Keith Lee must be treated as a special champion

WWE, Keith Lee Credit:
WWE, Keith Lee Credit: /

Keith Lee should not be a transitional champion

Timing is one of the major elements of professional wrestling. Knowing when to go for a big spot, spit out a catch phrase or pose for the crowd are skills that the best of the best learn after years of experience. Timing is also important when elevating superstars to the main event. Keith Lee’s current run through NXT and WWE has all been about timing. It culminated with earning the NXT championship last Wednesday with his win over Adam Cole. It seems like a major challenge is already lurking in the shadows, but let us make this clear nice and early, Lee should be booked as much more than a transitional champion.

Lee successfully snatched the NXT championship away from Cole to bring an end to his 403-day reign. Even before that moment that was experienced at NXT Great American Bash, Lee was booked in a manor that made it clear he is a big deal in the organization. He was the last surviving member of Team NXT at Survivor Series, eliminating Seth Rollins and going toe-to-toe with Roman Reigns. Then there was that big, but too brief, moment at the Royal Rumble where he faced off against Brock Lesnar. In both situations the crowd responded to Lee with resounding cheers of acceptance. That wave helped carry him to the position he is in today, holding both of NXT’s singles titles.

But the time waits for no one as Karrion Kross seems to be the next foil for the big man. Lee smashed Cross’s hourglass a few weeks back. After winning the belt, Kross and Scarlett watched him celebrate from a skybox in the Performance Center. It makes sense that WWE would want to put its two biggest attractions in NXT together as quickly as possible. However, it should not come at the threat to hurting the image they have built in Lee.

Remember the Fiend? He was an unstoppable juggernaut that struck fear into everyone on the WWE roster. Sadly, the minute WWE Creative placed him in the title picture against Seth Rollins, that mystique immediately evaporated. Since that moment, Bray Wyatt’s greatest creation has not been the same. Then came the defeat to Bill Goldberg and the Fiend is one of the latest names on the list of characters that creative has botched. Kross is in a similar position. Since joining NXT, the character has been red-hot. Even though fans are not in attendance for these shows, the reaction across wrestling Twitter has been widely popular for the man formerly known as Killer Kross. He is on such a high trajectory that no one should be surprised when that NXT title is sitting on his waist. Still, the timing of the situation is what matters most because WWE should not cannibalize one of its organically over personalities at a time when he is needed the most.

Lee does not need a 400-day reign of his own to be considered legit. Instead, he needs to be booked as a strong champion until it is time to drop to the title. Kross could, and perhaps should be the man to take the belt away. That time is months down the line, not weeks. Just like Lee, Kross should not take any defeats soon. He should continue to dispatch NXT names like fodder until he has Lee firmly in his cross hairs. Having Lee doing the same thing would put these two monsters on a collision course: like two prize fighters both heading for a title at the same time. When the moment comes to book them in a big match for the belt, that would be the moment everyone wants to see. If that moment is built to correctly.

At times, it seems like WWE Creative struggles with long term booking. There is a mile-long list of examples for that point. With Keith Lee as the champion, they need to play the long game before considering having him drop the title to Karrion Kross. There is a lot at stake and people watching this situation closely. They cannot afford to mess this situation up by treating Lee like a transitional champion.

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