AEW TNT Champion Brodie Lee of The Dark Order joined Wrestling Inc.'s Nick Hausman on the Wednesday edition of The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast to discuss his debut on AEW. Lee was set to debut in his hometown of Rochester, NY.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States forcing public gatherings to cease. Lee discussed what his day was like when he found out about the cancelled Rochester Dynamite and how despite AEW President Tony Khan telling him it was completely voluntary to delay his debut, Lee still wanted to make his AEW debut.
"A pretty heartbreaking day, and I believe it was March 11, which was the week before my debut was supposed to happen in Rochester," Lee recalled. "Literally, we were making travel plans to get the family home, and so I was at the gym, watched President Trump make an address about the coronavirus, watch the NBA cancel their season and then watch Tom Hanks come out on the news as positive for coronavirus.
"Literally all in a five to 10-minute range at 9:00 and went to bed that night thinking, 'OK, maybe everything's OK,' didn't really know the magnitude of the situation at that time, and then two days later, I believe, I got the call from Tony Khan saying, 'hey, we are canceling all these shows, but we will be running in Jacksonville. If you still want to debut, you're more than welcome to, but you're also more than welcome to not debut at that time.' And I chose to debut because I didn't know how long it was going to be, and I'd been sitting [at] home for so long. I was dying to be a professional wrestler again."
Lee also discussed the atmosphere of the AEW locker room. He recalls a conversation he had with Shawn Spears asking him if it's always so positive at AEW.
"I remember telling Shawn Spears at one point, I said, 'is everybody always this positive because something doesn't feel right to me.' So it took a little getting used to in the beginning, but I love it," Lee expressed. "It's a very different feel, very different vibe. [The] creativity there of mine is fulfilled. I go to bed happy at night, and I think that's shown in the product."
Lee noted that WWE was not always negative. He said the negative thing for him was sitting at home and not being used on TV that often.
"It was just very stifling not inherently negative like outwardly negative, but a negative experience when I'm sitting home, I guess, and not being used and stuff like that. So that was the negative part," Lee explained. "They weren't saying negative things to me per se, but the feeling was negative."
One of the biggest highlights of Lee's debut was his taped segments with his Dark Order members many of which referenced Vince McMahon. Lee states that while the references were intentionally, his character was never meant to be a parody of McMahon and quickly decided to go in a different direction once that idea started permeating in social media.
"Obviously, there was a couple of little Easter eggs and things that people could very easily pick up on, but as a whole, the character was never meant to be a Vince McMahon parody. But there was definitely a couple jabs his way in the early going," Lee admitted. "Once I realized that that was everything that people were going to talk about, I wanted to get away from that as quickly as possible because I wanted it to be more about me more about my identity and more about my journey to where we're going. I didn't want to be seen as that that bitter ex-employee. I don't want that label on me whatsoever."
While his character was not meant to be a spoof of McMahon, the segments reportedly caught the ire of top WWE officials. Lee had a humble response to those reports.
"I have no problems with that whatsoever," Lee remarked. "I rather enjoy that and the thought of me, little old me, affecting someone there, that's OK with me."
When asked if he is afraid that he has burnt any bridges with those segments, Lee stated that that it's very hard to burn a bridge in the world of professional wrestling. He noted that if you are a star that provides weekly content, then you'll always find work.
"I don't want to even think about that," Lee said. "I'm so new here, but you could look at professional wrestling and it's very difficult to burn a bridge. So who's to say, again, that's not from me. That's not my decision. That's above my pay grade. All I can do is go out and provide the best product possible, and in the end, to me and professional wrestling, if you're a star and you're providing content weekly that people want to see, you always have a job."
Brodie Lee and The Dark Order take on Matt Cardona, Scorpio Sky and The Natural Nightmares this Saturday at AEW All Out on PPV. Lee's full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.