It’s Monday, you know what that means.
Actually this is still a relatively new feature article, so you probably don’t, but that’s fine. If you happened upon Sunday’s LL&L post, you’ll know that this is where I will look back on the last seven days in the world of professional wrestling and share my thoughts on some key moments that happened with the various wresting companies and let you know what I loved, what I liked and what I didn’t care for.
And so I shall do just that… Next week.
After this past week though, there is only one thing I really want to talk about. In a year that took so much from us, the last week delivered one final Seth Rollins-like Curb Stomp to our collective consciousness with the passing of Jon Huber.
Now that we’ve had time to process what has happened, I think one of the lasting impressions that will stay with me, is not just that entire community – regardless of company affiliation or loyalty – came together to mourn, but that it was a reminder of something many of us take for granted.
Wrestlers are human.
I know that seems like such a dumb, obvious statement on the surface. “Of course they are, you didn’t think they were?” might be an expected response, but what I mean though is that it’s so easy for us as fans and media to speculate on the stuff we love to talk about as it relates to wrestling. The “armchair booker” type stuff as it were. Who’s getting the big push? What talent is being wasted and “buried”? Who is happy with where they are, or unhappy with how they are being used? Who should be given a title? Who needs to be taken off our TVs?
“Where’s Brodie Lee?”
A month had passed since his outstanding Dog Collar match with Cody Rhodes back at the start of October, and there was hardly a mention of Brodie Lee on AEW programming going into November, even with Dark Order segments being a regular occurrence.
“Where’s Brodie Lee?” I asked one of the wrestling group texts I was in. “Was that whole thing just to make Cody look good? What was even the point of any of that if they’re just going to keep Brodie off TV after it?”
There had been speculation that he was nursing an injury – perhaps an ankle suffered during the match with Rhodes – but to me that didn’t compute. Surely an ankle injury wasn’t enough to keep him off of TV outright, was it? Couldn’t they tape some vignettes showing him still in command of the Dark Order? Let him have a turn at the commentary table for a night. From my armchair booking position, it felt like such a wasted opportunity to keep Lee from being a main event talent. His absence from TV made zero sense to me, or to a lot of other people.
What we didn’t know though was around that same time, Jon Huber was being admitted into Intensive Care. Outside of his immediate family, a handful of AEW officials and perhaps some close friends, no one knew. Not that it was our right to know of course, which is something some of us needed a reminder of in the hours after Huber’s death when we were all trying to make sense of what had just happened.
This past week was a bittersweet reminder that is that there is far more to wrestlers than what you see on your TV on a weekly basis.
I “knew” Luke Harper / Brodie Lee, but I didn’t really know Jon Huber, (beyond neat little personal facts, like that he was a dedicated Toronto Maple Leafs fan) and really I didn’t need to. At it’s core, wrestling is supposed to be entertainment and while we know more about it and how it works than any previous generation, it’s still cool when a little bit of kayfabe is kept alive. Like any kind of form of entertainment – be it TV, movie or sports – we’re not really supposed to think about them once the cameras are off and they go to their homes to live their lives as husband, or wife, and/or parents, and so a lot of times, we just… don’t.
Until something like this happens, when we’re reminded that wrestlers can be just as vulnerable as any of us, but also shown through the number of Easter egg tributes throughout WWE programing, and the masterful tribute show AEW produced on Wednesday, that while Luke Harper / Brodie Lee will be missed, the person behind those personas – Jon Huber – will be missed far more.