“Bearcat” Keith Lee was one of the most silly sounding nicknames in WWE history, and was something that really only one man enjoyed.
AEW wrestler Keith Lee recently discussed the origins of his “Bearcat” moniker during his tenure in WWE.
Having made a significant impact on the NXT circuit from early 2018 until his promotion to the main roster following SummerSlam 2020, Keith Lee experienced a remarkable run. Notably, he held the prestigious titles of NXT Champion and North American Champion concurrently while competing in NXT.
Nevertheless, upon his transition to the main roster, Keith Lee faced a different trajectory compared to his NXT days, as he didn’t receive the same level of push.
Despite his notable victory over Randy Orton and an unfortunate hiatus due to a heart ailment that kept him out of action for a significant portion of the year, Lee’s portrayal on the main roster didn’t align with Vince McMahon’s vision, unlike the approach taken by Triple H during his NXT tenure.
In November 2021, Keith Lee was released from his contract by WWE, marking the end of his association with the company. Prior to his departure, WWE had bestowed upon him the moniker “Keith ‘Bearcat’ Lee” as a tribute to the late wrestler Bearcat Wright. However, this nickname failed to resonate effectively, ultimately leading to WWE’s decision to part ways with Lee.
During an appearance on Fightful’s Grapsody podcast, Lee expressed his dissatisfaction with the “Bearcat” moniker, believing that WWE had approved of it initially.
Nevertheless, a few weeks later, Vince McMahon approached Lee, expressing his desire for the wrestler’s return and receiving support from someone who convinced Lee to embrace the gimmick.
The nickname was taken from Bearcat Wright, although very few viewers knew about the association, nor who Bearcar Wright even was.
WWE failed to educate their audience, and as such gave Keith Lee even less of a chance of succeeding on the main roster.
Keith Lee wrestled his last match in WWE in 2021, before debuting in AEW a year later.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.