Mexican lucha libre star Dragon Lee signs deal with WWE

WWE has landed one of the top names in Mexican lucha libre.

Dragon Lee, an elite in-ring worker, signed a deal with WWE earlier this month and will start with the promotion in January, he told ESPN.

Lee finished up Wednesday with Mexico's Lucha Libre AAA promotion, a tag team match with his brother Dralistico against FTR for AAA's tag titles. The plan, he said, was to begin with WWE in January, starting with developmental brand NXT.

Lee, a 27-year-old who wrestles under a mask, has been a champion in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Ring of Honor, AAA and CMLL, Mexico's oldest promotion. He comes from a wrestling family. Lee's father is a luchador named La Bestia del Ring. Lee has been teaming with his brother Dralistico in Mexico recently and another brother, Rush, performs for AEW. He will move with his family to Orlando in the near future for the opportunity with WWE.

The signing of Lee is notable as WWE continues to expand globally with a push toward developmental territories in several other countries in 2023. Latin America is a priority for the promotion, sources said. Shawn Michaels, the legendary former champion and now WWE's senior vice president of talent development creative running NXT, mentioned recently that the promotion is looking at an NXT Mexico branch.

"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."

Though he had a match teaming with Rush and close friend Andrade in AEW back in August, Lee said being in WWE was always the "dream" and he wants to follow in the footsteps of legends he watched growing up, like Michaels, Batista and, of course, Rey Mysterio Jr., the most famous masked luchador of all time.

"I think I can become the new Rey Mysterio in WWE," Lee said. "I just need the opportunity."

Lee said he spoke in the past with former WWE talent relations exec Canyon Ceman, but the ball got rolling again after a conversation with WWE star Finn Balor a few months ago. Lee then worked with James Kimball and Trent Wilfinger, WWE talent strategy and development mavens, en route to signing a contract in early December.

"[Balor] told me, 'Would you like to be in WWE?'" Lee said with a laugh. "I said, 'Yeah, sure. Why not?' ... It was something special for me."

One of Lee's goals, he said, was to work on becoming a more well-rounded performer. In the ring, he is one of the top wrestlers in the world with the ability to work different styles from lucha libre to striking-heavy strong style to a technical, mat-based match. Lee said he has been diligently working on his English and his ability to connect with fans on the microphone.

"It's my challenge to learn more about promos," Lee said. "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."