Quick Takes on Brodie Lee's Legacy, What's Next for WWE's Seth Rollins and More
Lee accomplished a great deal throughout his time in WWE and later AEW, but above all else, he will be remembered as being a family man and an all-around outstanding person. The reactions from the wrestling community this weekend have barely scratched the surface of how many lives he truly touched.
Much like everyone else, wrestling fans are ready to leave 2020 in the past and are eagerly awaiting the imminent arrival of 2021. WWE has already confirmed the comeback of Seth Rollins to SmackDown on the first Friday night show of the new year, but what he'll have in store during his return remains to be seen.
The Royal Rumble pay-per-view will also be worth looking forward to on January 31, especially now that Daniel Bryan has declared himself for the bout. Following his recent run-in with Jey Uso, no one makes more sense to win the annual Battle Royal for the men at this point in time than him.
This week's Quick Takes will look at the legacy of Brodie Lee, potential plans for Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka at WrestleMania 37, MJF eventually ousting Chris Jericho from Inner Circle, and more.
Remembering Brodie Lee
At only 41 years old, Brodie Lee left this world way too soon. His death left the entire wrestling community in complete shock and resulted in performers from every major promotion expressing their condolences and sharing stories about how wonderful of a human being he was.
Lee was a once-in-a-lifetime talent who bared a strong resemblance to one of the best big men in wrestling history, Bruiser Brody, both in appearance and from an in-ring standpoint. That helped him stand out when he initially broke onto the wrestling scene in 2003 and led him to building an incredible portfolio of matches and moments.
For the first decade of his career, he achieved great success everywhere he went before finally arriving in WWE in 2012. It didn't take long for him to land a recurring role on NXT TV as a member of The Wyatt Family, and as Luke Harper, he was a fantastic fit for the group.
Of course, Lee was much more than a menacing big man. He quickly proved that upon stepping inside the squared circle and showing the audience what brought him to the dance in the first place.
In addition to his dominant reign as one-half of the NXT tag team champions, he put together a tremendous string of matches with the likes of The Usos and The Shield upon arriving on the main roster. For a guy his size, he could do what few others could and bring fans to their feet every single time.
Although Lee didn't go as far as he should have while with WWE, he did enjoy a brief run as the intercontinental champion in 2014 and was an integral part of The Wyatt Family. Many thought he should have been a part of the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania 33, and with the way he was getting over at that point in time, it's difficult to dispute that.
Lee was finally able to break through that proverbial glass ceiling earlier this year when he made his highly anticipated arrival in All Elite Wrestling as The Exalted One of The Dark Order. The debut didn't receive the reaction it deserved because of the show having to go on without fans in attendance, but it was still a surreal moment nonetheless.
The last stretch of Lee's in-ring work was nothing short of remarkable as he had terrific matches with Jon Moxley, Orange Cassidy and Cody Rhodes. He also went on a tear as AEW TNT champion before losing the belt to Cody in a hard-fought Dog Collar Match, which will be remembered his final televised bout.
He was a once-in-a-lifetime talent and more importantly, a stand-up individual loved and adored by many. To say he will be greatly missed would be a massive understatement and that the wrestling world is worse off without him in it.
Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair Shouldn't Be the Endgame for Their Tag Team
Charlotte Flair was the popular pick to be Asuka's mystery partner at last Sunday's TLC pay-per-view, and sure enough, she returned and won the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship alongside The Empress of Tomorrow. The question now is where the two go from here as a unit.
As the current reigning Raw women's champion, Asuka has no business holding tag team title gold as well. Bayley and Sasha Banks already exhausted the double champion gimmick earlier this year, and it only deemphasizes the Raw women's title that much more.
Asuka and Flair successfully defended the twin titles on Friday's SmackDown in what was a terrific Triple Threat tag team elimination match, but they shouldn't be in possession of the belts for long. In fact, Flair even hinted at challenging Asuka this past week on Raw before being interrupted by Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler.
All signs sure seem to point to Flair vs. Asuka being the endgame for their tag team, specifically at WrestleMania 37. However, as a match fans have seen several times over the years, there are much stronger alternatives WWE should go with at WrestleMania instead.
Rhea Ripley, for one, is waiting in the wings at NXT to be called up to the main roster. She has unfinished business with Flair from the first half of 2020 and can easily be inserted into that equation to make it a Triple Threat for the Raw Women's Championship.
