"We're gonna have a huge fanbase": Impact Wrestling's Bobby Lashley talks Bound for Glory, the news media, and choosing MMA or wrestling

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(Photo credit: Mike Kalasnik)

With Impact Wrestling already on the road to Bound for Glory in less than three weeks, RealSport got to speak with former Impact World Champion Bobby Lashley. While Lashley has had plenty of accolades in professional wrestling, he simultaneously competed in MMA and earned an impressive 15-2 record to date. Now, Lashley is stating that he'll be making a clear decision after Bound for Glory to stick with wrestling or stick with MMA, but not both. We got to speak to him about this possibility, his history with and opinion of President Donald Trump, and more!

On Bound for Glory and Impact Wrestling’s expansion

RealSport: At Bound for Glory, you’ll be teaming with King Mo to take on the team of Moose and Stephan Bonnar. Not only that, but it will be within Six Sides of Steel. Is that a match you’re looking forward to? 

Bobby Lashley: It’s home for me. It’s not a big deal for me. I was ready for almost anything. I’ve had little feuds with Moose from time to time, and I think Moose is a great competitor. However, right now my game is at a very high level so I don’t think anybody can really match the level that I’m at. It’s just for me, I just have to decide what I’m gonna do. That’s the big thing that’s been going on right now. It’s, am I going to go full time wrestling or am I gonna go full time fighting, but I think the pay-per-view is going to definitely determine what I do. 

RS: Do you feel like Six Sides of Steel will give the upper hand due to your MMA experience in that kind of environment? 

BL: Yeah, but there are two other people [in the match] that are really comfortable in there also. So, you can’t really say it’s gonna be a benefit of mine, because Mo, my partner, and Bonnar basically live in the cage. So I think everybody is gonna be at a level playing field there. 

RS: Your partner at Bound for Glory will be King Mo, who was in your corner when you lost the World Championship at Slammiversary. Do you trust him to watch your back against Moose and Bonnar? 

BL: I believe Mo is always gonna be there for me. Mo is definitely gonna be there for me. Mo is a huge wrestling fan, and he’s gonna be a great competitor and teammate for me. I think it’s not gonna just be a one-off. If I stick with the wrestling, I’m sure Mo is gonna have my back all the way through it. If it’s a case where we leave, then Mo is gonna be my training partner when he goes to fighting. It’s a win-win situation with me and Mo. 

RS: This will be the 13th annual Bound for Glory. Looking at your history, this will be your fourth Bound for Glory. In 2009, during your first stint with Impact, you were able to defeat Samoa Joe in a submission match. What was it like working with Joe, and do you have any thoughts about his current run in WWE? 

BL: Joe’s great, Joe’s great. Everybody knew there was no doubt about it when Joe started and when Joe got his chance to be on a bigger stage, he was really gonna let loose and make it happen, and that’s exactly what happened. Joe is an incredible athlete, incredible talent, and he gets it. He’s always got it. I think the cool thing about Joe also is that everybody else has a lot of respect for Joe. Joe’s gone out there and had great matches with everyone, and everyone knows that they can get in the ring with him and have a good match. When I had the opportunity to wrestle with him at that time, it was the same thing. It was awesome. It was a good opportunity.

RS: After you returned to Impact, you competed at Bound for Glory 2015 against Bobby Roode. Like Joe, he’s found his way to WWE. What was it like working with him, and what kind of success do you think he’ll have there? 

BL: Bobby Roode is definitely gonna be WWE Champion. A hundred percent, no doubt about it. I’ve been in the ring with tons of guys, all the way across the board, and if I had to list my top five, he’d definitely be in there. And I’m telling you, I’ve been in the ring with almost everyone. So, he’s definitely top five. Without a doubt, it’s gonna be his time. He’s getting ready to show people what he’s all about.

RS: Now last year, you defeated Ethan Carter III in a No Holds Barred match for the World Championship, the first time you were the main event of Bound for Glory. What was it like having the confidence of the company to be the top guy in the top match on the top show of the year? 

BL: I think my run with TNA has really proven a lot, and I’m confident with my game right now. When you first get into wrestling, there’s a lot of walking on eggshells and trying to figure out where you’re supposed to be and how you’re supposed to do it. Not now. For me [now], there’s no walking on eggshells. I’m super confident with my in-ring ability. I’m super confident no matter what aspect of the wrestling business you put me in. So, right now I’m on fire. And I was, and I had been for a couple years here with Impact. So, getting the opportunity to be in the main event, it wasn’t something where I was like, “aw, man, this is a huge honor.” It was like, “this is where I’m supposed to be.”

