Since Keith Lee returning from a bout of COVID and treatment for a heart inflammation, a scary five months that he was worried might end his pro wrestling career, WWE’s introduced to a new version of the former football player from Texas.
Now using the nickname “Bearcat”, Lee’s a much more serious character. We’ve only seen a couple quick television matches with his new gimmick, but along with hype material like this...
KEITH "BEARCAT" LEE claws his way to #WWERaw!@RealKeithLee pic.twitter.com/MCJlkiunZD— WWE (@WWE) October 24, 2021
... it’s pretty clear what the reports we’ve been hearing since Lee arrived on the main roster last year meant when they said Vince McMahon wanted him to work a different, more traditionally “big man” style.
As Ryan Satin’s guest on the latest edition of his Out of Character podcast for FOX Sports, Lee talked about that transformation, and McMahon’s role in it. Bearcat says he’s grateful the WWE Chairman is so hands on with him:
“One thing I’ve had fun with is that it’s been probably one of the greatest challenges. It’s something that people point out, ‘You’re a naturally nice guy, I want to see the other side.’ I’m like, ‘You don’t want that guy.’ The professional Keith is the best case scenario because the guy that played football and the guy who has been through a lot in his life is a different being altogether. They want it and it’s coming and there’s not much anybody will be able to do about it because when I get to that mindset and I’m so fixated, it’s kind of a jet that is hard to stop. Trying to stop a jet with a piece of paper. It’ll be interesting.
“I would say he [McMahon]’s been quite hands on, which is honestly something I need because I want to know what he wants as opposed to making a guess or estimation or hypothesis. If I know what he wants directly, it makes it that much easier to give him what he’s looking for. He’s the man, he runs this, if he wants a specific thing out of his talent, then the talent is to give him what he wants.”
While there are a lot of fans who loved Lee’s smiling, inspiring “Limitless” character that probably wish Keith would push back on his boss’ vision, this approach is probably better for his job security.
Is Vince right that a scowling, punishing Bearcat will be more successful than the joyful, gracefully powerful Lee from the indies & NXT?
Time will tell.
H/T Fightful for quote transcription