There's also Alexa Bliss, who has been among the best parts of Raw in recent months and should be in line for a title shot at some point. Ronda Rousey is another option assuming she resurfaces on the road to WrestleMania.
Regardless of how well they work together, Flair vs. Asuka one-on-one again at WrestleMania would be the wrong call, especially if the endgame is Flair regaining the Raw Women's Championship from her partner.
Daniel Bryan Is the New Favorite to Win the Men's Royal Rumble Match
Although he's the only one confirmed to compete in next month's men's Royal Rumble match as of now, Daniel Bryan should be considered the new favorite to win it all and advance to the main event of WrestleMania 37.
Everything Bryan has done since returning to the ring in October has indicated that he's being built up for a Universal Championship match against Roman Reigns. Looking at the current state of the SmackDown roster, it's arguably the biggest bout WWE could do on The Grandest Stage of Them All on the blue brand side of things.
When Reigns turned heel and aligned with Paul Heyman at the end of the summer, fans figured it was more a matter of when and not if he and Bryan would cross paths. After all, it was Bryan being eliminated from the 2015 Royal Rumble and Reigns winning it instead that led to the backlash Reigns received in the years that followed.
It's a story that essentially writes itself and must be explored at some point, though WrestleMania might be the perfect place for it to happen. At the very least, Reigns vs. Bryan is a significantly stronger option than Reigns vs. Goldberg, which was previously rumored for the event.
Of course, the match could still happen without Bryan winning the Rumble, but it's only outcome for the annual Battle Royal that makes sense at the moment. He's never won one in his career, and up-and-comers such as Big E and Keith Lee may not be ready for that spot.
Look no further than Bryan's heated exchange with Paul Heyman on this week's Talking Smack for evidence as to why Reigns vs. Bryan must happen sometime soon and how it's bound to be a barnburner.
What Will Seth Rollins Have in Store for SmackDown Next Friday?
Seth Rollins was last seen on WWE TV at Survivor Series last month when he willingly got himself eliminated from Team SmackDown. Two days prior, he wrapped up his storyline with the Mysterio family when his former pupil, Murphy, defeated him in one-on-one action.
With that angle officially behind him, there's no telling what he has planned for his return to the blue brand Friday night. Obviously, it's safe to assume he too will be declaring himself for the men's Royal Rumble match, but beyond that, there isn't an obvious direction for him.
Rollins taking on Daniel Bryan heading into WrestleMania 37 would be a fresh feud, but as previously noted, Reigns vs. Bryan could be the 'Mania match instead. That would limit the options for who Rollins' next rival will be, especially considering he's already had programs with Rey Mysterio, Murphy and Kevin Owens.
Having just won the Intercontinental Championship, Big E might be the next best option. He and Rollins haven't had many matches over the years, and putting Rollins back into the intercontinental title mix would certainly help elevate that title back to the heights it was at when he held it in 2018.
There's also the possibility of him turning back into a babyface and ditching his Messiah roots. He could rekindle his rivalry with Roman Reigns eventually (this time with the roles reversed), but it's too soon for any of those things to be happening given the success he's had with his current character this past year.
Don't expect him to settle into a storyline as soon as Friday. He'll likely spin his wheels until after the Royal Rumble, at which point his trajectory heading into WrestleMania will become clearer.
How Long Will It Be Before MJF Ousts Chris Jericho from Inner Circle?
The biggest takeaway from this week's AEW Dynamite was that MJF is clearly has his sights set on either overthrowing Chris Jericho as the leader of Inner Circle or destroying the faction from within.
He got one step toward closer toward his goal—whatever that might be—when he earned Jericho's trust by teaming with him to defeat Top Flight. It was announced afterward that Jake Hager and Wardlow will clash in singles competition next week, which wouldn't happen unless AEW was planning for some sort of a split in the faction.
Jericho leading a heel stable over the last year has been a breath of fresh air for his career, but it's time for something new. Inner Circle hasn't had a ton of success lately and MJF shouldn't be treading water for much longer.
Jericho becoming a babyface again wouldn't be the worst decision. In addition to Jericho not having been a babyface in over three years, Kenny Omega recently turned heel, meaning AEW needs another top face to fill that role and Jericho could be that person.
In the meantime, Jericho and MJF joining forces and climbing the AEW tag team rankings has plenty of potential. A run as AEW world tag team champions doesn't need to be in their futures, though an ultimate betrayal on MJF's end in the coming months would give both guys the boost they need.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.