At this time last year, Bobby Lashley was closing an angle that found him in a romantic situation with Rusev’s wife, Lana. Many collectively grunted at what we thought was a strange use of a WWE Superstar who has always been seen as the ultimate wrecking machine. However, the lightness of that angle eventually helped push Lashley to the position he currently holds as United States Champion and part of one of the most well-established factions in recent memory alongside MVP, Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander, collectively known as The Wounded Business.
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As Lashley prepares to defend his American title at Elimination Chamber (Sunday, February 21 at 7 p.m. ET on WWE Network) against Keith Lee and Riddle in a triple threat match, The Hurt Business muscle spoke to Sporting News to explain why. his faction is nothing like The Nation of Domination, which is working with MVP again and the idea of an all or nothing title match at WrestleMania, where The Hurt Business would put their Raw tag team titles and the United States championship on the line against The New Day with intercontinental champion Big E.
Sports News: You and MVP have a history together outside of WWE. What is it like getting back together at this stage in your respective careers as The Hurt Business?
Bobby Lashley: It’s wonderful, man. Probably one of my favorite moments in my entire career because this is real. There have been angles before that people don’t believe in, but this one is authentic. MVP, Shelton and Cedric flew to Denver, where I am, just to see my boy in a suit. It’s really cold here! But they wanted to come here and hang out. Wrestlers normally don’t do this. This are my friends. I’ve known MVP for about 18 years. I met Sheldon in college when we fought each other. We all see each other at Cedric and we have a lot of knowledge that we are passing on to him.
Once, Cedric entered the building and had his suit on a hanger. MVP stopped him and asked why his suit was on a hanger. He needed to put it on because the suit is what we’re doing. He is not a character that we only do on television. It is what we are. We are professionals.
SN: When the faction first joined in, people immediately thought that this was the second coming of the Domination Nation. What were your thoughts upon hearing that?
DEGREE IN LAW: My first thought was: “Thank you!” But that’s not what we were. As you see a group of blacks, some people immediately associate them with another group of blacks. I love what The Nation did, but that’s not what it’s about at all. But we are totally different. It’s not about black and white; it’s about green and gold. We are thugs in suits because we have a hardcore style but we want to look good doing it. We wanted to show a different representation of black men because we haven’t seen it. We are four professional black men who can screw you up. That’s what it’s about.
SN: When you mention amateur wrestling, what happened when you had to make a career change?
DEGREE IN LAW: I was on a bench that was robbed and I had to dive for cover to avoid being shot and breaking my knee.
Wrestling is crazy after college because what are you going to do next? Even if you go to the Olympics, you are looking for a lot of dedication without money. That injury forced me to stop trying. And with the Olympics every four years, do I put myself on the shelf for another four years? That was a fundamental decision for me. Did you want to go through all that? At some point, you have to start life. I was lucky that I didn’t have to make that decision because I received a much bigger offer than anything else when WWE called me. When one door closed, another opened. This was my power to train for my Olympic gold medal by performing every day.
SN: Do you think your destiny as a professional wrestler was predetermined?
DEGREE IN LAW: Absolutely. And that’s why when you see me outside the ring, where I’m always in “Kill Mode,” I’m never in a bad mood. I enjoy everything. Really embarrassing things have happened to me on TV, but I was able to laugh at myself. The critics say what they say and I laugh with them because I would have laughed at myself too. I’m too excited about the positives to think about the negatives.
SN: When you talk about shame, you must be talking about your love triangle with Lana and Rusev. What did you think of being at that angle?
DEGREE IN LAW: It happened very fast. When they introduced me to it, they told me what to do and … (groans). I didn’t understand the magnitude of that. But all he did know was that he was doing something different. And you can say what you want about Lana, but she was 100 percent committed and invested in that character. I felt uncomfortable doing it. I’m always in fight mode, but it was good to get me out like that. But I needed to relax and have fun with it. I relaxed because I knew we were trying to entertain people. I understood that, even though I originally didn’t like the idea and ended up being cool with it. It’s not comfortable for me, but I understood the lesson that they were teaching me.
SN: After this angle, The Hurt Business begins to form when MVP appears at the Royal Rumble. Did you know when you returned to WWE that you two would go back to work?
DEGREE IN LAW: Yes, because I told him we would be. At first it went in one ear and out the other, but he was listening. It’s like a cross between The Rock, Don King, and Suge Knight. I wanted it to come back here so we could run together and then we started putting it together. Mentally, I thought about this for years whenever I walked back through those WWE doors. Eventually it became The Hurt Business and we had the components with Shelton and Cedric. Sometimes you have to believe someone else’s belief in you and that’s where MVP comes in as a spokesperson. He is our advocate because there is no question that any of us could spearhead this endeavor. We just needed someone to tell everyone else.
SN: You have an Elimination Chamber match against Riddle and Keith Lee, who are two Superstars who can be considered the future of WWE. They also have traces of you in their style. How exciting is it for you to be a part of this match?
DEGREE IN LAW: The future is bright. Both guys have the potential to do great things in this business. But that’s after I retire, of course. They have great games, but I’m not trying to make a great game. I’m trying to beat them up. I’m going to grab Riddle and beat Keith Lee with him.
SN: WrestleMania is coming up. Is there a match with someone you haven’t had yet? Who would he be against and why?
DEGREE IN LAW: I would be a clone of myself (laughs). There are so many different people. It really depends on what the fans want. If you want a fight, give me Brock Lesnar. If it’s a street fight, I’ll take on Drew McIntyre. If you want to know who the biggest dog on the block is, I’ll take Roman Reigns. If you want a train wreck, let’s go to Braun Strowman. And if you want a technical match, I’ll talk to AJ Styles and Seth Rollins. I cannot choose a person. It just depends on the type of match that is needed at the time.
SN: At the Royal Rumble, you and Big E had a moment. People realized that the two of you had never interacted in the ring. Social media was excited about the possibility. Obviously you two are champions on two different shows, but would you be interested in a title versus title fight at WrestleMania?
DEGREE IN LAW: You know, it would be great to have two titles. Big E and I have purposely stayed apart for so long, but I don’t think we can do this for much longer. One reason is because we have the Raw tag team titles and I know The New Day wants them back. So if Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods are after us and Big E finds a way to get involved, now it’s The Hurt Business vs. The New Day. We have never seen that match.
SN: You’re in great shape at 44, but do you put a time limit that you decide to call it a career?
DEGREE IN LAW: I still have a good number of years left on my contract, but it’s one of those things where you see guys who have struggled too long and start to fall. But I tell people close to me that if they see me slowing down and accumulating more pudding in my body, take me aside and tell me. Sometimes we don’t want to be honest with ourselves. Right now, I feel invincible. But if someone tells me I’m slowing down, I’ll take a look. But, if I had to guess, I have five years left.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.