When Wes Lee announced on NXT that he had suffered some sort of injury that would require surgery and leave him out of action for the foreseeable future, months more than days, it shocked fans eager to see the go-home edition of the Tuesday night program before the final WWE Premium Live Event of the 2023 calendar year, NXT Deadl1ne.
Was this kayfabe? Did Lee suffer an injury in his match against Bronson Reed, Johnny Gargano, and Cameron Grimes the week prior? Needless to say, fans wanted answers, and they didn't have to wait long to find out, as Shawn Michaels discussed the injury on the official NXT Deadl1ne media call and provided some clarity to what rapidly became NXT‘s biggest question mark.
“Well, the decision with Wes was pretty darn close to last minute. Wes has been struggling for quite some time, I certainly didn't know the depth of it. Obviously, we get medical reports, but it was a decision that Wes made on his own, as he should. Clearly, he's a young man that goes out there and performs like few others and he had a huge match already going into this premium live event looking for the North American Championship, but just a day or two before, we had a long talk and he just did not think he could make it through the match with the pain that he was in. That was a decision that he and our medical team made, it is the best decision for Wes and that is the only thing in my mind that's important right now. All of this was last minute, Wes, to his credit, was doing everything he could do to get himself ready for this, but it wasn't meant to be,” Shawn Michaels said via Fightful.
“So, we made the last-minute decision I guess less than 24 hours with Dragon Lee. I'll say this, there's obviously story there from before with Dragon Lee. From a selfish standpoint, for me, I was so looking forward and enjoying having him in NXT, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I didn't have him as long as I wanted to. He's something that, again, I felt like would be a fantastic match. He's somebody that I happen to personally enjoy and like, not just as a performer, but as a human being. I know there were matchups that were still on the table for me in NXT, so I thought that if there was any possibility of those matches being able to happen, that Dragon Lee would be the best fit. It's great to have him in NXT, even if it's for just a little bit longer.”
According to PW Insider, Lee is expected to miss between 8-12 months after surgery, an outcome that could leave him out of action until next summer at the bare minimum. Considering how hot his act was in 2023 and how close he looked to being elevated to the main roster, this is a crushing blow for all parties involved.
Wes Lee sent a fond farewell to the WWE Universe for now.
Speaking of Wes Lee's goodbye promo on NXT, the former Rascalz member was afforded a mic and a chance to speak his mind, and delivered a beautiful speech that left fans all the more disappointed to hear about his extended absence.
“We are our days away from Deadl1ne, I was imagining smacking ‘Dirty' Dom around the Total Morgage Arena, hearing that 1-2-3, and then Alecia's beautiful, angelic voice, ‘And new NXT North American Champion.' But unfortunately, it won't be happening like that. Now, I don't say this out of uncertainty or doubt, because one-on-one, man-to-man, Dominik Mysterio cannot handle the heart from the ‘King of the Wes Side.' The same heart that will take on any and every opponent under any circumstance, the same heart that made all of you and all of you cheer and supported week-in and week-out, and gave me the strength to do things I never imagined I could,” Wes Lee told the NXT audience.
“But that support won't help me right now. It won't bring back the feeling in my legs. It will not eliminate the excruciating pain that I am in by just standing in the ring talking to you right now. It's gonna take surgery and time. Now I'm unsure when you will see me again, but just as I had rose from the ashes to become one of the greatest champions to step foot in this NXT ring, I will return to further cement my legacy as one of the best to ever do this. Now this is not a goodbye, and I am far from being done, but let's just say I'll see you later.”
While Dominik Mysterio won't get the night off at Deadl1ne, as he'll have to wrestle Dragon Lee with his father, Rey Mysterio, in his opponent's corner, but no matter how well that match turns out, it'll be disappointing to know that Wes could have been the one holding up the belt when the match was done.