Keith Lee spoke with Sports Illustrated to promote tonight’s WWE RAW. Lee will be in action on tonight’s show for the Sudden Death Triple Threat with AJ Styles and Riddle. The winner will become the new #1 contender to WWE Champion Drew McIntyre for a future title shot, likely at the TLC pay-per-view on December 20.
Despite his success on the main roster, Lee says he feels like he abandoned everyone on the black & yellow brand. Lee signed with WWE in May 2018, debuted in August of that year, and then won the NXT North American Title on January 22 of this year. Lee then became a double champion by defeating Adam Cole for the NXT Title on Night 2 of the NXT Great American Bash on July 8. He then relinquished the title on July 22, and began a feud with Karrion Kross. Kross defeated Lee for the title on August 22 at the “Takeover: XXX” event, and that was Lee’s last match for the brand. He debuted on RAW during the post-SummerSlam episode on August 24. Lee was asked about his NXT run ending so suddenly, especially after gaining so much momentum, and if he would have preferred a longer reign as NXT Champion.
“Most definitely,” Lee responded. “As monumental as it’s been to go to the main roster, I’m not sure it was so important to end that [NXT championship reign] as abruptly as it happened. I watch NXT, and obviously I have some friends there, and one that I’m fairly close to is Mr. Damian Priest, and I watch often to see how he’s doing. Kross went down in our match, then to have Finn [Bálor] as the new champion and he hurts his jaw, it’s hard. I like those guys, and I feel like I abandoned them. It’s difficult to think about.
“I’m proud of everything I’ve done, and I’ve hung with the top guys from Raw and some of them from SmackDown, but it’s been difficult to see the injuries. I don’t know what would have happened if I had stayed a little bit longer. At the end of the day, we’re not always in control of our journey, and that’s just how it goes. The main roster wanted me, and that’s where I ended up. All I can do right now is root those guys on and be there for them in whatever capacity I can be, while still focusing on what I’m doing.”
Lee’s theme music and ring gear have been a hot topic of discussion since he debuted on the main roster as the initial changes were met with negative feedback from fans. After multiple changes, a new version of Lee’s theme song debuted this past week, with lyrics that Lee recorded in a New York City studio. Lee was asked where he stands on his gear and entrance music, if he’s happy with both, or if they’re still a work in progress. He revealed that he wrote his theme by himself, and noted that a lot of it is very personal to him. Regarding his look, Lee said he has to wear a top right now and that’s not his choice.
“I am very happy with my music,” Lee said. “There is one little tweak I intend to make over time, but that’s got to be a timing thing and it’s got to be well done for me to make it work the way I want it to. I have some evolutionary ideas for my current music that just hit. In terms of the song itself, I wrote that myself and a lot of it is very personal. I’m very happy with being able to express myself in that manner. Even the track, the guys that did it are brilliant. I’m extremely happy with the way the track sounds. I’m happy with the music overall, and I look forward to the little tweaks I intend to make down the road.
“As far as gear goes, my gear is the same as NXT except I have to wear a top right now. Is that my choice? No. But I do what I need to do in order to also keep the people I work for happy. At some point, I will get so big that it won’t matter what other people want because Keith Lee knows what’s best. Someone will figure that out at some point, and then I won’t be wearing a top anymore. Until then, I have no problem with this.”
Lee also talked about his friendship with The Undertaker, which goes back to 2008 when Lee worked as an extra for WWE. He was asked how the friendship developed, and what he’s learned from the WWE Legend.
“He’s a staple that has meant a ton to the business as a whole,” Lee said of The Deadman. “It doesn’t matter what company you work for: That guy made an impact in some way, form or fashion. He’s someone that I respect, and I’ve definitely absorbed a lot of knowledge from him. I have spent a good amount of time with him, and the knowledge he imparted to me goes all the way back to 2008, way back when I was an extra [in WWE]. That was when I came across and introduced myself. All the way back then, from the point where he told me to make the things I do mean something, he’s had a huge impact on my career. He’s been a huge inspiration in terms of thought process and how my mind works for this business, but also a motivation to be different. This is someone I’ve looked up to, someone I’ve studied time and time again. Hearing him express his appreciation for how I present myself and how I wrestle, it means a lot.
“It reminds me of when I sat down with Mark Henry and Booker T. When I hear the things they have to say about me, it’s surreal. It’s hard to digest sometimes, but it makes me more thankful for guys like William Regal and Dusty Rhodes. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t still be doing this. Thanks to them, their guidance and lighting a fire under my butt, I kept going. Now I’ve found myself in a position where the guys I look up to are honoring me. That’s like magic to me, and I’m super grateful.”