Before the journey began for a number of WWE talent, their skills were being honed in gymnasiums, auditoriums and in front of crowds of a few hundred people. They never wavered in the pursuit of their goals, and those roads they traveled helped them achieve the success they have today. This is the newest series to be found here on Pro Wrestling Post, titled “Before the E”. ‘The E’ is inspired by a common nickname for WWE. In order to understand where talent is today, it is important to understand how they came to be part of the Entertainment side of World Wrestling Entertainment. This week we present Keith Lee.
He has often boasted about being limitless and having others bask in his glory. Keith Lee is by no stretch of the imagination an overnight sensation. While fans of Raw or Smackdown gained a new appreciation for the Witchita Falls, Texas native, Lee has been cultivating his skills over 15 years. A trainee of Killer Tim Brooks, the man formerly known as Kevin Paine has worked very long and hard to get to where he is today. He often shares the story of how professional wrestling was first introduced to him by his grandmother. Lee also credits her with being his inspiration for pursuing wrestling as a career.
However, before he became a wrestler he competed Texas A & M’s football team.
Before being who fans see today, we are reminded of a man that first cut his teeth in 2005 with Professional Championship Wrestling. Under his Kevin Paine moniker, he lost his first seven recorded matches with the promotion. His first win was recorded as being on October 15th, 2005. That year he scored likely the biggest win of his rookie year when he defeated a now-former NWA Heavyweight Champion in Tim Storm. His second year was busier for him. Lee was competing, for now, two promotions and booked for over 20 matches throughout the year.
With any young star, it takes time to develop their craft and Keith Lee was no different. However, in the case of Lee over the course of the next nine years, he was recorded to having less than 30 matches in any given year. That lack of competition would discourage another wrestler, but not Keith Lee. By the time 2016 was over Keith Lee competed in nearly sixty matches. While that may be a far cry from some independent talents, it was a huge step in Lee gaining the recognition that he should be getting. The following year, Lee competed in an incredible 119 matches. Lee was an in-demand commodity.
While he may have gained attention capturing the PWG and WWN Championships it was while competing for his state-based Inspire Pro Wrestling where he first earned his stripes.
It was during his time with Inspire Pro Wrestling where Lee teamed up with Ring of Honor’s Shane Taylor to become the Pretty Boy Killers.
All of my success could be attributed to my time with Ray Rowe and Keith (Lee). Those guys taught me and they gave me everything that I know. I go out there with my personal drive to always prove people right when they back me. To prove to them that their support was worth it, that is something that drives me every single day. As well as to prove to those that didn’t back me that they were absolutely stupid for not doing so. – Shane Taylor discussing his own personal success.
Lee’s singles success after splitting from his team with Keith Lee was the right move for him professionally.
As his career was filled with several championship opportunities, his last independent match was reflected upon by his opponent after the match. In speaking with Mia Yim, Lee’s last match was a loss but it was the process of making the match that was what was most respected.
I hold that match dear to my heart just because it was his last before going to who knows where? (smiles and shrugs shoulders) But it was awesome, I loved that match. I had a lot of fun, he had a lot of fun. It was everything he had hoped it would be. Which was my thing, this was his last match so we will do whatever you want, just go balls to the wall. Whatever you want, as long as you’re happy with it I am happy with it. – Mia Yim on her match against Keith Lee, his last independent match before joining the WWE.
All of Lee’s time to get to where he is today wasn’t by accident.
His size, strength, and agility are skills that best present him as a performer. What tends to be forgotten is his remarkable promo skills that truly reflect how he can convey a thought, feeling or mood. His selflessness as a performer shows that telling the story is more important than wins and losses. Today, fans are taking in all that Lee has to offer. The recent use of the pounce has only furthered his ferocious nature.
Fans that weren’t aware of Keith Lee before Survivor Series certainly are now. He turned heads leading up to the event and the day of the event. This isn’t anything that fans shouldn’t be surprised about as it pertains to Keith Lee because before he became limitless and had others bask in his glory he was earning recognition. This is what happened to Lee before he joined the E.