Bobby Lashley won the WWE championship on the Mar. 1 episode of Raw after squashing the Miz in a lumberjack match. He followed that up on this week’s (Mar. 8) episode with another decisive win over the former champion.
Speaking with The Wrap, Lashley said that Miz was the perfect heel to take the WWE championship from:
“…when I went against The Miz last Monday, people were kind of cheering for me and they were booing for Miz. So it was kind of like I was leaning toward the babyface side and Miz was almost the heel side, but he played the heel perfect….I was like, Miz is phenomenal, he is great. And if you don’t believe that, then you are missing the point. Because there are people who say, ‘I can’t stand him because he does this and this.’ Yeah, that’s what he’s supposed to do, and he gets you to hate him. Miz is phenomenal. He was the perfect person for me to take the title from at that time.”
WWE’s decision to put the WWE championship on The Miz was defensible, but ‘perfect’ is not the right word to describe it. I’ve touched on the booking issues that Miz has endured over the last year and how it turned him into one of the weakest WWE champions of all-time. Beating a mid card guy to win a top title is not the perfect way to do it, and that’s evident from pro wrestling’s long history of steering away from putting top titles on mid-card acts. If it was perfect, it would happen far more frequently.
It’s not like there were no other ways to make Lashley the new WWE champion; Lashley could have instead won the WWE championship by forcing Drew McIntyre to pass out to the Hurt Lock. Alternatively, if Lashley vs. McIntyre needs to be saved for WrestleMania 37 because Brock Lesnar won’t be returning to WWE before April 10, then Lashley could have been booked as a participant in the Elimination Chamber match. That’s a match where he can dominate several top stars like Randy Orton and AJ Styles en route to winning the WWE championship, without pinning Drew.
WWE told a very good story with Lashley taking the title from the Miz, so I don’t want to pretend like there was nothing to appreciate about this angle. Lashley conspired with Miz to get the title off of McIntyre, so that should give Drew plenty of incentive for making Lashley pay at WrestleMania 37. It’s a good angle, and it makes sense. But let’s just be realistic about what happened here. The Miz didn’t win the WWE championship because he is regarded as one of the top heels in the business. He primarily won it because WWE’s decisions with the men’s Money in the Bank contract didn’t have a long-term vision in mind, and the one year clock on that gimmick was ticking down fast.
When Otis won the briefcase last year, many fans doubted that he would ever cash in on Drew McIntyre, Bray Wyatt, or Braun Strowman. When Roman Reigns returned to WWE in August and won the Universal title one week later, that championship became off limits for a Money in the Bank cash-in. It made more sense to move the MITB contract over to Monday nights. That Miz ended up being the guy to take the contract from Otis is largely a consequence of WWE’s failure to heat up so many of the newer stars on their roster. Miz even blew his initial opportunity with the Money in the Bank briefcase at TLC 2020, revealing WWE’s original intention to humiliate the Miz as a loser with the briefcase.
There’s a reason why many fans expect Lashley will simply serve as a transitional champion himself and drop the WWE championship right back to Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania 37. If the idea was to cement Bobby Lashley for a long run with the WWE championship, then beating consistent mid-card loser Miz to win the title is not the perfect way to do it. But if the plan is to just hand the title back over to Drew in a month so that live fans can cheer him this year at WrestleMania, then this angle with Miz was an effective way to briefly move the championship over from McIntyre to Lashley, before swapping it back at WrestleMania 37.
If the latter scenario is how things play out, with Lashley dropping the title right back to McIntyre in one month, then the argument that Miz was a solid choice for briefly getting the WWE championship off of McIntyre has some merit to it. But I’m pretty sure that’s not the chain of logic that Lashley has in mind when he describes Miz as the ‘perfect’ man to beat for the WWE championship.
How will you feel if Bobby Lashley only ends up holding the WWE championship for these five weeks leading up to WrestleMania 37?