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AEW Dynamite Breakdown: Brodie Lee Tribute Show

Every week, I examine what went well and what didn’t go well on AEW Dynamite. I knew heading into tonight’s Brodie Lee tribute show that this week’s AEW Dynamite Breakdown would be different, but even if I had treated it like a normal week, I would still be completely at a loss for something to put in the “MISSES” section. This was a life-affirming two hours of television and one of the greatest and most emotional wrestling shows in history. Here’s everything that AEW did well for the Brodie Lee tribute show.


The wrestling

There were five matches on the Brodie Lee tribute show, and they ranged from very good to fantastic. Everybody worked extremely hard. We had Colt Cabana hitting multiple quebradas in a match, Preston Vance running wild on all of Team Taz, John Silver with one of the most ridiculous hot tags you’ll ever see, and Lance Archer saying “screw it, I’m gonna go for a moonsault off of this rope walk.”

Every match was a spectacle that showcased the Dark Order members within. Anna Jay and Stu Grayson looked like legitimate superstars tonight, and allowing the opposing teams to work like dastardly heels – with a crowd more than willing to push the face/heel dynamic forward – created the perfect storm for Brodie Lee’s evil, bumbling stable to come across like the most likable babyfaces in wrestling.

The promos

Jon Moxley is the best promo in the business right now, and you really couldn’t have asked for anyone more perfect to follow the ten-bell salute. He treated the situation with the gravity it deserves while also coming across like a real human being who is dealing with grief and fondness and anxiety all at the same time. I love that Eddie Kingston and Chris Jericho weren’t afraid to bring some humor into their tributes, because that’s who Brodie Lee was.

And Cody Rhodes closed the show like the melodramatic wrestling superstar that Brodie “-1” Lee Jr. became a fan of, while Tony Khan behaved like someone who didn’t quite know exactly what to say – which is good, because that means it was genuine.

The tribute

All the little touches and references to Lee’s career, including Lance Archer and John Silver’s gear, Silver/Reynolds/Page throwing rolls of paper in their opponents’ faces, Britt Baker making a “Big Rig” reference, seemingly every Dark Order member hitting one of Lee’s signature moves, and constant reminders that Lee was a family man first and foremost made it so viewers couldn’t possibly forget that this was a tribute show. Lee was the focus of the entire show, as he should have been.

There are a few moments that stand above all the others. It took a lot of guts for Bryce Remsburg to appear as vulnerable as he did when he talked about how Lee belonged on the “Mount Rushmore of wrestling dads.” Erick Rowan’s appearance was completely unexpected but stunningly perfect and perhaps the emotional climax of the show, and his show of emotion as he held his sign up was heart-wrenching to watch.

But I think the important thing to remember about this show is that even though it was a Brodie Lee tribute show, it wasn’t really for Brodie Lee. It was for his family, and especially Brodie “-1” Lee Jr. The sight of that kid smiling from ear to ear, pointing menacingly at The Acclaimed and cracking a kendo stick over MJF’s dumb head, made the show a success by itself. I can’t speak for Jon Huber’s family, but I genuinely can’t conceive of a more beautiful and fitting tribute to a man who was universally beloved.

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