Keith Lee has discussed when he knew he was going to be heading to the main roster of WWE despite the best efforts of Triple H to keep the star on NXT.
Keith Lee had a stellar career on the independent scene before he joined the developmental brand of WWE in 2018. Lee soon built a following on the black and gold brand and played a big role in NXT’s involvement at Survivor Series 2019 where the brand was put on an even footing with Raw and SmackDown for the first time.
In January 2020, Keith Lee captured the NXT North American Championship and capped off a memorable week as he entered the men’s Royal Rumble match to a huge reception, being greeted by Brock Lesnar in the ring.
More success followed in July when Lee became the first star to hold both the NXT Championship and the NXT North American Championship at the same time when he defeated reigning NXT Champion Adam Cole for all the gold.
After relinquishing the North American Title, Keith Lee only managed to hold onto the NXT Title for a month before losing that belt to Karrion Kross.
Speaking on the Out Of Character podcast, Lee revealed that it was before his match with Kross that he knew a future on the main roster awaited him:
“It was kind of like, the match was coming up with Kross and in passing (it was mentioned). It was casual like, ‘once this is done, you’re going to one of these two places. We don’t know yet.’ ‘Alright. Let’s make the most of this and try to have some fun on the way out and cut loose a little bit.'”
Keith Lee then followed up by saying it was NXT’s founding father Triple H that tried to keep Lee on the NXT brand for as long as possible but time had run out for both men:
“I definitely could have spent more time there, without a doubt, without questions. Let’s be honest, I had not long won the NXT Championship, and what, maybe six weeks of time before it was ‘gotta go.’ The reality was, as I understand, the main roster had been wanting to bring me up for a while and it was Triple H trying to keep me for as long as he could.”
“Time was running out and some things are out of our hands. For me, personally, I’m always looking for another challenge so, going to the main roster, it’s like, okay, now I get to see where I really stand because I was concerned I have everything I need.”
Lee illustrates his point of having all the tools to be successful when he discusses his role at the Survivor Series and in his confrontation with The Beast Incarnate:
“I think a random no-name guy steps up with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins at Survivor Series and has the crowd firmly on his side without having something. In my personal opinion, I have everything. Everything I need, I have it, and it’s at my disposal. I don’t think that happens, I don’t think the situation at the Royal Rumble with me and Brock happens. I don’t think you hear 42,000 people going nuts for a guy that has nothing, right?”
“The one thing that matters, as far as I’m concerned is that it doesn’t matter what Keith Lee is or who Keith Lee is. What matters is Keith Lee’s connection with the people. No matter what happens, anywhere, anytime, those people are going to have something to say and I’ll forever be grateful for it.”
Keith Lee recently added the moniker ‘Bearcat’ to his name and he most recently defeated Hurt Business member Cedric Alexander on Raw.