When WWE Champion Bobby Lashley started his current reign back in March of this year, I wasn’t expecting to be this hype about his time with the championship. That might sound weird considering how impressed I was in 2020 by the Hurt Business’ reign of terror over on Raw. Their run was one of the best things about the WWE during the quarantine, and his huge win was both the perfect ending to that saga and the beginning of this ferocious era that Lashley has been in for the last 168 days.
Lashley’s dominance of foes like Drew McIntyre, Kofi Kingston, and damn near anyone else thrown in his path has been amazing to see, but also looks like it landed Lashley in the crosshairs of a returning Goldberg, the icon who will reemerge to confront the man at the top of the mountain to see if he scares. Like The Wire’s Omar, Lashley don’t scare. “If he wants that match at SummerSlam, I’m going to give him that match,” Lashley recently told Complex, “but I’m telling you I’m a different animal. I’m a different animal right now.”
Complex caught up with Lashley ahead of his appearance on Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions (which hit Peacock on Sunday, August 15) and his WWE Championship defense against Goldberg at SummerSlam on Saturday August 21. In their conversation, the WWE Champion reflects on getting his “incredible” confrontation with Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania 37, explains why he took the Goldberg challenge for SummerSlam, speaks on his relationship with MVP, reveals where he gets his suits from, and even speaks on how he got into business IRL. Respect the ALL MIGHTY when he enters the room.
We spoke back in March, right after you had just won the WWE championship. What have the last 160-odd days been like for you?
It’s been a monster, man. I think I’ve just been picking up more confidence, and I think that everything’s just been going great. Me and MVP, we’ve been on a roll, and I think the consensus is that when you see me as a champion, then you understand what a champion is. I’m a force, and I think anybody coming up right now that they want to make that has the ability to take that next step, they have to go through me. And that’s a big path to overtake. So winning a world title right now is a huge, huge ordeal.
In a promo for your upcoming episode of The Broken Skull Sessions, you mentioned that Drew McIntyre is, currently, your favorite opponent. And when we spoke earlier this year, you mentioned that it would be “incredible” if you and Drew were to get a championship match at WrestleMania 37. That match has come and gone. Take us back to that moment. What was it like, being able to get that moment that you were working towards and really looking forward to?
I think on a WrestleMania card, you look for all kinds of different match-ups. And, for me, I think the WWE Championship is an incredible match because it’s a special match-up. The fact that I had an opportunity to go against Drew shows kind of a different side of wrestling. These days is a lot of little guys running around doing a whole bunch of flips and jumping around and doing all kinds of stuff—which is very entertaining and I love—but the fight is what we need in professional wrestling. The fight. We need the people that hold that title, when you walk through the airport, you see them, and you say, “Damn. That guy is somebody. I don’t know who he is, but he is somebody.” You got that with me and Drew.
Before that, before WrestleMania, I was so amped up. I was training like crazy, boy. It was such a good time. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I knew that I was going to be ready for it. Now we said that sometimes you just got to change. You got to train your ass off with your eyes closed and knowing that you’re doing something for a purpose, and that’s what it felt like with Drew. That’s what it felt like when we were out there, and we had that WrestleMania moment because we had that fight feel. The first match-up after a year of being away from the crowd. Everything came together perfectly, and I think it was a great showing.
You’re back on the road again. What’s that process been like for you, transitioning quickly from the ThunderDome to being in front of the WWE Universe?
“On the road again.” [Laughs] It was just one of the things. A lot of the guys, when we started going on the road, we were thinking, “Man, am I ready to go on the road? Is my body acclimated to do those kinds of matches? Am I ready to go jump on the road?” And then I’ve been spoiled for the past year. I remember driving into the first big city, and I was going over a bridge. I was looking at the city, and I was like, “Damn. I miss this.” I was just in just Planet Fitness, a regular gym, and somebody was like, “What are you doing here?” They freaked out.
It’s a good feeling, man. It’s a good feeling to walk out and see the crowd just go crazy and get excited about seeing you because I tell you the truth: We’re just as excited about seeing them. I was used to seeing screens there for almost a year. [Now there are] fans out there screaming, and I can actually walk up to them and give them high fives or rip up one of their signs if they say something bad about me. I miss all that, man, and I think the fans miss that interaction that we need. Human interaction is necessary for everybody across the board. We need these shows. We need to have these big shows, and we need to get back on the road. I love it. All the guys love it, and I think it’s only going to get better from now.
I thought it was funny when Goldberg came out and said, “I want Bobby Lashley at SummerSlam,” and Bobby Lashley was like, “Nah, I’m good. You keep moving on.” Now we’re at the point where there was friction going on with his son on Raw, and the match is now set. You’ve run through a lot of competition on the roster, but Goldberg is a different type of animal when he returns to the WWE. Are you thinking about him differently than you were thinking about some of your recent opponents, like Kofi Kingston or Drew?
