Since Bobby Lashley returned during WrestleMania season, the three-time United States champion has emerged as one of the hottest superstars on a brand in desperate need of main eventers. “The All Mighty” has enjoyed success in the past with the company. However, this is possibly the most popular he has been as a babyface since his comeback in 2018.
It’s great to see him receive loud reactions again and get the chance to soak up the adulation from the fans. After all, it has taken WWE some time to get this right with Lashley. Surely, everyone has tried their best to forget about the smiley protagonist who struggled through clumsy and borderline offensive segments he linked with Lio Rush.
Lashley has been a heel ever since the Sept. 17, 2018 episode of Raw, and that has mostly worked for him. We don’t need to revisit his bizarre angle with Rusev and Lana or that hodgepodge pairing with Drew McIntyre as Baron Corbin’s muscle. Other than those gaffes, the Kansas native has been a strong villain on WWE’s flagship series and that’s part of what made him a heavily favored star again.
An Unparalleled Alliance and Shrewd Business Move
As stated earlier, Lashley thrived with Rush as his manager. The two had great chemistry and The Man of the Hour was an excellent mouthpiece. However, the former WWE champion truly matured as a character during his time with MVP.
The Master Manipulator and his ally may not see eye to eye anymore but he was instrumental to Lashley’s resurgence in 2020. MVP steered him away from that debacle with Lana and helped him become a legitimate threat again. Then, they formed a transcendent faction that bucked stereotypes and attained championship gold.
The Hurt Business was one of the freshest acts on television during the pandemic era. The stable lifted the former MMA fighter out of a rut and propelled him back into the title picture. Even more, they surprisingly grew into a staple for Raw in the empty arena shows.
As CEO of The Hurt Business, Lashley and MVP developed the presentation that made him such a believable and distinct champion. Sure, WWE broke the stable up way too soon but it created a legacy in less than a year.
That prestige made the 45-year-old cool again and allowed him to connect with a new generation of fans. Moreover, it raised his profile enough to help him finally achieve his goal of winning the WWE championship. This crowning moment was long overdue and it’s hard to believe it would’ve happened without MVP.
If there was any doubt that The Hurt Business was hot, the decision to open WrestleMania 37 with Lashley was proof. Last April, he confidently walked into Raymond James Stadium in front of the company’s first live audience since March 2020 and successfully defended his title against McIntrye. His victory was a great way to welcome the fans back and it was a true testament to his growth while they were away.
Honestly, their split and MVP’s betrayal even worked out for the veteran in the long run. It gave his current run as a face the depth that he was lacking in 2018. When he returned after 10 years, many newer fans didn’t understand his appeal but his most recent run put him on a new plateau.
A Strong Push with Lasting Results
Lashley also represents something that is largely lacking on WWE programming outside of Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar; a strong and competent superstar. It’s not as hard to create an interesting protagonist in pro wrestling as some would lead you to believe.
Yes, WWE has struggled to produce consistent heroes with sustainable buzz over the last few years. However, this isn’t rocket science. Lashley works because he’s dominant and he developed credibility as a champion.
During his reigns, viewers believed he would crush his competition because he had strong title defenses. He also quickly became one of the most protected men in the company. That track record goes a long way because many wrestlers sustain unnecessary losses or suffer through silly storylines that rob them of their mystique.
Lashley stands out because he’s one of the few men on the roster who could conceivably take on Reigns or Lesnar. That certainly matters because WWE continues to go back to the well with those two. After all, the company hasn’t taken the time to build anyone else up to their level.
The current United States champion is also unique because fans believe he deserves redemption given the way he lost his title at Elimination Chamber. The Beast Incarnate regained the company’s top prize at the event but he never pinned Lashley. As a matter of fact, he lost to “The All Mighty” in their first-time matchup at Royal Rumble, as well.
Sure, Lashley won with the help of The Tribal Chief in January but consider this: he hasn’t lost definitively in quite some time. Riddle didn’t pin him to win the US title at Elimination Chamber 2021 either. In fact, it was a triple threat match where he pinned John Morrison instead.
The only reason the Colorado Springs resident lost the WWE Championship is because Big E cashed in his Money in the Bank contract after his match with Randy Orton. So, he legitimately has some claim to an eventual title shot and there are storied reasons for the fans to hope he challenges The Head of the Table.
To that end, Lashley has become the best option for a babyface challenger in Cody Rhodes’ absence. Who would’ve imagined that scenario a year ago? It may have sounded preposterous then but he has to be in line for a marquee match soon.