Off The Ropes: When Luke Harper Speaks, I Listen by Hab Rich

My author bio states that I’m the World’s Biggest Luke Harper fan, so when Chris Jericho’s latest episode of “Talk Is Jericho” featured the big man, I was excited to hear what he had to say. I’ve been completely enthralled with his character since his debut in WWE as a member of the Wyatt Family. The instant I saw him, all I could think of the late Bruiser Brody; he looks so much like him, it’s eerie. Some of the reasons he’s one of my favorite wrestlers right now are his work style, his slovenly demeanor, in-ring mannerisms and the crazy eyes. Oh, and who doesn’t love the bearded, dingy, filthy wifebeater look?

One of the interesting topics of discussion on the podcast was about how he came up with his Indy wrestling name, which was Brodie Lee. What made it interesting is the fact that Chris Jericho (along with thousands of other wrestling fans, I’m sure) just make the seemingly safe assumption that he’d gotten his name as a take off of Bruiser Brody, given his look and fighting style. I was one of those thousands of fans you thought the same thing, so imagine my surprise when he said the name Brody Lee actually came from Jason Lee’s character Brody in the cult classic film “Mallrats.”

He also mentioned getting heat from Vince McMahon during his initial post-Wyatt run for not using a Southern accent when he informed The Authority that he was a ‘team player’ during the run up to Survivor Series 2014. I’m a little on the fence about this because on one hand, Harper looks just like an old mechanic on the side of the road. One would almost expect a Southern drawl as soon as he opens his mouth. My issue with that is the fact that just because he looks like an SEC football fan, doesn’t mean he has to sound like one. His character is so strong and his presence is just all so there, that I’m totally okay with him either not speaking at or, or speaking very little in a more ominous and dark voice.

He never mentioned it specifically, but I’m wondering if that was why they took the Intercontinental Championship from him so soon after winning it. He did say that he was pissed after hearing of WWE’s plan for him to drop the belt. Though it was a short reign, I was thrilled to be able to see him defend the Intercontinental title at a WWE Live Event here, in the great city of Augusta, Georgia!

Remember when we as fans clamored for more tag team presence on WWE television? Of course we don’t, but the truth is that while not exactly a revolution of sorts, the Wyatts (Harper and Rowan) and Usos put on a series of really great matches during their 2014 feud. The one match between these two teams that really took the cake was their best 2-out-of-3 falls for the Tag Team Championships at Battleground 2014.

I’d always regarded this match as one of the best tag team matches in the last five to ten years. I keep the Battleground pay per view on my WWE Network Watchlist just to be able to relive the greatness that was this match. I mean seriously, where do I start and/or stop? Rowan double suplexing the Usos from the second rope, Harper using a between-the-ropes suicide dive to take out Jimmy Uso, the false finishes, the way each team sold the false finishes, the actual finish itself; there was so much to love about this match. Harper mentioned that coming backstage after that match was one of his first real interactions with Mr. McMahon, and that Vince hugged each of the superstars and told them to “Tell those mf’ers to top that!” After the podcast went off, I cued up that match again and can honestly say, it’s gonna hold up as a true classic in five to ten years from now.

What was not talked about on “Talk Is Jericho” was the WWE’s creative team’s failure to provide any positive traction for Harper’s (and Rowan, even though they tried) character post-Wyatt family. I’m sure Chris Jericho didn’t want to garner Luke any heat with upper management by asking him about his frustrations of being left off television for several weeks at a time. But again, what do I know? I’m just a lowly wrestling columnist. I only know what I saw (or didn’t see, for weeks at a time) and it just seemed like that other than the really cool vignettes they did for the Wyatt Family breakup, there was nothing else planned for Harper and Rowan after that. You can add that dissolution and eventual reconciliation of the Wyatt Family to that long-running list of superstars on which WWE has dropped the ball. Or, you can be happy that the Wyatts are now back together and up to their usual havoc. I choose the latter.

To hear a wrestler I like break character and give me a glimpse of the man behind the character and what it took to come up with the gimmick is always a fun time. This time around with Luke Harper was no different. He’s very well-spoken and a family man with a wife and child to boot. Whatever he is or isn’t, he’s definitely my favorite WWE Superstar right now. I just hope WWE has plans for him in the event they decide to do another Wyatt Family breakup. “Yeah, yeah, yeah…”

***Thanks for reading! Before I go, can someone define the obvious irony behind Mick Foley, King of the Cheap Pop, having a problem with the chanting NXT fans at Full Sail? I’ll wait.***