Before ascending to the top of the NXT roster, Keith Lee failed multiple times in trying to get into WWE. Lee was used as an extra early in his career and attended a WWE tryout in 2008. But he didn't catch his big WWE break until 2018 when he officially signed with the company.
Speaking to Corey Graves on WWE After The Bell, Lee discussed his journey and building up his name on the Independent scene before finally being signed by WWE.
"I got invited to do some extra work. I did get thrown into a barricade by Mr. Triple H, and poked in the eye by Shane McMahon and punched in the face by Vince. That was my introduction to the bosses," he said. "At some point, someone gained interest and I ended up in my first tryout in 2008 and I was turned down. In 2011, I did another piece of extra work and got asked to comeback for another tryout and was also turned down. In 2013, when the Performance Center opened up, I was part of that first class and was turned down a third time. I wasn't sure I was going to continue wrestling. Then I had a conversation with William Regal and Dusty Rhodes and brief words with Jim Ross. Without those first two, I probably would not have continued wrestling. I pursued a different dream, which was making it on my own on the Indies, and building a name out of sheer willpower. Eventually, I did enough good deeds and turned enough heads and shocked enough people, and they came looking for me. It was completely different at that time. It took almost 14 years to get there, a very long journey for me."
Lee is now one of the top stars in NXT, having represented Team NXT at WWE Survivor Series. Lee was the final member of the team in the men's elimination match, losing the final pinfall to Roman Reigns. Lee is set to challenge for the NXT North American Championship on Wednesday's NXT.
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