Keith Lee has quickly proved himself as someone WWE should heavily invest in for the future.
With his intensity, size, speed and amazing athleticism, the “Limitless” moniker is truly fitting. So long as the company doesn’t drop the ball pushing him, he could be on a rare path toward greatness.
All is well right now while he’s the shiny new toy, but history has shown former NXT Superstars who were successful in the black-and-gold brand don’t necessarily stay top guys after a move to the main roster.
The next few months leading up to WrestleMania 37 will be crucial in determining whether Lee is someone to give the world title to, or just another flash in the pan WWE didn’t know what to do with.
Instead of turning him into wasted potential, let’s look at some fantasy booking scenarios of what WWE can do with The Limitless One on The Road to WrestleMania.
Before getting ahead of the game, the first point to address is the immediate roadblock ahead: Clash of Champions.
As it stands, Lee lost his No. 1 Contender’s match to Randy Orton, who will face Drew McIntyre on September 27. The Scot successfully defended his title at SummerSlam, but The Legend Killer might walk out with the belt this time.
Not knowing what WWE has planned for that show makes it impossible to give Lee a proper trajectory, as the paths ahead divulge into far too many detours.
Generally speaking, though, if Lee is to be a big deal, a match against McIntyre or Orton for the WWE title at WrestleMania 37 would be the best thing he could be set up to do come March 28, 2021.
The key to this, though, is Edge. If WWE puts the title on The Viper, it may well be with a specific match in mind for Orton against The Rated-R Superstar. That wouldn’t leave Lee room to reach this top-tier challenger status on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
In that scenario, Orton would likely fight Lee as one of his title defenses in the weeks following Clash of Champions.
In all likelihood, Orton vs. McIntyre will be a Hell in a Cell match, so that feud will stretch into November. That would be followed by a bit of a break for Survivor Series if a typical champion vs. champion layout is scheduled for that show, which would likely pit The Viper or the Scot against Roman Reigns and the NXT champion.
That would mean the former NXT champion would either fight Orton for the title on a random episode of Raw, or he’d wait until Tables, Ladders & Chairs in December before coming up short.
Whether it’s Orton or McIntyre as champion, it would be too soon for Lee to fight them for the title and waste that match until closer to WrestleMania or even beyond, if there are other plans. That means we should treat Lee’s future as not vying for the belt at least until he can win the 2021 Royal Rumble or Elimination Chamber.
With that in mind, what should Lee do for the rest of September leading into Clash of Champions and through the remainder of 2020?
Since he’s out of the world title hunt right now and Apollo Crews is still firmly feuding with The Hurt Business, it’s too quick to rush him into a program with Bobby Lashley.
In the meantime, The Limitless One should start a feud with someone else just to give him something to do for now.
Take your pick on who he could fight: Dolph Ziggler is always good for a program where he’s upset at a younger talent taking the spotlight, and Andrade is another notable option.
A feud or two like that could carry Lee into October and toward Hell in a Cell, which is likely to be November 1, and he could earn a title shot against Lashley for that pay-per-view.
After winning the title, Lee’s role at Survivor Series would be representing Raw’s midcard title scene against SmackDown’s intercontinental champion and the North American champion from NXT.
Alternatively, if WWE wants to hold off on a U.S. title reign for Lee, his feuds over the next two months could feed him into a leadership role as part of Team Raw for the traditional elimination match, rather than the champions showcase. The program with Lashley could then start after Survivor Series, and he could be crowned the new champion at TLC in December.
Ultimately, the goal is the same and all roads would lead to Lee as United States titleholder by the time the year ends.
With that belt in hand, he would be someone to watch at the Royal Rumble, but we can assume he wouldn’t win that match. The same would go for Elimination Chamber if it were to determine who fights the Raw champion.
By this point, the next draft will have come and gone and there will be fresh opponents for The Limitless One to face in defense of the United States title. The specifics are up in the air, but there are plenty of potential contenders who could work some magic opposite him.
Still on Raw, there’s Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Aleister Black and any number of babyfaces who could turn heel, like Ricochet and Mustafa Ali, as well as Samoa Joe, if he’s able to return to action.
On SmackDown, who wouldn’t want to see Lee against AJ Styles at some point? Braun Strowman, Cesaro, Daniel Bryan, King Corbin and Sheamus are other Superstars who could pair well with The Limitless One.
By the time WrestleMania 37 rolls around, Lee will have had a solid U.S. title reign and established himself as one of the major focal points on the red brand. His title defense will be a legitimate draw for the card, particularly against an opponent like Styles.
Assuming WWE is ready to take him to the next step, The Limitless One should drop the title at WrestleMania 37 or soon after so he can move into a more prominent role as one of the contenders for the WWE or Universal Championship, depending on if there are more post-Mania trades to shake up the roster.
Wishing for Lee to go all the way to win the Royal Rumble and win the WWE Championship at The Show of Shows is something worth getting behind, as he’s an amazing performer who deserves that path to glory. However, with McIntyre and Orton the two most likely champions until then, neither may be the best opponent for him.
Perhaps Lee’s journey to becoming world champion should take place after next year’s WrestleMania with a SummerSlam win to capitalize on a full year on the main roster. Perhaps, with a bit of patience, WrestleMania 38 could be the place after he wins the 2022 Royal Rumble?
Whatever WWE has in store, let’s hope it’s worthy of Lee’s potential, as he deserves to be booked like a true Superstar.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.