If you follow Twitter, you probably know that Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal has signed a deal that will allow him to compete in Bellator and wrestle for TNA on Spike TV. While a lot of the details remain unknown, we know that he doesn't have a deal with Spike. Instead, he has individual contracts with TNA and Bellator that will see him become a cross-over star.
I'm happy for Mo. In my experience, he's one of the nicest people in MMA and after the hell he's gone through health-wise, he deserves some great news. But I can't help but scratch my head at what challenges he's expected to face in Bellator.
The last light heavyweight tournament was used to crown current champion Christian M'Pumbu. Hell, any light heavyweights not in the UFC are still under contract in Strikeforce.
I'll be totally honest; I'm actually more interested in what he'll be doing in TNA. Based on a leaked graphic, it appears like his first program is expected to be with Sting. While TNA doesn't have the depth of the WWE, they at least have some legitimate talent that can make Mo look good while he's still green.
This is all assuming that said talent won't try and bury him, as he's expected to make an impact at the top of TNA almost immediately.
And that's a legitimate concern. Professional wrestling is notorious for having ridiculous politics that have seen talented individuals relegated to mid-card status because the main-eventers failed to put them over.
The booker for TNA, Hulk Hogan, was one of the worst offenders. In the '80s he killed the build for everyone from Macho Man to Sgt. Slaughter. He did the same when he signed with WCW and beat Ric Flair for the heavyweight belt in his first match with the promotion. Who's to say he won't do the same when he's finally in a real position of power?
I don't want to come off as super negative, because this could be one of the best things to happen to the two brands. Bellator is in desperate need for light heavyweight talent and Mo is a great cornerstone. Same as TNA. They need to shake off their identity as the place where old wrestlers go to die.
Mo will add some more legitimacy to their product. I just don't see the upside for Lawal outside of some solid paydays.
I just don't understand what benefit there is for him to actually fight in a tournament. Bellator would be better served just having Mo usurp M'Pumbu right away. If he runs through the tournament and kills off your prospects, who will he fight in the future?
Not only that, but let's say he's upset in the first or second round—or worse, injured. Why risk that when you can put on a real fight right away?
As usual, I'll wait until Mo makes his debut in TNA before I totally write this deal off, but my initial gut reaction is that this sounds great on paper and will be an absolute failure in practice. Pro wrestling is incredibly tough on the body, which could see him forced out of Bellator even before the seventh season.
Hopefully I'm wrong. I just don't see that happening.