RS: Back to this year’s Bound for Glory, are you disappointed not to be in the championship picture like you were last year? 

BL: No, I think I’m in an awesome role right now. And I think this role is just as good if not better than the main event because it’s something that a lot of people have been talking about. When you’re taking guys like Colby Covington. He’s going to be the UFC Champion at 170 [pounds]. Some of the people don’t know, a lot of the people do know. King Mo. King Mo has already been Strikeforce Champion. There’s a lot of stuff that we’re bringing to the table. On top of that, we have all of the fans of wrestling and all the MMA fans that are going to be watching because they want to see what’s gonna happen with this match. So, for me, it’s not a big deal.

RS: What are the differences in working with American Top Team and having Dan Lambert in charge compared to working in Impact Wrestling as of late with Jim Cornette in charge? 

BL: Dan’s awesome. Dan has been a good friend of mine for so many years, and he’s always had my career in his best interests. All the time. Whenever it’s been negotiating contracts, or no matter what it is, Dan’s always been there to say, “here, let me take a look and let me help you do this.” That’s the one thing that I can say about Dan is [that he] has always been unselfish. He’s not one of those managers that tries to rob you and take all your money, and he doesn’t need to. He’s just one of those ones that truly wanna look out for the guys. So, in this situation, this storyline, [there’s] a lot of realism, because Dan’s helped me out the whole time. And the things Dan is saying [are] not a joke, it’s real. Dan’s telling me that right now, being an older athlete and having a lot of possibilities to do things in Bellator, he’s saying, “hey, you need to really look at this, because sooner or later you’re not gonna have this opportunity anymore.” So, that’s kind of where I’m at right now. I mean, if it’s something that I wanna jump in there and do more with, then I might do more with it. If it’s something that I need to step away- I think right now we’re in a day and age of reality TV. So with this being a real situation that we’re kinda throwing on TV, we play it up a little bit more, but at the end of the day it’s real stuff. We’re gonna see what happens.

RS: Impact is hosting a press conference tomorrow that you’ll be at in partnership with Crust & Crate Fired Pizza Pub Joint. You’ll get to be involved in a taste test for the first "Impact pizza" and Impact official signature beverage. Is this something you’re excited about? 

BL: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. That’s the one thing that, when we linked up with Anthem, when Anthem bought us out, Anthem came through and they just they’re constantly coming up with different ideas. The one thing that they’re doing is they’re taking care of us really well. Since they’re taking care of us, we’re saying whatever you guys decide to do, we’ve got your back. That’s how it’s been lately. It’s been, whatever direction we’re going, we’re coming. That’s why I’m up here in Ottawa on my time off. I leave home, have my kids at home, and I come up here to do a lot of press conferences because I believe in what’s going on right now. 

RS: Bound for Glory will also be in Canada this year, and it comes after a long period where almost all of Impact’s events were filmed in Florida at Universal. Are you excited to have a different crowd for Bound for Glory and the upcoming television tapings? 

BL: Yeah, absolutely. Not to say that I don’t love the Orlando crowd, because I love [them]. They know us. We know them. But if we wanna be global, which that’s what we’re doing, we have to get out of there. We have to get out of our comfort zone, and we have to do something bigger. We have to go and basically show our product to other people, and that’s what we’re doing. I think that’s the only way to be successful in this business, because the flagship program being WWE, they’re all over the place. We can’t stay in one place be in Orlando and expect to be a true competitor unless we go and do the same thing. We’re starting to do it, and we have the talent to do it. I mean, after [Bound for Glory], this is gonna really show what we have. And I think that whether I’m here or not, we have some great people on the roster. Whether it be Johnny Impact, Eli Drake, EC3, Moose, there’s a lot of really awesome talent that we have. [We’ll] travel around, show everybody our product, and we’re gonna have a huge fanbase because of it. 

RS: Impact recently launched the Global Wrestling Network, a streaming service similar to the WWE Network in that it’s packed with both classic and recent content. Do you think this helps level the playing field between Impact and its competitors? 

BL: Yes, because I think at the end of the day WWE would like to have a lot of the stuff that we’re gonna be putting on that, because you have people like AJ [Styles], Samoa [Joe], some of the guys that they have that’re their top guys right now were former Impact guys. That’s what we’re showing and I think a lot of people wanna see it. 

