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    Jonathan Huber (December 16, 1979 – December 26, 2020) was an American

    professional wrestler and actor. He was best known for his tenure in WWE, where he performed under the ring name Luke Harper (later simply

    Harper) from 2012 to 2019, and in All Elite Wrestling (AEW), where he performed under the ring name (Mr. )

    Brodie Lee in 2020.

    From 2003 to 2012, Huber had also worked on the independent circuit under the Brodie Lee ring name, most notably in Chikara, Squared Circle Wrestling (2CW), Ring of Honor (ROH),

    Dragon Gate USA (DGUSA), and internationally for Dragon Gate in Japan. Signing with WWE in 2012, [11] he assumed the name Luke Harper and was sent to WWE's developmental territory , Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), before debuting in

    NXT as a member of The Wyatt Family .[12] For most of his WWE career, he was closely associated with Wyatt Family members Bray Wyatt and

    Erick Rowan . The Wyatt Family won the

    NXT Tag Team Championship [13] and the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship .[14] Harper and Rowan , also known as The Bludgeon Brothers later in their tag team run, went on to hold the SmackDown Tag Team Championship on another occasion. [15] During a brief singles run, Harper became a one-time WWE Intercontinental Champion in 2014. [16] Huber departed WWE in December 2019 and subsequently made his AEW debut in March 2020 as Mr. Brodie Lee, revealing himself to be "The Exalted One" (the previously anonymous leader of The Dark Order ) and winning the

    AEW TNT Championship in August of that year.

    Having been hospitalized for an undisclosed lung issue in late October 2020, Huber died two months later on December 26 at the age of 41. [17]

    Early life

    Jonathan Huber[18][19] was born in

    Rochester, New York, on December 16, 1979. [9][20] He attended McQuaid Jesuit High School and played lacrosse for four years. He also played hockey in independent youth leagues.[21]

    Professional wrestling career

    Early career (2003–2006)

    Huber first got into wrestling as a

    backyard wrestler , performing under the ring name Huberboy #2 with the likes of Colin Delaney and his real-life brother, who worked as Huberboy #1. [22] Huber was eventually formally trained by Kirby Marcos and Rik Matrix in Rochester, New York, and Tony Mamaluke in Schenectady, New York, and made his debut for Roc City Wrestling (RCW) in 2003, working under a mask as Huberboy #2. [3] Later that year, he unmasked and began working as Brodie Lee for Rochester Pro Wrestling (RPW). He came up with the name Brodie Lee from the movie

    Mallrats by combining the names of actor Jason Lee and his character

    Brodie Bruce, [23] though his style and appearance have also brought comparisons to Bruiser Brody , mistakenly thinking his ring name was derived from Bruiser. [24] Throughout his time in RPW, which was later renamed to NWA Upstate and then again to NWA New York, Lee went on to win multiple championships including the heavyweight championship on three separate occasions, the tag team championship once and the television championship once, which he also proceeded to unify with the Kayfabe Dojo Championship. [8][25][26] Huber has described his original "The Right Stuff"

    gimmick as him "just having fun" and "being a cruiserweight".[23]

    Chikara (2007–2012)

    Huber made his debut for Philadelphia -based Chikara on March 24, 2007, at

    Time Will Prove Everything , using "The Right Stuff" Brodie Lee gimmick and losing to Equinox .[8][27] Lee originally was not scheduled to wrestle at the event, but was instead visiting backstage with friends. However, when

    Reckless Youth no-showed the event, Chikara booker Mike Quackenbush offered Lee the chance to get in the ring. [23] Lee returned to the company two months later, defeating Equinox in a rematch and starting a streak of not being pinned nor submitting that lasted for the rest of the year. [8][28] In August, Lee aligned himself with the Olsen Twins (Colin and Jimmy) and adopted the nickname "Big Rig" and a more serious gimmick of a trucker. [8]

    [29] Lee and the Olsen Twins were scheduled to enter the 2008 King of Trios tournament as Team Dr. Keith, but after Colin signed a contract with

    World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), the team was left one man short. A random draw picked Retail Dragon as his replacement, but after he dropped the deciding fall in their opening round match against Cheech, Cloudy and

    m.c.KZ , Lee turned on him while simultaneously ending his alliance with Jimmy Olsen in the process. [30]

