Wes Lee’s historic NXT North American Championship reign ended in the blink of an eye.
In a match against Dominik Mysterio on NXT earlier this month, Lee was in control in his title defense. He was trying to put his opponent away when Mysterio’s Judgment Day stablemates played the numbers game to distract the referee. Rhea Ripley came out of nowhere and hit Lee in the head with her RAW Women’s Championship. Lee was knocked out cold and Mysterio pinned him for the title.
Lee held the title for a record 269 days.
“It means something to me more outside of a selfish aspect,” he told Fox News Digital when asked about the title. “I never saw myself as a champion and being able to capture the championship really allowed for me to see myself in an entire different light.
“And when I got to become champion and I had to decide on how I was going to carry myself as a champion, I quickly discovered that I wanted to represent myself to the best of my abilities so that any other individual that may be struggling with identifying who they are, they can use me as a barometer, as someone that is still trying to figure things out as they’re going along just like everybody else.
“The things that I like, I like, and the things that I dislike, I dislike, and I stand by them and I don’t necessarily bend or break for anyone. I’m willing to compromise but at the same time, I stand for something and I wanted to represent that and be a motivation for people to be more of themselves and still try to capture the goals that they want to do in life.”
At The Great American Bash on Sunday, instead of going 1-on-1 against Mysterio in a rematch for the NXT North American Championship, Lee will have to square off against Mustafa Ali as well. Mysterio’s stablemates – Ripley, Damian Priest and Finn Balor – make things a little more difficult too.
“I welcome it because now I’m having to prepare for everything. Before, I would go into a match, not even factoring in those kinds of things in,” he said. “But now, I’m expecting someone that’s not a part of a match to become part of this match. And I’ve been training and going over film to see how they prefer to attack people and the group mentality that they have.
“But then going over Mustafa Ali’s moves to find holes within his so that I can build a solid game plan to not get caught off guard the way that I was before. But having all of these obstacles is something, again, something that I look forward to. I don’t want an easy route to the top. I don’t want an easy route to my goal. I don’t need and I don’t want an easy path to my happiness. If I get there too easily, then I won’t really appreciate it. I need to have those dark times in order for me to really appreciate that light.
“So, this is a dark time, but I will make my way back to the light and be able to appreciate light again.”
Lee will be looking to regain the championship at NXT’s The Great American Bash on Sunday. The show starts at 8 p.m. ET and can be seen on Peacock.
Here’s the rest of the card: