For just the 52nd (officially recognized) time, WWE crowned a first-time WWE Champion when Bobby Lashley defeated The Miz on the March 1, 2021 edition of Monday Night RAW. If it feels like I just wrote one of these profile-retrospective-reaction type deals, it’s because I did. The Miz had finally climbed his way back to the top of the mountain after ten years spent being a company guy, only for his reign to end just over a week later. Lashley’s big win comes 15 years after his debut with the company, and is more-or-less the first true world championship he’s held, with all due respect to TNA/Impact Wrestling and WWECW.
It’s not hard to imagine a reality where things have gone much differently for Bobby Lashley. First pushed down our throats as the boring babyface star of WWECW, and again pushed further down our throats as the boring babyface representative for Donald Trump at the WrestleMania 23 Battle of the Billionaires; Bobby didn’t exactly get off to a great start with WWE faithful. He was about as over as any pushed B-tier star could be, without ever really gaining any steam beyond that.
Around the time Bobby Lashley was associated with Donald Trump, I don’t think even the most coked-out of wrestling writers could have predicted the latter would serve as the President of the United States of America in ten years time. The whole WrestleMania angle itself was just a big, dumb way for two old rich guys to have a money fight on pay-per-view, and while it still absolutely is in every possible way, it has since become the most historically significant guest appearance in WWE history, like it or not.
What made it that much more jarring to wrestling fans was that the two actual competitors in the match, Lashley and the late Umaga, were either dead or persona non grata in the company within two years. Following an angle on RAW where he was kayfabe-injured by Ken Kennedy (which, lol), Lashley would not appear on WWE programming again until 2018.
From the strength of his debut to the peak of his first run, it seemed like Lashley was destined for WWE glory as early as 2007. Within one year of that peak, Lashley would be gone from the company entirely. While creative certainly did him no favors promo-wise, Lashley always seemed too passive on the microphone. WWE attempted to cover for this by actually saying that he was “HARD-HITTING AND SOFT-SPOKEN” and used it as a sort of tagline for his character. Maybe it looked good on a t-shirt, but this went over poorly otherwise, especially in a purportedly “extreme” setting like WWECW.
But Lashley’s incredible physique and new-found attitude and confidence served him well while away from WWE. The list of things he kept busy with is extensive and impressive, which included stints with AAA in Mexico, Inoki Genome Federation in Japan, and the aforementioned upper-card run with TNA/Impact. It allowed him to find the character that they would eventually bring back, which Lashley has been portraying ever since.
For the last calendar year, Bobby Lashley has been perhaps the most dominant and impressively booked member of the WWE roster not named Drew McIntyre or Roman Reigns. If you can remember, Lashley actually defeated Roman Reigns clean as a whistle at Extreme Rules 2018. This again appeared to signify WWE’s confidence in Lashley as a performer, but nothing really came of it. This is purely speculation, but you wonder if a certain Minnesotan mixed martial artist wasn’t so keen to give fans something akin to a dream match, which has still sadly never come to fruition. The cries for a Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley match have existed almost as long as the comparisons between the two themselves.
To speculate further, it’s not hard to notice Bobby Lashley’s big title win finally happened about two months into a Biden presidency. While WWE and the McMahon family appear to remain cozy with the Trumps, I often wondered if the historical connection between Trump and Lashley kept WWE from going any further with him until left office. If this is even remotely the case, all I will say is that it’s yet another reason to celebrate the end of the Trump White House.
As I so bravely predicted in the last piece I wrote about the Miz, the WWE Championship was going to change hands well before the upcoming WrestleMania. Bobby Lashley against Drew McIntyre is a big match you can promote as an unstoppable monster versus the conquering hero. WWE could decide this is finally the year we see Lesnar versus Lashley. They are in a much better space going forward with Lashley as a top guy heading into the biggest show of the year, and a big switch to a longtime collaborators newfangled streaming service. And Miz will be just fine working with Bad Bunny.
Above all, Bobby Lashley’s title win was met with excitement from both fans and fellow wrestlers alike. It is a special moment to see a story like his reach a long and winding conclusion in such dominant fashion. Whether this is the start of a long run, the first of multiple, or something they could choose to take away for another 15 years remains to be seen. Bobby Lashley can finally say he made it to the top. We should all enjoy the view.