It’s safe to say that Keith Lee had a roller coaster of a year in 2020. He started the year with a victory over Roderick Strong to capture the NXT North American championship. Lee went on to have a highly regarded match at NXT Takeover: Portland. The ball continued to roll on Lee, being put into a triple threat match against Finn Balor and Johnny Gargano to defend the NXT North American championship. This would determine Adam Cole’s challenger for night two of the Great American Bash where the first “double champ” would be crowned. Lee would walk out of the ring victorious, holding the NXT North American championship and his newly gained NXT championship high above his head.
Less than two months after gaining the championship, Lee would meet his demise against Karrion Kross at NXT Takeover XXX on August 22, 2020, losing his NXT championship. Keith Lee debuted on Raw against Randy Orton two nights later. Lee and Orton clashed at Payback and Lee picked up his first WWE pay-per-view victory. The downhill fall began, however, as Lee faced DQ’s, no contests, or losses. He did pick up some good wins here and there, but they struggled with making him seem like a star. There was no one reason as to why he lost his momentum. Instead, there were tons. Lee lost his gear and awesome theme music, he faced mediocre 50/50 booking, and was never given a chance to show off his skills. Now, with the Royal Rumble brewing, he has been taken off TV for two straight weeks with no mention.
Anyone with two eyes and a brain can tell you that Keith Lee is a star, and the Royal Rumble is the place to reset the awful last few months he has had. This match is the perfect place for him to prove that he is a top guy. Just take a look back at the 2020 rumble where he continued to gain momentum from Survivor Series. Lee entered at number 13 with nobody else in the ring but Brock Lesnar. The fans sang his song as loud as they could as he stared face to face with the “Beast”. Although he did not last long, he gained many new eyes that day and presented himself as someone on the level of Lesnar. This year’s Royal Rumble is the time to finally pull the trigger on Lee.
Keith Lee has not been confirmed for the rumble and has also not been on TV for the past two weeks, making him technically a surprise entrant. He should enter between the 15th and 20th entry spot to allow him to get at least five eliminations. They need to make him look like a beast if they want to do this right. Lee has had some history with Sheamus and Strowman, so the elimination of both these men would not only make sense storyline wise, it would make him look strong.
However, he should not eliminate any surprise entrants or big babyfaces like Edge or Daniel Bryan that would cause unnecessary heat. A better option is to have Lee eliminate a ton of heels that nobody wants to see win the Rumble. The finish for this match is simple. Lee facing off against AJ Styles and Omos, eliminating the former champ and holding off the big bodyguard.
Now the issue with Keith Lee isn’t booking him to win the Rumble. Instead, it’s keeping him strong until Wrestlemania. I believe it makes more sense for him to fight Drew McIntyre even if they are both faces. That right there is the key, keeping Lee a face. This could be done very simply by having him feud with AJ Styles through February and March. They just need to keep it simple. Drew and Lee don’t need a rivalry-built match. Instead, have it be built as two top guys going at it in competition.
I have no idea who would win this match, and I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision. I guess we’ll find out this Sunday at the Royal Rumble if we will “bask in his glory”.