Posts Tagged ‘bellator mma’

logo 2ajclogo2

by @anarchyroll
10/3/2014

As a fan of the original ECW, there are few wrestlers I want to dislike more than Bobby Lashley. And for years, Lashley made it very easy to dislike him whether he was pushed as a face or a heel in WWE or TNA.

Bobby Lashley was what is known in pro wrestling as a “body guy”. Someone whose success in pro wrestling is entirely dependent on the fact that they are or look like a body builder. Lashley’s run in WWE from 2005-2007 was the textbook definition of the WWE using their marketing machine to try to force fans to like a body guy with no charisma, no mic skills, and a mediocre at best level of technical wrestling skill.

Why as an ECW fan did I intensely dislike Lashley? Because body guys are antithesis of what ECW is all about, and when ECW was revived in 2006, at their second and final pay per view event, Lashley was chosen over CM Punk to win the only ECW Elimination Chamber match to become ECW Champion. Lashley then co main evented WrestleMania with the ECW Title around his waste and to this day, a generation of wrestling fans associate a body guy as the face of ECW. Sigh, thanks Vince.

Flash forward seven years later, and Lashley can only be classified as strictly a body guy by fervent haters of him and TNA Wrestling where he is (as of this writing) their World Heavyweight Champion. Why can Lashley no longer be classified as just a body guy? After all he still looks like a walking commercial for anabolic steroids.

Because after his run in the WWE and after his first run in TNA, Bobby Lashley went out and became the second most legitimate pro wrestling to mixed martial arts crossover in history. Second to only Brock Lesnar.

Lashley has had 3 times as many fights as Lesnar had, though no one would argue Lashley has faced nearly the same level of competition Lesnar did. But unlike Lesnar, Lashley isn’t retired, he’s still actively fighting.

It is worth noting, and praising, that Lashley while actively competing for TNA as their World Champion, fought and won a fight in Bellator MMA. That is something that Brock Lesnar never did and never will do. It is a little caveat, but a legitimate one.

Lashley’s in ring pro wrestling skills, have also improved dramatically. He tells a story with his facial features and plays to his strengths. TNA to their credit, has booked him as well as someone like Lashley can be booked. In an era where TNA can’t seem to do anything right, they have done very little if anything wrong with Lashley since he returned to the company at Lockdown in March.

Since Lashley apparently doesn’t know how to talk arrogantly, TNA gave him a mouthpiece/hype man in MVP. That was a double win as MVP was nursing a broken ankle at the time and needed something to do on camera. TNA killed two birds with one stone and now, it is almost impossible to think of or book Lashley without MVP as his version of Paul Heyman.

TNA has booked Lashley against technically proficient opponents who are able to bump for Bobby as well as mask his deficiencies in the same model of The Undertaker’s last five WrestleMania opponents. Lashley’s matches against Samoa Joe (twice), Eric Young, Austin Aries, and Bobby Roode have all been American style, pro wrestling/sports entertainment heavyweight style matches. Fans of wrestling both pre PG and pre Attitude eras would have an appreciation of those matches. Storytelling, selling, submissions, hot crowds, manuever exchanges, a high spot or two, go home. TNA has also booked him as an unstoppable monster. When he inevitably loses the world title, it will be a big deal, at least by TNA standards.

Lashley has come along way since his unwatchable runs as United States and ECW Champions in WWE. He is becoming the type of talent that Vince McMahon likely envisioned him as when he tryed to ram Lashley down the fan’s throats for almost two full years before releasing him after main eventing a pay per view with John Cena. Yeah, you read that right.

Lashley has also become a face in the argument of the legitimacy of pro wrestlers as real athletes and genuine tough guys instead of phony actors. Actively holding the world title for the #2 pro wrestling company and actively winning fights for the #2 mixed martial arts promotion is a bigger deal in both sports than many seem to want to give it credit for. It’s understandable, Lashley’s work in WWE was just awful. But his work in his first run in TNA in 2009 was good. His matches against Rhino, Samoa Joe, and Scott Steiner are all worth looking up on You Tube. He then spent four years bouncing between independent pro wrestling and mixed martial arts. Now he’s a top guy in the #2 promotion for both sports. What’s next? Lashley isn’t that old. He may not just be getting started, but he certainly isn’t finished.

