I’ll be the first to admit it; I’ve never been a Bobby Lashley fan.
Even during his inaugural run through the WWE, Lashley was never a favourite of mine. I’ll never argue that the guy is exactly what I imagine Vince McMahon looks for in a wrestler; he’s monstrous, athletic as all hell, and generally seems like a solid individual. While never the strongest presence on the mic, he’s more than capable of delivering a believable promo, and he’s got an amateur wrestling background that even the smarkiest of smarks can concede is impressive.
However, we’re nearly two months into Bobby Lashley’s return and much like a pencil with no lead, there’s been absolutely no point to it. Lashley is finally starting to establish his first feud after a few weeks of back-and-forth with Sami Zayn; however, is that a good thing?
Why is Bobby back in the first place?
Why should I care?
Why should ANYONE care, really?
Let’s try and find out.
A Brief History
Lashley previously had wrestled for WWE from 2005-2008, where he was a two time ECW Champion and one time United States Champion. He was also notably selected by Donald Trump in the 2007 “Battle of the Billionaires” at WrestleMania in which Vince McMahon was forced to shave his head. While his run was successful, it was impacted by injuries later in his first stint with the company, and was released in February 2008.
After being let out of his contract, Lashley spent time on the independent scene. He also branched out into the world of MMA, fighting most recently for Bellator MMA.Lashley is most known for his time with Impact Wrestling, where he was a four-time Impact World Heavyweight Champion and a major star for the promotion. However, Lashley was a victim of the poor management of Impact in his later years there, and was reportedly unhappy with his contract situation (as most stars at the time were). Lashley reportedly asked for his release from his contract in January, even though it wasn’t supposed to lapse until May 2018. However, Impact relented and allowed Lashley to exit his contract early.
Lashley was officially let out of his contract with Impact on January 14th, 2018. While he was still present on Impact for the first few months of 2018 due to the pre-taped nature of the show, rumours started swirling immediately after his release that he was WWE bound. It was never officially announced by WWE, but on February 25th the Wrestling Observer confirmed that Lashley had indeed signed with WWE within the last few weeks. It was also rumoured that he would be coming back to feud with current Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, though as of this writing those plans have yet to come to fruition.
On April 9th, the night after WrestleMania 34, Lashley returned to the WWE for the first time in over a decade, attacking Elias with a stalling suplex during the middle of a performance. It was an ideal way to bring Lashley back; by bringing the Dominator back on the Raw After WrestleMania, it placed a huge level of importance on the return. It also showcased his athletic ability, as he held Elias over his head for nearly a full minute prior to slamming him onto the ground. Overall, it was a well executed return, and even had this cynic excited for the coming weeks.
Kevin Owens, the true voice of the people
Remember that excitement that I used to have? Yeah, it was gone within three weeks. He’s been part of absolutely nothing meaningful since his return; in fact, he’s yet to be featured in a singles match since returning. He’s scored one pinfall since returning, and it came on one of the worst WWE PPV’s in recent history. His stalling suplex looks exactly like Goldberg’s Jackhammer, but lazier and less powerful.
To break it down:
- April 16: Part of a 10-man tag team match in which he doesn’t score the winning pinfall
- April 23: Tags with Braun Strowman to take on Sami Zayn + Kevin Owens
- April 27: Enters the Greatest Royal Rumble at 44, scores two eliminations, and is promptly eliminated himself.
- April 30: Lashley saves Roman Reigns during a beatdown from Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn while in Montreal. You can expect how that went over.
- May 6: Lashley earns his first pinfall victory as part of a tag team match with Braun Strowman against Owens and Zayn.
- May 7: Lashley puts over his three sisters in backstage interview with Renee Young in the first true attempt to build any character development.
- May 14: No Lashley, but Sami Zayn cuts a promo in London about Lashley’s interview from the previous week. Zayn claims that Lashley gave him vertigo, and will expose the true Bobby Lashley in next week’s (May 21st) RAW.
Not the strongest start for the Dominator, and especially for someone who likely should have come in and been a major player for WWE. Not once has Lashley established a reason for being back; even a simple promo stating that he wanted to return to the greatest promotion in the world would have been enough to quell my thirst for an explanation. However, we haven’t even received that courtesy. It’s as though Lashley simply walked back into the building one day, and no one questioned if he worked for WWE or not. He’s simply…there.
The beginnings of a singles feud with Sami Zayn - one of the most talented individuals on the roster - should have been just what the doctor ordered for the former ECW Champion; however, that brings me to…
Have you ever felt physically embarrassed to be a wrestling fan? If not, you were likely lucky enough to miss the May 21st edition of Monday Night RAW. Specifically, you were lucky enough to miss the segment above; it’s rare that I actively search to do something else during an episode of RAW, but I was embarrassed enough with the above scene that I decided to clean my kitchen midway through.
There’s a ton to say about this segment, and none of it is good; the writers over at Cageside Seats did an excellent job of analyzing just why this segment is so cringe-worthy. It’s easy to imagine Vince McMahon howling with laughter in the backstage area while people squirm in their seats watching this segment; simply put, it’s another example of how out-of-touch WWE can be with today’s culture. WWE doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation when it comes to sensitive subject matter, and this certainly doesn’t help it; even outside of it’s storyline implications, I struggle to think how anything positive can come from Bobby Lashley being established as a guy who makes fun of men in women’s clothing. To quote the guys at Cageside: “Even though I want to just view it as failed morality play where Bobby was good and Sami was evil and good prevailed, I can’t dismiss people who saw it as a more damaging - especially given wrestling and WWE’s track record”.
After a lackluster return, a segment this bad could be the nail in the coffin for Robert Lashley. For many fans just familiarizing themselves with the Dominator, this will be the first thing that comes to mind when his name is brought up. It should be easy to establish someone with his build and athletic ability as a freak-of-nature athlete along the lines of Brock Lesnar. However, with this segment, he’s fallen more into Apollo Crews territory; insanely athletic, but do we really care?
While Lashley may have started off strong in his return to WWE, his stock is falling fast; how do they reverse the trend?
How Does WWE Fix Bobby Lashley?
Outside of a run with Titus Worldwide - and I’m only half kidding there - it’s going to be tough to wipe the memory of Lashley’s last two weeks out of the WWE Universe’s collective memories. However, it’s not impossible; as I’ve mentioned, it’s not that the former ECW Champion is an untalented wrestler, he’s simply the victim of awful, awful, awful, AWFUL writing.
First and foremost, Lashley needs to scrap the “nice guy” gimmick. He’s a freak-of-nature physically, and it should be fairly easy for WWE to re-establish him as a force to be reckoned with. He may never be Braun Strowman, but he can certainly fill a similar void to the departed Samoa Joe; a man who simply inflicts pain, and imposes his will in the ring. It’s not often that WWE should look to Dixie Carter‘s former promotion for inspiration, but they certainly did a great job with Lashley, so it’s not impossible to make him look great.
I want all the best for Bobby Lashley, I really do; it’s just been really, really tough to get behind him since his return.
What’re your suggestions, wrestling fans? Let us know in the comments, or tweet me at @SpennyLove_WCS!