In 2005, Bobby Lashley made his WWE debut on SmackDown with a rocket strapped to his back and had the backing of WWE officials, evident by his undefeated streak in his early days.
He continued to be in the mix on SmackDown, including defeating JBL for the United States Championship but only held it for two months before losing it to Finlay. He went on to hold the ECW World Championship, winning it in his first match for the brand, being the surprise entrant at December to Dismember’s Elimination Chamber. He didn’t even lose the title by pinfall, he was stripped of the title after being drafted to SmackDown, ending his 146-day reign.
He also became the first and only person to defeat Chris Masters’ ‘Masterlock Challenge’ during his title reign and represented Donald Trump in the Battle of the Billionaires at Wrestlemania 22, which he won thanks to the assist of ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. The first portion of his WWE tenure wasn’t poor but wasn’t particularly impressive by any means.
He moved onto TNA where he really hit his wrestling peak, which was the catalyst for WWE re-signing him. However, he had two stints in TNA; the first wasn’t as brilliant as the second. During his first run, he was just sort of there, being in some high-profile feuds but with nothing coming from it except a brilliant angle in which he demanded his release from TNA to focus on his MMA career and attacked wrestlers until it was granted. The request and reasoning were legitimate, with him moving to Bellator MMA.
He re-signed with TNA four years after his release, winning the TNA World Heavyweight Championship four times, the King of the Mountain Championship once and the X Division Championship once, in a bizarre match where he defeated Eddie Edwards, in a Winner Take All ‘Six Sides of Steel Match’. Lashley controlled TNA in his second run, being the main eventer for his entire stay with the company as well as leading MVP and Kenny King in the Beat Down Clan before he won his first World Championship. He spent his time as both a face and a heel, which was brilliant for his character work, really showing his ability to be a despicable and cheating heel.
Based on his TNA career, he was signed by WWE in 2018 returning the night after Wrestlemania 34 as a face and being primarily a tag team competitor before engaging in a lacklustre and pointless feud with Sami Zayn which revolved around Lashley’s relationship with his sisters who effectively made his childhood a living hell.
Zayn tried to use this as an advantage whilst WWE used Zayn as fodder for Lashley’s push but effectively it failed. He was given a feud with Roman Reigns, which in normal times would mean something is going right, but this feud was again very lacklustre, revolving around Lashley’s position in WWE before he left which is a terrible reason to feud with someone. Was Reigns jealous of his position 10 years prior?
After a short-lived feud, resulting in a PPV win for Lashley and Reigns defeating Lashley to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal title, he finally became the heel we wanted him to be, hoping to replicate his form in TNA. But it really didn’t go anywhere: he reignited a feud with a now face Elias, including two hardcore style matches with both men winning one each. He did, however, receive a manager at this time and a brilliant manager at that in the form of Lio Rush. The mouthpiece Lashley needed, whose promos are pretty awful.
Lashley won the Intercontinental Championship for the first time, defeating Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in a triple threat match, after costing Rollins the title against Ambrose in singles competition. He would continue to feud with Rollins on and off for a large portion of 2019, being eliminated by Rollins in just 13 seconds during the Royal Rumble and teaming with Baron Corbin and Drew McIntyre in two different six-man tag matches against the reformed Shield.
He also lost and regained the Intercontinental Title in this time to Finn Balor in another bizarre angle. He used Lio Rush as a tag partner in a 2-on-1 handicap match but lost the title after Lio was pinned, looking like the partnership has ended. He regained the title on RAW thanks to interference by Rush before losing it back to Finn at Wrestlemania 35, a match where Bobby should not have worn contact lenses.
I think the nickname his trio with McIntyre and Corbin was unofficially given by fans, Three Man Bland, really summed up his return. He had absolutely no connection with the fans and we just did not want to see him on TV, even more so now as he is embroiled with a love triangle alongside Lana and Rusev.
What went wrong with Lashley is WWE tried to replicate what he did in TNA, a very different type of wrestling and a very different type of fan base to WWE. They should’ve replicated his original WWE run: the former military man who took nothing from nobody but added in elements of his TNA persona, mainly his heel run. He also stopped using the Dominator as his finisher and replaced it with a terrible looking Spear where he does a forward roll at the end. I think the other thing his persona was lacking was an element of his MMA career. Look at the success people like Lesnar and Matt Riddle have had using their MMA experience in WWE.
He was 15-2 in MMA so it’s not like he did poorly and wants to forget that part of his career – bring it back into your persona and just beat some people up! It also went wrong when he lost Rush, who made him somewhat captivating, thanks to Rush’s brilliant mic skills and a cocky persona you loved to hate. Once we have put this absolutely ridiculous feud with Rusev behind us, and reveal that Lana was playing Lashley, get him to be the absolute monster heel RAW needs right now because they don’t massively have one.
They’ve got McIntyre but based on the crowd reaction he gets, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was turned face. In order to get Lashley to be seen as the big heel on RAW and hated by fans but still captivating enough for us to was is to bring him in a manager with the mic skills of a Paul Heyman or Lio Rush and to alter his move set to, in a way, replicate Lesnar’s and have him be the MMA guy who takes no… you know what.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @George_Geal_. Thanks for reading!