It’s hard for me to believe that a body guy could be such an inspirational figure. But in the year 2014 in the worlds of pro wrestling and mixed martial arts, there is no better story than the renaissance of Bobby Lashley.

sportsrollajclogo2

by @anarchyroll
6/23/2014

Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. True in life, movies, and mixed martial arts.

PRIDE also comes before the fall, that is doubly true in mixed martial arts.

Bellator MMA was founded by Bjorn Rebney in 2008. The majority stake in the company was sold to Viacom in 2011 as part of a deal to get the promotion onto MTV2 and later Spike TV. Bellator crafted a niche in the mixed martial arts world by running tournaments. Initially tournaments to crown their champions, then tournaments to crown number one contenders to fight their champions. Title fights, attraction fights, and “super” fights are used to round out the cards.

Bjorn Rebney, Bellator MMA founder

Bellator’s unique format as well as PRIDE and Strikeforce going out of business allowed them to both survive and thrive by upstart, distant number two standards. Compared to the Goliath that is the UFC, Bellator is not a competitor, merely an alternative. In the rest of the mixed martial arts world however, Bellator has been the clear-cut number two company since the second the lights went out for Strikeforce last year.

Bellator has evolved incrementally to show they are growing. Going from ESPN Deportes to MTV2 to Spike TV to air their fights. Bellator had their version of UFC’s reality tv show darling “The Ultimate Fighter” called “Fight Master” that aired last year. It was unique to TUF and much like everything Bellator does, got decent ratings, enough to keep them afloat and viewed as legitimate.

Bellator recently made it’s PPV debut, a show that drew 100,000 buys. With all of this growth and progression, it was surprising to hear that Bjorn Rebney, the founder and CEO of Bellator MMA, and for all intents and purposes the Dana White of Bellator, was forced out of the company he founded by Viacom. Word is that Viacom wants to move away from the tournament format, while Rebney falls under the if it ain’t broke don’t fix it paradigm. Rebney has already been replaced by Scott Coker, who was the founder and Dana White of Strikeforce.

Scott Coker, founder of Strikeforce and new CEO of Bellator MMA

Coker is a good promoter and a good guy. Most people seem to like him. He doesn’t have a reputation for anything remotely shady. He helped build Strikeforce from a regional kickboxing promotion to the number two mixed martial arts promotion in the world. Even as a distant number two, Strikeforce put together some great super fights that rivaled anything the UFC was putting up against them at the time (Fedor vs Hendo anyone?). Viacom and Coker have already said they will scale back the tournament format of Bellator to a more traditional style of MMA booking, much like Strikeforce had.

Strikeforce and Bellator now have two things in common, Scott Coker, and a corporate owner directly involved in their business. Showtime’s incompetence led to Strikeforce going out of business. Dana White even voiced how sorry he felt for the organization over how things went down. Well, to me, this seems to be a case of history repeating itself. There is nothing wrong with tinkering with something to make it better, but this is an over haul of something that already is making money. Maybe not a lot of money, but there has been zero whiff of Bellator being at risk of going out of business. They have been consistently running shows for six years, why is this time to make whole sale changes?

Word has it Rebney was/is very difficult to work with, which is the opposite reputation Coker has. Coker was and is willing to work with anyone as long as it makes money. He has said the tournaments will have their place, which is a good thing. But if Bellator runs shows in the same way the UFC, WSOF, and OneFC all run shows, won’t they be exposing themselves as a cheap alternative to the dominant number one?

That’s what Strikeforce was after all. I loved Strikeforce but the only thing that made them different from the UFC was the hexagon cage and the colored gloves. Oh and one more thing, the UFC was consistently a far superior product because they had more money and better fighters.

The tournaments mask Bellator’s weaknesses. Those weaknesses being everything other than the fact they run tournaments. Bellator is not competition, they’re an alternative. If you’re going to be an alternative, then you have to be different than what is normal. Tournaments, and the round cage, do that. Running smaller venues does that. Having a different presentation style does that.

Scott Coker is a good promoter, it’s not actually his fault that Strikeforce went out of business, but Strikeforce went out of business, it’s a failed brand. If Strikeforce was still around and announced a merger with Bellator, that’s one thing. But when a man founds a company, makes it a success, then gets fired and replaced for a captain that is fresh off a sinking ship he was at the helm of, something about that seems off to me.

Coker has earned the benefit of the doubt that he can steer Bellator in the right direction based on his past history of success, but then again, so did Bjorn Rebney.