresher concept at the time back in 2018. He did surpass Ultimo with ELEVEN championships but it seemed everyone started doing it to an extent after. Matt Cardona, after being released from WWE, started doing it, getting up to six championships before dropping them. As of right now, not necessarily solo belt collecting, The Bloodline has a stranglehold of the World Championships for both Singles and Tag Teams, we had Becky Two Belts, Bayley wanted Dos Straps but nothing makes this worse than Kenny Omega’s stint as a belt collector.

I am not and will never be a Kenny Omega fan. I don’t see the appeal, I don’t see the amazement or anything like that out of him. I’m impressed he did three 35+ Minute IWGP Championship matches against Okada because that takes a lot of stamina to do so but, that’s about it. When he won the AEW Championship, alright. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that since he helped build the company up. The Triple A Megas Championship… nothing too wrong here. I hate that he had five defenses in two years but he vacated it due to his injuries. It wasn’t until Don Callis and Omega popped into Impact and made the Hogan Era of TNA look like a dream… okay ALMOST but still. Kenny defeats Rich Swann and Moose in two different matches and has everyone else carry the belts while holding the AEW Championship. I understand heel tactics and mentality but at one point in an interview about going for the Impact Championship, he compared it to a common Comic Book and the AEW Championship as Superman Issue #1. I understand trying to be a heel in this story but you boost your clout, not rain on what you are going after. Heel or Face, belt collecting has just been a cluster within itself in the past four years and it honestly needs to stop.

#3- Overuse of Certain Moves

This one is a more recent problem that I have seen and no, I wish EC3 paid me to say this but it is true and very annoying to even bring up but here I am, wishing for Carter money and a fifth Rum & Coke…

Stop. Overusing. Moves. Because you think. They were cool.

If I had a shot for every time a Canadian Destroyer, Superkick, Suicide Dive, Avalanche (Insert High Spot here), Dual Dropkick spots where they cancel each other out or opposing members do back to back high spots on the prone partner spot… I would not have written this article due to death… even if it was water, I would have died due to drowning. They don’t look cool anymore when everyone does it. It’s bland. When Petey Williams wrestled in his last return to Impact, the Destroyer looked very… stale. Superkicks are the new DDT apparently (another Finisher turned common everyday move) and most people that do dives mess it up in some way shape or form whether it’s their feet get caught in the ropes, they didn’t get a full launch or they overshoot it. Having your own move special to you is difficult now but different wrestlers do their own styles or the pay homage to a family member or a wrestler that they interact with or ask permission… or asked to stop.

How’d you feel if you watched WCW and WWF in 1997 and saw DDP do the Diamond Cutter and HHH did the Pedigree Pandemonium and say they do the same move? That is exactly what happened too if Dallas didn’t ask Hunter to stop using it. We might not have the RKO out of nowhere or an iconic move that seldom bigger names use today.


That’s my list. I said before if you agree with my list and if you don’t and want to throw hate my way… @PCTunney is the hate mail account so enjoy!


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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