Hi everyone. Today, we are looking at a 15-year career retrospective of Bobby Lashley, This is the second part, complete with his time in Impact Wrestling and MMA before returning to WWE. You can find the first part in the link below:
After losing to Chad Griggs and recovering from injury Lashley joined the Titan Fight Championship. He defeated John Ott, but Bobby ran in to cardio issues like the previous fight as the second half of the fight slowed. A frustrating period hit his fighting career from the point, as he signed a deal with Shark Fights. Four fights were scheduled to face him, all of them pulling out before Lashley finally got an opponent set up in late 2011. These fights included:
- Darrill Schoonover – Suffered a shoulder injury
- Tim Hague – Unknown
- Dave Huckaba – Unknown
- Mark Martinez – Expired blood work
Lashley finally got a match with Karl Knothe for the Shark Fights Heavyweight Championship. And after winning by unanimous decision, Lashley claimed his first fighting title.
For the next few years, Lashley continued focusing on MMA with the help of his trainer Josh Barnett. His next scheduled bout was with the Super Fight League against James Thompson. Another setback though, as he suffered his second and last defeat. It wasn’t as unanimous as his previous stoppage, although it went the distance. Thompson accidentally low blowed Lashley twice, which required time to recover. Officials judged Thompson to have won because he spent more time landing strikes at the side of the cage. Most fighters would call it a day, but Lashley was determined to keep on trucking in the world of MMA.
Returning to Titan, Lashley got back in to winning ways by defeating Kevin Asplund. The rest of his fighting career included 7 more victories, putting him at a healthy tally of 15-2. Among his last 7 bouts, he won the XFN heavyweight title, debuted for Bellator, and avenged his loss to James Thompson three years on from their previous fight. It wasn’t even close this time, as Lashley wrecked Thompson by TKO in under a minute of the first round. It’s safe to say that he had a very successful Bellator career as none of his bouts went to a third round; up til his last fight in 2016. And he fought in Bellator all while working with Impact Wrestling.
Impact Wrestling (2014-2018)
While making a name for himself in MMA, Lashley still had much to prove in wrestling. And I’d say it was this run which changed many fans perception. His name was shortened to Lashley; likely because of Bobby Roode. Riding high from his fighting success, Impact Wrestling wanted to capitalize on this by finally making him a champion in both worlds. Repeating history from his first run, Lashley again went over Samoa Joe on PPV (Slammiversary XII) and became the #1 contender. He put an end to the title reign of babyface Eric Young on an episode of Impact, becoming the first African-American to win their world championship.
But it took a while for Lashley to gain control of Impact Wrestling. Despite joining MVPs’ Beat Down Clan, he lost the title to Bobby Roode. He eventually got it back a few months later and ditched MVP’s stable, but would then relinquish it to Kurt Angle on a tour of England. Now, this is where history somewhat repeats itself in WWE. Lashley spent the next year working hard to get back to the top. Along the way, he defeated Kurt Angle in his last match with Impact Wrestling. He became more ruthless leading in to 2016, and Drew Galloway showed up to make a name for himself. Galloway seems awfully familiar. After a long feud between EC3 and Matt Hardy, Galloway cashed in his Feast or Fired briefcase to become the World Champion.
Two years on from returning to the company, Lashley went to Slammiversary XIV to challenge Galloway. In this brutal Knockout or Tapout match, Lashley became a three-time champion by knocking Galloway out with an arm-triangle choke. Could we see a repeat at WrestleMania?
Lashley grew in confidence and became more of an outspoken character. I’d say it was some of his best work, he was carrying himself like a real champion. He had finally come out of his shell and formed a personality, without the need of a manager. We have yet to see him reach the same level in WWE though, but time will tell.
While Broken Matt Hardy was running around making a universe, Eddie Edwards & Lashley were fighting over the World title. This ended up in a title vs. title match, as Edwards was the X-Division Champion. Lashley defeated him and became the first double champion since Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe years prior. With his own titles on the line, he then defeated James Storm to take his King of the Mountain title. No other wrestler in Impact Wrestling history has ever simultaneously held three singles Championships.
