WWE Backstage is Limitless!
Because tonight’s episode features the Limitless NXT North American Champion, Keith Lee! What will he have to say about his amazing run from Survivor Series to the Royal Rumble to NXT TakeOver: Portland?
Renee Young introduces the panel!
We have the two-time WWE Hall of Famer, Booker T, and the Glampire, Paige! But joining them for the first time on the show, another WWE Hall of Fame inductee, the World’s Strongest Man, MARK HENRY! But where’s the salmon jacket? Sky blue and the HoF ring will have to do as Henry struts to the ring and joins the others. Handshakes and hugs all around, “Never too much love.” Henry says what the world needs now is love, sweet love. But the Road to WrestleMania is only picking up speed, and the journey to WrestleMania 36 is not at all smooth sailing. But the Marco’s Pizza Weekly Wrap gives us…
Just the Highlights!
For SmackDown: Bayley retains the SmackDown Women’s Champion, by using the ropes! But between Naomi wanting hers and Carmella wanting another, a contender’s match sends one woman to challenge Bayley at WWE Super Showdown! Roman Reigns got help from Daniel Bryan in beating The Miz & John Morrison, but the Lone Wolf King defies authority by showing up to attack The Big Dog anyway! The WWE Universal Champion doesn’t need luck when he has The Fiend to take on Goldberg. Otis was about to give his heart to Mandy Rose, but Dolph Ziggler went and heart-blocked him.
For Raw: Matt Hardy still wanted to know “What the Hell is wrong” with The Viper, only to get struck down again! Yet Orton says he’s sorry? Becky Lynch pays a fine in advance because she wants after Shayna Baszler that badly. But Baszler promises Becky back: “I will tear the living sh*t out of you.” The Queen looks to humble Rhea Ripley while The Monday Night Messiah’s plans go up in smoke!
The panel discusses this week in WWE.
New soldiers join the resistance, what does Booker think of the Street Profits reinforcing Kevin Owens? Booker likes Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins, and them getting a part of the action is something a long time coming. Booker considered managing these two, but he needs to see these two get down ‘n’ dirty. What you need to do inside the ring is strictly business. Let’s not close the door on Booker managing them, though. Henry agrees with Book in that the Profits need to get gritty in the ring. The Profits can still have fun, but they also gotta really lay into their opponents. Paige feels Dawkins nearly “beat the shizz” out of Buddy Murphy. Also, the hang time on that frog splash!
The Profits are truly great athletes, but they definitely need more time in the ring. Booker knows the Profits can do anything they want in the ring, but to get to that next level, they need to get fans to feel it, not just see it. Henry agrees with that. When you enjoy wrestling, you can feel it. You can close your eyes, listen to what’s happening, and feel it. The Profits are too worried about the success of moves, but that won’t get you titles. You need to make yourself more valuable than those in the ring with you.
Friday being Valentine’s Day, there was a heartbreaking first date that wasn’t for Otis and Mandy. The “beautiful peach” encountered a Show-Off, and the Dozer felt like his heart was what got demolished. Speaking of feeling it… Sexual Chocolate Mark Henry feels the pain. “For every big guy around the world that considers themselves ‘fluffy, husky, stout, portly,'” and so on, this was a heart-wrencher. Ziggler comes off like such trash there! Booker says that was a situation that became a “moment.” Otis can either take advantage of it or he’ll miss it. Some women like seeing men fight for them. Paige agrees, but Mandy is not handling this right. Renee says Mandy didn’t really do anything wrong, either. Booker says his point is that Otis needs to man up and fight Ziggler! Renee likes that this is the story that gets the most heated discussion ever.
Renee turns to Mark Henry and his “Sexual Chocolate” moment. Those are some classic moments for fans. Henry admits he enjoyed that stuff. Many thought it was going to fail, but Henry gave it his all! There is not a day that goes by without someone telling him that Sexual Chocolate made their life. This is about the moments that you make. If Otis can take this and run with it, telling Dolph he won’t ruin his love life, the world of wrestling will explode! Renee is also confident that this will truly win the heart of Mandy Rose. Everyone is rooting Otis on, but will it be a happy ending for all?
WWE Backstage, welcome the Limitless Keith Lee!
An entrance worthy of the NXT North American Champion. Everyone loves the hoody with the silhouette on it, as they should. “Greetings and salutations, friends!” Lee takes his seat and appreciates being invited to WWE Backstage. Everyone puts in their orders for the hoodies, and Renee talks about Lee’s “very busy six months.” WWE Survivor Series, obviously, but being in the Men’s Royal Rumble and against Brock Lesnar! How did that feel? Lee says it was intense being in the ring with a specimen like Lesnar. Competition excites Lee, and jokingly denies reading Lesnar’s lips. But that particular match was special for everyone, but especially Lee for having his father, step-mother and youngest brother present in the crowd. “It was a special day.” Opportunity came and Lee made the most of it.
