After asking for his WWE release in April 2019, Brodie Lee, formerly Luke Harper in WWE, got his wish in December 2019. Once his non-compete clause expired, Lee made his way to AEW where he was revealed as The Exalted One.
In WWE, Lee played the role of Luke Harper, a disciple of Bray Wyatt and his southern-style cult before transforming into one half of the Bludgeon Brothers, a "heavy" who let his actions do the talking. Speaking on Talk is Jericho, Lee believes that Vince only saw him occupying one role despite the evidence that he wasn't cut out for certain aspects of the role.
"The way I do talk, Vince doesn't see a person who looks like me, talking like me. I don't think he could get over that. He saw a backwoods hillbilly who talked in a southern drawl. Being from Rochester and being somewhat eloquent, it didn't compute with him. Arn [Anderson], maybe to the detriment, was one of my biggest supporters in meetings. Arn even said, 'I'm gonna stop speaking up for you. I don't think it's doing you any favors.' I had my supporters, just not vocal ones. Not ones that were willing to go to bat for me to a point. Once I fell into a role, no matter what I pitched, no matter what I showed anybody, I wasn't digging my way out of it to the audience of one."
He continued, "I pitched a whole bunch of different things or angles and ideas to change the character and [Vince] just wasn't buying them. I wanted to a collector of some sort. I'm very much into serial killers, so I wanted to collect something from each person I would beat. The problem became, I wasn't beating anybody. I also wanted to be a smart monster, an intelligent monster, where I could speak like I do in an intelligent way and break my opponents down in a way that I wasn't doing in the Wyatt family. Having the same matches I was having and look the same, but also intelligent. Almost like Bruiser Brody. I don't think he could see that way of talking."
There were reports going around at the time of Lee being moved off WWE TV because Vince had wanted him to do a southern accent and was upset when he couldn't pull it off. Lee more or less confirmed the story, discussing his meeting with Vince and trying the southern accent for him.
"I remember going into his office and him telling me, 'I want you to do a southern drawl.' I was like, 'Sir, I'm from Rochester, New York. I think it's going to sound really fake.' He goes, 'We don't want it to sound fake. Just do me a favor and try it.' I did it for him and he's like, 'Yeah, I don't like that.' I remember walking out and thinking, 'That's gone, it's never going to come up again.' Next week, in the script, it was specific; Luke Harper do a southern accent," he recalled.
Lee did find some success in WWE as a former Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion, but he never broke through a certain ceiling despite his popularity rising before WrestleMania 33. After departing from the Wyatt family, Lee remained attached to Erik Rowan as the Bludgeon Brothers before ultimately getting his release.
Lee seemingly poked fun at McMahon on Wednesday's Dynamite, eating a steak and getting upset when someone sneezed around him.
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