AEW News

Tony Khan Details AEW’s ‘Brodie Lee Celebration Of Life”

Jim Ross on Brodie Lee

AEW CEO Tony Khan was the latest guest to appear on Renee Paquette’s ‘Oral Sessions’ this week. During the interview, Khan discussed the Brodie Lee tribute show, calling it the “best effort the crew has ever put together.”

Former AEW TNT Champion Brodie Lee tragically passed away on December 26, 2020, with tributes pouring in from countless performers across various companies.

WWE, where Lee performed as Luke Harper, released testimonials from Lee’s former colleagues, as well as a three hour ‘Best of Luke Harper’ compilation on the WWE Network.

Following new of Lee’s passing, it was revealed posthumously that Brodie had been battling non COVID-19 lung issues since October 2020. Details of his battle were kept a closely guarded secret by the AEW locker room. Tony Khan credits the dedication and love felt for Brodie Lee as the reason the news didn’t leak:

“People knew for along time Jon was sick, we told every wrestler. Amanda went out an told people that Jon is not doing well and he needs your prayers and your thoughts but also he needs you not to tell anybody. And a lot of us were worried when she told the entire crew at once. But everybody kept it secret and supported them. And we did everything we could, and then when it came time all the wrestlers wanted to do something really nice for him. And I knew the tributes were going to be genuine and from the heart.”

Following his passing, AEW would broadcast a special tribute show of Dynamite. During the course of the evening, many performers paid tribute to Brodie, sharing sentiments and memories of ‘The Exalted One’. Tony Khan recalls finding it difficult to plan the event. However, he began creating the premise of the show following a late night call with Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer:

“I had a missed call from Dave Meltzer. And I called Dave back. And he asked me what we were going to do, and I told him ‘I actually don’t know’. And this was like, at this point 2/3 in the morning. And I put the pencil to paper after I got off the phone with Dave and that’s when I came up with the idea that The Dark Order [will be] represented in all the matches. Teaming with babyfaces in every match. To make it clear that we’re painting them in a brighter light, in a heroic light. And the story of the night would be, can The Dark Order get the clean sweep? Can they sweep all these matches?”

During the course of the evening, AEW aired a touching tribute video in honour of Brodie Lee. Set to ‘The Ol’ 55’ by Tom Waits, the video shows Lee throughout his career. Tony Khan revealed that he bought the rights to the song in order to create the best tribute possible:

“We knew that the tributes would be from the heart. And I knew that there would be great videos. And I had gotten the rights to the song in advance, hoping that Brodie was going to kick out, but knowing that the doctor said it was not a high percent chance. And I wanted to make sure that we weren’t behind the 8 Ball as far as getting him the greatest tribute video possible.”

Critically acclaimed, the show is as a beautiful tribute to a highly respected locker room leader. Currently, the ‘Brodie Lee Celebration of Life’ is the number one pro wrestling show of all time on Cagematch.net.

Following the main event, Brodie Lee Jr. was crowned TNT Champion for life. Soon after, he signed a contract with AEW. As a mark of respect, the TNT Championship design used during his reign has since been retired. Khan also recently tweeted that Brodie Lee Jr, named -1 in AEW, will celebrate his birthday on the January 20, 2021, episode of Dynamite.

Credit for the interview: Oral Sessions Podcast