Our dear editor posted an article touting the virtues of Bobby Lashley as TNA World Champion and I have to say that I disagree. Don’t get me wrong, Lashley is probably at his best as a worker in a long time. He had an entertaining bout against Kenny King on television and his match with Samoa Joe at Slammiversary was very good. Mostly, this is because he is playing to his strengths which are being the silent muscle.
Here are my thoughts, if you want a guy to play the muscle, Chris Masters is only thirty-one years old and has improved greatly from his WWE days. He’s worked all over the world trying to improve as a worker and that is the type of WWE cast-off TNA should be bringing in. A young guy with upside, a guy who’s going to improve and you can build your company around. Remember, Christian was only 32 years old when TNA snatched him up after he left the company, heck Lashley was 33 when he signed on with the company. I presume that Lashley believed that he’d have a stellar run in TNA and the WWE would just have to bring him back.
Then again, it could be that same type of situation that TNA wants to avoid, sign up a young cast-off, build them up to only have Vince come calling with a nice big contract. Remember, Matt Morgan and how he became a not-bad wrestler and big man when joined TNA at the age of 31. WWE showed interest in bringing him back after a TNA run, but the lawsuit between the two companies put the kibosh on that. Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards are 31 and 30, so who knows with them. Once their deals are up, maybe the WWE decides to call again with a better deal than before.
So that might be TNA’s play, give the ball to the ex-WWE guys that aren’t at that point in their career where a WWE return isn’t likely. They’re in their mid to late 30’s, so the WWE might come calling if they want them to show up at the Rumble. As much as I wanted to see Bully Ray back in the WWE and a potential gimmick match with Cena, I don’t see that happen. After his TNA deal is up, I can see the WWE calling him and D-Von to make nostalgia appearances, but not much else. Probably a Dudley Boyz Hall of Fame induction eventually and a much anticipated two pack of figures.
There is one more problem with Lashley and this is his biggest problem.
He isn’t a monster and that’s what TNA wants him to be.
And he sure as hell isn’t Brock Lesnar.
While TNA wants Lashley to be their version of Lesnar so badly, an MMA bad ass who just kills people, that just can’t happen. Lashley’s MMA career was less than stell: Loss to James Thompson, beating up Clay Guida’s brother, avoiding fights against anybody who was remotely good (Shane del Rosario), opponents that were tomato cans and a rumored fixed victory against Bob Sapp. Plus, he doesn’t have the monster aura that Lesnar or even some of the MMA crossover guys had. He lacks the charisma of Sapp, the intensity of Shamrock, the cult following of Tank Abbott or the tough guy persona of Don Frye. Bas Rutten, one of the coolest cats in MMA did pro wrestling, working for New Japan and it worked because he was charismatic and could work a crowd. Or even the amateur pedigree of Mark Coleman, Dan Severn and Kevin Randleman.
Joe Rogan summarized it best when Brock Lesnar was making his debut at UFC 81, Brock Lesnar was the guy that you visualized being the heavyweight MMA champion in a movie. If you ever did an MMA version of Rocky and want that unbeatable champion, you would cast Brock Lesnar A monster, just one bad dude with tattoos and looks more like the guy the mob sends to tell very slowly to stop seeing the don’s daughter.
Brock Lesnar is Ivan Drago, Bobby Lashley is Tommy Gunn, a boxer playing a boxer but I never bought him as a Rocky villain. He was just a boxer, nothing more and nothing else. Creed had charisma, Lang was one bad mofo and Drago was a monster. Mason Dixon felt like a Rocky villain as the champion looking to prove himself as a top guy by beating a fifty year old man, Tommy Gunn was just a boxer.
Eventually, a company needs to admit that a guy can’t be the top guy and move on. I presume that TNA will probably realize this again with Lashley, just like they did in his first run.
Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.
[amazon_link id=”B00JHH1YAW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]WWE The Paul Heyman Story[/amazon_link]