When Bobby Lashley burst onto the WWE scene in 2005, his arrival was met with muted derision. Another big, bland meathead who we were supposed to cheer to the ring because he looked happy to be there. Every inch one of “Vince’s guys”. Receiving a United States Championship run, along with a shot at the World title in his first year on the main roster was demonstrative of this fact. A big push, coupled with a lack of charisma, is rarely a successful endeavour for the company. What could be considered the height of his professional wrestling career, up to this point, is representing future President of the United States; Donald Trump at Wrestlemania 23. His lack of charisma was his ultimate downfall, as his involvement in the show (in the main event, too) was completely overshadowed by the presence of Vince Mcmahon, The Donald and special guest referee Stone Cold Steve Austin in Lashley’s match against “The Samoan Bulldozer”, Umaga. He was a footnote in what would be, for any other professional wrestler, the crowning achievement of his career. Within a few months, Lashley had picked up an injury and, less than a year later, he was unceremoniously released from his contract.
That was then. Now, Bobby Lashley is a different beast. In the last decade, he has achieved major success as one of the centre-points of TNA (now Impact) Wrestling, at one point holding every singles belt in the company at the same time. Say what you like about the booking, it shows a great deal of confidence for a promotion to bestow this type of responsibility on a single wrestler, and it is his legitimacy as an athlete that allowed him to carry the belts effectively. It is, however, the source of this legitimacy that would make him so valuable to WWE: He’s a fighter. Beginning almost immediately after his departure from WWE, he joined up with several small MMA promotions, eventually finding his way to Bellator, where he has remained since 2014. His whole-career record is 15-2, not bad for a “fake fighter”.
Professional wrestling is an ever-changing game that has always aligned itself with the successes of other combat sports, to varying degrees of success, from the dreaded “Brawl For All” tournament and Mike Tyson’s Wrestlemania involvement in the 90s to Brock Lesnar’s near year-long Universal Championship reign and former UFC Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey’s on-screen debut just last night. MMA is the popular trend right now, so having Lashley on board would be a huge boost to the company’s legitimacy. What people often fail to remember is that Lesnar, although a former UFC World Champion, at 5 wins to 3 losses, doesn’t actually have the best fight record. Lashley’s, although admittedly against inferior opposition, is far better, making him a more than suitable opponent for the Beast Incarnate. Rumours are circulating that Brock will retire after Wrestlemania 34, but if these two very dangerous men were to step into the ring together, WWE would see some serious traffic. It is said that Ronda Rousey’s contract is full-time – a serious coup for the company. Bobby Lashley is only 41. If he re-joined the company and walked a similar path to her, then WWE executives could sit back and watch the dimes roll in.