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Pro Wrestling

Keith Lee (November 8, 1984) is an American professional wrestler currently signed to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) appearing on the Raw brand. He is a former one-time NXT North American Champion and a former one-time NXT Champion.

He is known for his work in Ring of Honor (ROH), as well as on the independent circuit, where he competed for promotions such as Evolve, All American Wrestling (AAW), and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG). He is a one-time PWG World Champion, one-time NXT Champion and NXT North American Champion.

He signed with WWE in May 2018 and was assigned to the NXT brand, where he was a one-time NXT Champion and one-time NXT North American Champion. He is the first man in WWE history to hold both titles simultaneously. He moved to Raw in August 2020.

Early life

Keith Lee was born on November 8, 1984 in Wichita Falls, Texas. He was introduced to professional wrestling at a young age by his grandmother, who was a fan herself, and credits her with inspiring him to pursue a career in professional wrestling. Lee played college football at Texas A&M University, but quit to become a professional wrestler.

Professional wrestling career

Independent circuit (2005–2017)

A native of Wichita Falls, Texas, Keith made his professional wrestling debut in 2005. His earliest known match was for Professional Championship Wrestling in Arlington, Texas, debuting as Keith Paine in a Coal Miner's Glove match lost to Shadow. He went on to continue wrestling in Texas and in promotions including Xtreme Championship Wrestling (XCW), NWA Southwest, Metroplex Wrestling (MPX), North American Wrestling Allegiance (NAWA) and numerous other promotions in the state of Texas. Keith also spent two years in Ring of Honor between 2016 and 2017. Keith also traveled throughout the United States appearing in other promotions. During the course of twelve years between 2005 until 2017, Keith held a total of eight wrestling titles. He won his first championship in 2007 while in Xtreme Championship Wrestling where he won the XCW TNT Championship. Two years later in 2009, Keith won the XCW Heavyweight Championship. Keith is also a former NAWA Tag Team Champion, Inspire Pro Pure Prestige Champion, PWG World Champion, VIP Heavyweight Champion, WWN Champion . Prior to joining the WWE, Keith held VIP Wrestling's VIP Tag Team Championship with tag team partner Shane Taylor under the team names The Pretty Boy Killers.

PROGRESS Wrestling (2018–2019)

Due to WWE's business relationship with PROGRESS Wrestling, Lee made his debut in 2018 on April 6 at PROGRESS Chapter 66: Mardi Graps. There he teamed with David Starr in a tag match lost against team Ringkampf (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER). He returned the following night for PROGRESS Chapter 67: Bourbon Is Also A Biscuit, teaming with David Starr and Matt Riddle in a six-man tag match lost against Jimmy Havoc, Mark Haskins & Morgan Webster. Lee returned the following month on May 5 for the opening night of PROGRESS Chapter 68: Super Strong Style 16 Tournament. There, Lee advanced in the first round of the Super Strong Style 16 Tournament after eliminating Morgan Webster. On the second night of the Super Strong Style 16 Tournament, Lee advanced in the quarterfinals after eliminating Angélico. On the third night, Lee was defeated in the tournament final by Zack Sabre Jr..

Lee returned the following year in 2019 on September 15 at PROGRESS Chapter 95: Still Chasing. There, he teamed with Matt Riddle under the team name The Limitless Bros. in a tag match lost against team Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate).

World Wrestling Entertainment (2018–present)

Under his long-time ring name of Keith Lee, he debuted on April 5, during the first day of the 2018 WrestleMania Axxess weekend event, successfully defending the World Wrestling Network Championship against Kassius Ohno. On April 8, during the fourth day of the Axxess Weekend event, Keith Lee wrestled and lost to Lars Sullivan.

NXT (2018–2020)

Keith Lee made his televised debut on the August 8 episode of NXT, defeating fellow NXT newcomer Marcel Barthel. During the August 29 episode of NXT, Lee defeated Luke Menzies. During the course of September, Lee wrestled in numerous house events. The following month, Lee competed during the October 27 Live event, in a Halloween Battle Royal for the Number One Contender spot to challenge for the NXT North American Championship. During the November 16 Live event, losing to Lars Sullivan. Lee returned to television during the November 21 episode of NXT and defeated local competitor Fidel Bravo in a squash match lasting under two minutes. The following week Lee returned during the November 28 episode of NXT, where he lost a rematch to Lars Sullivan. He finished the month at the November 29 Live event, winning a 12-Man Battle Royal Number One Contender match, earning a title match for the NXT Championship. He was later defeated during the same house event in his title match against the reigning NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa. The next month, Lee returned for the December 1 Live event, during which he defeated Dominik Dijakovic. He went on to enjoy an undefeated streak during the December 6, December 7 and December 8 Live events defeating opponents including Fabian Aichner, Punishment Martinez and teaming with the Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) in defeating The Forgotten Sons (Jaxson Ryker, Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake). His winning streak ended during his final match of the year during the December 15 Live event, losing to NXT recruit Matt Riddle.

