Keith Lee has opened up on how certain people in WWE had an opinion that he was disrespectful, and also lifted the lid on some of his traits which those backstage in the company didn’t like.
After being released by WWE in November 2021, Keith Lee went on to make his debut with AEW on the 9th February edition of Dynamite. This left a lot of WWE fans wondering if AEW would allow Lee the opportunities they felt he should have been given up until this point.
Speaking on a recent episode of Talk Is Jericho, Lee spoke candidly about his time with WWE, including how his personality backstage seemed to rub some people up the wrong as it was so different from how he acted when he walked through the curtain.
I think that my personality is something that kind of threw people off at first. Because I am very to myself and I am very laid back. I don’t really seem like what I exude out there, and I think that’s okay. I think it’s okay to turn it on when it’s time to turn on. But that apparently rubbed some people up the wrong way when I got there. You know I wasn’t, ‘hey, hey, how you doing?’ I will shake hands and go about my business, that’s as much as I feel like is needed. But some people took that as maybe disrespect.
The former NXT Champion also spoke about a meeting he had with Triple H, where he was told to just be himself.
I was just kind of sitting around. Until one day, I had a conversation with Hunter, and he wanted things. I told him, ‘I think there’s maybe a difference of understanding, or people don’t trust me here or what have you. But it’s hard for me to do the things you’re asking because I am being asked to do these other things and there are issues.’ After that conversation, it’s like, ‘listen, handcuffs are off, just be you.’
Keith Lee also confirmed that he was asked to tone down his move set, and considers that to have been a test as to whether he would do what he was told.
Yeah, and I am 100 percent certain it was some sort of an attempt at a test or such. Like, ‘I wonder if he will listen to what we say?’ Guys, it doesn’t have to be this complicated, but so it was. And I think there was a test to see if I was trustworthy or what have you.
So yeah, I stripped everything. Even when I came back for the Bearcat thing, it was similar when I came back. Where the double chop I’ve been known for, they snatched that. They didn’t want me looking at the crowd at all. It’s really hard to say, but I don’t know why these things were a thing.
It would also appear that some backstage didn’t like the way Keith Lee would talk to his opponents during matches, however he saw it as necessary to ensure everyone remained safe.
If I need to give directions in the ring because some people get lost, let’s be honest. And sometimes, we ourselves do. We may need to talk to a ref, we may need to talk to an opponent. If I helped them deliver directions, that was a problem. If I took a moment to communicate what was necessary so I didn’t have to ragdoll these people, that’s an easy way for someone to get hurt.
I understand, I have learned it with my time being there with some of the biggest guys on the planet, obviously, that locker room size is much different than here. But even amongst that, I am abnormal. I figured it out. Me just selfishly doing whatever I want to do in the ring is a sure-fire way for someone to get hurt. That is not a goal of mine, that is not a legacy I want to leave. So I tried to make sure they know what was coming and that was an issue.
Keith Lee went straight to NXT when he signed with WWE in May 2018, and went on to hold the NXT North American and NXT Championships during his run on the now former black and gold brand. He made the move to the main roster in the summer of 2020, however his momentum was curtailed when he was forced to deal with a heart condition during the pandemic.
Having returned in July 2021, Lee would go on to be repackaged as ‘Bearcat‘ for a few weeks before eventually being released by WWE on 4th November.
With thanks to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.