WWE might have stumbled on to something special with the Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Lashley feud.
At the recent Backlash pay-per-view event, the two powerhouses had a title match with a little bit of Lana action mixed in for good measure. And it was surprisingly good. The idea of these two—former ho-hum midcarders who traded wins back and forth with each other and otherwise—wasn’t too appealing on paper.
But they knocked it out of the proverbial park. It was a stunning showcase for both guys. They both look like powerhouses but have this odd blend of athleticism fans don’t tend to see from bigger guys, Brock Lesnar notwithstanding.
Both McIntyre and Lashley were all over the place, pulling off acrobatic feats atop the usual hard-hitting action (and don’t dare overlook the tombstone piledriver tease). It wasn’t some match defined by big rest pauses via chokeholds and other stuff—it was fast, violent and, unlike a lot of what WWE is doing right now, didn’t suffer from the lack of a normal audience.
It was Lashley’s best match in WWE since his most recent return.
And that’s vital. It was critical for WWE to find a guy McIntyre could violently go against in a believable manner without losing steam, making fans get bored with his title run or outright damaging another deserving contender like an Aleister Black, for example.
Instead, it managed to do the opposite. Lashley left the match looking like an absolute monster in a way WWE fans haven’t seen in a long time. There’s probably a big portion of the fanbase who never saw his other stints, either. He’s new, and mostly before this, he was toiling around the midcard or in odd soap opera angles.
Granted, it appears the Lana portion of the story just won’t go away. But that’s classic wrestling stuff and is what it is. Provided her involvement doesn’t aruin the storytelling or bout, the second match between these two should be another fun contest.
Everybody knows WWE needs it badly too. There aren’t a ton of credible threats to McIntyre’s reign right now. He’s brilliant and can get good matches out of many stars, but Lashley is one of those nice holdover opponents who can keep serving as the thorn in his side without getting stale. The last thing WWE wants to do is get audiences who aren’t even allowed to show up at arenas to turn on the next anointed headliner of a star who just took down Lesnar.
And Lesnar is a big part of this too. Fans know Lashley isn’t stealing the belt from McIntrye. It would be ludicrous to have that happen. But he’s looked so good in his encounters with McIntyre that there is another angle to consider: Lesnar.
Lashley vs. Lesnar is one of those borderline dream matches plenty of fans would want to see. Lesnar’s going to want his shot at McIntyre too, but mixing up the main event scene with Lashley, who is clearly now booked as a credible threat to Lesnar, could work wonders for the fun factor at the top of the cards going into the summer and beyond.
That alone makes the prospect of Round 2 between these guys exciting. It also paints a so-so picture for WWE as a whole. It’s nice the company can pull these two out of midcard—endless tag team purgatory dork status—and make them look like headline superstars. But they probably shouldn’t have been down there struggling in the first place.
Either way, it’s clear a rematch will only make McIntyre and Lashley look even better and hint at bigger things for the summer. Is it unexpectedly good? Yes. Sometimes in wrestling, that’s the best kind of good there is.
Maybe that’s the theme for WWE in 2020; Randy Orton continues to crush it as a headline star no matter what he’s doing, and Lashley has come out of nowhere to emerge as one of the biggest winners and must-see guys against McIntrye. Round 2 can’t come soon enough.