During a recent episode of Talk Is Jericho, Dax Harwood revealed that they originally wanted to recreate a famous stable from the Attitude Era when they signed for AEW. Whilst they were famously beaten down by D-Generation X on the 25th Anniversary of Raw, it was the stable of former WCW talent known as “The Radicalz” that they wanted to emulate on their debut.
The group in the Attitude Era contained four men – Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn. All four were stars in WCW and some of the best wrestlers in the world at the time and made waves immediately in the WWF. Two of the group went on to be world champions in the WWE, showing the incredible talent in the group.
Speaking to Chris Jericho, Dax Harwood revealed that he, Cash Wheeler and Brodie Lee originally wanted to debut as AEW’s answer to the Radicalz, until the latter was given the role of “The Exalted One” upon his debut in March 2020.
“We had a group text with him, and he said, ‘I want us to be The Radicalz.’ Me, Cash and him, he wanted us to be The Radicalz. We had these big, grandiose plans to come in together. Our contracts were coming up real soon, until some things happened,” Cash Wheeler added. “His plan and our plan was to be The Radicalz here.”
“But he didn’t know about The Dark Order stuff, until it was pitched.”
As noted there, Brodie Lee would not end up teaming with FTR upon his debut with AEW. He actually debuted first in the company, making his first appearance on the first episode of Dynamite during the global pandemic.
The former Luke Harper was revealed as the Exalted One of the Dark Order, the mysterious leader at the head of the dark, cult-like faction. His debut had been long speculated, given the fact he had asked for his WWE release multiple times over the previous year. For weeks, various wrestlers had been teased as the leader, including Jake “The Snake” Roberts and ECW Legend Raven.
Matt Hardy even made his debut on the same show, with many theorising he would be the Exalted One as his “Broken” character. This swerved a lot of fans at home who were not expecting two big AEW debuts in one.
Sadly, due to the pandemic his debut took place in front of no fans. Due to the spread of COVID, fans were banned from attending any sort of show, with various restrictions put up on live events for years following this event. The show was also meant to be AEW’s first foray into Rochester, New York, which also happened to the hometown of Brodie Lee. He missed out on the hometown pop for his debut, which was likely to be one of the biggest in AEW history.
He tragically passed away on December 26th, 2020, months after his last AEW match against Cody Rhodes. His death was a gut punch to the wrestling world, as he was just on a roll as a main eventer in AEW and had just come off a fantastic TNT Championship run in the company. His life and career was celebrated on an episode of AEW dedicated to the man (whose real name was Jon Huber), with a special AEW Dynamite entitled “Brodie Lee Celebration of Life“.
FTR would debut some months after Brodie Lee, aligning themselves and then feuding with The Young Bucks, satisfying a dream match for the thousands of “Being the Elite” fans around the world.