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Lash-ing Out: Bobby Lashley Has Reached Prime Time
NEW JERSEY—In the past, we have talked about a lot of the names in wrestling that have left a mark in the industry for African-Americans. There’s been Thunderbolt Patterson, Bearcat Wright, Tony Atlas, Rocky Johnson, his son Duane “The Rock Johnson”, current WWE King of the Ring Booker T., among countless others. However, there’s a new gun in town, at least where African-American wrestlers are concerned. He’s made an impact on professional wrestling in less than one year’s time, with a lot more promise in front of him.
His name is Bobby Lashley. I’m not sure that I would ever call him Franklin Roberto Lashley, which represents his real name, at least not to his face. He’s a man’s man, and a wrestler’s wrestler. After all, Lashley was a 3-time national wrestling champion at Missouri Valley College from 1996-1998, and followed that with 2 NAIA championships in 1997 and ’98. So, right from the start, Lashley has had accolades galore, and that has continued within the professional ranks. Now, in the past, I have been critical of Vince McMahon’s motives where African-American wrestlers are concerned. However, with this one, I have to give the WWE a lot of credit for being able to develop this kid into a major player, without rushing him too fast.
After signing his developmental contract with Ohio Valley Wrestling in late 2003(the WWE’s minor leagues, if you will), it took a year and a half for Bobby to go from diamond in the rough to big leaguer. Once in the WWE, Lashley instantly made an impact on the scene with his massive size, and dominating in-ring performance. With some people, the danger was that this would become another crash and burn, as was the case with former world champion Bill Goldebrg, who racked up close to 175 straight victories, including the WCW Championship in 1998. However, after losing the title that same year, Goldberg never got it back, and was never the same again, even in his short stint with WWE. I don’t see a quick downfall with Lashley, because he has developed some feuds in his short time in the spotlight, including his current one with reigning King of the Ring Booker T.
Looking at the two major accomplishments for this 29-year old superstar, Lashley’s first was making it to the King of the Ring finals, before eventually losing to Booker on May 21st of this year, only to turn around and then defeat John Bradshaw Layfield to become only the second African-American wrestler(besides Booker T.) to win the United States Championship five days later on May 26th. With a lot of guys, winning this particular title represents their ceiling for which he can go no further. This will not be the case for the 6′ 3″ 275-pound Lashley, whom I predict will receive a serious world title opportunity within the next 9-12 months. However, as I have also mentioned in the past, anything is possible with Vince McMahon at the helm. So, be careful, Bobby. We’ll be watching and rooting for you.
On a side note, a lot of credit does go out to the aforementioned Booker T. for giving the ball to Lashley, so he can run with it. Booker has done everything you could want a wrestler to do in his 17 years in the game. If he didn’t wrestle another match, you can believe that Booker is a first ballot induction into pro wrestling’s hall of fame. Thanks to: Obsessed With Wrestling for the info(www.obsessedwithwrestling.com)