AEW superstar Brodie Lee sat down to talk with Shawn S. Lealos about his arrival in AEW and how it is different there than it was in WWE.
Brodie Lee: Hi, how are you?
Shawn S. Lealos: I’m doing good. How are you doing today?
Brodie Lee: Very good.
Shawn Lealos: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. I guess I’d like to start off by asking you, how has your experience so far in AEW been compared to the last few years when it comes, to pretty much all the aspects of your career – from wrestling to the character and everything? How has it been so far since you’ve arrived in AEW?
Brodie Lee: I’ve had many people tell me that they can tell how differently I feel just by watching me through a television screen. And just what I’m emoting, I guess, from a pure energy level and happiness level. The term night and day comes to mind. Everything in AEW has been fairly wonderful so far, minus a few setbacks and losses that I’ve taken on but other than that, everything’s been really great.
Shawn Lealos: You never really had a chance to talk when you were in WWE. How different is it for you in building your character now that you can actually talk, cut promos, say what you have to say, and not have people holding you back? How different is it for you to build your character that way?
Brodie Lee: At first it was very nerve-wracking and lots of anxiety. Just because I was given exactly what I asked for, and that was to be put into a spotlight at the forefront of a national promotion. And I was instantly given that, and then the pressure was there. And the pressure to deliver was there. So yeah, at first, it was a bit scary.
But then the confidence rose, and I remember what being a professional wrestler was like, and that was a very key aspect to making good content for TV again. In WWE, I think I spoke – and I’ll probably be proven wrong if people look back – but I don’t think I was on a live microphone in ring for more than a minute at a time, maybe less.
So to be given all the opportunities I’m given. Now it was like I said, at first, a bit anxious, but once I realized, that, just remember to be a professional wrestler, remember to be Brodie Lee, remember to be who I am, and do what I do. What I knew I could do – that it became easy. And it became fun again, and I think that shows through the promos.
Shawn Lealos: You know, for most of your career, whether it’s the Wyatt Family, whether it’s before that with Age of the Fall, you’ve always been part of a faction, but now you’re a leader with Mr. Brodie Lee. What kind of influences have you brought in, when it comes to becoming this new leader of a group?
Brodie Lee: Well, I think taking bits and pieces of every group I’ve been in, and even groups, I haven’t been in to look at what that person at the forefront did, that I liked. And maybe it worked. And to also look at what those people did, in groups that I was in, in groups that I wasn’t in again, to see what they did that didn’t work. And that maybe me being in the group, I didn’t like that they did that thing. So I tried to avoid certain things and to try to be a leader that, you know.
I guess, the term leader is tough, but a guy in the front that uses his pieces, to the best of their abilities, and to help everyone get over as a whole and individually. And I think you kind of see that happening now, especially with John Silver, Anna Jay. And all these guys, they’re starting to get over and understand what their characters are on their own. And so that is probably the most satisfying part of being a leader.
Shawn Lealos: You’re a veteran, you’ve been in the big leagues. With all these wrestlers in The Dark Order, are you getting a chance to work with them behind the scenes, helping to guide them? I mean, you know what it takes to get to the top or to try to get to the top. Are you able to work with these youngsters? You know, 22, 23, 24, 25-year-old wrestlers and and helping them learn what they need to do to succeed?
Brodie Lee: Yeah, somebody termed me a leader in a text message the other day, and I was appalled that someone thought of me that way. Because I don’t think, I always turn it back to ice hockey, I guess. And there’s leaders that are very vocal and seek people out to give them advice and stuff like that. And I’m more of a person that’s going to sit back and lead by example, to do what we do. And, you know, the big thing is, we’ve been given this opportunity with AEW, that nobody has seen before in 20 years. So this is an opportunity in an industry that was run by one company. So now these people have this opportunity almost handed to them. And I think it’s, it’s very easy to overlook the magnitude of this opportunity.
So I kind of tried to be that leader that understands what we have, and what we’re in the middle of. Its history. And so but again, if I’m 22-year-old Brodie Lee, he wouldn’t understand that. So I get that I’m not you know, I don’t look past that either. But I’m more of a quiet leader who just leads by example. And when asked for advice, I’m more than happy to give it to them. A person that’s not The Dark Order that has actually been very vocal, and speaking to me is Will Hobbs, and I’m a huge fan of his. I hope that in his rise to the top, he remains humble and hungry the way he is right now because he has all the tools to succeed.
Shawn Lealos: You came in and you were gonna have a huge debut, you know, in your hometown, and then all of a sudden, you know, this entire 2020 happens. How different is it for you in the ring telling stories, when there’s no fans there to play their part?