Lee made his televised return the following year in 2019 during the January 16 episode of NXT, losing in a singles match against Kassius Ohno. Four months later, Lee returned to television during the May 15 episode of NXT, defeating Cezar Bononi. The following month Lee returned for the June 5 episode of NXT, defeating Kona Reeves. Returning on the June 26 episode of NXT, Lee defeated Nykos Rikos. In later house events during the month, Lee wrestled for the NXT Championship held by Adam Cole, however he did not succeed in winning the title during the three title match encounters. He wrestled in NXT Championship match once more during the July house events. Beginning on the August 28 episode of NXT, Lee embarked on a rivalry against Dominik Dijakovic, whom he was defeated by in a singles match. The following month on the September 25 episode of NXT, premiering on the USA Network, Lee defeated Dijakovic in a singles rematch. Ironically, Lee and Dijakovic later joined forces on the November 27, episode of NXT. They challenged for the NXT Tag Team Championship, losing to the reigning champions Undisputed ERA members Kyle O'Reilly & Roderick Strong.

The following year in 2020 Lee captured his first WWE championship on the January 22 episode of NXT, defeating Undisputed ERA member Roderick Strong to become the new NXT North American Champion. On the July 8 episode of NXT, Lee defended the North American title against the reigning NXT Champion Adam Cole in a Winner-Take-All Title match, resulting in Lee becoming a double-champion. Lee retained both titles in his first double-title defense on the July 15 episode of NXT, defeating previous rival Dominik Dijakovic. Seven days later however due to Lee's double-championship status the North American Championship was vacated until NXT TakeOver: XXX, when Damien Priest won a Five-Way Ladder Match to win the title. At TakeOver: XXX Lee would lose the NXT Championship in a title defense against recent NXT recruit Karrion Kross before it was vacated only six days later.

Raw (2020–present)

At SummerSlam, it was announced by WWE that Lee would be moving to the Raw brand and make his debut the following day's episode of Raw. Lee made his main roster debut on the August 24 episode of Raw, where he faced Randy Orton and lost via disqualification thanks to interference from WWE Champion Drew McIntyre. A rematch between Lee and Orton was made for the Payback pay-per-view, in which Lee won. At Survivor Series on November 22, Lee made up part of Team Raw as he teamed with Braun Strowman, AJ Styles, Riddle and Sheamus to defeat Team Smackdown (Jey Uso, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, King Corbin & Otis) in a clean sweep.

Lee would enter contention for the WWE Championship, participating in a triple threat match, where the winner would receive a WWE Championship match at TLC, but lost against AJ Styles. On the January 4, 2021 episode of Raw, Lee unsuccessfully faced Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship. The following month, Lee was scheduled to face Riddle and Bobby Lashley for the United States Championship at the Elimination Chamber event, but was pulled from the event due to an injury. Lee later revealed that the absence was actually due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, followed by heart inflammation. After a five month absence, Lee returned on the July 19 episode of Raw, accepting WWE Champion Bobby Lashley's open challenge match but was defeated.

On the September 27 episode of Raw, Lee, now known as Keith "Bearcat" Lee (a homage to Bearcat Wright), defeated Akira Tozawa in less than a minute.

Other media

Lee made his video game debut as a playable character in WWE 2K20.

Personal life

In 2020 during the Speaking Out movement, Lee alleged that he was the victim of sexual assault in 2016 by a woman who drugged his drink.

On February 11, 2021, Lee got engaged to fellow wrestler Mia Yim.

Filmography

Year Title Role
2020 The Main Event Smooth Operator

In wrestling

  • Finishers
    • Ground Zero / Super Nova/Big Bang Catastrophe (Fireman's Carry Powerslam)
    • Spirit Bomb (Pop-up Sitout Elevated Powerbomb)
  • Signature moves
    • Belly-to-belly Suplex
    • Corkscrew Plancha
    • Don't You Forget About Keith (Pop-up Corner Leer)
    • Doomsault (Moonsault)
    • Dropkick
    • Grizzly Magnum (Mongolian Chop)
    • Overhead Belly-to-belly Suplex
    • Plancha
    • Powerslam
    • Release German Suplex
    • Side Slam Backbreaker
    • Delayed reverse STO
    • Discus Punch
    • Rolling Elbow
    • Somersault Senton
    • The Pounce (Running High-impact Shoulder Block)
    • Topé con Hilo
    • Vertical Suplex
  • Nicknames
    • "Blackzilla"
    • "Limitless"
    • "Friendly Fellow"
    • "Bearcat"

Championships and accomplishments

  • Xtreme Championship Wrestling
    • XCW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
    • XCW TNT Championship (1 time)

