Brodie Lee only recently made his AEW debut in March 2020 as "The Exalted One", the leader of The Dark Order faction, but had he not taken the gamble to move on from the WWE, the pro wrestler could have seen himself on WWE's cut list. SI's Madelyn Burke is joined by SI Wrestling writer Justin Barrasso to discuss what Brodie Lee's new character brings to AEW and how his WWE career has shaped the performer.
Read the full transcript below:
Madelyn Burke: Brodie Lee gambled on himself and he hopes that gamble will pay off as he will be stepping into a featured match against AEW world champion Jon Moxley this Saturday. Joining me now is SI's Justin Barrasso and Justin, you wrote about Brodie and you point out that had Lee remained with WWE, where he had been offered a lucrative deal to re-up. There's a possibility that he would have been part of those company-wide cuts that took place in April but what really drove his transition from WWE to AEW?
Justin Barrasso: I think he was just tired of being a background dancer. There's nothing wrong with being a part of the supporting cast, which he was in the Wyatt family. But after a while, he was just sitting and catering. They had no use for him on television. That's no way to exist for a performer who's still hungry and thinks he has his best yet to prove. It's true, too. I think he would've probably been part of the cuts. He fit the mold of a guy who wasn't on camera making a sizeable contract. So he'd be part of the people who were cut, over two dozen of them in a very competitive marketplace where it's just over flooded with free agents. So he definitely made the right choice. Whether or not this character works, he's the exalted one in AEW. I think it still needs some refinement and to work out the edges, but he is a great opportunity. I don't think he wins the title on Saturday night at Double or Nothing, but it's a great opportunity to show that he belongs in that world title picture.
Madelyn Burke: You mentioned the exalted one. Obviously, he pointed out that working with Vince McMahon and has left an impression on him but how tangible is that impression?
Justin Barrasso: So he denied it in the interview and said there's a lot of different inspirations. But considering he's worked the last eight years for Vince McMahon and I mean, I think it's pretty clear that his character, Brodie Lee's character, the exalted one, is Vince McMahon. The dark order, that cult following where they'll do anything, the exalted one asks is WWE. So I think they're having some fun with it. How that ages, I think is a big question. Is it too inside? Does it connect with the wider audience? So a lot of questions with that. But I think he needs to focus and he is focused on having the match speak for itself on Saturday. That's the key because he probably doesn't win the title on Saturday. So how does he stay relevant? How does he stay a meaningful part of that television program every week? That's the big challenge for Brodie.
Madelyn Burke: Brodie Lee, of course, faces AEW world champion Jon Moxley this Saturday. SI's Justin Barrasso, thanks so much for the insight.