If last week’s Monday Night Raw is any indication, the United States Championship is set to be featured much more prominently with Triple H at the helm of creative. The Game went out of his way to remind everyone just how important that US Title is during what many viewed as his first official week in power.
A video package showcasing its illustrious history was followed by six men giving it their all across three matches, just to earn a shot at current titleholder Bobby Lashley. When the smoke cleared, it was Tommaso Ciampa who stood tall. The former NXT Champion is expected to get a major push on the main roster with his mentor now in charge of creative. It’s entirely possible Ciampa walks away with the gold tonight. He made his case for it with a fiery promo from the weekend’s house show loop.
Ciampa is more than capable of carrying the red brand’s current top title forward into this new era of WWE. Then again, so is the All Mighty.
While its booking has not always been a top priority in recent years, the United States Championship has certainly meant something to all the men who have held on to it. That certainly holds true for Bobby Lashley. I had a chance to catch up with Lashley during the SummerSlam media tour and he says with the World title scene clogged up at the moment, he’s more than happy to carry America’s title for a while.
“I’m the champion of the United States. I think that’s a huge honor,” Lashley said on the Bleave in Pro Wrestling Podcast. “Everything that I win and everything that I do is just, it’s a dream come true. I’m living the dream man. I’m able to come back and wrestle right now, at my age, and I’m still able to do it. I still feel great. I’m still winning titles. I’m still able to advance with the business and everything is just going great for me right now. This title is something that is very important to me, because it gives me an opportunity to kind of help raise the roster and help elevate some of the other guys that are on the roster. Do I have another World title run in my future? 100 percent, but right now there’s a lot of things going on.”
Lashley facing the fact that there are currently several Superstars in front of him in line for a shot at Undisputed WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns. At the time of the interview, that included Brock Lesnar. Now, the Tribal Chief has a date with Drew McIntyre Clash at the Castlewhile a returning Carrion Cross has put Reigns on notice, and Theory is still floating around out there with the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Speaking of theory, he’s had a rough go of it of late. He hasn’t won a match since capturing the briefcase and he seemingly gets his butt whooped by a different Superstar every show now. Some might misconstrue that booking and think Theory is losing favor with WWE’s top brass. In reality, the man was still heavily featured on both RAW and SmackDown heading into SummerSlam.
He still has all the tools and talent necessary to be the guy in WWE one day and moreover, he knows it. The only thing that shines brighter through the TV screen than his talent is his ego.
Lashley said it was his job to humble the young man SummerSlam and he did just that. The All Mighty retained his championship in just under 5 minutes out in the Nashville humidity. To make matters even worse for Mr. Money in the Bank, Lashley’s old friend Brock foiled his cash-in attempt during the main event by hitting him with an F5 onto his briefcase before the referee could make it official.
Despite his recent tribulations, Lashley says there’s no doubt in his mind that if Theory stays on his current trajectory, he will become a World champion one day. Probably much faster than the decade and a half it took the All Mighty. But that 16 year journey to the top fits Lashley right down to his core. He’s never been one to rush the results. A life lesson he’s trying to pass on to future pro wrestlers.
“I’m talking to some people who want to get into the wrestling business. They already know what their nickname is. They already know what their signature move is. I was like, you don’t even know how to run the ropes. You haven’t even taken one bump, but you know what your signature move is gonna be. You know what your entrance is gonna be. You already have all this stuff. I’m like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s take a step back and just learn.”
Lashley thanks his amateur wrestling background for instilling that wisdom in him during the early days of his pro career. He knew there was a great deal he needed to learn when he first arrived in OVW and he took the time to soak in as much information as he could from those who were more experienced than him.
“When it came to the point of actually thinking about what to do for an entrance and all this other stuff, that was like way down the road. I wasn’t even thinking about that. I was just thinking about grassroots. I’m the type of person that tries to take it from day one and try to learn. I mean, when I started boxing, I wasn’t throwing 18 punches. I was throwing a jab. I worked two hours on just a jab and that’s how I deal with everything. That’s how you develop a good foundation, is to really take your time to learn the basics before you get up to the big step.”
Even upon his return to WWE in 2018, it took Lashley time to find his footing after a 10-year hiatus from the company. Patience was the name of the game for the All Mighty as he went from a critically panned romantic arc to one of the most dominant stretches in WWE’s recent history. With the exception of Roman Reigns, no one has been the beneficiary of improved booking than Lashley.
He just doesn’t lose. When he does lose, most assuredly shenanigans were afoot. And the crowds have started to respond in a major way. It didn’t happen overnight, but Bobby Lashley has suddenly become one of the biggest babyfaces in WWE.
“It’s amazing. And I think the reason why people really started to understand. When I first came in, it was like reintroducing me to a whole new crowd, a new fan base. And over time I think people have really seen me go through some hard times. And they’ve seen me stick in there and just kind of persevere. And I think that people are behind me right now, because they know what I’m capable of doing.”
While Lashley is hearing the fans in the stands, he’s also hearing them online. A good chunk of the WWE Universe can’t help but look towards the not too distant future. Survivor Series is just around the corner and two of the company’s most dominant figures could be on a collision course with each other.
Many people are clamoring to see the traditional United States Champion vs. Intercontinental Champion showdown once again this year. As of this moment, that would pit Lashley against Gunther. A challenge that the All Mighty is ready to take head on.
“I love a fight. And he’s on my radar, of course. He’s been doing some good things and I like him. I like his energy. I like his attitude. I mean, that to me is a fight that I like. That’s the kind of thing that I like. Those are things that I’m here for,” Lashley said. “Ever since he’s been in, everybody’s been talking to me. I’ve been getting tweets of Gunter, Gunter, Gunther, and I’ve been watching this guy. So I think it would be a good opportunity for us to kind of like mingle, get a little match in.”
When it comes to Gunther’s trademark chop landing on Lashley’s all mighty chest, the US Champion says bring it on.
“I don’t even think it’ll hurt me,” Lashley said with the utmost confidence. “He’s chopping people and knocking him down. I think he’ll chop me and it’ll hurt his hand.”
It’s almost impossible to predict what will happen in the weeks ahead, especially with such a major shift in WWE’s creative direction. The odds of Lashley and Gunther holding onto their respective championships until late November is about as much of an unknown as the PLE itself continuing to be booked as the Battle for Brand Supremacy.
Regardless, Triple H seems to know what he’s doing. That’s a match up that needs to happen sooner or later. First things first, Lashley defends his United States Championship against Ciampa tonight on Monday Night RAW. Coverage starts at 8/7c on the USA Network.
Check out my full conversation with Bobby Lashley in the video above. You can also listen to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcastavailable wherever you get your podcasts.
Rick Ucchino can be reached at Rick.Bleav@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @RickUcchino and make sure to subscribe to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling YouTube Channel.