Keith Lee was absent from WWE television from February until July of this year for what he later revealed to be heart inflammation. The former NXT Champion is now on Raw with his repackaged "Bearcat" gimmick, but he admitted in an interview with Ryan Satin on the Out of Character podcast this week that he believed his career was over for a decent chunk of his hiatus.
"It was a personal battle that I just tried to calm on my own and for the most part, I stayed quiet regardless of the just absurd amount of messages," Lee said (h/t Fightful). "I'm not sure what it is about people thinking that their demands should be met and knowing what's going on in my personal life. I'm generally a pretty private person. It took me a long time to be okay with sharing 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 this day, I still have some friends over a year later suffering from effects that are post-COVID."
"At the end of the day, I'm just grateful that I was able to comeback and be back in the ring because that fourth or fifth MRI, where I had to go to Pittsburgh, I was resigned to the fact that my career was done. I was just ready to be like, 'Okay, 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 330-340 pound athlete, the amount of training and power and explosiveness it takes to be that big and do backflips. Five months of being out of the ring," he continued. Then, coming back out of nowhere and five weeks of just dying [laughs]. Trying to come back it was like, 'Oh, God, how have I not trained a thing?' and then I come back and trying to just cardio everything and get back to normal, and normal, I didn't know what it was anymore, so it was very strange. Now, I can get back and have high-intensity workouts, so it was nice to feel like, 'Okay, I'm about where I feel I should be,' but I still feel like there's work to be done. The grind continues and I will keep on grinding."
Lee has been with the WWE since May 2018 and has spent the last year as a member of the Raw roster.