One wrestler that appeared to have the world at his feet in the early 1990s was Brian Lee Harris, better known to grapple fans as “Prime Time” Brian Lee, the fake Undertaker or as part of the DOA as Chainz. Yet his career didn’t scale the heights many expected and with rumours and innuendo galore. Today, Craig takes a look at that promotion’s very first champion.
Brian Lee made his wrestling debut in 1988 for Jerry Jarrett’s Continental Wrestling Association which would merge with Word Class Championship Wrestling in 1989 to form the United States Wrestling Association. He’d remain there until 1991.
In the year that he left the USWA he would also wrestle a dark match for the WWE at the ‘Tuesday in Texas’ PPV. He would lose that match to former Global Wrestling Federation star Chris Walker but would go on to bigger and better things the following year.
1992 saw Lee debut for the newly formed Smoky Mountain Wrestling as “Prime Time” Brian Lee. He would earn the distinction of being the promotions first Heavyweight Champion when he defeated Paul Orndorff in a tournament final. He would also become the first wrestler to be managed by Tammy Sytch, later known as Sunny.
In 1994, Lee briefly joined the WWF as the impostor Undertaker. After The Undertaker’s disappearance after the 1994 Royal Rumble, Ted Dibiase, who had originally introduced the wrestling world to the Undertaker, claimed he was going to do so again. This version of the Taker, however, was guided by Dibiase’s money rather than Paul Bearer’s urn. Bearer claimed it was an impostor and that he had been in contact with the real thing. This led to a match at SummerSlam ’94 between the two Undertakers that was won by Paul Bearer’s Undertaker. After the match, The Undertaker rolled the impostor into a casket that was taken away and never seen of again.
After this short stint with the WWF lee returned to SMW and also had a stint at the United States Wrestling association where he teamed with his real life cousins Ron and Don Harris, who he would find himself teaming with again in the future.
By early 1996, Lee had began appearing for the Philadelphia upstart promotion ‘Extreme Championship Wrestling’. He performed initially under the guise of “Prime Time” Brian Lee and was allied with Raven as a hired bodyguard for his stable.
Lee was heavily involved with Raven’s feud with Tommy Dreamer and during one match Lee chokeslammed Dreamer from the ECW balcony through 3 stacked tables, then pinned Dreamer for the victory. This footage was used during ECW’s opening video montage to their shows.
Many of the matches between Lee and Dreamer followed a similar pattern including Lee chokeslamming Dreamer off of a cage as well as off balconies. The pair also had several Falls Count Anywhere matches. The feud culminated at ECW’s High Incident event, in the match Lee is most remembered for from his ECW tenure. During his Scaffold Match with Dreamer, Lee took a major bump from the scaffolding high above the ring through a series of tables stacked up inside the ring.
From late 96 onwards Lee began feuding with Terry Funk. He also became a part of the latest incarnation of Triple Threat with Shane Douglas and Chris Candido. During this time a masked wrestler began stalking Douglas. The big reveal disclosed that it was Lee under the mask and he was attacked and kicked out of the group, with his place taken by Bam Bam Bigelow. Lee left the promotion soon after.
Lee then showed up in the WWF as Chainz, a member of the biker stable Disciples of Apocalypse, alongside the leader Crush and his cousins The Harris Brothers who were now wrestling under the guises of Skull and 8-Ball. They engaged in feuds with other stables such as Los Boricuas, The Nation of Domination and the Truth Commission during the ‘Gang Warz’ storyline that was prevalent at the time.
After the Montreal Screwjob, Crush left the WWF for the WCW and Chainz assumed leadership of the group. The trio continued their feud with the Nation of Domination and were regularly joined by either Ken Shamorck or Ahmed Johnson. By early 1998 Skull and 8-Ball were focussing regularly on tag action leaving Chainz to his own devices until the summer, when he was released.
Several years out of the spotlight followed before Lee emerged on TNA in 2002 teaming with Slash as the Disciples of the New Church under Father James Mitchell. The pair would win the NWA Tag Team titles when they bested America’s Most Wanted (“Cowboy” James Storm and “Wildcat” Chris Harris). They dropped the gold back to the pair in early 2003 and Lee left soon after. His displays in TNA were enough to get his 111th finish in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Top 500 in 2003.
A period working for smaller independent promotions followed before more years in the wilderness. Which takes us to where we are now.
Finding information on Lee’s activities in recent years is trickier. In fact, it was proving so difficult that I reached out to various wrestling personalities with no success. A question to the always excellent ‘Ask 411’ got me an answer, of sorts:
Well he did pop up last year to do a RF Shoot interview, so he’s not dead. Apparently he’s pretty messed up from drugs, the reviews say of his shoot, but he’s not dead. I don’t think the blackballing thing is legit, or at least for slipping Taker’s wife one. Getting released due to drugs, I can believe, but not that, since he was hired back again. He’s pretty much semi-retired, and possibly taking drugs a bit. Like a lot of people really…
It would seem, for all intents and purposes, that Brian Lee has fallen of the face of the wrestling world. I’ve searched wrestling forums and websites for any other information on Lee but it all returns to rumours of drug misuse and sleeping with The Undertaker’s wife – the superstar that played a huge part in bringing Lee into the WWF in 1994 and 1997.