This past Wednesday at NXT’s second of two Great American Bash specials, ‘The Limitless One’ Keith Lee was victorious over NXT Champion Adam Cole, taking both that and his North American Championship home with him in the biggest match of his career. Keith Lee has culminated an incredible run as one of NXT’s top babyface stars: starting with his awesome series with Dominik Dijakovic, a career-making performance at Survivor Series, an equally impressive cameo in the Royal Rumble and then the systematic dismantling of the Undisputed Era throughout 2020.
The North American champion reigned supreme over NXT’s leading man, ending his year-long run as NXT Champion and bringing the Undisputed tyranny to an end, potentially making him the most iconic NXT Champion of all time. Of course, there’s been a bunch of fantastic NXT title wins over the years, ranging from Sami Zayn’s emotional win over Adrian Neville, Finn Balor’s triumphant victory over Kevin Owens and the former champion’s slaying of Johnny Gargano a year ago. But perhaps none of those has been as tumultuous and historic as Keith Lee’s.
During what’s proving to be NXT’s rockiest time, having to compete against the consistently excellent AEW Dynamite and losing general interest during the global pandemic, Keith Lee has managed to create an undying buzz around the third brand ever since he started to rise through the ranks. The wrestling world has been sat on the edge of their seats waiting for his ascension to the main event, which of course they finally received on the second night of the Great American Bash weekly special, a moment that allowed them to dominate AEW in the ratings for a third week straight.
NXT needed Keith Lee to finally get his moment, giving the audience something to become truly invested in. The NXT loyalists have pencilled Keith Lee in as the next big thing since he first emerged as a credible main eventer in 2019, starting with his face-to-face showdown with Roman Reigns in the final two of the traditional Survivor Series elimination match. Giving him a handful of fresh feuds from both the NXT ranks and the main roster for him to sink his meaty paws into could see a turning of the tide in the ratings battle, providing that he continues to be a big draw for the brand.
Perhaps it’s the Vince McMahon effect targeting Lee as his new pet project, but regardless, NXT fans aren’t complaining with the monster push Keith Lee has received because of his popularity. If anything, he was one of the only NXT superstars that could pose a threat to Adam Cole, after he slaughtered the majority of his competition. Putting both the NXT and North American titles on Lee has only gone to further establish him as the biggest player on the NXT roster, he’s dominating all corners of the roster and will be doubled down on across all upcoming TakeOver specials.
With an upcoming feud with Karrion Kross on the cards, and perhaps another bout with former rival Dijakovic for the North American title, there’s nothing but exciting things in wait for Lee. This has all come at the perfect time, with NXT in need of a dominant babyface to build a brand around as they continue to butt heads with AEW on Wednesday nights.
Lee has been a talent kept in the background for too long since his debut, seeing him accumulate such momentum has been a huge credit to him as a performer and his fandom. Also, this seems to be the first time an NXT upstart has managed to pose a direct threat to some of the biggest players of the main roster, prior to even making his official RAW/SmackDown debut. It seems like Keith Lee is being prepped in a huge way to make him a future flag bearer for WWE, whether that be as part of the main event scene on the main roster or the standard bearer for all future NXT stars on the black and gold brand.
Whileprevious NXT Champions, including Adam Cole, have done a fantastic job at building the brand to be the beast that it is today, it seems that Keith Lee is ushering in a whole new era. Promotions need to build themselves around a definitive champion and run with them for a decent amount of time to allow fans to see the prestige in not only the title but the champion themselves. Looking at some of the most iconic indie title reigns of all time: Jimmy Havoc’s PROGRESS Championship reign, Roderick Strong’s ROH run and Kazuchika Okada’s many IWGP Championship reigns, Keith Lee could be the NXT equivalent.
If the Great American Bash specials have proven anything, it’s that Lee can be depended upon as their leading man going forward. Whether the spike in ratings continues through to the weeks following the two specials or not, nobody can ever take that victory away from NXT and their new champion. This could be the start of a new trend of NXT relying more on TakeOver-like episodes of NXT to help keep interest in the weekly goings-on at Full Sail. Using Lee for regular title defences, plus maybe a main roster cameo here and there, could start pulling things back in their favour.
Now that he’s clearly the face of the brand, this could be a great opportunity for ‘The Limitless One’ to take over the wrestling world, allowing everyone to bask in his glory. Would you consider Keith Lee the greatest NXT champion of all time? Let us know your thoughts on his title win in the comments below.
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