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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Bobby Lashley: Breaking the Color Barrier"
July 18, 2006 by Robert Zarp


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In the past few months, a new blue chipper has scaled the corporate ladder at a phenomenal pace. He has displayed unmatchable athleticism, and gained a ring presence rivaling the greats. His following spreads like wildfire as he speeds through the competition with an unmatchable (and until recently, flawless) winning streak over the likes of former dominant world champions. He's shown great diversity for a big man within the hallowed squared circle, and has become a success over night. His name is Bobby Lashley.

In the history of World Wrestling Entertainment/Federation there have been many dominant champions. Triple H, the Rock, Shawn Michaels, John Bradshaw Leyfield; the list goes on like a who's who in main eventing staples of the industry... but never in the history of this federation has there been a true black champion.

Some could argue that Booker T was champion. My only objection to this is that he was only champion because he came in riding the coattails of WCW, and the title technically wasn't a WWE title at that time. Some could claim the Rock was the first African-America champion, but he was also half Samoan and it took a pedigree of three generations in the business and a re-vamped attitude to take him to the top. With all of these debunked exceptions aside, could Bobby Lashley be the first ever to break the color barrier in World Wrestling Entertainment" Let's look at the usual path to victory within World Wrestling Entertainment.

Usually someone viable for the title captures the U.S. or I.C. title initially. Bobby Lashley has held the U.S. title, and recently lost it to the dastardly Irish Fit Finlay thanks to the help of his illusive Little Bastard. If history shows a pattern, the next step is World Title contendership, something Smackdown is lacking currently. With such a vacant world title division, could Lashley rise to the occasion and grab that fabled brass ring" Or will his star burn out too soon"

Many could compare this skyrocketing success to Brock Lesnar, a man who peaked too soon. Many have compared this phenom to the Next Big Thing, both in career path, diverse wrestling ability, and physique. Could this make the boy's in the back leery of giving such a shot to Bobby" Another recent scare behind the scenes lately is the disrespect of seasoned veterans. Recently Dave Batista, a man not unlike Lashley in rising stardom and physique, was reported to have had harsh words with the former WCW champion Booker T at a photo shoot. This allegedly ended in King Booker being crowned by a punched in the face by the disrespectful youth. Many other new bloods have displayed this disrespect toward those who put wrestling on the map, among the list rests the names of those who were given a shot early in their career. So far, no reports have shown Lashley to be a problem behind the scenes, and the NFL doesn't seem to be knocking down his door currently. Hopefully the powers that be will find Bobby is committed and able enough to brunt the load of the oncoming future of the business.

Regardless to what happens with Bobby, it's safe to say he's a breath of fresh air in an industry known for it's opportunistic and somewhat appalling approach to race, lifestyle, or religion. Bobby Lashley is truly a man making his way based on his talent and not on the color of his skin. In a sense, he's already broken so many stigma's left by Papa Shango, Virgil, Kamala and so many other misguided souls. I say it's only the beginning, and I'm letting my chip's ride on this sure-fire future icon of the industry.

by Jeff Ford..


