Griselda Records founder Westside Gunn is one of the biggest pro wrestling fans to touch the mic. Many of his songs are named after some of the biggest legends to touch the squared circle, and a number of them feature superstars of decades past. Back in January, Gunn dropped “The Hurt Business,” a posse cut with wrestling aficionados Smoke DZA and Wale dedicated to The Hurt Business, a four-man unit currently running the WWE’s Red brand, Raw. Forming in May of 2020 with the union of MVP and Bobby Lashley, the squad added current Raw Tag Team Champions Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander to the fold, this band of brothersdre dressing nice, living well, and dominating everything. No wonder why Gunn wanted to dedicate a track to their rapid rise.
In one of the quickest turnarounds I’ve seen in recent WWE memory, Bobby Lashley lost the United States Championship (which he held for 175 days) at Elimination Chamber on Feb. 21, 2021; the next night, he’d already sent a clear message to new champ The Miz, angling for a WWE Championship match the following week on Raw. That match eventually happened this past Monday, with The Miz punking out twice before being forced into the squared circle to lose the WWE Championship to Lashley, his first WWE Championship reign in the 16 years since he first joined the WWE.
Complex recently caught up with Lashley, who opened up about the year the Hurt Business has had, who he thinks might be gunning for him, his relationship with MVP, and the future of the Hurt Business.
Congratulations on the win. How are you feeling one day in as the WWE champion?
Man, I’m barely standing right now. It’s been so surreal. I didn’t even leave the building for a while. I just sat there in the locker room and showered. Everybody just left us still there just soaking it all in. Then I went out with my guys, The Hurt Business; we always go and have something to eat afterward. My phone had just been going just crazy all night, all morning. Everybody from guys that I wrestled with in high school, to college, to guys I trained fighting with, old college coaches, old wrestling… High school coach, my dad, my mom, my sister, everybody, friends, everybody’s been calling me. I’m just receiving so much love that now it just hasn’t even soaked in yet. Just taking it all in and thanking everybody for just being a part of my journey.
What’s this last year been like with The Hurt Business in preparation for a moment like winning the WWE Championship?
I love this quote and I say it all the time, “Sometimes you got to believe in somebody else’s belief in you.” When I came back, I came back with the mentality of, be a good hand. You know what you’re capable of doing, they’ll put you in the right place, but you just go out there and you just be ready to do whatever. You be ready to pay dues, you be ready to scrape gravel, whatever you have to do, just be a part of that. Be part of the show and enjoy what you’re doing. And then there was the time where I was like, “No, you can’t just sit back and enjoy what you’re doing. Vince never says that.”
Every interview everybody ever hears about Vince, they always say Vince wants somebody had to grab the brass ring. Somebody that’s not afraid to fail. Somebody that has the balls to step up and say “Hey, I want the ball,” when there’s two seconds left and we’re behind by two, and you’re at the three-point line. And you go, “I’m that guy. I want that pass, throw the ball to me.” He wanted somebody to step up. And it got to the point where, as we got together, the whole Hurt Business got together, we started looking at each other and we said, “Hey, man, let’s do this. Let’s bite down that mouthpiece and let’s go straight for it,” like my old boxing coach used to say. Let’s take everything because really who can stop us?
What’s that relationship with MVP been like?
It’s great, man. In the wrestling business, you always get those guys that you kind of gravitate to, become friends with, and MVP was one of those guys. This was 15, 16, 17 years ago. We became friends. And then over time, we became really good friends.
When he first came in, he originally just wanted to come in so that he can show his son that he’s going on the main stage because he just had his son and his son’s a little younger, so he didn’t get to see his first run. I pulled him aside, I was like, “Bro. I said, “Man, listen to this I always envisioned you as this character as a mix between The Rock, Suge Knight, and Don King.” You take all those guys and you mix them up. Then I told them after that the next step was, who are we [as The Hurt Business]? The Hurt Business is a couple of different things. Everybody heard stories before. When I first broke into the business, when I first got on the road, everybody was real nervous, “The guys, They’re tough on you. You got JBL, Bob Holly, Booker T, all these guys. Man, you got to be fearful of these guys.” Those guys were trying to protect the business, they weren’t trying to hurt anybody. But they made us understand the business, they made us protect the business. And they had a different style of wrestling. They walked in with suits and fought. We’re just going to bring that same mentality around to what we have today. The Hurt Business just fits that description. We come in and we beat people up and we look good doing it.
It’s been a great year, and we don’t even have the live crowd… We keep talking about having the live crowd and you hear the music come on and we come out. We are about our business. That’s what we’re waiting for, man. This group has been fun, wouldn’t have it any other way.
It was amazing to immediately see the shots of you with the WWE Championship with Shelton and Cedric with the Tag Titles. The Hurt Business has a lot of gold. What’s the plan going forward?
We want dominance and a legacy. That’s what we want. Another thing that we talked about, we don’t even know if we want to go there, but I’ll throw this out: Is there a female that’s going to join the group? We thought about that. We have some definite names. And if we did go that route, I think we’re all in agreeance of who we would love to have a part of us. Can’t really say right now, but that’s something that’s [on the way]. So we’re trying to play with it, so we’re coming at all different angles.
You lost the United States Championship at Elimination Chamber, but immediately beelined for WWE Championship, completely changing any thoughts people had for WrestleMania match-ups. Have you thought about who you might face at Mania?
The first one up [is] Drew. Drew’s been an amazing champion. He beat Brock, and ever since then, he’s been just mulling through people. They always say, to have a good good guy, you have to have a good bad guy, and I’m perfect with Drew. Because Drew’s not going to punk me, he’s not. I look forward to having an incredible match with Drew because we will steal the show. The WWE Championship, me and Drew, that’d be incredible.
A lot of people also throw some other names in the hat. One person that we haven’t seen for a long time is Brock, we don’t know where he is. Sup with him? Everybody thought about that fantasy match up with me and Brock for so many years. Well, I got the WWE Championship. He’s going to come back, [and] he’ll usually come back for a title. Anything can happen from now until then.
Westside Gunn got MVP got to hop on the “Hurt Business” remix. Were you a fan of MVP rapping?
That was awesome. When he put it together… I was sitting next to him, we were all having dinner that night when we first got the original track from Westside Gunn. And he was like, “Oh, they want me to put a piece in there. He said, ‘Put pen to paper’.” And it was cool seeing him put it together. And he was like, “Oh man, I know exactly what I’m going to say.” MVP’s extremely talented, so of course, the bigger things he does, the bigger things for The Hurt Business.