Brodie Lee: Yeah, I can’t help but chuckle at your question, just because looking back now, it’s so crazy to even think that it exists – that looking forward to a debut in Rochester in front of a sold-out crowd. Almost serendipitous in its form of my comeback, and reemerging in Rochester, in my hometown. And it was going to be too good to be true, which it turned out to be too good to be true.
Fast forward to Jacksonville and Tony Khan called me and he said, look, if you don’t want to do your debut, then you don’t have to. And I’ve said this many times, but I was pent up and locked up for too long. And I was ready to, like I said before in this interview, be a professional wrestler, so I was ready to go at any point. I don’t think I was mentally prepared for the quietness and almost non-energy level that an empty arena holds for a wrestling match. Everything hurts a bit more now.
But after a couple of weeks, once they added the people around the ring, and now the people in the upper bowl too that are coming in. That energy is back. It has its own life form now, almost to say like going back in front of a crowd is going to be strange in its own sense. I think I might have too much energy now. I get fired up now. In these matches now that I’m having in front of nobody in front of 500 people. So when it’s 10,000 people or 20,000 people, I get goosebumps thinking about it.
Shawn Lealos: You know, you mentioned things hurt more now. I think it was either Matt or Nick Jackson who said the same thing to me when I talked to them a while back. Is that the adrenaline from the crowd? It makes you not notice the bumps when you’re taking them? Is that what you mean when you say it hurts worse?
Brodie Lee: I think so. This way, when I fall down, I can hear it. I can feel it. There’s nothing I guess, distracting me or taking me out of that moment. And I wonder if other professional sports, if that is the thing too. When a hockey player gets crashed into the boards, and there’s no huge reaction or a football player gets crushed. There’s no huge reaction. Does it take away? I don’t know, or does it hurt more?
But like I said, I think it just took some adjustment. And now my energy levels at least are on par with crowd levels. But yeah, everything hurts a bit more with the things that used to hurt, and maybe this could be my age also, the things that used to hurt a day or two later now hurt an hour or two later.
Shawn Lealos: With Florida, you know that they lifted their restrictions. And I’m not sure how close you guys are to getting more fans in there. Have you heard anything about that? And if so, are you ready to have the fans back in the audience watching?
Brodie Lee: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know exactly where we stand with upping the numbers. I believe we’re at 50% capacity as of right now. And even that you can hear a murmur even at the quietest times that doesn’t exist when there’s nobody there — even that is awesome. I think as long as they can do it safely and following CDC guidelines, I’m excited for as big as we can go, but that’s up to them. That’s above my paygrade
Shawn Lealos: Not to bring back bad memories but you just lost the TNT championship back to Cody. So what’s next for Mr. Brodie Lee and The Dark Order now?
Brodie Lee: I talked a lot to two of my guys about the way we – everybody – is going to have a loss. There’s losses that happen in life, and that’s what a lot of life is, but it’s how you handle it how you move forward. That said, I don’t exactly know. I’ve now lost two title matches in AEW. When I lost the World Championship match to Moxley, that was crushing. But now having TNT title taken away from me in the fashion that it was – I left pieces of my soul in an AEW ring last week on TV, so mentally, physically, recovering, going to the drawing board. I don’t know. As of now, I’m in a bit of a tailspin, honestly.
Shawn Lealos: Well, I’ve enjoyed your run so far. I mean, I’ve been a fan since I first discovered you in Ring of Honor. So it’s been a long time, and I just I’ve enjoyed watching you finally get what you’ve been working for this entire time. And I wish you nothing but the best in AEW because it’s really fun watching you wrestle again.
Brodie Lee: I really appreciate that. I wish my Ring of Honor run was a bit better at the time.
Shawn Lealos: Yeah, I was a pretty big Ring of Honor fan back then. So everything was was pretty cool for me at the time.
Brodie Lee: Yeah, I honestly like how my career trajectory happened. Every big promotion, I got to like I came in with a lot of fanfare had a good few months. And then for some reason, I never got past that. Ring of Honor. Dragon Gate USA, WWE, I would always get to that level and then not progress. So AEW is the first time that it’s happened. And so it’s new to me. And it’s I say this all the time in interviews, but I literally think people can tell that I’m excited and happy to be in front of a camera again and like through the TV, like I’m emoting that to people because it’s all real.
Shawn Lealos: And it’s got to be nice to have a little bit more control now than you probably ever had before.
Brodie Lee: It’s unreal, like when they say, hey, you have two minutes to do a promo. And it’s like, Okay, well what do you want? And they go, What do you want? Then? It’s like holy shit. And then from there it goes, you know, we’re following the stories and nobody is going crazy and doing their own thing and because people are looking at an end goal of like I talked about making history, so it’s awesome.