The Viper would share the ring many times with Brodie Lee, then known as Luke Harper, as foes and standing shoulder-to-shoulder as members of The Wyatt Family. Sharing a photo of the two, Orton expressed his respect, grief and gratitude toward Brodie Lee. Citing Lee as a fellow veteran, the 14-time World Champion described the respect he had for Brodie, when he took the decision to leave WWE in order to advance his career:
“Luke and I often talked about the biz, and how it affected our lives, our families, and us as men. I remember him saying that he wanted to do more, and knew that he was capable of doing more. He was. Seeing him have the balls to take that leap of faith and seeing him make the decision was an inspiration to me.
I was always very proud of him and out of my peripheral vision I watched him as a fellow 20 year vet and saw many things that impressed me. Not just his work inside the ring, but how he treated others in the back. I’m telling you guys reading this, that this mans character IS unmatched. I have many stories involving Luke and I, and I will always cherish them. Know that he was a great human being. I will be in that same lockeroom [sic] tomorrow and look forward to sharing stories about my friend, Luke. #RIPLukeHarper.”
Brodie Lee made the decision to leave WWE in 2019, requesting his release from the company shortly after WrestleMania. Reportedly frustrated lack of storylines and direction, Lee took to Twitter on April 16th of that year to announce his departure:
“As of this evening, I have requested a release from WWE. The past 6 years have been a simply, amazing journey around the world and back with lifelong friends and family. I am proud of it all and proud to say I shared the ring with my co workers.
The decision, as difficult as it was, feels right for myself and WWE. My goal in the future is to continue to grow as a performer and person and continue to male my family proud.
Thank you. From the top to the bottom of WWE. Thank you to the fans for your undying support. Thank you everyone.”
Lee’s last televised match with the company was in the battle royal at Crown Jewel, before eventually being released from WWE on December 8th. On March 18th, 2020, Brodie Lee made his AEW debut as ‘The Exalted One’, leader of The Dark Order. During his time with the company, Brodie would become the second ever TNT Champion. Lee’s last appearance with AEW was in October. Brodie Lee tragically passed away this week at age 41.
Hordes of people took to the comments section of Orton’s post to pay tribute to Lee, including Chris Jericho, Renee Paquette, Darren Young and former Wyatt Family member Braun Strowman, who simply commented “💚💚💚 brother”.
Orton joins the likes of Vince McMahon and Bray Wyatt who have paid tribute – alongside many, many others across the world of wrestling. We have collated several of the tributes posted by wrestlers from WWE, AEW and beyond here.
Everyone at Inside The Ropes is heartbroken to learn of Jon Huber’s passing, and we send our condolences to all of his friends, family and fans at this time.