    Lee at a Chikara event in November 2008

    In April 2008, Lee's bullying of smaller wrestlers led to Claudio Castagnoli issuing a challenge to him. Their first match on April 20 ended in Castagnoli being disqualified for accidentally kicking the referee of the match .[31] The second match on May 24 ended in similar fashion, this time Lee was disqualified for kicking the referee. [32] This led to a no disqualification match on July 13, which Lee won after interference from Shayne Hawke and Mitch Ryder, both of whom had a grudge with Castagnoli for breaking up

    The Kings of Wrestling the previous year. [33] Lee's and Castagnoli's feud ended on September 7, 2008, in Chikara's first-ever steel cage match , with Castagnoli coming out victorious. [34]

    In late 2008, Lee aligned himself with

    Eddie Kingston and Grizzly Redwood to form a stable called The Roughnecks. [8] On February 21, 2009, The Roughnecks defeated UltraMantis Black, Crossbones and Sami Callihan to earn a spot in the 2009 King of Trios tournament .[35] On March 27, The Roughnecks lost their King of Trios opening round match to Team Uppercut (Bryan Danielson , Claudio Castagnoli and Dave Taylor ). [36] When Kingston moved on to feuding with Castagnoli, Lee and Redwood began wrestling matches as a tag team . [8] With victories over Los Ice Creams (El Hijo del Ice Cream and Ice Cream Jr.), Cheech Hernandez and K.C. Day, and the North Star Express (Darin Corbin and Ryan Cruz), Lee and Redwood earned their right to challenge for the

    Campeonatos de Parejas.[37][38][39] On October 17, 2009, Lee and Redwood challenged The Colony (Fire Ant and Soldier Ant) for the championship, but were defeated in

    two straight falls .[40] Lee opted to give Redwood one more chance, but when he dropped the fall on October 19 in a match against The Osirian Portal (Amasis and Ophidian ), Lee kicked him in the face, effectively ending The Roughnecks. [41] Redwood made his return six months later on April 24, 2010, as a surprise opponent of Lee's, but was easily defeated by him.[42] Afterwards, Redwood stated that he was not done with Lee, but would prepare himself before their next match. [43] On August 29, Lee entered the Countdown Showdown battle royal and was dominating the match, before being eliminated by Redwood. [44] On October 23, Lee suffered an upset loss in a match against Dasher Hatfield , who was defeated by Redwood the following day. [45][46] On November 20, Lee and Redwood, having earned each other's respect, re-united and attacked Hatfield after his match with Shayne "Buck" Hawke. [47][48] On January 23, 2011, at the season ten premiere, The Roughnecks defeated The Throwbacks (Hatfield and Sugar Dunkerton) in a tag team match. [49] The Roughnecks and The Throwbacks ended their feud on March 13 in a lumberjack match , where Hatfield and Dunkerton were victorious. [50] In May 2011, Lee entered the 12 Large: Summit, set to determine the inaugural Chikara Grand Champion , but was forced to pull out of the tournament following his first match, after suffering a legitimate injury. [51] Lee returned to Chikara on October 30. [52] After signing a developmental contract with WWE, Lee made his farewell appearance for Chikara on March 25, 2012, when he unsuccessfully challenged Eddie Kingston for the Chikara Grand Championship. [52]

    Squared Circle Wrestling (2007–2012)

    Brodie Lee in 2011

    Lee made his debut for Syracuse, New York-based Squared Circle Wrestling (2CW) on August 20, 2007, teaming with Colin Olsen, as a replacement tag team partner for Jimmy Olsen, in a tag team match, where they were defeated by the Wyld Stallyns. [53] Lee started off as a heel aligned with the rival

    promotion NWA Upstate. Lee started becoming popular after a July 26, 2008, post–match incident in Binghamton, New York, that ended with him punching out a fan in the parking lot. [54] Lee was in storyline suspended from 2CW over the incident. He returned on October 24 to a huge ovation, although he was still a heel, leading NWA Upstate to a victory in an

    eight-man tag team main event.[55] He officially became a babyface starting April 2009 when the rivalry between 2CW and NWA Upstate had subsided. Lee then started a friendly rivalry with

    Slyck Wagner Brown that saw both men trade wins in singles matches on June 6 and September 19, 2009. [56][57] Lee defeated Brown in a rubber match on February 19, 2010, and then again in a two-out-of-three falls match on April 3, 2010, to end the feud.[58][59] Lee challenged Jason Axe for the 2CW Heavyweight Championship on June 20, 2010, but lost due to outside interference. [60] Lee defeated Isys Ephex on July 10 in a number one contender match to earn another shot at the title and, on August 22 in

