Six hours from now, Bobby Lashley could be WWE champion.
In an interview Lashley gave to CBS Sports, he talked to my old colleague Brent Brookhouse about that possibility: “It means everything. Everything.”
Much of their chat is evidence for why The All Mighty is, at 44 years of age, finally in a position to achieve that goal. It’s clear as he defends his opponent tonight, The Miz, against critics. Even though he’s kayfabe looked past the current champion, Lashley has a ton of respect for Miz, saying:
“You cannot deny the guy. If you have criticism of The Miz? You’re jealous. I remember talking to Miz 16 years ago, and he was having to be in broom closets, having his stuff kicked out of locker rooms and stuff like that. A lot of people would have walked away then. But he didn’t. I don’t know how many years he’s been in the business, but all this time later and he’s still on top? That’s perseverance. That’s stronger than anything else. If anybody has any criticism against Miz? That’s jealousy.”
And Lashley knows from perseverance. In two runs working for WWE, he’s been Donald Trump’s in-ring surrogate, beaten up men pretending to be his sisters, and married someone on-screen while his bride’s jilted storyline girlfriend and cake-throwing real-life husband crashed the wedding.
Like Miz, Bobby kept his head down and kept working toward the opportunity he now has – to be part of a main event program heading into WrestleMania. How did he do it?
“There was that time when people would have broken and walked off and bitched and complained. But I stood in there. Once you had those ups and downs — and I had a real low down for a point in my career — you know you’re going to bounce back. The confidence part is that I don’t care. I stopped caring. A lot of times people care about every little thing. They sit there and read Twitter and want to fight everybody on Twitter and fight people who put negative comments under their stuff, and they always want to battle these battles that they don’t need to. For me, I don’t fight them. I don’t care.
“How I look at it is if I do something that is totally embarrassing on TV and people are joking and laughing, I’m going to joke and laugh too. There’s things I’ve done on TV where I sit back, and if people are clowning me because of it, I would clown me too. That’s what it is. I don’t care. It’s entertainment. If you can’t have fun with this, you’re in the wrong business. If you can’t not take yourself seriously? You’re in the wrong business. I don’t care about anything right now. I’m in a good point in my life where I am happy, I am healthy and I’m going to have a big smile on my face and keep moving forward.”
Signing up to be a star for Vince McMahon isn’t for everyone. If you do, there’s plenty of examples of what the job entails. The payoff could be great. It might not be. But whether you’re ever allowed to ever grab the brass ring, if you’re going to give it a go, Lashley (and Miz) are living proof of how you should approach it.
The alternative might just drive you crazy.