On the final episode of AEW Dynamite in 2019, the show closed with a Dark Order beatdown of The Elite. It was meant to be a monumental moment for a group that had struggled to find its footing during the early days of Dynamite.
Unfortunately, one minion threw phantom punches from the mounted position, the clip went viral, and Dark Order became a laughing stock.
"We figured we were either screwed, or we're going to have to find something to bring us back from the dead," Stu Grayson said in an interview with ESPN.
Tony Khan added, "It wasn't necessarily those guys' fault, but I felt like we had to do a lot of things to add to the presentation. And that was a lot of brainstorming towards the end of the year and the beginning of this year."
Enter Brodie Lee. Lee was revealed as The Exalted One in March, giving the group a strong presence in the leadership role.
"We wanted to have someone we know we could work with, someone we could actually fit as the head of a cult, someone who could talk, someone who could wrestle," said Grayson. "So when we had confirmation that Brodie Lee was coming in, we were pretty happy, because we thought of all the people we could have had, we were going to have one of our best friends. He can work, he looks great, he talks."
Khan said, "He's got the great physical size. He didn't do so many promos in WWE, but he's actually a great promo. And so he was from the beginning someone that we figured to be a top person in AEW as soon as he signed with us."
The reveal of Lee as The Exalted One took place in an empty arena due to the pandemic and things got off to a slow start as comparisons to his character and Vince McMahon arose.
"I had to understand that my instincts were correct again," said Lee. "I was almost seeking out so many opinions because that's where I came from, that's what it was. It was lots of people putting pieces in, instead of just letting myself be who I am. That confidence has only come in the last couple of months, and the last three or four weeks that I've talked, everything I've said has been 100% true, has been 100% from my heart, and to be able to talk about that is cathartic and almost therapeutic, so you guys are seeing that come out on screen. That anxiety, that confidence, and all of that coming out together, I hope you guys are enjoying it."
Lee is the reigning AEW TNT Champion after his decimation of Cody on the August 22 episode of AEW Dynamite.
The Dark Order will align at AEW All Out to take on Scorpio Sky, The Natural Nightmares, and Matt Cardona in an eight-man tag.
Fightful will have live coverage of AEW All Out beginning at 7 p.m. ET.