WWE NXT North American Champion Keith Lee recently spoke with Yahoo Sports to promote tonight’s NXT episode on the USA Network. The show will see Lee defend his title against Damian Priest.
Lee has been feuding with Priest and Dominik Dijakovic for several months now. Yahoo called their matches “appointment viewing” for any fan, and said they have elevated the NXT North American Title. Lee discussed their style of in-ring work, which WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry praised and said they were bringing “big man magic” back to the sport.
“When you get gents like us in the ring, it’s oftentimes [jaw-dropping] but also mesmerizing for someone who is seeing it for the first time,” Lee said. “It’s unexpected, shocking for people who have never seen someone like us do what we do. It’s an expression of who we are and wanting to be the greatest, have the highest level of competition. It creates a magical experience. It’s something you cannot replace, it’s indescribable.”
Lee also talked about his character and the “Limitless” nickname he uses.
“My character represents a lot of my life growing up, but also my experience in entertainment as a whole,” Lee said. “Being told no so many times, being denied, turned down, shut down, talked down and never giving up. That’s kind of the premise that ‘Limitless’ was. Some have applied it to my in-ring ability, but for me it’s a way of life, a mentality, something to help keep one’s mental fortitude intact while they are going through tough times.”
Lee played for Texas A&M in the early 2000s and was headed for a career in football, but he had a pro wrestling itch he needed to scratch. He revealed that his grandmother got him into wrestling. Lee began his journey to WWE in 2005, and said it was hard for him to break in at first because wrestlers of his size were often pigeonholed. Lee tried out for WWE three times during a five-year period from 2008-2013, getting turned down each time. He said he began to question his place in the industry.
“One-hundred percent [I began to doubt whether or not I made the right move],” Lee said. “After the second no [in 2011], there came a point there where it started to creep in, and after the Performance Center opened up and I got a third no [in 2013], then I was pretty much ready to give wrestling up altogether and accept that I possibly made a mistake.”
Lee credited NXT General Manager William Regal, along with WWE Hall of Famers Jim Ross and Dusty Rhodes, as key influences who kept him motivated and involved in the business as he worked the indies for a few more years. WWE continued to evolve and the NXT brand turned into something very different, a place where he could find a spot.
“I’ve always been a confident individual,” Lee said. “I feel like all I’ve ever really required is an opportunity and a chance to break the door down for a lack of better term.”