Forecasting the Long-Term Outlook of The Hurt Business on WWE
What MVP has achieved with WWE since his surprise appearance in the 2020 men’s Royal Rumble match has been impressive. Mr. 305 took what looked like a brief return and parlayed it into a role as a backstage producer, as well as a consistent onscreen presence. Now, he’s a signed wrestler and the head of the top faction on Raw, The Hurt Business.
MVP initially hosted The VIP Lounge again in sporadic appearances and took part in losing efforts as an in-ring competitor. That immediately changed when he became Bobby Lashley’s manager in May. It quickly became apparent just how good the Franchise Playa was as a mouthpiece for his new client. In July, he and Lashley added Shelton Benjamin to their ranks and The Hurt Business was born.
The former WWE Cruiserweight Champion, Cedric Alexander, turned heel on the Sept. 7 episode of Raw to make the dapper trio a quartet. Thematically, the stable looks like a contemporary version of Evolution, but MVP has created a new lane in just a few months. It’s certainly a completely different presentation for four Black men.
The Hurt Business has been the highlight of Raw on most weeks and it’s clear that WWE sees them as an asset, as well. After all, the new stable was the fifth pick in the first round of the 2020 WWE Draft. Getting selected together among three top champions is a big deal, but what is their long-term value? Can they sustain this popularity heading into 2021?
The Next Great Stable of Black Wrestlers
Straight away, The Hurt Business stands out because they’re one of the few stables in the company. That gives WWE room to use them in more creative angles that they couldn’t achieve with other acts
Furthermore, what MVP, Lashley, Benjamin, and Alexander added to WWE programming in terms of representation is invaluable. As noted, The Hurt Business is a nuanced approach to a group of Black wrestlers.
They’re not like any of WWE’s other attempts to utilized four Black men in the sense that MVP gives them authenticity as their mouthpiece. His vernacular and character work makes them feel relevant and relatable on a show that can sometimes be too outlandish.
During an episode of Say Less With Kaz and Lowkey, MVP confirmed that he didn’t want The Hurt Business to be a new Nation of Domination or comparable to anyone else. That has helped to ground the four-man faction.
“You know because I've been hearing the chatter and I've been seeing that and I don't want to do the new anything you know. The Nation was done, it was awesome and the time it was done. It was needed you know, stars were made,” Mr. 305 explained.” I don't want to rehash something else. I want to bring something new and I don't necessarily in our approach to The Hurt Business. Me and Bobby as you know, are legitimate friends. Like away from wrestling, we boys. Shelton is one of my closest friends. I just like making money with my friends you what I'm saying.”
He continued, "But I have no interest in rehashing The Nation of Domination and while I do want to present myself and Bobby and Shelton as, you know, strong, black male role models, successful, we're businessmen. We're not trying to make a statement on race. We're trying to just make a statement and in our case, what we're trying to do, it's not about black or white. It's about gold and green."
It’s a refreshing take that makes The Hurt Business versatile. They work great as heels but they could easily fall into a more ambiguous role because they have such defined motivations under MVP's leadership.
Compelling Adversaries for Retribution
As fans have already seen, The Hurt Business works well as a foil for Retribution. On the Sept. 14 episode of Raw, the stable entered the ThunderDome and confronted the army of masked assailants. It became one of the defining moments for MVP, Lashley, Benjamin, and Alexander that helped to legitimize them as a unit.
Since, the anarchists have aimed at The Hurt Business on Raw and they’re ongoing feud is far from over. This position as a sort of work-for-hire crew that can stand up to Retribution fits them perfectly.
MVP’s “business as usual” mindset is the direct opposite of Retribution’s goals for WWE, which already puts the two factions at odds. Also, the visual of four men in suits and ties flanked by invaders wearing hoodies and masks is the type of striking imagery that wrestling was built on.
So, it’s easy to assume that WWE will use this storyline often to finish up the fourth quarter of 2020. It will open the door for plenty of six-man or eight-man tag team matches on Raw. Mustafa Ali, the leader of Retribution, could also challenge Lashley for the WWE United States Championship.
WWE has presented Retribution as one of their main storylines, so putting The Hurt Business in the middle of this confrontation shows how much the company values them. This program could also further develop each member’s character.
Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali 2 Could Soar on a Bigger Stage
Speaking of the feud with Retribution, this seems like as good of a time as any for WWE to revisit Mustafa Ali vs. Cedric Alexander. As the newest members of their respective factions, it makes the most sense to use this program as a vehicle to promote them.
Ali and Alexander have plenty of history together going back to their time on 205 Live. In 2017, they became focal members of the cruiserweight division, competing for its vacant title at WrestleMania 34. At the Showcase of the Immortals, Alexander defeated Ali to become the WWE Cruiserweight champion.
The two haven’t competed in a televised one-on-one match since the event and it could be interesting to see them work in another bout with new personas. If Ali does wrest the WWE United States Championship away from Lashley, he and Alexander could have a rematch for the midcard title.
They have great chemistry together, so the matches will more than likely deliver. Moreover, it would be a good way to showcase how talented Ali and Alexander are on a bigger stage.
The Hurt Business Could Bolster Raw's Struggling Tag Division
The Hurt Business’s biggest contribution to Raw could be as a part of its thin tag team division. At the moment, the red brand only has three tag teams including the new champions, The New Day.
The only other options are the Lucha House Party, Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado, and The Miz and Morrison. Incidentally, WWE has already teased that the latter could break up soon as Miz has cowardly left Morrison hanging more than once.
The Hurt Business has an experienced tag team specialist on hand in Shelton Benjamin. He and Charlie Haas famously won the WWE tag titles twice as Team Angle and later as The World's Greatest Tag Team. During his return to WWE in 2017, Benjamin teamed up with Chad Gable.
He could conceivably team up with MVP or Cedric Alexander to challenge for the tag titles eventually. More to the point, a feud between The Hurt Business and Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods could be wildly entertaining.
Can the Hurt Business Be a Main Event Act?
The biggest question isn’t whether The Hurt Business can be effective; it’s can they move out of the midcard and become a main event act? That will determine their lasting impact on Raw over the next year.
For the first time in years, there is no member of The Shield on WWE’s flagship show as Seth Rollins moved to SmackDown. That essentially creates a void for a new star to step into and become the face of the brand.
The WWE champion, Drew McIntyre, is enjoying a strong reign but he doesn’t exactly feel like an irreplaceable top guy just yet. Via the WWE Draft, four former champions returned to Raw—AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, and Kofi Kingston. Also, Orton is still gunning for his 14th world title and Keith Lee still has unfinished business with The Viper and McIntyre.
So, does the addition of MVP and The Hurt Business make Bobby Lashley interesting enough to re-enter the title picture with those names? Yes, because honestly, the United States Championship kind of feels like a formality.
It’s not hard to see that Lashley should be a champion. WWE never really capitalized on his monster run with IMPACT, which put him back on their radar in the first place. Now, he has a great look and the right combination of a gimmick that works for him and an excellent manager. The US title just serves as a placeholder for what could easily be a world title. WWE has to strike while the iron is hot and put Lashley back in the main event picture sooner than later.