    Watertown, New York, defeated Jason Axe to win the 2CW Heavyweight Championship for the first time. [61][62] Lee made a successful first defense of the title against the former champion, Jason Axe, in an "I Quit" match in Binghamton, New York, on September 24, 2010. [63] Lee lost the title to Slyck Wagner Brown on November 19, 2010, in Elmira, New York.[64] Lee regained the title on April 13, 2012, in a four-way match with Jay Freddie, Slyck Wagner Brown and Kevin Steen , who stole the

    championship belt after the match. [65] The following night, with the title belt still in Steen's possession, Lee successfully defended the 2CW Heavyweight Championship in another four-way match against Jason Axe, Jay Freddie and Matt Milan and afterwards relinquished it, as he had signed with WWE and would be contractually unable to defend it in the future. [66]

    Independent circuit (2008–2012)

    Lee made his debut for Ring of Honor (ROH) on October 25, 2008, aligning himself with The Age of the Fall and helping the group's leader Jimmy Jacobs to defeat Austin Aries in an

    Anything Goes match . [67] Lee then teamed with fellow Age of the Fall member Delirious and defeated Cheech and Cloudy in a tag team match, before ending the night by attacking

    Necro Butcher, with whom the stable was feuding, after his match with Go Shiozaki . [67] On November 7, Lee's match with Necro Butcher ended in a disqualification, when the rest of The Age of the Fall attacked his opponent. [68] Lee and Necro Butcher had a rematch under Anything Goes rules on February 27, 2009, which Necro won. [69] In March, Delirious turned on The Age of the Fall and on May 30 he defeated Lee in his final ROH match. [70]

    Lee debuted for Evolve on January 16, 2010, at the promotion's first ever show, teaming with Gran Akuma and

    Icarus in a six-man tag team match, where they were defeated by Team Frightning (Mike Quackenbush,

    Hallowicked and Frightmare ).[71] After losing a singles match to Gran Akuma on March 13, Lee picked up his first victory in the company by defeating Gran Akuma, Hallowicked and Chris Dickinson in a four-way match on May 1. [72][73] At the fourth show on July 23, Lee wrestled Jon Moxley to a no contest .[74] As Moxley was protesting the stoppage, Lee kicked a chair into his face, which led to Evolve suspending him for the show of September 11. [75] Lee returned to Evolve on May 20, 2011, in a match where he was defeated by Sami Callihan via submission. [76]

    On May 8, 2010, Lee made his debut for Dragon Gate USA (DGUSA), defeating Cheech, Cloudy, Kyle O'Reilly, Phil Atlas, Xtremo, Brent B. and Anthony Fiasco in a dark eight-way fray elimination match , before the tapings of the Uprising pay-per-view .[77] Later, on the pay-per-view section of the evening, Lee interrupted a match between Rip Impact and Johnny Wave, beat down both of the competitors and stated that next time he would be coming after a Japanese wrestler. [78] At the following event on September 25, Lee defeated Da Soul Touchaz (Acid Jaz, Marshe Rockett and Willie Richardson) in a three-on-one handicap match , before repeating his threat of going after a Japanese competitor. Later in the night, Lee set his sights on Yamato and chased him away from ringside, when he tried to interfere in a match between his ally Jon Moxley and Jimmy Jacobs. [79] The following day, Lee defeated Jimmy Jacobs, Kyle O'Reilly , Mike Quackenbush, Rich Swann and Silas Young in a six-way match. [80] On October 29 at Dragon Gate USA's first live pay-per-view, Bushido: Code of the Warrior, Lee teamed with sumo legend

    Akebono in a tag team match, where they defeated The Osirian Portal. After the match, Lee and Akebono had to be separated from one another by the rest of Dragon Gate USA's locker room. Later in the night, Cima used his draft pick to name Lee the newest member of his Warriors International stable. [81] At the following day's tapings of Freedom Fight 2010, Lee defeated Akebono in a singles match. [82] On January 28, 2011, at United: NYC, Lee, now representing the heel group Blood Warriors, defeated Jimmy Jacobs in a singles match. [83] The following day at

    United: Philly , Lee suffered his first loss in Dragon Gate USA, when he was defeated by Open the Freedom Gate Champion Yamato in a non-title match. [84]