Jon Rosaler wrote:
I have a Problem with your dominating Champions. You neglected to mention Brock Lesnar, who was recently Stripped of new IWGP title and refuses to give it back and Goldberg, the most pathetic man on the plantet.
Taz23JS wrote:
I fully agree with you about Lashley, even with the comparison to Crock Lesnar. Unlike Lesnar I believe he has the ability to humble himself and the character not to let the fame go to his head. Bobby is one great specimen and also me being black myself I can say that I'm glad he doesn't push the usual from the mean streets of the ghetto vibe. The Rock was the first true star of color to receive a big push and while it may have been his blood line he still paid his does, Hopefully Lashley will reach that top brass point of the business and not be another waist of potential. oh yeah and you forgot 1 superstar of color that should've made it but couldn't stay healthy Mr. Pearl River himself Tony Norris aka (Ahmad Johnson) that's what you call a honorable mention (lol)
Ryan wrote:
first of all i really like Bobby Lashley he is one of the greatest up and commers in the entire WWE. if he continues at this rate he is a shoe in for the Hall Of Fame but i must disagree with you on the point of Dave Batista the only person that belived that Batista was insaulting WWE Superstars was Booker T himself, it was also not just a punch in the face it was a fight both men were fighting for a good 5 minutes whilst trying to be broken up by 5 officails and WWE Superstars including Mark Henry, JBL and Chris Benoit. i also dont thing Batista could b called a youth he is 40 years old. But other than that great article it was a fantastic read Thank you for putting it out there.
Judy Murray wrote:
Sweet Baby Jesus! Are you on crack" Lashley is a crap wrestler, he does not have diversity at all (I don't recall ever seeing him go to the top rope or use any complicated submissions). It's just slams which don't look that impressive. And I have to say this, I can't hold it back any more, the "Dominator" is a move that Brock Lesnar used often which he didn't even consider worthy of attempting a pin after. Lashley's Dominator is sloppy anyway. If there is a black wrestler that gets the title anytime soon it should be one that deserves and has earned it! These are primarily Booker T (NOT King Booker) and Shelton Benjamin (you know, that kid who can actually wrestle). I also don't buy the "strong, silent guy" crap. The fact is he has ZERO charisma and nothing interesting about his appearance. I'd say he would be better used in a tag team with somebody (but then again, there should be a lot more tag teams).
Stephen Y. wrote:
Just thought I\'d say Brock Lesnar won the King of the Ring, whereas Lashley lost to King Booker. Also, Lesnar had Paul Heyman as hs manager, and Lesnar also had a nickname - The Next Big Thing. Also you said Booker T was hit by the disrepectful youth. By this do you mean Lashley or Batista, because Batista is 40. Apart from this, it was a good article.
Pirate Dave wrote:
I'm not sure exactly what you hoped to accomplish by this column, since you essentially diffused your own idea. As you said, Lashley has been compared to Brock Lesnar in many aspects, but you haven't said why the two are different. There's no doubt that he has the ability to have a nice run and a few good main events, but I don't think, in any way, that Lashley will be an "icon."

As for your other statement, of "Breaking the Color Barrier" I don't think there are many wrestling fans out there that believe there really is a 'Color Barrier' to speak of, and if there were, it HAS been long since broken. It's incredibly disrespectful to say "Booker T doesn't count because he was riding WCW's coat-tails" because Booker T IS talented, and IS liked (Or was, at some point, I don't know about the King Booker thing.) As for The Rock being half-samoan" What the hell does it matter" The Rock is an "Icon" and has far surpassed any idea of a 'Color barrier' by your definition.

Fact of the matter is that you're coming off as so picky that, even if Babby Lashley did win the World Title, he WOULD go the way of Lesnar, and fade out within a couple months. Would his title reign count more than Booker T's, who is still around" Would he be more of an "icon" than The Rock" I just found your column incredibly naive in that sense, but at least it was legible.
Kevin Hill wrote:
nice column, but Ron Simmons (known recently as Farrooq) won the WCW World Title against Vader in either 1991 or 1992. And as far as Booker T goes, hes a great all round pro wrestler. He also won wCw Tag Team, WWE Tag Team, wCw & WWE US, WWE Intercontinental, wCw TV, and wCw World Titles. Hes done it all with the exception of the "coveted" hardcore titles, and an actual title European Title. He is probably the most decorated and greatest African American pro wrestler within the last 15 years.
Crook wrote:
I have to agree with reader Pirate Dave. Whatever color barrier might have once existed, truly is gone now. Booker T, Sabu, Lashley, The Rock, Eddie Guererro, Rey Mysterio Jr, Mark Henry, Umaga, Shelton Benjamin, Psicosis, Super Crazy, The Great Khali, Jazz, Tazz and others have all received monster pushes in the past. Or at least been featured prominently. Also, it's ridiculous to say Booker T doesn't count. True, he wasn't World Champion in the "glory days" of WCW, but he deserved to be champion and was always popular. Also, what about Ron Simmons, the REAL first African American champion in American wrestling" Granted, this was not WWF/E but still.

Furthermore, did you check out Saturday Night's Main Event" The Smackdown! main event saw a Mexican, a black man, and a Hispanic (I think Batista is Hispanic...maybe not) taking on two black men and an Irish man. If that's not diversification, I don't know what is.