Paige knows Lee has had great moments, and asks about WWE Survivor Series. That was an equally intense day, and Lee ended up being among the last three. Roman spears Lee out of his boots, and then gives him a fist bump of great respect. Roman even told Lee later that he’s hoping for a 1v1 match one day. Renee speaks to Lee becoming Mr. Moment Maker, such as being on TakeOver events, being at Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble. CM Punk said Lee is a big fish in a little pond, Lee needs to get going. How does it feel to have all those support? It’s hard to process still. CM Punk wishes he was here and Lee wishes it, too.
But hearing such praise from those he knows yet hasn’t met, when you meet them and learning about that respect, “it’s such a touching experience to know that what you do is something that’s respected by people that you’ve studied and admired for your career. It’s awesome.” Booker says Lee is changing the game for super heavyweights. Lee has been on this journey a long time, now he’s arrived in the WWE. How does he feel in the NXT locker room? There are times when Lee feels like a leader, but he also tries to be someone that’s understanding. He sets an example and is a leader in that way, as opposed to ordering people around. There are those that Lee specifically looks out for, those that are truly just getting started in wrestling.
Henry says he was comfortable with not knowing about opportunities. Lee said he didn’t know about how far he’d go in the Survivor Series and the Rumble matches, but is he comfortable with that? Or is that something Lee just deals with? Lee says it is something he uses. He prides himself on mental toughness. His father and grandfather taught him that, and it is something Lee works to apply to everything he does. Not knowing is something he accepts. When he finds out, then it is switch on to game mode. Renee says relying on instincts is a big part of it. Lee was in football at Texas A&M but then got into wrestling, how did that come about? Lee was a prospect, and the family wasn’t fond of his sudden decision. “Kids, listen to your parents.”
But Lee says that it was just something tugging at his heart. It was something his grandmother instilled in him and has stuck with him for life. He had great friends and a clear path in football, wrestling just called to him and he answered. Lee found his way, trained with Killer Brooks, a man Booker T knows well. And in the end, Lee was just hooked. Paige is happy he is here in the WWE, and asks of all the rosters right now, of all the superstars right now, who would Lee love to face most of all? Henry and Booker say they’re out already. Renee says Lee has had amazing matches already, but Lee says obvious answers would be those he’s only just encountered. Lesnar, Roman, but Lee was hoping for Kurt Angle. That’s gone now, because of Baron Corbin.
But right now, Lee’s #1 dream match: Cesaro. Cesaro is a machine, and that is something Lee relates to. Everyone loves the sound of that combination. Footage plays of Cesaro hitting Mark Henry with the Neutralizer! Henry says the one great thing about himself is that he took everybody’s finisher. Lee will still have more to share, but we’ll first look at where the NXT North American Championship got it start.
WWE Backstage relives a WrestleMania moment!
It was WrestleMania X (10) and it was the first ever ladder match! Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon Scott Hall fought to become the undisputed Intercontinental Champion and changed wrestling forever!
Renee notes that 25 years later, ladder matches are still one of the pillars of this business. It is rare to see just two men involved, and it was the night before WrestleMania 34 that six men competed for a brand new championship. It was NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, and the inaugural NXT North American Champion was crowned!
Ricochet, Velveteen Dream, EC3, Lars Sullivan, Killian Dain and Adam Cole BAYBAY were all part of this incredible and historic match. Cole says “This was a really big WrestleMania weekend.” A ladder match with six men and a brand new title. Ricochet says he was super excited to make both a TakeOver and NXT in-ring debut, so he wanted to make a big impression. “Going into a match like that,” Ricochet didn’t have fear, he’s feeding off adrenaline. Cole admits there was nerves and pressure to live up to the expectations of that match. But the energy from the fans is unlike anything else.
All six men nearly wrecked themselves throughout that match, but Ricochet recalls the spot near the end, where all six were outside with ladder bridges. Cole knows they’d already gone through 30 minutes of “devastating” action, but then Dain scoops Cole to bring him along as he crashes down through Ricochet and a ladder! New Orleans was thunderous, and there was another point where all six men were up top on the ladders with the title dangling. Ricochet wipes out Dream but Cole wipes out Ricochet, and the first champion was Undisputed. The emotions of pride, relief “that it went well and I survived,” it was a night where stars aligned and memories will live forever. That is how the belt began, and Lee is taking it to new heights, where will the NXT North American Championship go next?
