In what is becoming a predictable pattern after WWE parts ways with a performer the internet audience thinks the company misused, we now have whispers from backstage that Keith Lee was “difficult”.
They come via PWTorch’s Wade Keller, who said on a recent edition of his VIP audio show:
“Keith Lee, I have chronicled for months and months and months and months and months, was somebody that even people who were rooting for him behind the scenes, became frustrated with him. He just had, in general, attitude issues. Or, as one wrestler told me tonight, ‘perceived attitude issues,” hedging a little bit. Others have said outright — attitude problems. He just was frustrated. I’ve heard different things about him in terms of his mood being altered, way more than it should in the modern era, about being asked to do a job.”
Now, I am not a regular Torch listener, so I can’t verify that he’s been talking about the backstage perception for months. It strikes me as odd it didn’t become a talking point earlier though, as the take economy has been booming for Keith Lee since he arrived on the main roster. From the “big man class” reports to his mysterious disappearance from television (which we eventually learned was due to COVID and another health issue which cropped up while he was dealing with his coronavirus infection) to his “Bearcat” makeover, there’s been a ton of interest in the big Texan. It’s pretty shocking the rumor mill missed Keller reporting on him being moody about taking losses.
So this gets a little side-eye from me for that reason. Beyond that, my reaction to talk Lee was frustrated with what WWE creative was bringing him is... no shit! I’m not a Big Keith superfan, but I joined the LEEgion for his rise to the top of NXT, and those electric encounters with Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series and Royal Rumble, respectively. I was frustrated with much of what he was booked to do this year. I can’t imagine how maddening it must have been for the 36 year old who was trying to make the most out of the biggest opportunity of his career.
More than anyone else on the long list of wrestlers fired on Thurs., Nov. 4, the narrative around Lee is “how did WWE screw this up?” WWE’s answer seems to be to leak the idea it was Keith’s fault.
It’s a move right out of the public relations playbook (see also: Johansson v. Disney, the Boston Red Sox), and one WWE is accused of currently running against Bray Wyatt, too. It will work for some whose loyalty is to the company and its brand. Others, like this writer, will be skeptical.
The burden will be on Lee to make the drama moot at his next landing spot. Will situations like this ever burn WWE? It will probably cause some prospects to second guess signing with them, but the company’s plan to build sports entertainers from the ground up will limit the number of Keith Lees they’ll sign in the future anyway.
Let us know what you think, Cagesiders. But please, no attitude issues.