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Keith Lee says he thought his career was done when he was battling health issues



Keith "Bearcat" Lee was interviewed on "Out of Character with Ryan Satin" to talk about his absence from WWE TV, working with Randy Orton, his new nickname, and more.

Here are some highlights:

Lee was asked how much of his true self is in the character he portrays on TV:

“It depends on which character you’re talking about. Previously, if you’re referring to anything in my time in NXT or when I first came up to the main roster, I would say that there wasn’t really a character. It was just me being me being me, having fun, and enjoying myself. I would say that was just me turned up to a certain level that was above average. I would say that Bearcat has some relevance as who I am, but in a more competitive level, almost football related. A guy that wants to get business done. Bearcat is a guy that just walks out there ready to decimate whomever is in the ring. It’s a really interesting switch for sure.”

Lee was asked if Vince was hands on with this switch in character:

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“Yea, I would say that he’s been quite hands on. Honestly, that’s something that I need because I want to know what he wants as opposed to making a guess or some sort of estimation, hypothesis, or whatever the case may be. If I know what he wants directly, then it makes it that much easier to give him what he’s looking for. He’s the man. He runs this, and if he wants a specific thing out of one of his talents, then the job is to give him what he wants.”

Lee on working with Randy Orton:

“I will say this. I don’t know many people that get to walk into the main roster and immediately work with Randy Orton, but that was something that I feel like, I’m good for the rest of my career. Randy is someone that has kind of become a mentor and someone that leads the way in a great fashion. The moment that he told me I’m really good at this thing, I didn’t care what anybody else thought anymore because that’s not a person that will compliment you on your abilities if he didn’t mean it. To get his approval is something like, I’m good because now I know I’m everything I say I am. I’m good with that.”

Lee talked about the medical condition that kept him off TV earlier this year:

“I wasn’t feeling bad personally, originally. There were things that were going on that I didn’t really understand. The problem with this Covid thing is no one really knows what’s going on. It’s a trial and error situation. Everyone experiences different things. Sometimes these after effects hit people differently. Sometimes Covid hits people differently. Some people, it doesn’t really hit at all. In my case, I just assumed that would be fine. I’m ok. I tested positive, and in a couple weeks, we’ll get back to what we got to do. I came back after three weeks. I had that match with Riddle on February 8th.

The next day, I got a call saying there was something odd in my blood which gave the idea there was an inflammation. That led to multiple MRIs and really uncomfortable machines that jammed up this shoulder. At the time, yes, I felt some things that were odd, but I didn’t understand them to be that. I just assumed because other people were having different scenarios that were odd, post Covid, that maybe it was going to take me a little longer to get back to normal. I didn’t feel abnormal, but there were just some small things that felt odd. One MRI passed, and we were like, ok, we’re going to give it a week, two weeks, or whatever, and then we’ll do another one. The second one was worse than that. It led to, we can’t workout or do anything until we figure this out. Then it became very uncomfortable because even though I knew what the potential endgame could be, I wasn’t telling my family. I wasn’t telling Mia (Yim). Because it’s something not in our control, it’s something I didn’t want them to stress about. It was a personal battle that I tried to calm on my own, and for the most part, stayed quiet about it regardless of timing. Just absurd amounts of messages. I’m not sure what it is about people thinking that their demands should be met in knowing what’s going on in my personal life. I’m generally a private person, so it took me a long time to share what was going on because it was my own personal fight, and I wanted to fight it. There was nothing more important than fighting it to me. To this day, I still have some friends over a year later that are suffering from effects that are post-Covid. At the end of the day, I’m just grateful for the fact that I was even able to come back and be back in the ring because that fourth or fifth MRI, when I had to go to Pittsburgh, I was resigned to the fact that my career was done. I was just ready to be like, ok, I guess it’s time to pursue some other projects that I have an interest in. Then I got some good news. It took a lot of work to come back because when you’re a 340 pound athlete, the amount of training, power, and explosiveness that it takes to be a guy that’s 340 and does backflips. Then it was 5 months (that he couldn’t work out). Then coming back out of nowhere, it’s like 5 weeks of just dying. Trying to come back was like, how have I not trained a thing, then I come back and try to cardio everything, every week, just trying to get back to normal. Normal, I didn’t know what normal was anymore. It was very strange. But now I can get back and have high energy workouts. It was nice when I can feel like, ok, I’m about where I feel I should be, but I still feel like there is work to be done. The grind continues, and I will keep on grinding.”

If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit "‎Out of Character with Ryan Satin" with a h/t to for the transcription.