It’s a bit of a shame that immediately after the moment pictured above, Impact Wrestling decided he wouldn’t continue to be. Lashley unified the King of the Mountain title (right) in to the TNA World title. The X-Division title (left) was vacated and eventually won by DJZ (aka Joaquin Wilde). Lashley had done everything there was to do in Impact as a singles competitor, but it didn’t stop him.
After losing the title to Eddie Edwards, he regained it in early 2017 in an Ironman match. During his fourth and last reign, the title’s name was changed to the Impact Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship. In early 2017, he defended the title against his MMA trainer Josh Barnett.
Last Days Of Impact
Controversy struck Impact Wrestling as it began merging with Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling promotion. With Lashley as the Impact champion, and Alberto El Patron (Del Rio) as the GFW champion, the stage was set for a unification match at Slammiversary XV.
Lashley had an excellent track record at this event, but it wasn’t happening this year. Alberto defeated him to become the new Unified GFW World Heavyweight Champion. It wasn’t for long though, as after winning the title, Patron was stripped over the ongoing allegations of domestic violence against girlfriend Paige. This marked a strange period where the Impact title returned to Lashley despite also being declared vacant. It did not count as a new reign, but as a continuation of his previous. They later declared the title vacant, and PWinsider reported:
Impact Wrestling tapings are scheduled to begin soon, but it was announced to the crowd that Alberto El Patron didn’t want to win the title that way and the belt is officially vacant. So, Alberto won the belt yesterday and the championship was vacated today.
8:35 PM Update: Later on, Despite Jeremy Borash telling the crowd earlier that the Impact World Championship was vacant, Bobby Lashley came out with the belt and was being referred to as champion. This whole thing has been so weird.
From this point, Lashley was working his way out of the company. Generously, he worked feuds with Moose, Brian Cage and oVe, putting them all over. Moose and Brian Cage were the biggest winners, as they helped to push the company forward after Lashley departed. It proved that Lashley could do good business by elevating others at his expense. He amicably departed Impact Wrestling in early 2018 to make his way back to WWE.
WWE Return (2018-Present)
And this is where many fans will pick up from. Ten years on from his first run, we nicely welcomed back to the company. I was expecting some push back from fans, but much like John Morrison, Carlito and others we hadn’t seen for a while, it was mostly receptive. But Lashley’s return didn’t go so smoothly, as it was marred by several questionable creative decisions.
To give Lashley more personality, he had a sit down interview with Renee Young, where he talked about the influence his sisters had on him. What some fans picked up on was just how cruel his sisters were to him as the youngest sibling. They found it funny to tie him up and leave him in a forest. His oldest sister would chase him around with a broom. He got a scar under his eye from his youngest sister after hiding their dad’s army helmet in her room. Fans have used the zoom up of Bobby telling his sisters he loves them, as a joke ever since.
The interview was good because it gave us some insight in to his life, but it focused so much on the odd relationship with his sisters that it came across a little weird. WWE went one further by having Sami Zayn dress up three guys in drag (you may recognize one as AEW’s Max Caster), which to many seemed like they were mocking the transsexual community. As terrible as it sounds, the only way was up for Bobby Lashley. He had to show he was a team player and reach the next level by enduring this. Was it a test from Vince McMahon?
After failing to earn opportunities at the Universal Championship, Lashley hired Lio Rush as his manager and targeted mid-card success. In a triple threat against Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, he won the Intercontinental title; his first WWE Championship in over 11 years. Finn Balor traded the title in a feud over the coming months, leaving Lashley a two-time champion. It was definitely looking more promising than his feuds with Elias & Sami Zayn. Lio Rush’s talking and chanting over his matches brought a lot of heat, so much so that it was disappointing when WWE stopped using him.
After a hard-hitting feud with Braun Strowman, Lashley took what many believed was a step back. Lana had been unhappy with her husband Rusev for a long time, so she turned to Lashley. They exchanged a kiss on TV and announced they were together, although fans knew this was a storyline. Lana & Rusev were still married in real-life, so the angle was initially shunned. Despite this, it grew to have the highest rated segments on Raw, showing there was much intrigue from the casual viewer. The Attitude Era had similar storylines, and it showed a different side to Lashley. I could see the positives, but could also see why some weren’t going for it.