And the other responder who pointed out Batista's age is absolutely right, he's no spring chicken. Although I think the point in the column was that Batista is still relatively new to wrestling. And another thing: That "fight" was a work so they could get a bigger buyrate when Batista challenges Booker T for the title at Summerslam.
Kevin S. wrote:
as for Bobby Lashley breaking the color barrier, i think you have forgotten a coouple of "old school" wrestlers in Ernie "the big cat" Ladd and Ron Simons. Ladd was a big star back in the 70's. and Simons, mind you this was back in WCW, BUT he WAS the first african american champion and set the stage for the likes of Booker T. if you ask me, these two men were the ones to break the color barrier, not LAshley.
[Didn't Sign My Name] wrote:
I am glad to be reading this article just 6 Hours after Booker T Became a 6-Time World Heavyweight Champion not a 6-Time WCW champion. It just made Booker seem stupid to refer the title as a WCW title Instead of The world heavyweight title like Ric Flair Does.It proves why Booker Is holding it down for African-Americans in wrestling and for correction Ron Simmons was the first black man to hold the World heavyweight title in any major company.
Paul M Detillier wrote:
First, Lashley is basically only getting over because of his size. His ring ability is not that bad, but it could be better. He reminds me of Goldberg in WCW, and WWE trying to bring him to the top like Lesnar, but he is not breaking the color barrier. I think Booker is the all time color barrier. He isw a great worker, and is one of the more entertaining wrestlers out there today. I am sure glad that Vince gave him a title. Going back to Lashley, I do not even think that he is the future color barrier. I think that Shelton Benjamin should get more a shot. He has awesome athletic ability, and has great matches(especially the one with HBK last yr), and I believe that if he can develop a little more character that he break the barrier even further.
FJ Parlan wrote:
I'm sorry. Booker T just became the first black man who has ever won a WWE title! So count Lashley out... =)
Dave Harwood wrote:
Actually, it was Bobo Brazil who was the first black World Heavyweight Champion, not Ron Simmons or Booker T, when he won the NWA title defeating Nature Boy Buddy Rogers.
Paul Fisher wrote:
In regards to Mr. Lashley recent push. I believe is totally deserved not only is he a well accomplished collegiate wrestler, he is a former Army Sgt. that was part of the WCAP ( World Class Athletic Program) division within the military. Meaning he was trained by some of the greatest wrestlers alive. The time he spent in the super managed world of the military I think will keep Mr. Lashley on the right track

As for comparisons to Brock, that a very superficial comparison. Yes, Both men were big athletic giants. But Brock was forced down every bodies throat from day one. And had a meteoric rise to the top, beating Rock to win his first World Title.

Bobby didn't come in as the " Next Big Thing" he has slowly earned his spot. Mostly at the hands of Booker T, who kept a the storyline between them going. I believe this was Booker's way of helping another young African American get his feet wet with a true veteran of the ring. Or as the like to say give Bobby the "rub" that was needed. I have no problem with that.

As for your comments on no black World Champion, Ron Simmons was a World Champ years before any body else. Granted this was in WCW not WWE (WWF at the time) but given that WCW is now a WWE product it must be acknowledged as such.

But I digress from my original point. I believe Bobby Lashley has the right attitude for this job. He is a young man, hungry to explode onto the wrestling scene. WWE learned it's lesson from Brock and will take a little time with Bobby. But this will only serve Bobby better. I look forward to every match this young man is in.

In recent months and years the McMahons have had me shake my head at some decisions. But however they decided on Mr. Lashley, I'm am certainly glad they did.
Matt. France. Former Wrestler. wrote:
I have been reading this column for months now. And, for months, I have heard about people praising Lashley, fortune-telling him a US reign or a a WWE reign. Fine. I have read loads about him being compared to Lesar. Well.. Do you guys remember Amhed Johnson, a big powerhouse, afro-american as well, fan-favorite as well..." Where did he end up" A couple of matches as Big T in WCW. Nothing more, despite charisma, strength, fan-base and potential. Guys, you'd better wait and see wahat the WWE will do with this one before you start having too many hopes blown into smoke. Only time will tell.
Sev M wrote:
I think you're right about a number of things, and Lashley doesn't posses much of what makes Goldberg rather odious to a lot of the IWC.

Although watching a few of his matches he had a couple of strangely "Goldberg-like moments" like pinning Finley with a spear even though he had only moments ago taken a chair shot. That said, i think he's probably a better wrestler even though some of it depends on how the deal with him. Lashley has a great amount of new good potential.
Ike Eisen wrote:
If Mr. Zarp means a non-white person becoming a WWWF/WWF/WWE World Champion, Pedro Morales did it. If you want to talk about more recent WWWF/WWF/WWE history: the Rock and Eddie Guerrero. Lashley hasn't broken anything.
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