External links

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Raw

A.J. StylesAkira TozawaAlexa BlissAngelo DawkinsApollo CrewsAsukaAustin TheoryBecky LynchBianca BelairBig EBobby LashleyCarmellaCedric AlexanderChad GableCommander AzeezDamian PriestDana BrookeDolph ZigglerDominik MysterioDoudropGable StevesonDrake MaverickEdgeEliasEva MarieFinn BálorGran MetalikJaxson RykerJohn MorrisonKarrion KrossKeith LeeKevin OwensLacey EvansLince DoradoLiv MorganMia YimMVPMontez FordNia JaxNikki A.S.H.OmosOtisR-TruthRandy OrtonReggieRey MysterioRhea RipleyRiddleRobert RoodeSeth RollinsShelton BenjaminTaminaTegan NoxThe MizTitus O'NeilVeerZelina Vega

SmackDown

AliyahAngel GarzaAshante AdonisB-FABBaron CorbinBayleyCesaroCharlotte FlairDrew GulakDrew McIntyreErikJeff HardyJey UsoJimmy UsoJinder MahalHumberto CarrilloIsaiah ScottIvarKofi KingstonMaceMadcat MossMansoorMustafa AliNaomiNatalyaRicochetRidge HollandRoman ReignsSami ZaynSasha BanksShankyShayna BaszlerSheamusShinsuke NakamuraShotzi BlackheartSonya DevilleToni StormTop DollaXavier WoodsXia Li

NXT

Bron BreakkerBrutus CreedCameron GrimesCandice LeRaeCarmelo HayesDanny BurchDakota KaiDexter LumisElektra LopezEmber MoonFabian AichnerFranky MonetGigi DolinIkemen JiroIndi HartwellIo ShiraiIvy NileJacy JayneJames DrakeJessi KameaJoaquin WildeJoe GacyJohnny GarganoJosh BriggsJulius CreedKacy CatanzaroKayden CarterKay Lee RayKyle O'ReillyKUSHIDALA KnightMandy RoseMarcel BarthelNash CarterOney LorcanPete DunneRaquel GonzálezRaul MendozaRoderick StrongSamoa JoeSantos EscobarSarrayScarlettTimothy ThatcherTommaso CiampaValentina FerozVon WagnerWes LeeZack GibsonZoey Stark

205 Cruiserweights

Oney LorcanRaul MendozaThe Brian Kendrick

NXT UK

Aleah JamesAmir JordanAoife ValkyrieAshton SmithBailey MatthewsDave MastiffEddie DennisFlash Morgan WebsterIlja DragunovIsla DawnJinnyJoe CoffeyJoseph ConnersJordan DevlinKenny WilliamsMark AndrewsMark CoffeyMeiko SatomuraMike HitchmanMethehan KocabasogluNina SamuelsNoam DarSam GradwellSaxon HuxleyTrent SevenTony GillTyler BateTyson T-BoneWALTERWolfgangXia Brookside

Stables & Tag Teams

Alpha AcademyDiamond MineGallusHit RowImperiumLegado Del FantasmaLucha House PartyMoustache MountainRK-BroStreet ProfitsSuper BrutalityThe BloodlineThe Dirty DawgzThe MysteriosThe New DayThe UsosThe Viking RaidersThe WayToxic Attraction

Commentators & Interviewers

Alyse AshtonByron SaxtonCarlos CabreraCorey GravesJackie RedmondJimmy SmithKayla BraxtonKevin PatrickMarcelo RodríguezMcKenzie MitchellMichael ColeNigel McGuinnessPat McAfeeSarah SchreiberVic JosephWade Barrett

Ring announcers

Greg Hamilton (SmackDown) • Mike Rome (Raw) • Alicia Taylor (NXT)

Referees

Aja SmithChad PattonCharles RobinsonDan EnglerD.A. BrewerDanilo AnfibioDarrick MooreDarryl SharmaEddie OrengoJason AyersJessika CarrJohn ConeShawn BennettRod ZapataRyan Tran

Pre-Show Panel

Booker TDavid OtungaJerry LawlerJohn Bradshaw LayfieldKayla BraxtonPete RosenbergSam Roberts

NXT Trainers

Matthew BloomNorman SmileyRobbie BrooksideSara Del ReyShawn MichaelsTerry Taylor

General Managers

Shane McMahon (Smackdown)Stephanie McMahon (Raw)William Regal (NXT)Johnny Saint (UK Brand)

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Big E
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Roman Reigns
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King Nakamura
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Damian Priest
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Becky Lynch
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Reggie
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Tommaso Ciampa
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Carmelo Hayes
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Roderick Strong
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MSK (Nash Carter & Wes Lee)
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Raquel González
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Io Shirai & Zoey Stark
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Ilja Dragunov
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Meiko Satomura
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Pretty Deadly (Lewis Howley & Sam Stoker)
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Tyler Bate
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