Rusev was by far the biggest loser because there was no payoff. Lashley & Lana got married, Rusev disappeared from TV and eventually released in April 2020. Not long after, Lashley ditched Lana for MVP’s services. The story could’ve had a satisfying climax of Rusev getting Lana back, but it fizzled out and was brushed under the rug. WWE were adamant in breaking the couple up on TV, and Rusev wasn’t happy about it. But this isn’t about their journey, it’s very much about what Lashley did next.
The Hurt Business
When MVP formed the Hurt Business, no one expected him to recruit Shelton Benjamin or Cedric Alexander; they were often sitting around in catering before that. Certainly, no one expected Lashley to win the United States title, while Benjamin & Alexander claimed the tag titles. The stable was so good because of the chemistry, MVP’s mic skills, and the way he elevated them. It was leagues above any stable WWE had for years. The key thing is that everyone in the group comes out of it smelling better than when they joined. Retribution is a good example of a group that did the opposite, and now it’s harder to take Mustafa Ali or Dominick Dijakovic seriously. They may always have that Retribution stink attached to their names.
The Hurt Business was first class, and not just because they were African-American’s, but because they ticked the right boxes. They could’ve been compared to the Nation of Domination, but the only similarity between them is representing African-Americans. The Hurt Business didn’t set out with a goal of representing, they wanted to break the mold and be the best group in WWE. Many would agree they accomplished that after WWE did well to build their relationships. They teased dissension in its ranks between Alexander & Benjamin. But when this didn’t lead anywhere, it told us they finally accepted each other. They became a unit to be taken seriously.
WWE Champion & Break Up
This is a group that should have been together for years, but Vince McMahon deemed it too good. I can see his point though, they were impressive. True heels are not meant to be appealing, which is why Nia Jax and Baron Corbin work so well. Instead of making the group more villainous, it was easier to be cheap and tear it apart. Batista pointed out how unnecessary it was on Twitter. Some fans are hoping this is a master plan by MVP to fool Drew McIntyre in to thinking Lashley won’t have Shelton & Cedric’s help at WrestleMania. It seems predictable that McIntyre will take the title, but if he doesn’t, the champ is going to need a lot of help.
What I particularly enjoyed about Lashley winning the title was how they built up to it throughout an entire episode of Raw. The Miz played the closet champion (when a heel does everything to avoid defending fairly) masterfully, knowing he didn’t stand a chance in a straight up match. The reception to Lashley winning the title was heartwarming. I remember the days when the fans hated him for being the ECW Champion. For so long, he was deemed boring and unworthy of carrying a brand. But through 15 years of hard work and dedication, the fans applauded the decision.
It was about time for someone of his athleticism to reach the top, and we’re in for a few more years of the All Mighty. Vince McMahon was hoping for this Bobby Lashley, but it took over a decade of finding himself to reach his star potential. He made me a fan during his second Impact run, but I think he has more to show in WWE. We haven’t seen him at his absolute best yet, and that’s promising for the future of Raw. He’s never going to be super charismatic on the mic, but that’s what MVP is for.
The common trend with Lashley, ever since his fighting days, is that he really wants Brock Lesnar in a match. He has craved this for years, and I think he’s not far off getting it. WWE needed to build him up though, to a point where fans could look at him and say… yeah, he could beat Brock Lesnar. If he can defeat McIntyre at WrestleMania, that would set him up, because we saw how convincingly McIntyre beat Lesnar last year. Honestly, I’d rather see them go at it in a cage… and I don’t follow MMA, but I would definitely watch that! If only because I think we’d get a better fight than a wrestling match. But if wrestling is the closest we’ll ever get to seeing them lock up? Then I’m all for it.
How do you feel about Bobby Lashley’s 15-year journey to the WWE Championship? I hope you have enjoyed this two-part article, and it has done enough to highlight his work. Please let us know your favourite matches and moments of Bobby Lashley in the comments. And who are you rooting for at WrestleMania? Lashley or McIntyre? Cheers for reading! See you again.