Keith “Bearcat” Lee spoke about being called up to the main roster in August of last year as a guest on the latest episode of the Out of Character Podcast with Ryan Satin. The former NXT Champion spoke about what it was like to be brought up from NXT just shortly after finally winning his first major singles title. He also talked about moments he had prior to being called up to the main roster full time with some of the top stars in WWE.
“I definitely could’ve spent more time there, without a doubt and without question,” Lee said. “Let’s be honest, I not long [after winning] the NXT Championship [left the brand], what maybe 6-weeks of time there before it was like you have to go. The reality was, as I understand, the main roster had been wanting to bring me up for a while and it was really Triple H trying to keep me for as long as he could and time was just running out.
“Man, at the end of the day, some things are out of our hands. So, for me personally, I’m always looking for another challenge so going to the main roster is like, now I get to see where I really stand. I have everything that I need, I think a random no name guy who steps up to Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins in Survivor Series and has the crowd firmly on his side without having something. And in my personal opinion I have everything, everything I need, I have it and it’s at my disposal. I don’t think the situation with me and Brock at Royal Rumble 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.”
Before first appearing in WWE in 2018, Lee received multiple tryouts with the company but nothing ever materialized. The former NXT Champion spent his years in PWG, ROH and Evolve before finally ending up in WWE. Lee spoke about what it was like to be turned down by WWE and why he never quit on his ambition to be a WWE superstar.
“Let’s be honest guy, I was turned down 3-times by WWE before they said ‘Hey, we want you,’ “ Lee said. “I mean at the end of the day, if you don’t say okay, I’ve got to take this shot, where would I be right now? Who knows. It’s hard to predict but here we are and trying to succeed continually even throughout any hoopla there is, hoops to jump through. The key here, no matter what the situation is is to keep going, keep grinding, keep wanting to be who you are and my goal personally is amongst all the chaos, all the confusion, all the adjustments, is to say at the end of this regardless of what you thought, I’m going to overcome this, I’m going to succeed no matter what. Because I don’t stop, I don’t quit and most importantly I am limitless and everyone else can be too.”
When Lee joined the main roster, he was immediately put into a match with Randy Orton during his feud with WWE Champion Drew McIntyre. “Bearcat” spoke about what it was like to work with Randy Orton right off the bat and described the level of respect he has for “The Legend Killer.”
“I don’t know many people that get to walk into the main roster and immediately work with Randy Orton but that was something that I feel like: I’m good for the rest of my career,” Lee said. “Randy is someone that has become a mentor, if you will, and someone that leads the way in a great fashion. The moment he told me I’m really good at this thing, I didn’t care what anybody else thought anymore because that’s not a person that will compliment you on your abilities if he didn’t mean it. To get his approval is something like, I’m good because now, I know I’m everything I say I am. I’m good with that, however everything else goes is fine.”
“Theres a certain level that you reach where your respect is so large that in all honesty, the guy could’ve gotten away with murder no problem and people would be like, ‘he’s the legend killer.’ He’s a guy that’s reached that level that transcends typical wrestling, he’s a different dude and that’s one thing that I’ll applaud him for. Regardless of what’s going on, he finds a way to be different and that’s something that I value as a lesson that I’ve gained from others in the past as well and how important it is to be unique. He will always find a way to stand out.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Out of Character with Ryan Satin with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.