    On December 21, 2010, Lee made his debut for Japanese promotion Dragon Gate (DG) in Tokyo, where he, representing The Warriors stable, defeated Kzy.[85] The Warriors stable

    turned heel on January 14, 2011, when they attacked Masato Yoshino and World-1, aligning themselves with

    Naruki Doi 's group, though Lee himself was not present, as he was snowed in and could not make the show. [86][87] The following day, Lee made his return to DG as a member of the new top heel group, in a match where he, Gamma and Genki Horiguchi defeated Yamato,

    Kagetora and Diablo. [86] On January 18, the new group was named Blood Warriors. [86]

    Jersey All Pro Wrestling (2009–2011)

    Lee made his debut for Jersey All Pro Wrestling (JAPW) on March 28, 2009, as a member of The Hillbilly Wrecking Crew, along with Necro Butcher and

    Trevor Murdoch.[88] On August 1, Lee and Necro defeated the Garden State Gods (Corvis Fear and Myke Quest) to win the JAPW Tag Team Championship .[89] On January 23, 2010, at JAPW's 12th Anniversary Show, Lee and Necro lost the title to Da Heavy Hitters (Havok and Monsta Mack) in a three-way tag team match, which also included The H8 Club (Nate Hatred and Nick Gage ).[90] On March 20, Lee got to challenge for the JAPW Heavyweight Championship , but was defeated by the defending champion

    Dan Maff and, after the match, Nick Gage attacked Maff and joined The Hillbilly Wrecking Crew, replacing Murdoch, who had left the company. [91] On May 22, Lee and Necro faced Maff and the JAPW New Jersey State Champion Charlie Haas in a tag team match, where they put their JAPW careers on the line against the titles of their opponents. In the end, Lee managed to pin Haas, after Maff had turned on him, to become the new JAPW New Jersey State Champion. [92] On October 23, 2010, Lee challenged Dan Maff for the JAPW Heavyweight Championship in a Champion vs. Champion match, but was defeated. [93] On November 20, Lee first successfully defended the New Jersey State Championship against Eddie Kingston and then defeated Dan Maff, Nick Gage and Azrieal in a

    Championship Scramble to win the JAPW Heavyweight Championship for the first time, unifying the two titles. [94][95] Lee made his first JAPW Heavyweight Championship defense on December 11, during the Anniversary weekend, defeating Rhino with help from Nick Gage. [96] On December 30, 2011, JAPW announced that Lee, who had not made an appearance for the promotion in nine months, had been stripped of the JAPW Heavyweight Championship. [97]

    WWE

    The Wyatt Family (2012–2014)

    Main article: The Wyatt Family

    Harper (on ropes) and Bray Wyatt at an NXT event in October 2012

    On March 12, 2012, it was reported that Huber had signed a developmental contract with WWE.[11] Huber made his debut for WWE's developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) at a house show on May 18, working under the new ring name Luke Harper.[98][99]

    When FCW was rebranded as NXT in August 2012, [100] Harper made his television debut on the November 7 episode of NXT as a follower of Bray Wyatt , who introduced Harper as the "first son" of The Wyatt Family .[12] The Wyatt Family later also came to include Wyatt's "second son" Erick Rowan , [101] with whom Harper formed a tag team. The two defeated Percy Watson and

    Yoshi Tatsu in their first match together on the January 9, 2013 episode of

    NXT .[102] On the January 23 episode of NXT, Harper and Rowan again defeated Watson and Tatsu in the opening round of the NXT Tag Team Championship tournament .[103] Following a win over Bo Dallas and

    Michael McGillicutty in the semi-finals with Wyatt's interference, [104] Harper and Rowan were defeated in the finals of the tournament by Adrian Neville and

    Oliver Grey.[105] Harper defeated Neville on the March 20 episode of

    NXT .[106] On the May 2 episode of

    NXT , Harper and Rowan won a triple threat elimination tag match by last pinning Neville. [107] On the May 8 episode of NXT, Harper and Rowan defeated Adrian Neville and Bo Dallas, filling in for the injured Grey, to win the NXT Tag Team Championship. [108][13] After retaining the title against Corey Graves and Kassius Ohno on the June 5 episode of NXT, [109] Harper and Rowan lost the NXT Tag Team Championship to Adrian Neville and Corey Graves on the July 17 episode of

    NXT .[110][111]

    Harper (right) with other The Wyatt Family members in April 2014

    From the May 27 episode of Raw , WWE aired vignettes promoting the upcoming debut of The Wyatt Family. [112] The vignettes showed The Wyatt Family's backwoods origins.[113]

