There was a time when it looked like Dragon Lee was going to be #AllElite. A member of La Faccion Ingibernable who worked with his brother Rush in Ring of Honor, the son of La Bestia del Ring made his AEW debut in the lead-up to All Out, when he joined Team Andrade as their third member in the World Trios Tournament. Working face while his LFI teammates were clearly on some heelish behavior, that match didn't end as planned for Lee, as, clearly displeased for taking the One-Winged Angel from Kenny Omega, he was subsequently beaten down by Rush and Andrade before being sent packing back to Mexico and Lucha Libre AAA.
Fast forward a few months into the future, and it was Dralistico, not Dragon Lee, who received the call to join LFI in AEW despite both brothers working as a tag team, Hermonos Lee in Lucha Libre AAA – yes, Rush, Dralistico, and Lee are all brothers.
But why? Why would Tony Khan fail to sign Lee when he was a true standout performer of the World Trios Tournament, looking like a young Rey Fenix with his effortless acrobatic style? Well, as it turns out, the reason is that Lee was already spoken for moving forward, as, after securing the win over FTR at AAA's Noche de Campeones – yes, FTR now only have one set of championship belts, the IWGP Tag Team Championship – the 27-year-old champion announced that he was leaving AAA for WWE, where he hopes to become the promotion's next great Mexican star as Rey Mysterio's career winds down.
An eighth-year pro with over 800 matches on his resume and nine different championship reigns on the indies, including a 264-day reign with the CMLL World Welterweight Championship, a 469-day run with the Ring of Honor Television Championship, and an incredible 1,197-day tenure with the CMLL World Lightweight Championship, WWE will be adding one of the most experienced performers imaginable to their NXT roster in the hopes of turning him into the promotion's next great star.
Will it work? Only time will tell, but fortunately, it would appear WWE and Lee are on the same page in regards to his future goals, making the decision to leave LFI a risk worth taking.
¡Mucho éxito para @dragonlee95 en su nueva aventura en @WWE!
Seguiremos muy de cerca todos sus pasos 👏#NocheDeCampeonesAAA pic.twitter.com/ECQt1EPNJi
— Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide (@luchalibreaaa) December 29, 2022
WWE and Dragon Lee comment on their forthcoming union.
Immediately after making his announcement at Noche de Campeones, Lee released a statement to ESPN about his decision to leave the indies and spurn AEW, declaring his dream of going the distance and becoming the sort of transcendent champion who lives on forever within the annals of WWE history.
“I think I can become the new Rey Mysterio in WWE,” Lee said. “I just need the opportunity. [Finn Balor] told me, ‘Would you like to be in WWE?' [laughs]. I said, ‘Yeah, sure. Why not?' … It was something special for me. It's my challenge to learn more about promos. You will never finish learning in pro wrestling. But every time you wrestle, you learn. But about promos, it's something new for me. I would like to learn something new, how to become not just a wrestler — an artist.”
Whoa, Finn Balor served as a point of contact for Lee? Well, in a way, that makes sense, as Lee did work in New Japan Pro Wrestling from 2016-20, but the duo have never actually shared the ring, according to Cagematch. While the addition of Lee might not sit particularly well with another of Balor's friends, as Dominik Mysterio was obviously supposed to become the next Rey Mysterio – and may ultimately receive the name, depending on how things shake out – the duo could form a natural frienemy relationship in the same way the older Mysterio did with Eddie Guererro before his untimely passing.
WWE, too, provided some feedback on the addition of Lee, telling ESPN that they feel the performer – who may or may not keep his Dragon Lee name – could become a focal point of their Latin American market.
“Dragon Lee is a tremendous talent that will immediately add value to the NXT roster,” James Kimball, WWE's head of talent strategy and operations, said. “This signing is reflective of WWE's renewed emphasis on globalizing our talent pipeline with Latin America positioned as a focal market.”
Will it all work out? Will Lee get the sort of push in WWE that Gran Metalik, Andrade, Kalisto, and Sin Cara never could? Or will he be back on the indies like Máscara Dorada, Andrade El Idolo, Octagón Jr., and Cinta de Oro – aka the non-WWE names of the aforementioned performers, who are all working elsewhere following their release? Only time will tell, but if Paul “Triple H” Levesque gives Lee the push, he has the talent to back it up.