In a span of three days in late August, Keith Lee went from being the reigning NXT Champion walking into NXT TakeOver XXX to calling out Randy Orton for a match as the newest member of the Monday Night Raw roster. Lee has since established himself as a powerhouse on the Red Brand, picking up a quick win over Orton at Payback and helping Raw sweep SmackDown in the Men's Elimination Tag Match at Survivor Series. With only one pinfall loss to his name since his call-up, Lee has a shot at becoming the No. 1 contender for Drew McIntyre's WWE Championship this week when he faces Riddle and AJ Styles in a triple threat match.
But Lee's arrival wasn't all smooth sailing. Fans immediately noticed the repackaging during Lee's debut, with his trademark "Limitless" entrance theme being scrapped and his ring gear being altered. Given how some NXT have struggled to find their footing on Raw and SmackDown, fans saw these changes as a potential red flag.
"That first month was all over the place," Lee said in an interview with ComicBook ahead of Raw. "I think that making it through that was enough for me to get an understanding of where I was and how I needed to approach things going forward. I think that the first three weeks really kind of forced that acclimation, and if I had failed within those first three weeks, I was going to struggle going forward. But I think I've done quite fine."
Leave it be and have some patience. Take a deep breath. It's going to be okay. I promise. Let ME handle that stuff. https://t.co/85jUeFT9AP— Merri-Lee (@RealKeithLee) August 26, 2020
Lee said the changes didn't frazzle him but admitted he wasn't surprised by how the fans reacted.
"No (I wasn't surprised), because when you look at things, and other wrestlers, and what have you, there hadn't been anyone else that had to change their music, right? So being that I am the only one that performed mine myself, I think that that creates a different type of connection with the audience," Lee said. "Especially if they enjoy it, it changes the dichotomy of things. So if you take that special thing to them and you just take it away suddenly, of course they're not going to be happy about it. I think it's fairly simple and easy to understand, personally."
Lee arrived at Survivor Series with yet another new entrance theme, and just like the first one it was personally performed by him.
"I think that the office paid attention to the disgruntled fan base of mine, and they gained respects for their outspoken nature, and said, 'Okay, Keith. Can you do something for music that doesn't involve your old song?' And I said, 'Sure. If you give me a couple days, I'll write it up. And then If you want, I can go to the studio and knock it out.' That's exactly what happened," Lee explained. I wrote something, and within a few weeks I went in and recorded it, and just kind of sat on it until I felt like there was a decent time to play it.
"I think people were even happier with this music than the old music," he added.
This week's Monday Night Raw kicks off from inside the WWE ThunderDome at 8 p.m. EST on the USA Network.