    [114] On the July 8 episode of Raw , The Wyatt Family made their debut by assaulting Kane. [115] Harper made his WWE in-ring debut on the July 26

    SmackDown, where he and Rowan defeated Tons of Funk (Brodus Clay and Tensai ).[116] Over the next few months, Harper and Rowan went on a winning streak over many teams, [117]

    [118][119] until Cody Rhodes and Goldust handed them their first loss on the October 11 episode of

    SmackDown. [120] In November, The Wyatt Family started a rivalry with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan heading into

    Survivor Series , [121][122] where Harper and Rowan lost to Punk and Bryan in a tag team match. [123] The following month at TLC, The Wyatt Family defeated Bryan in a 3-on-1 handicap match .[124]

    At the Royal Rumble on January 26, 2014, Harper competed in his first

    Royal Rumble match , where he eliminated two other participants before being eliminated by Roman Reigns. [125] Shortly afterwards, The Wyatt Family began a feud with The Shield (Dean Ambrose , Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins), leading to a match between the teams at Elimination Chamber , which The Wyatt Family won. [126][127][128] During this time, Harper and Rowan also supported Bray Wyatt in his feud with John Cena through WrestleMania XXX , [129] with Harper and Rowan also starting their own feud with the WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos (Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso), who supported Cena in the feud.[130] Harper and Rowan went on to unsuccessfully challenge The Usos for the WWE Tag Team Championship at both Money in the Bank and Battleground .[131][132]

    Intercontinental Champion (2014–2015)

    In September 2014, The Wyatt Family split and Harper went off into singles competition, winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship

    Beginning on September 29, vignettes were shown of Harper and Rowan being "set free" by Wyatt, marking the dissolution of The Wyatt Family and the transition of its members into singles competition. [133] After a further series of video vignettes aimed at Dolph Ziggler , Harper made his return to TV during the closing moments of the November 10 episode of Raw , throwing an unconscious Ziggler at Triple H and

    Stephanie McMahon 's feet and expressing his desire to join their team at Survivor Series .[134] The following week on Raw , Harper officially joined Team Authority . Immediately after, Harper was awarded an impromptu match for the Intercontinental Championship against Dolph Ziggler, which, after interference from Seth Rollins, Harper won to capture his first main roster title. [135] At Survivor Series, Team Authority lost the match, which Harper was eliminated by Ziggler. [136] As punishment for his affiliation with The Authority, Harper was forced to defend the Intercontinental Championship against

    Dean Ambrose on the November 24 episode of Raw and successfully retained the title after getting himself disqualified. [137] Harper lost the title back to Ziggler in a ladder match at

    TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs , ending his reign at 27 days, [138] and failed to regain the title in a rematch on the December 22 episode of Raw . [139]

    On January 25, 2015, Harper entered the Royal Rumble match at number 4, and was eliminated by Bray Wyatt. [140] Beginning in early March, Harper was involved into a storyline where he was one of many wrestlers stealing Bad News Barrett 's Intercontinental Championship belt from Barrett and each other. [141] This led to a seven-man ladder match for the title on March 29 at WrestleMania 31 , which was won by Daniel Bryan. [142] The match led to a new feud between Harper and Dean Ambrose (who was also a participant in the ladder match at WrestleMania), [143] with Harper losing a Chicago Street Fight between the pair at Extreme Rules. [144] On the April 27 episode of Raw , Harper took part in the 2015 King of the Ring tournament, but was eliminated by Neville in the first round. [145]

    Return of The Wyatt Family (2015–2017)

    See also: The Wyatt Family

    In early May, Harper revived his alliance with Erick Rowan. [146] After Rowan suffered an injury, [147] Harper reunited with Bray Wyatt on July 19 at

    Battleground by helping him defeat

    Roman Reigns. [148] This led to a tag team match between Harper and Wyatt against Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam, which they lost after Reigns pinned Wyatt. [149] The following night on Raw , Braun Strowman joined Harper and Wyatt as the new member of The Wyatt Family. [150] At Night of Champions The Wyatt Family defeated Reigns, Ambrose and Chris Jericho in a six-man tag team match. [151] On the October 19 episode of Raw , Erick Rowan returned to The Wyatt Family when he filled in for Harper (who was unable to show for personal reasons). [152][153] The Wyatt Family then got involved in a feud with The Brothers of Destruction (The Undertaker and Kane ), which built to a tag team match on November 22 at

