Posts Tagged ‘bobby lashley’

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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.

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by @anarchyroll
8/27/2014

Better late than never, but is it too late? TNA officially hit the reset button at their recent television tapings in New York City at the Manhattan Center. How do I know they hit the reset button? Because both Kurt Angle and Taz said as much on camera during the first of six episodes taped in NYC this summer. However, in the middle of the taped episodes airing, reports surfaced that Spike TV will not be renewing their contract with TNA to keep Impact Wrestling on the air.

Coming out of the Hogan/Bishoff era, followed by the kayfabe heel Dixie Carter era, TNA desperately needed to hit the reset button. Putting the World Title on Eric Young saw ratings hit an all time low between the Lockdown and Slammiversary pay per view events.

From a skeptical distance one can chalk up the reset button being the following things;

  • Putting and keeping the World Title on Bobby Lashley
  • Bringing back the six-sided ring
  • Reuniting the Hardy and Dudley Boyz
  • Exploiting ECW nostalgia
  • Putting the annual one month spotlight on the X Division

If one were to read the results or highlights, or have a friend tell them what happened at Destination X or Hardcore Justice (two pay per view like events that aired free on Spike) one could summize that TNA simply combined WWE and ECW nostalgia acts with a couple of their own classic concepts to try to pop a rating. However, one must have watched or at least skimmed through the shows with their own eyes to see and feel how the mood has indeed changed in TNA.

  1. Bobby Lashley is being built, showcased, and promoted like a heel world champion should be. The fact that Lashley will be fighting at a Bellator MMA event as the reigning TNA World Champion is a great thing for both TNA and the wrestling business, because it is the first of its kind. Can you imagine the press WWE would get and how much their mark fan boys would be gushing if any sitting WWE champion went to fight in the UFC?
  2. The return of the six-sided ring is a metaphor that the fans’ opinions matter to TNA management.  It was ridiculous that Hogan/Bishoff got rid of the six-sided ring in the first place. It did nothing to help the product in any tangible way. Bringing it back won’t pop a rating, but it will send the message that TNA cares about their fans again. Since TNA clearly hasn’t cared about the fans’ opinions for several years now, a symbol like the return of six-sided ring is a great start to rebuilding the trust between TNA management and pro wrestling fans.
  3. In case you haven’t seen the NYC episodes, Jeff Hardy has been involved in the best match on each show he has wrestled on. His match with Lashley was the best of Lashley’s career until Lashley had a match against Austin Aries at Destination X. Both matches the reunited Hardy Boyz had (versus The American Wolves and The Dudley Boyz) were as good as tag team wrestling gets in 2014 or any year for that matter. Both the Hardys and Dudleys reuniting has worked, why? Because the matches have delivered and I am genuinely excited about the upcoming Triple Threat Tag Team Match Series that will round out the NYC tapings.
  4. WWE is allowed to exploit ECW whenever they want but when TNA does it, it’s tacky and outdated. That is the opinion of Paul Heyman and most of the internet wrestling community. This type of ridiculous bias is why it is always hard to get a true read on TNA’s quality without seeing it oneself. The fact is that is that there was kayfabe, storyline appropriate reasons for Devon Dudley and Tommy Dreamer to be brought into Bully Ray’s feud with Dixie Carter. Rhino has worked for TNA on and off since 2005 and if Al Snow can stay in that kind of physical shape, and be that over with a live crowd, there is no reason he can’t be on television for TNA, ROH, or WWE. Not to mention that as I write this, the “ECW” nostalgia angle has already been done with for as long as it was presented as an on camera angle/feud.
  5. TNA was built by the X Division. The X Division got them to Spike TV, getting to Spike TV got them to Sting, Sting got them as close to the mainstream as they’ve gotten. With Sting gone and Spike TV apparently on their way out, there is no better time to refocus on the X Division. The recent X Division showcase has been built around Samoa Joe and Low Ki. If you don’t want to see Samoa Joe and Low Ki get not only ring time but mic time weekly, on a nationally televised pro wrestling show, then my friend I suggest you binge watch reruns of Saturday Morning Slam and AWA on ESPN until the cows come home.

TNA has lost the benefit of the doubt with the vast majority of wrestling fans. Their live attendance, ratings, and problems securing a new TV deal with Spike TV reflect that. In a way, TNA deserves to go out of business. But we all know that would be bad for wrestling. I remember 2001, WCW deserved to go out of business too, but was the wrestling business better because they did? Alliance anyone?

The episodes of Impact Wrestling from New York City has looked and felt like the TNA Wrestling I was a fan of from 2003-2009. At the very least, watch the title matches. The best wrestling I have seen this summer that hasn’t involved Brock Lesnar or ROH has been the title defenses or wins involving Bobby Lashley, Samoa Joe, Gail Kim, and The Wolves.

TNA has hit the reset button. The consistent quality of the last six weeks beckons a second chance from their alienated fan base. Let’s just hope it’s not too little too late.