Wes Lee proved that he’s one of the best workers in the WWE, and some wonder what’s next for him without the NXT North American Championship.
For 269 days Wes Lee was one of the top recognized “worker’s champions” across professional wrestling. The debate raged between ATHENA, Orange Cassidy, and Lee as the three names in North American wrestling that put wrestling for their brands on their back each week. Now, Lee’s time as champion is over. “What’s next?” is the right question to have, because while there’s an opportunity for Lee, there should also be apprehension about what’s next with his booking.
Lee dropped the championship on the July 18 edition of WWE NXT. He fell to the overwhelming presence of The Judgement Day as Dominick Mysterio took the title from around his waist. Mysterio is an interesting case study in professional wrestling in his own right, but it is important to recognize what Lee has achieved.
Lee and Nash Carter came into WWE NXT back in 2021 and immediately blew the doors off the tag team division. They snatched the titles and ran with them, building their fanbase along the way. In the current creative space, may have been on the main roster by this point. Instead, Carter was released and Lee was thrust into the singles division. A move that has propelled him into consideration as one of the best workers in the promotion.
But where does he go now? He battles Mustafa Ali and Mysterio for the belt at NXT Great American Bash on July 30 in a triple threat, but do not be surprised if Lee is the individual that eats the pin. That would shuffle Lee down the roster and put him in a position as the gatekeeper to the next phase of mid-card and main-event personalities. That’s not a “bad” situation, but it’s hard to see Lee rising as a top challenger to the NXT Championship, which is usually the path for the NXT North American Champion. Carmelo Hayes did that, but along the way, he defeated Lee to get there. WWE would have to be creative in how they booked a return to that match. Perhaps with Lee as a heel character out for “revenge?”
What would a move to the main roster look like? Unfortunately, it would be hard to not see Lee getting stuck in a spot like Ali has experienced for much of his WWE run. Lee would be a great underdog who rises to a big challenge, only to get chopped back down the shuffle each time. Ali has been a part of the WWE since 2016 and despite big support from the WWE Universe, he’s never reached any level of championship status. In fact, the biggest moment of his WWE tenure may be the #FreeAli movement that saw fans push for his release. Wes Lee would find himself in a similar position, regardless of the amount of talent he’s shown while in NXT.
Professional wrestling fans can always count on Wes Lee to give an entertaining match. He’s done so as WWE NXT North American Champion for 269 days, and he’ll continue to do so when his number is called. But everyone should keep a close eye on how he’s used in the future because Lee’s talent can easily create a groundswell of fan support for more.