Yeah. Actually, because I saw the intensity; not different than I saw with Drew, but I saw the intensity in his eyes. I follow what he wanted to do. I said this once, and I’ll say it again: I have a tremendous amount of respect for Goldberg because everybody growing up watching Goldberg, watching him shake the ropes, Jackhammer people, scaring people… I have a great deal of respect for it, but here’s the thing: He just can’t be me, and I think that’s what he has to get through his head. I mean, yes, he’s an icon. Yes, he’s a Hall of Famer. Yes, he’s everything that you want to call him, but he’s not me.
Goldberg has a pick of every year coming back a couple of times and taking out the world champion, taking out the WWE champion, and then walking away. But that’s not going to happen. So I took a little offense to that this time. At first, I was like, “Oh, it’s Goldberg.” It was kind of a surprise to me. It’s kind of a cool thing, but then it started to sink in because this guy’s walking into my face. He was lucky MVP was there, because I don’t have too many people walk in my face like that. [People] always [ask] that question, “Do people come up to you at the bar and get in your face?” No, they don’t. And if they do, things happen. And Goldberg came up to my face this time, and things are about to happen.
But you know what? If he wants that match at SummerSlam, I’m going to give him that match, but I’m telling you I’m a different animal. I’m a different animal right now.
I love this intensity. Well, I will say that I was sad to see the Hurt Business as a group, as a unit, break up. But I think it made sense because you were able to refocus. Part of that shift was you and MVP getting real and saying, “Hey, we got to cut the nonsense and stay the course.” What’s your relationship with MVP been like? Are you stronger than ever?
Yeah, man. That’s my dude. Me and MVP, we go way back, and we were always like that. MVP is the kind of person that… You know when you come out from a match, and you have those different people that are always those “yes people”? “Oh, yeah, you did great. You looked good,” and everything like that. I don’t get that from him. I get honest opinions from him. “What do you think we need?” “Well, I think [you should] be careful of this. You need to fix this up. You know, in that match, you missed your game too much. You need to beat him down. Stop tap dancing...” Those are the kinds of things that he would say, and I love that because that’s real, and I need people around me that are going to keep it real for me. MVP is that person. MVP will keep it real whether you like it or not.
Being on the road gives us the opportunity to drive around, and that’s [a part] of wrestling that you can’t buy. We don’t even talk about it. That’s just our personal experience of just traveling around the world and having different craziness happen in different cities all over the place. Things that happen every single day from the airport to the car rental places to the hotels to the shows. There’s all kinds of different stories that we have. Riding with him, we joke about this stuff, talk about this stuff, riding this wave. I mean, me and him are kind of at the tail-end of our careers, and it’s fun to be able to do some big stuff like that because, ultimately, five, 10, years down the road when I retire, I want to be that Goldberg that comes back every once in a while and puts a hurting on some of these people. That’s what the Hurt Business is about. The Hurt Business is still alive, man.
Watching the video back from this past Monday, I’m surprised I’ve never asked this before. You and MVP definitely come dressed to impress. Do you have a suit guy? Did you inherit a suit guy for this wave?
Right. Right. No, I have a really cool spot in Denver. It’s called Ted’s Clothiers. Actually, MVP, Shelton, and Cedric flew down here. I took them over there, and they picked up some clothes from there also. The guy’s really cool.
When I first started this, I told them what I wanted. I’m a grown man. I got two college degrees. I got kids. I have a lot of businesses that I run. I have a real estate company. I dabbled in a couple of other investments also. So I’m a businessman, but I been kicking ass for my entire life. That’s what the Hurt Business is all about, and that’s how I wanted to portray it on TV. We’re guys that have created wealth for ourselves over the years, and we’re still out here fighting for it.
I didn’t realize how much you got into business outside of the ring. When did you get into that real estate?
Well, originally when I did it, it was during my first run. Sitting in gorilla next to Gerald Briscoe, he was one of the guys that got me into the business. It was probably like a year into it, and I was getting money. Briscoe pulled me aside, and he goes, “What are you doing with your money?” I was like, “Well, I just bought a car,” [Laughs] and he goes, “Sit down. Come in here and sit down.” He sat down with me, and he told me about his real estate portfolio. He said, “You need to buy real estate. If you don’t have anything else that you’re jumped into right now, make sure you buy real estate because this business isn’t going to be around forever for you. Your time is limited, you know. Everybody’s time is limited.” He just said to get out there and make sure that you build a foundation for yourself and your family and kids, and I was like, “All right. That’s cool. I appreciate that.” Then I bought my first house. It was like a $50,000 dollar house, put about $4,000 into it, and I flipped it for like $95,000.
So I started making money right at the beginning. From then, I started picking up some rentals as I went along and just tried to build a portfolio. I was making enough rental income a month that I can take care of my bills and be able to live the lifestyle that I want to live, and I’ve gotten to that point, so I’m pretty comfortable right now. It’s great that money’s coming in, and I’m able to still do what I’m doing, and my body’s still healthy, but I’m just preparing for rainy days.
Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions: Bobby Lashley is streaming now on Peacock.