Bobby Lashley became the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion, defeating Eric Young on Thursday, June 19th, during the latest episode of Impact Wrestling. I’ve had a few days to think about it, and I’m still unsure how I feel about it. This isn’t a bad thing by any means, but I wonder if this will be a good thing in the long-term.
On paper, Lashley perfectly fits the bill as world champion. He’s an MMA fighter, decorated amateur wrestler, Army veteran, college graduate, highly athletic, has a comic book physique, and answers the much-needed diversity problem at the top of the card. The decision to put the belt on Lashley appears to be color blind since TNA didn’t mention his race in their press release regarding his title win. Ethnicity shouldn’t be a check box item, but it’s important for young people to see themselves not only in the ring but in all forms of entertainment.
Lashley is limited on the microphone and in the ring. This isn’t the first time a world champion has lacked those intangibles, but TNA isn’t known for cultivating talent, which is why he might flounder in the role. In WWE, he was groomed for the main event spot, and they carefully charted his every move. His improvement was evident, but a long layoff due to injury and leaving the company halted his progress as a worker.
Overall, Bobby Lashley is the right guy, at the right time, to hold the belt. He’s a fresh face with more notoriety than most due to his big-match experience between the ropes and in the cage. Plus, John Q channel surfer is sure to devote a few seconds of the television time when they land on Spike TV see this colossal specimen rag dolling folks and jumping over the top rope. Will he move the needle beyond the initial curiosity?
Maybe no one can since TNA’s booking has caused a lack of consumer confidence. As champion, Magnus was a bland lead antagonist, and Eric Young’s title reign was a copy of Daniel Bryan’s run. Lashley is a shot in the company’s arm because people are talking and it will serve them well going forward.