Unkempt, menacing and strange: Luke Harper and the rest of the Wyatt Family are coming to WWE. Not too long ago, Harper was Brodie Lee, a bruising and unforgiving powerhouse wreaking havoc on the independent circuit.
Much of the focus surrounding the Wyatt Family's debut has been about Bray Wyatt. Wyatt's electric creepiness and the powerful performance he has given as his new character makes that fact no surprise.
Still, Harper is no accessory. He's a big brawler whose shown promise in his work in the indies.
From his matches with the man now known as Antonio Cesaro to his battles against smaller men, Harper has compiled a collection of entertainment through violence. Before he, Erick Rowan and their sinister leader arrive, here are some of Harper's best early matches to explore.
In a four-way collision in 2012, Brodie Lee took on Sami Callihan, PAC and Rich Swann at a 2CW Squared Circle Wrestling event.
That night, the New York-based promotion showcased three athletic performers and a single giant. It was a fun, spot-heavy match that featured three guys who are now a part of WWE. PAC is known as Adrian Neville in NXT and Callihan is one of a bunch of recent signees.
Lee is not necessarily the star in this match, as the smaller guys provide much of the excitement. Lee, though, provides an intriguing contrast and a common enemy.
The match opened with the smaller men ganging up on Lee, who later impresses with a lucha-inspired move of his own.
Speedy sequences are the backbone of this battle, but there is a bit too much waiting around to keep the flow realistic. Lee and PAC sit on the apron for too long looking in on the action, but it's still a thrill to watch.
See the full match here.
Brodie Lee often played the role of Goliath in his early work.
He did so again at Joshimania 2011, taking on UltraMantis Black. This is a preview of the kind of action Lee could have against WWE’s smaller men like Tyson Kidd.
Lee shows off his brawling ability when he and his masked foe tumble into the crowd, pounding on each other. In springing from the ring apron onto UltraMantis, Lee also shows that he's got some agility to work with as well.
This is an entertaining match because of the big vs. small contrast, because of how overmatched UltraMantis is and moments where Lee rocks his opponent with strikes that leave him stunned.
Brodie Lee took on Michael Elgin at Capital City Championship Combat's Crossing the Line III event in June of 2010 in a match that gathered momentum as it went on.
Lee vs. Elgin was a solid power vs. power battle highlighted by the Wyatt family member's interaction with a mouthy fan. The heckling fan eventually caught Lee's attention and the big man got out of the ring to address him in intimidating fashion.
The match was a battle of two animals banging heads, each man trying to overpower the other with shoulder blocks or right hands. Elgin hit an exciting dive to the outside of the ring. Lee delivered a beautiful belly-to-belly suplex.
The energy and passion of the frantic finish gives us a peek of what Lee might do on the big stage. The amount of drama he and Elgin got out of the match's closing moments is a great sign to his ability to make the most of his WWE matches.
(NSFW Note: Thanks to both Lee and the commentators, the video includes some unsavory language.)
One of Brodie Lee's most fun matches was his demolition of a feisty underdog.
Brodie Lee vs. Grizzly Redwood was a battle of quickness versus power and strength versus pluckiness.
Redwood spun one potential power move into a sleeper hold and slipped out of several others. Lee smashed on him with stinging chops and stalked him like an animal lining up his prey.
Great energy from crowd, a good pace throughout and the fact that Redwood and Lee were both part of The Roughnecks faction made for an intriguing clash.
The mighty spinning side slam at the end alone makes the match worth watching.
Chikara's first cage match pitted two guys who would eventually make their way to WWE.
Claudio Castagnoli beat Brodie Lee to WWE, now performing as Antonio Cesaro. Is this a glimpse of a future WWE match?
Feuding with Castagnoli was one of Lee’s best runs in the indies and this 2008 match was one of their most compelling bouts.
Lee hurled Castagnoli into the cage. Castagnoli hit an impressive flying uppercut. It was a battle built on intensity and power moves.
A bloody Lee showed off explosiveness, power and brawling skills in a loss. It's a match worth searching out on DVD, one that hopefully Lee will soon top when he and his disturbing family arrive on the WWE scene.