The WWE may have a mighty problem booking Bobby Lashley, at least according to a new report from Wrestling News' Andrew Ravens. While Lashley has been working as a heel on SmackDown of late, he's been getting cheered rather than booed. However, is this a problem with Lashley or with the WWE's choice of his opponents?
On Friday's episode of SmackDown, Lashley went over in a match by beating Butch, who is a babyface. However, the fans were behind Lashley and cheering him. Fans who attended house shows this weekend in Maine on Saturday and Sunday also noted that Lashley was getting cheered when he and Angelo Dawkins worked matches against The OC (Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows)
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Bobby Lashley is a phenomenal performer whose hard work and patience paid off with two runs as WWE Champion. "The Almighty" has been pushed hard but only after years working his way from a questionable push to one that capitalized on his size, wrestling ability, and overall badassery.
There are two factors the WWE needs to consider when evaluating why fans are cheering a wrestler who is supposed to be a heel. The first is wrestling fans' fondness for cheering badass characters, regardless of whether they are heels or babyfaces. The second is wrestling fans' tendency to either boo or be noncommittal towards wrestlers who are perceived as perennial losers.
The days when fans cheered babyfaces just because a promoter presented them as babyfaces is long over. Fans tend to cheer for who they want to cheer and boo who they want to boo. One of the best examples is The Undertaker, who began as a monster heel but whose utter domination of opponents led to WWF fans cheering him. This could be the case with Lashley, whose "Almighty" nickname sums up how he's been booked over the last three years.
Fans also tend to grow tired with wrestlers who are portrayed as losers. While there is a role for the plucky underdog whose occasional wins inspire the fans, wrestlers with bad win/loss records like The Brawling Brutes and The O.C. tend to bore fans. Why cheer for someone when you know they are going to lose? This is one area Triple H and the WWE's creative team needs to work on.
So far, fans haven't seen signs of Triple H adopting Vince McMahon's policy of pushing wrestlers who the fans just don't like (such as Roman Reigns before he became "The Tribal Chief"). This could lead to the WWE booking Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits as babyfaces or having them remain heel, but compete against heels the WWE Universe despises such as Grayson Waller and Austin Theory. It could also lead to heel vs heel battles such as Lashley and The Profits vs The Bloodline. While the WWE occasionally runs heel vs heel matches, they are rare. Once upon a time, other promoters found that these "battles of the bullies" could make for some exciting matches.
Do you cheer for Bobby Lashley? Do you consider him and The Street Profits to be heels?
Photo Credit: WWE