During this week’s episode of “Grilling JR,” Jim Ross and Conrad Thompson cover the career of Bobby Lashley.
Lashley’s career has seen a resurgence but there were a lot of bumps in the road for him during his first WWE run. Ross talks about Lashley’s early days in WWE, his departure and thoughts on his current run with MVP as his manager.
Here are some highlights:
Jim Ross explained why Bobby Lashley was called up from OVW to WWE in his first run before he was ready: “Vince had a new toy he loved to look at. He loved his background with the Army stuff, the National Championship which meant less than the Army I think to Vince. Serving his country was a much higher accolade. I agree with that quite frankly. To say that Bobby was ready? Could Bobby have used more time on the farm (OVW) or working second or third matches on house shows that have the talent of a Bucci, or a Simon Dean or Spike Dudley? Yes, he should have had more time. I had the same battles with Vince about Brock Lesner. Creative wanted to bring Brock Lesner up earlier than I wanted. I simply told Vince that he can’t protect anybody right now. He’s still learning where to put his feet. He’s still learning things. He’s so big and strong that a small calculated error could be disastrous. Same thing, but I wasn’t in a position in that regard. I didn’t have the opportunity nor the clout at that time as I did when I ran the department to go to Vince and say, he’s not ready. We are going to taint his growth by bringing him in when he knows he is not ready and is surrounded by his peers who are ready. There is going to be a psychological issue there that we are going to have to get past because Bobby was not the most trusting guy. He didn’t have product knowledge.”
Why were there stops and starts on Lashley in the WWE?: “It depends on what input Vince is getting from the last person he talked to. I’m sure Bruce (Prichard) has experienced these issues where you think you have a gameplan, this is what we are going to do, and then somebody gets Vince’s ear that has an agenda and all of a sudden they cast doubt on the process or the decision making. It’s a trait of that company. Bobby did have some false starts and continuity issues. He was on again and off again. I think there was a lack of patience in how good Bobby was progressing and how much he was progressing. I thought it was a nice pace. He started getting more comfortable in the ring. Again, you’re not getting a guy that has an extensive pro wrestling background. He couldn’t tell you who Bruno was, or Bobo Brazil or who was the Junkyard Dog or Dick Murdock. He would not have known those things. So, a green guy is in graduate school and he got advanced very quickly to get to the graduate school level. It is challenging for anybody including a great athlete like Lashley.”
Why were Lashley and Umaga chosen to be in the Battle of the Billionaires match between Vince McMahon and Donald Trump?: “Both guys Vince wanted to push. Both guys Vince had confidence in that were going to go to the next level and become superstars. It put Lashley in almost all the marketing materials. Vince had the vision that both those guys were keepers and by putting them in that spot and getting the rub of Austin was tremendous. The sad part about that was, when you look back at it, even though Lashley won the match, he didn’t get to shave Vince’s head. Austin got to do that. Quite frankly, and you know how much I think of Steve, but Steve could have had him had the clippers, if it would have been booked that way, but it wasn’t and he would have been happy to do it, hand the clippers to Bobby Lashley and Lashley shaving Vince’s head would have given Lashley the momentum and a cause. Then McMahon would go about his business of doing all he could to destroy Bobby Lashley for humiliating Vince on television. He didn’t get the full complement of the angle and stipulation. But he got all the promotion. He got in all publicity. He was in the ring with the future president of the United States and the most powerful man in sports entertainment was at ringside looking on.”