Keith Lee underwent a big change in September when he took on the nickname "Bearcat" as part of his new character.
After testing the gimmick in a dark match, Lee made his television debut as "Bearcat" on the September 27 episode of WWE Raw.
Speaking to Ryan Satin on Out of Character, Lee discussed switching up his persona.
Satin began by asking how much of his "true self" is in his character. Lee replied by saying, "It depends on which character you're talking about. Previously, if you're referring to anything in NXT or when I first came up to the main roster, I would say there wasn't really a character. It was just me being me, having fun, enjoying myself. That was just me turned up to a certain level that was above average. Bearcat has some relevance to who I am, but in a more competitive level, almost football related. Just a guy who wants to get business done. Bearcat is a guy who walks out there already ready to decimate whomever is in the ring. It's a real interesting switch, for sure."
When asked how hands on Vince McMahon is with the new character, Lee said, "I would say he's been quite hands on, which is honestly something I need because I want to know what he wants as opposed to making a guess or estimation or hypothesis. If I know what he wants directly, it makes it that much easier to give him what he's looking for. He's the man, he runs this, if he wants a specific thing out of his talent, then the talent is to give him what he wants."
Later in the interview, after discussing Lee's "nerdy side" and his love for video games, the conversation circled back to the Bearcat character and how Lee has found it to be somewhat of a challenge as he is often cited as one of the nicest guys in wrestling.
"One thing I've had fun with is that it's been probably one of the greatest challenges. It's something that people point out, 'you're a naturally nice guy, I want to see the other side.' I'm like, 'You don't want that guy.' The professional Keith is the best case scenario because the guy that played football and the guy who has been through a lot in his life is a different being altogether. They want it and it's coming and there's not much anybody will be able to do about it because when I get to that mindset and I'm so fixated, it's kind of a jet that is hard to stop. Trying to stop a jet with a piece of paper. It'll be interesting," he said.
When asked if there was an internal struggle to bring the "killer out" when he's known for being a nice guy who has a nerdy side, Lee said, "It is. It's not just because of that being more foreign these days, but it touches on things that' I've experience in life. Like, a lot of people have really questioned the way that I speak and my choice of diction, my cadence, my tone, my voice, how I should narrate. Before, I was a book reader and learned to be me, the guy that just walked down the street, you can look at me face-to-face and it makes people uncomfortable. For lack of a better term, if I don't have that approach that makes people comfortable immediately. If you saw me in real life and you had to bypass me, that makes people hard to see. If I'm walking through an airport and don't have a smile on my face and I don't speak to people kindly and I don't, 'How do you do? Greetings and salutations.' If I just look at you, most people don't handle that very well. When you learn to be different, it's better. This character is very much that guy that makes people uncomfortable. We'll see how it goes."
Lee picked up a victory over Akira Tozawa on television as "Bearcat" and has been successful in dark matches prior to SmackDown. Lee was drafted to WWE Raw in the 2021 WWE Draft.
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