WWE’s own Sheamus was at the Daytona 500!
The Celtic Warrior got to talk with NASCAR stars, drove in the pace car, and surely got to see President (and WWE Hall of Famer) Donald Trump and First Lady Melania. The race was eventually won by Denny Hamlin, but the big story was the frightening crash involving Ryan Newman at the end. WWE Backstage hopes for Newman’s speedy recovery and return to the track.
WWE Backstage goes to Promo School!
Tonight’s student is Shawne Merriman! The 3-time NFL Pro Bowl Linebacker and co-founder of Lights Out Extreme Fighting is here! Shawne is no stranger to the WWE as a big fan, but what got him into wrestling? He is a 20 year fan and was part of the WrestleMania 34 Pre-Show. But Merriman’s first real part of WWE action was WWE ECW One Night Stand back in 2008. Chavo Guerraro’s kendo stick got Merriman, so Merriman got to SMACK Chavo back! “That was a little Lights Out dance for good measure.”
But here’s how Promo School works: Merriman will cut the strongest, meanest promo he can, and the panel of judges will give him a grade. Does anyone have advice? Henry wants to know if “E” counts as a grade. Could be today. But as for advice, Henry wants Merriman to speak from the heart, and relax. “Enjoy the moment.” Lee says unbutton the suit. Paige introduces the opponent, Booker T! #BigDaddyLatty! Booker gives big ups to the judges. Booker, calm down, this is Merriman’s turn. Merriman is fired up already as he steps to Booker.
“This should be light work. Booker T, I didn’t want to come out here and be disrespectful. Because I know you was gonna treat me like a rookie. But as long as you don’t say nothing crazy, because I ain’t no soft ass cookie. Now I know you are known for being one of the best athletes in your sport. I can dig it. But that’s only because the WWE never had me in it! Now you good on your words. Supposed to be a five, time, champ. But the stage never seen me come out like this. When I walk on the stage, I hear all the people scream and shout. But Booker T, if you keep runnin’ your mouth, it’s gon’ be lights out!” Good rhymes!
What are the grades? Renee gives a B+ and Booker is shocked! The catchphrase is in there, that can be on merch! And he has a point, we haven’t seen Merriman in the ring. Keith Lee says that he has awarded Merriman a B-. There was strong confidence in the delivery, but Lee’s advice is not to be so close to a legend like #BigDaddyLatty, looking jacked with the dreads down the back! You might get bit. Henry says it is a C+! Merriman knew there’d be bias! Henry says that Merriman is a great athlete and entertainer, but there was no “comfortability.” Merriman wasn’t becoming part of the environment. Paige gave a straight B. Merriman was thinking hard on the rhymes, but the punch line hit hard.
But Booker, do you want to toss something back at him? Yeah, sure. “Lights out? That’s going to be the name of this promo.” Let’s hear that from the judges. “Lights out!” One more time! “Lights out!” Time to go to school!
Booker says that when he came to work today, they told him he’d go up against one of the greatest San Diego Chargers of all time. LT the running back? Nope, Shawne Merriman. What? The Pro Bowler did great things in his career, but after 7 years, “they wrapped his ass up and said…” “Lights out!” And then someone put a rocket on him and sent him to the WWE! He has a future! He goes to NXT and they say, “Let me see you in the ring. Uh-uh. Let me see you cut a promo. Uh-uh.” And it was lights out! Merriman goes to Fox, Fox says, “Oh no, we like this kid.” But Booker tells Merriman that if he ever steps to the six-time world champ, the two-time Hall of Famer, and the most decorated champ in the history of wrestling… “Lights out!” Now can you dig that?
Renee says Booker was going to go 30 seconds. Booker says that was just 35. And he went easy on Merriman, because he likes him. Merriman felt that was two minutes but Booker says that’s the flow, the shine and the beard gloss. “I can dig it.”
It’s the WWE Backstage Main Event!
Giants, monsters, behemoths and more. “Be afraid. Be very afraid!” For Mark Henry and Keith Lee, to amazing “big men” in their own right, look back on the evolution of this staple of pro-wrestling. Henry has spoke the name of Keith Lee from the highest mountain tops. Every podcast, every radio show, Henry sings the praises of a man who is changing the game for “big men.” How does it feel to bring back the “Big Guy match” with leap-frogging, arm-drags, planchas, off-the-top and all that? Lee says that before even all of that, it is an enormous thing for someone as big as Henry to speak Lee’s name with such praise. The fact Henry feels this way about Lee, hearing that, it is not something he could’ve fathomed before this moment.
