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411 Wrestling Fact or Fiction: Will Keith Lee Eventually Be A Main Eventer?

December 2, 2019 | Posted by Jake Chambers
WWE Keith Lee Roman Reigns Survivor Series

Welcome back to the 411 Fact or Fiction – Wrestling Edition, I’m your host, Jake Chambers. Every week, Fact or Fiction poses statements on pro-wrestling history, culture and current events and then challenges writers to explain why they believe each statement is totally factual or completely fiction. No middle ground will be tolerated!

This week’s guest is: Justin Watry.

One of the most prolific writers here in the 411mania Wrestling Zone, Justin often represents the mind of the logical, positive mainstream super-fan. This is a breath of fresh air for a cynical, bitter old fan like myself, and I’m always fascinated to read bold content from someone who comes with a different perspective.

Great American Bash 2004: Was It Really That Bad?

Justin’s strength has been his personal touch when opining or reviewing pro-wrestling. If you follow his various columns (here and on other websites) you really start to get a sense of the life of the man behind the views, and that’s a very unique and powerful skill that many writers covet. And here at FoF we love his passion and personalization, so bring it on Justin!

Statement #1: CM Punk’s first appearance on WWE Backstage was good stuff.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – I didn’t like it at all. That was not the Punk from his entertaining promos in ROH and WWE, and it was certainly not the truth-serum Punk from that utterly-compelling Art of Wrestling podcast that has haunted him ever since. This was a contented Punk saying completely harmless and generally generic opinions. The gooeyness of him and Renee spending 10 minutes reminiscing about the butterflies he got for a 10-second appearance on the previous week was the kind of empty content that plagues much of media today, and it was disappointing to see Punk as part of something so lame. I think when you get to his age, after being a career shit-disturber, you can become an “elder-statesmen” who everyone loves, like late career Howard Stern or David Letterman, or you can continue talking shit but get dismissed by the younger generation as bitter and crazy, like Alan Moore or Kanye West. So far, Backstage Punk is clearly trying to be the former, which is fine for him but boring for me.

Justin Watry: FACT – CM Punk’s first appearance on WWE Backstage was indeed good stuff. Keep in mind that I am saying ‘first appearance’ because this is being done on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 26th. For his official debut, it was fine. CM Punk got to discuss his return, even if it was only ten seconds. He got to talk about his time away from the squared circle. He got to tease the possibility of going back to WWE for an actual role worth caring about. Plus, he got to talk about some current story lines in the wrestling business and even poke fun at himself in the typical silly talk show nonsense you see on television. It was entertaining enough. Again though, I say that was a week one kind of answer. Will his sarcastic responses work on a weekly basis or semi-weekly? Maybe, maybe not. If he walks the line of Daniel Bryan on Talking Smack and keeps the chemistry with Renee Young, it will be a nice way to get his feet wet before diving in head first.

Statement #2: You watch old wrestling on the WWE Network regularly.

Jake Chambers: FACT – Not as much as I’d like to, but I do try to watch something every month. I used to watch weekly (and love) the Hidden Gems before WWE redesigned the Network and messed with the presentation and menus, but I’ll still try my best to check them out when they pop up (last week’s Nailz vs. Ultimate Warrior match was a weird treat). And generally I try to watch one old PPV in whatever corresponding month we’re in. I’ve had dreams of re-watching complete eras in chronological order, or using a randomizer, but it just never comes to fruition. I wish I had more time, because that library is as close to a treasure chest as I’ll ever find in life.

Justin Watry: FICTION – Old wrestling? Technically, last week is considered “old.” Heck, I was sitting second row at Taboo Tuesday 2004 in Milwaukee and always enjoy that pay-per-view on re-watches. Does that count as old? I mean, the very first thing I ever watched on the WWE Network was Invasion 2001. Yep, on launch day in 2014, that was what I went to even though I do have the original VHS tape somewhere buried. Rambling aside, I am assuming this is referring to the 1970’s or 1980’s. Thus, I am going with Fiction. I honestly don’t really care to watch slow motion black and white body slams and headlocks. No thanks. Documentaries or round table discussion on old school crap? Absolutely. The actual wrestling? Not happening.

Fact or Fiction – Quick Hits
– one sentence is all you need for this FoF lightning round!

1. At some point in the future, Edge wrestles a full match again.

Jake Chambers: FACT – No pro-wrestler ever really retires.

Justin Watry: FICTION – Only because of the semantics in a ‘full’ match.

2. AEW will eventually end up buying WWE.

Jake Chambers: FACT – It would have been crazy to suggest WWF buying WCW 5-10 years before it happened, and AEW (owners) could clearly do it today even if they wanted.

Justin Watry: FICTION – No explanation needed.

¡SWITCH!

Statement #3: The women’s War Games match at NXT Takeover was more enjoyable than the men’s War Games match.

Justin Watry: FICTION – This is a tough call. If you liked the women’s War Games match more than the men’s, I am not going to complain. It is all good to me. They were both excellent. I am giving the slight nod to the main event because of two reasons. First was the Kevin Owens reveal. While the Dakota heel turn was well done, it was telegraphed in a major way. Predictable yet also logical. Sometimes the best decisions are ones we know are coming. It is called story telling. The seeds had been planted, and we got the payoff. You could say the same about KO in hindsight following the Triple H speech from Raw, but I had not even thought of him! Silly me. That caught me off guard big time. The reveal added that extra bit of sizzle to the steak. Second reason was the finish. Adam Cole is just a beast right now. Dude is legit. He needs to slow it down before he crashes and burns badly. The shot of Britt Baker at the end was pure money. That reaction was mine also. Unreal ending and set up the Takeover in Portland. On a Sunday too? Huh. Very cool.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – Agreeing with Justin, I liked them both, but I think the handicap nature of the women’s match made for a good opening match, while the men’s match was a better full main event. And I think a great final match should theoretically always be better than a great first match at a PPV. Also, I guess I bought in to the way Rhea Ripley won the match for her team, but – seriously – 2 people beat 4 in the War Games Match Beyond? C’mon.

Statement #4: Keith Lee will be a Roman Reigns-level WWE main event-er in the future.

Justin Watry: FICTION – Full disclosure, I did a quick Google search on Keith Lee to find his age. He is 35 years old. Okay, for some reason, I was thinking closer to 40. What do I know though, right? Anyways, the answer here is obvious. There are only a select few that can be a face of the franchise kind of star in WWE. Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold, John Cena, Roman Reigns and maybe a few others defined their generation. Keith Lee has all the tools to succeed on the main roster and even be a main eventer. His NXT run has been a bit funky but by no fault of his own. What we are talking about though is a Roman Reigns-level run. That is a rarity despite the talent and despite the awesome Survivor Series showing. Bask in that…

Jake Chambers: FACT – I thank Justin for looking up Lee’s age, because he definitely looks older than 35, so you’d think he wouldn’t have room for a Roman Reigns-esque main event run left on his resume. However, getting that kind of spotlight on a Survivor Series PPV is as historically good of a start as you can get. Will he end up being more The Rock or Rey Mysterio than D’Lo Brown or Dolph Ziggler? I’m going to lean towards that marque level status because he seems to have the skills, the charisma, and the kind of odd he-shouldn’t-be-there aura that could wind up putting him “there”.

Statement #5: After this Survivor Series weekend, Adam Cole is clearly a better WWE brand-specific champion than Bray Wyatt or Brock Lesnar.

Justin Watry: FICTION – Yet another Fiction. I think Adam Cole is a better champion than Bray Wyatt (so far). That was an easy call. Is he a better champion than Brock Lesnar? Eh, I understand the praise for Cole as the hard working technical wrestler who delivers night in and night out, but NOBODY is Brock Lesnar. I have said it before and will again. Nobody matches his aura inside that ring. Nobody can do what he does. Somebody else dancing with the boombox Money in the Bank briefcase is funny but not Brock Lesnar funny. Somebody else running in at the end to win the MITB match will get fans upset but not Brock Lesnar upset. The live crowds care about title matches but not like Brock Lesnar title matches. Everything he does takes it up a level. 

Jake Chambers: FICTION – Cole is just too small. He’s kind of weirdly small, in that he looks like a big guy in a small body. I would need to see him defeat someone the size of Lesnar or Wyatt to really take him seriously as a WWE main event-er. Right now he just feels like what an NXT champion should feel like, but not superior to the main roster champions (even if he’s having better “workrate” matches on a regular basis).

Statement #6: NXT will survive long term as a separate prime time WWE “brand” and not be absorbed like ECW or bled dry like 205 Live.

Justin Watry: FACT – Even if Vince McMahon and his yes men do not believe that NXT is special, Triple H does. He will allow a few stars to get moved over to Raw and Smackdown but protect the actual brand itself. Every single time people start to doubt or fall into a trap of downplaying NXT, they put on a Show of the Year style Takeover event. I guess we are doing that once again because of the live two hour switch to USA Network. Stop it ladies and gentlemen. This is not ECW 2006 with John Cena showing up during the premiere. This is not Superstars returning on WGN with The Undertaker vs. Matt Hardy as the debut’s main event. This is not 205 Live which never stood a chance (as I wrote about from the jump). This is NXT! There is no greater guarantee in all of wrestling right now than NXT continuing to be the best show on TV. 

Jake Chambers: FICTION – NXT is like the NCAA for the WWE; younger guys, faster plays, more pinfall attempts, a variety of strategies used, and it feels like there’s stakes in every event. However, fans have been so conditioned to think of it a place where you get called up from (despite being “called up” essentially being a creative kiss of death). The “main” roster WWE, like the NBA or NFL, is where everything is bigger, matches takes less moves or pinfalls attempts to get wins because of heavier impact that needs to communicate to the back row of a stadium. For NXT to survive as a separate brand it’s gonna have to shake off the NCAA of it all, meaning it will lose its identity. Once the threat of AEW is put to bed, the WWE will absorb whatever they like from NXT at that moment, like the did with ECW and 205 Live, and then let it turn into Heat or Superstars or Main Event as all WWE castoffs eventually become.

Thanks again to Justin for bringing the goods to this week’s Survivor Series fallout edition of FoF. Be sure to follow Justin Watry on Twitter for all of the happenings in his life and quick wrestling thoughts.

You should also subscribe right away to the 411 Foresight Wrestling Podcast hosted by Justin on a regular basis; always an insightful and fun listen.

And I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of Wrestling Fact or Fiction. While you’re over at Twitter go ahead and follow me too and join a tiny elite of bots and defunct accounts that are treated to random and “hilarious” New Japan tweets. I’m going to be scouting for new participants who want to step up and take the FoF challenge, so that will be the best way to get in touch!