NXT's Keith Lee On Wrestling With No Audience, And Watching Anime Like One Piece
Lee is defending his North American Championship, but in his downtime, he's watching anime.
NXT's Keith Lee has made waves over the past year in WWE. He was a main attraction for Team NXT at 2019's Survivor Series, dethroned Roderick Strong for the North American Championship, appeared in 2020's Royal Rumble match, and sang his way into our hearts in the Netflix movie The Main Event. However, it doesn't stop there. Lee will defend his title against Damian Priest on the April 29 episode of NXT on USA.
Early in April, Lee faced Dominik Dijakovic and Priest in a triple threat match for the North American Championship, successfully retaining it, but Lee thinks a one-on-one with Priest won't be as challenging. "I think that one-on-ones are oftentimes easier matches because you can focus on one opponent," Lee told GameSpot. "But as we've seen, he was a crafty guy, so there is still danger with him."
That's not the only challenge Lee will face when defending his title. Wrestling at the Performance Center, without an audience, is not something professional wrestlers are used to, as the roar of the crowd can help energize the performers. "[This is] something that I've actually talked about with so many of my other athletic friends and associates--just there's a bit of a void when it comes to not having the crowd for that initial level of adrenaline," Lee explained. "So not having them there takes away a little bit of electricity. It makes it slightly difficult and a little different experience. So there's that lack of adrenaline. Things often hurt even more than usual because I don't have such a wide array of people kind of uplifting me. I tried to explain to fans how much they mean to me, but I don't know if it gets across."
As for how wrestlers have been keeping busy while stuck at home, NXT's Adam Cole has been playing a lot of video games. Lee has been doing some of that, but he's mostly been building himself a computer and watching a lot of anime. "Major anime for me are One Piece, Black Clover, My Hero Academia--which just ended a bit ago--and there is one that I just finished called Vinland Saga, and those are kind of like my main anime that I watch at home," said Lee.
As for his favorite anime, Lee said that right now, based on story and character growth, it's One Piece, and yes, he resonates with Luffy. "A lot of anime that I watch often lines up with my own beliefs in life as far as meeting difficult obstacles and then growing from them and overcoming them. And so that's kind of the main formal story that fits for me and I enjoyed that."
You can see Keith Lee on WWE's Wednesday night show NXT, which airs on the USA Network at 8 PM ET / 7 PM CT. On April 29, he'll defend his championship against Damian Priest.