Keith Lee’s journey on WWE RAW has been up and down to say the least, more recently the latter, but the 36-year-old appears to be veering off on a whole different course now as the Bearcat!
Lee has grown out his facial hair, modified up his ring costume, and given himself a new nickname on the show in a character transformation sure to split opinions.
The Limitless One revealed a character change that had been tested during a dark match on RAW last week and again on SmackDown against local competitors, making his return to RAW after sporadic appearances over the prior few of months.
Lee’s new pseudonym, Keith ‘Bearcat’ Lee, was presented to the live audience in Raleigh, North Carolina last week, and the name was cemented on this week’s RAW with a lower third revealing the new moniker – replete with new claw-scratch style apparel. Lee went on to defeat Akira Tozawa, whom he had previously wrestled during WWE’s Live tour last week.
— WWE (@WWE) September 28, 2021
Keith Lee Becomes Latest Bearcat
If you’re wondering where the moniker “Bearcat” originates from, it’s related to many other wrestlers from the past. From the 1950s through the mid-1970s, Ed ‘Bearcat’ Wright was a mainstay of the professional wrestling industry, performing in a variety of NWA-affiliated areas as well as New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Bearcat Wright fought alongside legends of the sport including Antonio Inoki, Terry Funk, Bobo Brazil, and Freddie Blassie throughout a career that culminated in his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame’s Legacy wing in 2017.
Bearcat Brown was another Bearcat wrestler who competed from the early 1960s through the late 1970s. Brown, especially with his longtime partner Len Rossi, competed all throughout the United States and won numerous incarnations of the NWA Tag Team Championship.
A plan to turn Keith Lee heel in WWE was recently rumoured, with the possibility that AEW’s Adam Cole may have become Lee’s manager if he had chosen to stay in WWE. However, Adam Cole has stated that he was not aware of these plans.
Before this week, Lee’s last appearance on WWE television was on RAW on August 6th, when he defeated Karrion Kross in one-on-one action. Lee had been absent for five months, but it was later revealed that a medical issue was the cause.