Brodie Lee’s death in 2020 was one of the most shocking deaths in wrestling history. Without a hint of anything wrong with him, Brodie Lee was announced dead on the day after Christmas in 2020. It had already been a tumultuous year for everyone, with the COVID pandemic changing life as we know it. This also extended to wrestling, with crowds banned from ringside for the entirety of his incredible, yet short, run with All Elite Wrestling.
Three years since his death, the wrestling world still has yet to move on from the memory of Mr. Brodie Lee. The Dark Order leader will always be remembered as a key part of the roster his time there and his incredible life will continue to be honoured by the company for years to come.
How Did Brodie Lee Die?
Brodie Lee died from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, in which the lungs become scarred and breathing becomes increasingly difficult, on December 26, 2020. The illness causes the lungs to become scarred and over time stiffens the lungs themselves – this makes breathing harder and eventually causes them to become so damaged they cease to function.
The idiopathic part means the doctors do not know why the illness occurs – it’s origin is a mystery and they simply know that it happens. He also suffered a lung infection during this time, stemming from a common form of bacteria. The infection caused havoc on his lungs, due to his lack of immune system due to the illness. It also spoiled his chances of receiving a lung transplant and by the middle of December, he was being treated for end-of-life care.
Amanda Huber was the first to know about his death on Boxing Day 2020, and was forced to break the tragic news to their children. She enlisted the help of two of Brodie’s closest friends – Cody Rhodes and Big E – to help tell the young Brodie Lee Jr about his fathers passing. She spoke about this in the AEW Unrestricted episode detailing Brodie Lee’s illness and death.
“I had been very close with Cody throughout this whole process, and…Brodie Lee Jr., his best friend in the whole world since he was like two years old is Big E from WWE. So I called them both, I think Christmas Eve or Christmas Day…I want you guys to be with me when we tell Brodie, because I wanted him to be safe. That was the worst part of all of this, is telling your eight year old, like hey, your favorite person in the world, your hero, yeah he’s gonna die today. Like, how do you crush somebody?”
Did He Die In The Ring?
Brodie Lee did not die in the ring in AEW. He passed away in his hospital bed in the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, on December 26, 2020. He had been moved to intensive care in October that year and died 4 months after his last match in AEW.
It was not revealed who was around when he died, but it is assumed that his wife was present for his passing. It was later revealed by Amanda Huber on an episode of AEW Unrestricted that Cody Rhodes and Big E (the WWE star who was good friends with Brodie Lee) broke the news of his death to his son, Brodie Jr.
Few wrestlers have passed away inside the ring. The most famous was Owen Hart, who fell from a height when a stunt went wrong at the Over the Edge pay per view in 1999. He landed on the turnbuckle while a backstage interview was being shown. However, the show continued in one of the most disgusting moments in WWE history (and that is saying something).
Mexican star Perro Aguayo Jr. was one wrestler who died actually during a match. When facing the legendary Rey Mysterio in a bout in 2015, he was kicked into the ring ropes and jumped into position to take the 619 (Mysterio’s signature move). However, he passed out and subsequently died immediately on impact, with it later being revealed that he suffered three fractured vertebrae. He died in the ring, although the family never lay any blame on the head of Mysterio, who had done the move thousands of times without incident.
British wrestling legend Big Daddy also killed a man in the ring (by accident of course). After dropping his 300lb-plus frame onto King Kong Kurt, his opponent for the night, Kurt suffered from a heart attack and died, aged just 40. Real name Malcolm Kurt, he was a well respected wrestler by all, including Bret Hart who spoke well of him in his book. Big Daddy never forgot what happened that day and blamed himself until the day he died.
What Was His Last Match?
Brodie Lee’s last match was against Cody Rhodes on October 7, 2020 episode of AEW Dynamite in a Dog Collar Match. The bout was for the TNT Championship, which Lee had defeated Cody Rhodes for in their previous encounter two months prior.
This match main evented AEW Dynamite and was a brutal and bloody match. It was the first Dog Collar Match in AEW history and was inspired by the Greg Valentine vs Roddy Pipe match at Starrcade in 1983. Being a big history buff, Rhodes sought inspiration from man old-school wrestlers, most notably his father Dusty Rhodes.
The bout came months after Brodie Lee had beaten Cody Rhodes to win the TNT Championship – his only championship title he won in AEW. This match lasted three minutes and saw Lee decimate the younger Rhodes brother, ending the match with a brutal dragon suplex and a powerbomb for the victory.
Between their first and last match, Brodie Lee defended his title against both Dustin Rhodes and Orange Cassidy in two wonderful matches. However, in his last match he would lose the title to Cody Rhodes in the Dog Collar match before taking an extended hiatus to recover from injuries.
Cody Rhodes hated the fact that he was the last match of Brodie’s career – he was honoured to be the last man to face him, but hated the fact that we would never see such a talent perform again and missed out on so many matches that could have been excellent in the future.
On Chris Jericho’s Talk is Jericho Podcast, Cody Rhodes said;
“I hated the fact that I was his last match. Like, I loved it, and I love that feeling. But, I also hated it, because god, we were all denied all these other great matches.”
While we got matches with Brodie Lee going up against Cody Rhodes, Orange Cassidy and Jon Moxley, he never ran the full gauntlet of the AEW main event. Matches against people like Kenny Omega, Adam Page or CM Punk could have been great, as would a feud between the Dark Order vs The Inner Circle.