NXT Superstar Keith Lee has been making waves in WWE’s black-and-gold brand in recent months. Despite his current success, however, at one point WWE wasn’t interested in bringing Lee into the fold, with WWE rejecting Lee three times. Speaking with Corey Graves on his WWE podcast, After The Bell, Lee opened up about how the rejections affected him.
Keith Lee’s Rejections
“About three years in (being a wrestler), some people know him as Lance Archer, some people know him as Lance Hoyt, was in the WWE and said to somebody that I should be one to look out for,” Lee said. “Then, I got invited to do some work. In my case, I got thrown into a barricade by one Mr. Triple H and also got poked in the eye by Shane McMahon and punched in the face by Vince. That was my introduction to the bosses of today.”
He continued, “At some point, I gained interest in that first meeting and ended up with my first try out. That was in 2008. I was turned down. In 2011, I did some extra work, and I got asked to come back for another tryout. I was also turned down. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do-wrestling wise going forward. In 2013, when the Performance Center first opened up in the fall, I was part of that first class. Then, I was turned down a third time, so, I wasn’t really sure if I was going to continue wrestling.”
Conversations With Legends
Lee credited conversations with wrestling legends Dusty Rhodes, William Regal and Jim Ross as helping him to refocus on his ambitions. He believes that, if he hadn’t spoken with Rhodes and Regal, he may have quit pursuing wrestling. Lee explained how, following those conversations, he committed to being himself. He no longer wanted to subscribe to the idea of what a big guy “should be,” instead choosing to embrace what made him different as an athlete.
“After that talk, I decided to just listen to myself and bet on myself. At the end of the day, it was the greatest decision I’ve ever made.”
Keith Lee faces off against Roderick Strong this Wednesday night on NXT. They will compete for Strong’s NXT North American Championship.
H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.