“Something to Smile About: Keith Lee”
It’s often so easy to become lost in the 24/7 nature of the professional wrestling news cycle and the corresponding storm of crazy that inevitably encompasses it on social media. I think it’s important to remember the reason we all started watching this wild and wonderful thing of ours in the first place as well. Because whether in large ways or small, it simply makes us happy. Each week, I’ll shine a light on something or someone in the wide world of professional wrestling that is creating smiles out of thin air. Care to join me?
As I gathered my thoughts from the last week in preparation for this piece, I was overwhelmed by the amount of options I had in front of me. Wrestling is ripe with smiles this week for a number of reasons. But while I could have gone in a few different directions, there was a clear favorite this week, and I know I’m not alone in that.
It seemed almost a forgone conclusion that Isiah Kassidy’s mystery opponent for the Face of the Revolution ladder match qualifier would be Keith Lee, but that didn’t lessen the impact of his debut at all. When his amazing music hit, the crowd lost their collective minds – as they should have. To see the reactions on so many excited faces as he took his first steps into the AEW world around him was unforgettable. It’s one of my very favorite things in professional wrestling!
I wont touch on the past, but I will say that the genuine look of joy on his face in those minutes warmed my soul. He’s been through some things over the last year or so and to witness such a real moment of happiness and excitement was such a pleasure. He looked like he was home, didn’t he? And even if you don’t think he did, he made it clear over the next several minutes that this is where he belongs.
With an assist from the criminally underrated Isiah Kassidy, Keith’s debut match was everything it needed to be and then some. There is no one like him on the roster, or in wrestling period if we’re being honest. So, all that needed to be done was to highlight what we all knew he already was. Let Keith Lee be Keith Lee. That’s when the magic appears out of thin air. That’s when memories are made.
This is a man who just got married. If you haven’t seen the few photos the happy couple shared online of their wonderful day, search them out. I challenge you to find two more beautiful and joyous people. From that ridiculous high, to just a few days later debuting live on TBS during Dynamite. That’s quite the week! Sure, lots peeled back the layers of mystery and intrigue to expect the limitless one, but the wonder never truly fades.
He has a brand-new blank canvas in front of him. For once, he has what I expect to be ample freedom to paint whatever story he desires. At this point in his career – in any career – what more could one ask for? I’m so excited to see what he pulls from that brilliant mind of his to show us all along the way.
The dream matches are infinite. The stories exist endlessly just waiting to be written. There is time for all of that. Lots of it. What I’m most thankful for now is simply that he’s back, he’s healthy, and he seems genuinely happy. What else matters?
Whether he wins or loses at Revolution remains to be seen. We’ll soon find out who will step into the ring alongside him as well. For as perfect a debut as he had, the bigger moment – the one that cements him as a long-term main event stalwart for AEW – may well be just on the horizon. I for one cannot wait to watch the big man work his unique magic in a match filled with as much chaos as there will be ladders.
It's a wonderful time in wrestling in many ways. We’ve been spoiled with surprises, returns, and debuts galore in recent months with more still to come. Some moments we never thought possible. Others we’ll never ever forget. That’s what it’s all about, right?
A question that always tries to creep into my mind is: “How do we continue to top what we’ve already seen?” When does it stop feeling special? That’s valid, right? The question usually appears after a debut or a rumor, and it then lingers for a short while but eventually fades. It does so because I realize how silly a question it really is.
It will never stop feeling special. Ever. Not when such genuine emotion is seen on new faces and shared so willingly by the fans in attendance and at home. Keith was the latest in a long line, and I’m not going to lie – I wondered again how we’d ever top it. Whoever walks in next – wherever and whenever that happens – will share yet another smile on a face full of emotion and heartfelt gratitude and we’ll all rejoice just like we always do.
If it wasn’t apparent, I’m very excited to see what he does with this opportunity. I’m equally as excited to see what AEW does with theirs. It’s not every day an athlete such as him walks through your front doors. Some might say the potential for success is limitless.
I like to end these weekly columns as graciously and as simply as possible.
So, Mr. Lee. Thank you for the smiles this week. Here’s to many more.