    Survivor Series , where the two defeated Harper and Wyatt. [154] The next night on Raw , Harper teamed with Wyatt again to defeat The Dudley Boyz, igniting a new feud.[155] Over the next weeks, Tommy Dreamer and Rhyno joined The Dudley Boyz in the feud, [156][157] leading to an eight-man tag team tables match at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs , where Harper, Wyatt, Rowan and Strowman were victorious. [158] On January 24, 2016, Harper competed in the Royal Rumble with fellow Wyatt Family members and he was eliminated by Brock Lesnar, but returned to the ring later on with The Wyatt Family members to eliminate Lesnar. [159] Harper and Wyatt were defeated by Lesnar in a 2-on-1 handicap match at the Roadblock event on March 12. [160] On March 21, Harper suffered a knee injury during an untelevised match on Raw , sidelining him for five to six months. [161] After getting an MRI , it was revealed that he had dislocated his patella and tore his

    medial patellofemoral ligament .[162] Because of his injury, Harper was not drafted to either Raw or SmackDown in the 2016 WWE draft .[163]

    Harper, Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton as the SmackDown Tag Team Champions

    Harper returned to the ring on October 5, unsuccessfully teaming with Kevin Owens against Sami Zayn and Seth Rollins at a house show in Santiago,

    Chile .[164] Four days later, Harper returned in the match of the SmackDown brand pay-per-view No Mercy , helping Bray Wyatt defeat

    Randy Orton by distracting Orton. [165] On December 4 at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs , Wyatt and Orton, who had recently joined The Wyatt Family, captured the SmackDown Tag Team Championship , and three days later it was announced that Harper had been sanctioned as champion as well, making him eligible to defend the title under the Freebird Rule .[14] The Wyatt Family, represented by Harper and Orton, lost the SmackDown Tag Team Championship to American Alpha (Chad Gable and Jason Jordan) in a four-way elimination match on the December 27 episode of SmackDown. After the match, Harper and Orton showed tension over the loss. [166] After Wyatt and Orton unsuccessfully challenged American Alpha for the title on the January 10, 2017 episode of

    SmackDown Live , Harper and Orton shoved each other, which led to Harper accidentally superkicking Wyatt. [167] Harper and Orton continued having problems with each other, [168] leading to a match between the two on the January 24 episode of SmackDown, where Orton was victorious. After the match, Wyatt attacked Harper with the

    Sister Abigail, separating him from the group. [169]

    At the Royal Rumble on January 29, Harper entered the Royal Rumble match at number 25, attacking both Wyatt and Orton and eliminating Apollo Crews, before being eliminated by

    Goldberg .[170] On the January 31 episode of SmackDown, Harper turned

    face for the first time in his WWE career after helping WWE Champion John Cena in his confrontation with Orton and Wyatt. [171][172] At

    Elimination Chamber on February 12, Harper was defeated by Orton. [173] Shortly after this, Harper unsuccessfully faced AJ Styles over number one contendership for the WWE Championship, held by Wyatt. [174][175] At the WrestleMania 33 pre-show on April 2, Harper took part in the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal , from which he was eliminated by Titus O'Neil .[176] Following WrestleMania, Harper feuded with the returning Erick Rowan, leading to a match at Backlash , which Harper won. [177] On the July 4 episode of SmackDown, Harper took part in the Independence Day Battle Royal to determine the number one contender for the United States Championship . He failed to win as the match was eventually won by AJ Styles. [178] Harper then disappeared from WWE television for several months. [179]

    The Bludgeon Brothers (2017–2018)

    Main article: The Bludgeon Brothers

    The Bludgeon Brothers at

    WrestleMania 34 , where they won the

    SmackDown Tag Team Championship

    On the October 10 episode of

    SmackDown, as a heel again, Harper returned to television in a vignette where he was once again aligned with Erick Rowan. [179] The duo were dubbed "The Bludgeon Brothers", with Harper's ring name shortened to simply "Harper". [180] The team wrestled their return match on the November 21 episode of SmackDown, defeating The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley ).[181] At Clash of Champions on December 17, The Bludgeon Brothers defeated Breezango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze ) in a

    squash match .[182] Going into 2018, The Bludgeon Brothers began to target SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos , as well as their rivals The New Day. [183][184][185]

    On March 11, 201

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