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Keith Lee gets a new name

The wild journey that is Keith Lee’s WWE career took another turn at Raw in Raleigh, North Carolina on Mon., Sept. 20.

He worked a match before the main broadcast. That part isn’t new. When healthy, he’s been wrestling on Main Event or in dark matches ever since the rumors surfaced late last year he was getting more Vince McMahon-mandated training to learn how to work WWE’s preferred big man style.

What was new is how he was introduced... Keith “Bearcat” Lee.

While it’s tempting to laugh this off as the latest Vince-whim or WWE name generator malfunction, there is a lot of history behind the Bearcat name.

Bearcat Wright was a former boxer who became a popular wrestler in the territories in the 1960s. By refusing to work segregated matches, he played a role in integrating wrestling cards. Wright also won World title belts from Killer Kowalski in Boston’s Big Time Wrestling, and from Freddie Blassie in Los Angeles’ WWA promotion, leading some to call him - not Ron Simmons - wrestling’s first Black World champ.

Bearcat Brown (real name Matt Jewell) wrestled in the south in the same time period, and was one-half of what many believe to have been the first interracial tag team with Len Rossi in Birmingham, Alabama.

Besides being a cool tribute to some under-appreciated pioneers of the past, will a nickname be the missing ingredient for Lee in WWE?

Let us know what you think, Cagesiders.

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