Henry says Lee should own that. This is a moment Lee earned because he put the work in. Henry isn’t saying any of this to butter Lee up, or because Lee is champion now. He says this because it’s true. Henry has opinions, and sometimes his opinions are jaded. But the fact is, his Royal Rumble performance, outstanding. Lee VS Dijakovic in Portland did things not many matches have done even in the last 5 years. The last big man to have that kind of athleticism is The Undertaker in his prime. “To say one guy, I might be a little bit opinion-struck.” But there is no one we’ve seen that can do what Lee can do. What does Lee owe that to? A combination of experiences, studies and working with others.
Mixing styles is a specialty, and while Lee can do “big guy things,” he’s studied men like Shelton Benjamin or Kurt Angle or even Brock Lesnar through the years, and Lee mixes those together. Lee feels that in the ring, he is “the most versatile specimen that this industry has ever seen.” That is not arrogance, that is his belief, and what he feels he can bring. Henry says it can’t be arrogance if it’s true. And talking about mixing, Henry will tell Lee who he sees in him. An old school mash-em-up of Yokozuna and Bam Bam Bigelow. Yokozuna could be dominant in his presence, and yet he could move, doing leap frogs and splashing. Bam Bam could handspring and back flip, the first big man to do a moonsault. Lee doing the same things so effortless, “God rest his soul,” Bam Bam would also be singing Lee’s praises.
Henry knows he mentioned this earlier, but he feels that the future of “The Big Guy Match” will be something of a crown placed on Lee’s head as we move along in pro-wrestling history. That is because it is a lost art. Henry is so happy to see the WWE let Lee be Lee and do that. Lee is a true athlete who does everything well. Does Lee feel he is arrogant about his abilities? Lee says his personal way, his personality, is to be humble. But then in the ring, you must display otherwise. Lee wants to be confident as possible, because he isn’t like everyone else. Lee isn’t the typical WWE superstar, so he wants fans to see his confidence and say, “If this guy can do it, and if I work just as hard…”
In fact, Lee wants someone growing up today to work even harder and become even greater than Lee is today. “But right now, my duty, in my opinion, is to carry that confidence and that ability in the ring in a way that inspires everyone.” It doesn’t matter size and shape. If you can be what you think you can be, push yourself to that goal, reach for the stars and even further, you can do that. Henry is so glad to be here talking with Lee. And after the break, we’ll see where else the ultimate gif giver has ended up.
WWE Backstage plugs Wilder VS Fury II!
The epic rematch for the boxing world heavyweight championship, Saturday at 9 PM Eastern, only on PPV! Booker knows the first one was awesome, this one is going to be even better. He feels this is going to end somewhere in 7 or 8, “shot heard ’round the world,” WILDER!
WWE Backstage welcomes Paige’s dog, Lobster!
He made it! And he wants his cheese. And speaking of dogs, Keith Lee’s lady, Mia Yim, shows off their adorable bulldog watching Daddy Lee on TV! WWE Dog Show when?
Keith Lee unofficially wins Gif of the Year!
That’s right, it’s Keith Lee POUNCING Adam Cole into the crowd on an episode of NXT! If you haven’t seen it, just google it. But to have some fun, WWE Backstage photoshops Lee’s equally meme worthy reaction faces into iconic moments. First, Lee’s reaction to Dominik Dijakovic VS Damien Priest is part of Mark Henry’s retirement swerve and World’s Strongest Slam on John Cena! Lee getting groovy is part of the once lost PCB dance off. And Lee’s Dijakovic-Priest face is part of Booker T getting whooped by Steve Austin in a supermarket! There’s even in incredibly well-done fist bump photoshop of Lee and Renee! Best one of the bunch! Backstage is Limitless, thanks for basking in the glory!
A really fun episode of WWE Backstage yet again, and it’s great to see Mark Henry join the rotating cast of panelists. Promo School with Merriman was great, and I appreciated him working on a mostly rhyming promo. Not many pro-wrestlers do that and so for him as a non-wrestler to try was definitely a bold choice, so I feel the B’s were justified. It was great to hear from Lee how that stretch of Survivor Series, Royal Rumble and TakeOver: Portland felt, and Henry’s praise was definitely well-deserved. I remember seeing Keith Lee showing up in ROH with Shane Taylor as an amazing duo, and boy did ROH let Lee slip away. It is great to see him here now, at the level he’s reached, he is only going up from here.