A series of new reports has the online wrestling fanbase scratching its collective head - the ones who aren’t “screaming” their outrage, that is. Myself, I’m definitely in the first camp, but I understand why folks might be upset, too. Let’s break it all down.
It started with an item in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, where Dave Meltzer wrote:
Vince McMahon threw a fit about the working ability of certain guys on the main roster, mad in particular about some of the big guys. He’s ordered some of the guys back to the Performance Center with two classes per week with Adam Pearce and Drew Gulak as instructors.
That was mostly interesting to me as confirmation Gulak is doing more than just comedy matches. It’s this follow-up from Mike Johnson at PWInisider that really got the take machine churning and the tweets flying, though:
“Otis, Keith Lee, Dabbo Kato, Dio Maddin and AJ Styles’ bodyguard Omos are among the contingent that the company has been working with on improving and refining their work inside the ring with those talents taking part in regular workouts at the WWE Performance Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays.“
The last three names make sense. All are transitioning to wrestling from another sport, and could certainly stand to work with veteran technicians like Pearce & Gulak. We even already had a rumor about Dabbo Kato not being deemed ready for work outside the mothballed Raw Underground.
It’s somewhat unexpected to see Otis on the list, if only because we’ve repeatedly heard in the past how much Vince loves him. He’s certainly had time to see him work. But perhaps WWE is interested in using him as more than just a comedy mid-carder and thinks he could use some help with that. Okay, I can buy that.
Lee is the wrestler in Johnson’s report that has prompted so much discussion. The agile big man got over on the independents and in NXT on the strength of his in-ring performance. Today’s talk has fans worried McMahon is trying to get him to slow down and work a different style.
We’ve also already been through several iterations of WWE “tweaking” Lee’s presentation. First it was his gear and music. Now this. Add in the fact he’s been booked to not-lose-but-also-not-win a lot of matches, and it makes you wonder if Vince knows what he has in the charismatic Texan.
But we’re also hearing rumors Lee is in the running for a match with Drew McIntyre and Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. He was just featured in his own WWE Network special, and that featured scenes like this one:
Seeing Vince McMahon in his element directing/producing a new talent in Keith Lee is pretty cool.— Ryan Satin (@ryansatin) December 6, 2020
(From the WWE 24 on Keith Lee that dropped on WWE Network today) pic.twitter.com/xwr9NugCY9
Sure, WWE 24 isn’t going to show McMahon as anything less than a motivational visionary. But that scene doesn’t contradict today’s reports, and indicates that Vince and Keith are collaborating on upping The Limitless One’s already impressive game, rather than the images of an insulting demotion we’re getting from the Observer & Insider reports.
Nothing I, or even Keith Lee, says about it will calm those who see these stories as a sign his main roster run is doomed. Maybe those who see this as a kiss of death are right? I don’t know for sure. Whatever’s going on, it’s probably better than the treatment guys like Ricochet or Aleister Black get, though. Too much Vince is a better sign than “Vince forgot about you.”
As always, time will tell. Let us know where you are on the puzzled-to-furious scale in the comments below.