Former NXT Champion Keith Lee’s ride thus far on WWE RAW has been a rollercoaster to say the least, but it looks like the 36-year-old may now be veering off on a completely different track as Lee has grown out his facial hair, switched up his ring attire, and has a new nickname on the show.
Making his return to RAW after sporadic appearances over the past couple of months, the Limitless one confirmed a character change which had been trialed during a dark match last week on RAW and again on SmackDown against local competitors.
Last week, Lee was announced to the live crowd in Raleigh, North Carolina as Keith ‘Bearcat’ Lee – and that name was solidified on this week’s RAW with a lower third showcasing the new moniker – complete with new attire featuring claw marks. Lee went on to defeat Akira Tozawa, who he had also been wrestling last week during WWE’s Live tour.
— WWE (@WWE) September 28, 2021
For those wondering where the “Bearcat” name comes from, it’s synonymous with another name in wrestling history. Ed ‘Bearcat’ Wright was a fixture of the professional wrestling world from the fifties until the mid-seventies, competing all over the world, wrestling in the numerous NWA-aligned territories at the time as well as in New Japan Pro Wrestling in Japan. Bearcat Wright shared the ring with greats of professional wrestling such as Antonio Inoki, Terry Funk, Bobo Brazil, and Freddie Blassie in a career that saw him eventually honoured with a 2017 induction into the Legacy wing of the WWE Hall Of Fame.
Bearcat Brown is another of wrestling’s Bearcats and he competed from the early sixties until the late seventies. Brown competed all over the United States and won countless different incarnations of NWA Tag Team Championship, primarily with his longtime partner Len Rossi. It had recently been rumoured that there had been a plan to turn Keith Lee heel in WWE, with the suggestion that AEW’s Adam Cole may have become Lee’s manager had he opted to stay in WWE. Adam Cole, though, has said he was unaware of such plans.
Lee’s last appearance on WWE television before this week came on the 6th of August edition of RAW where he defeated Karrion Kross in one on one action. Lee had missed five months of action in 2021 with what he later confirmed were medical concerns.