On his potential future in MMA or Impact Wrestling

RS: After Bound for Glory, are you planning to make a clear decision to go just with MMA or just with wrestling? Or will you try to toe the line between the two like you have in the past? 

BL: I am going to make a decision. 

RS: If you choose to stick with wrestling, have you considered working at other independent promotions such as PWG on top of with Impact Wrestling? 

BL: Yes. Yes. Only because I love wrestling. When I left Impact the first time or when I left WWE, I had the opportunity to go on the independent circuits and work there. Some of the guys that I had an opportunity to wrestle with, they really helped my game out. When you go from WWE to some of these smaller promotions, you gotta be really strategic with your ability and what you’re doing. You can’t just go out there and be the same character you were in WWE, because it’s just not gonna work. When I got an opportunity to go do it, I was wrestling so many different people. It was just a good time. It was a really good [opportunity] for me to be able to do that. If I stay with wrestling, I’m gonna be all over the place. 

RS: You turned 41 back in July, did that help motivate this need to make a decision between wrestling and MMA?

BL: Yes, because I can professional wrestle forever. My body is in great shape. I feel good, and I have no problems jumping out there and doing it. So, that’s not the issue. The issue is you gotta be great at something. Right now, I have an opportunity that I can be great at fighting or I can be great at wrestling if I just focus all my attention on one or the other. That’s where I’m at right now trying to figure it out. 

On President Donald Trump and social discourse today

RS: You had the opportunity to work with Donald Trump, now President of the United States, back at WrestleMania 23. How does it feel to be permanently linked to him considering where we are today? 

BL: It’s great. I never knew what the magnitude of that match was gonna be. You get put in a role like that [and] everybody wants to see where [it’s] gonna go, and I knew that. At the time, he was already huge, and he made that match and that whole experience. He made that, and he helped us out tremendously. Of course we had a great match with great players like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon, everybody was involved and everybody did their job. And that was one thing everybody thought that Trump was going to come in and start pushing his weight around. And that’s not what he did. He came in and said, “how can I make this better? How can I help? What can I do?” And that’s what he said every time when he came in. And they just gave him different roles, and man he knocked it out of the park. Everybody played their part and that’s why it was successful.

RS: How do you feel he has done as President of the United States so far? 

BL: I look at strictly numbers, and unemployment is at an all time low. Our deficit is shrinking, and he’s making the right moves. He’s done some good stuff for the veterans and everything like that. I’m not one of those people that will sit there and watch the news and watch the media and watch them bash him over opinions and chalked up stories. I just don’t. As far as everything right now, I think he’s doing a great job.

RS: Not to dwell on him too much, I have one more question about President Trump. Back in August, there was a rally held in Charlottesville by far-right groups, specifically some neo-nazi and white nationalist groups. President Trump said there were “some fine people” in those groups. How did you react to his response? 

BL: I could care less. I think people jump on it too much. I was talking to somebody earlier today and said, “here, you know how easy it is to hate somebody? Are you a religious person?” [He said yes.] I said, “you are, so you’re basically telling me that you hate all the atheists?” Just because they don’t believe in what you believe in, they hate you. So I’m gonna deem you [that] and I’m gonna put this whole group against you. There’s always two sides to every story. But the funny thing that [before that] I said it’s funny how the world teaches us something in a certain way and [then] wants us to apply it. And I think what was funny is right before all this stuff happened, they had that whole dress, remember that dress thing? Where the dress was blue or the dress was gold, and people started fighting about it? [They’d yell] “it’s gold, no it’s not it’s blue, no it’s not it’s gold,” and they fought fought fought until they got to the point everybody said, “look, people have different opinions or people see things differently.”

So we were shown that right before all this stuff started happening. And then all this stuff started happening and people are fighting back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. And it’s like, look, at the end of the day you guys are gonna have your opinion, and I’m gonna have my opinion. At the end of the day, right now, this is probably maybe better for a certain group, population, whether it’s the upper class or I don’t know how you wanna look at it. But republicans are gonna benefit from having a republican president. Democrats benefitted from having a democratic president. And you’ve gotta understand that if we’re a democracy, we gotta look at benefitting everyone, and that’s what we’re doing right now. 

And I am so far against watching people spew hate nonstop online, it just makes me nauseous. It’s not Trump. It’s us fighting each other, and bringing Trump. It’s stupid. The thing in Charlottesville [is] stupid. Don’t give it any press. Don’t give it any press. If you guys wanna protest, protest. I was in Louisville at the time that they had a KKK rally when I was down in WWE. They said, “hey there’s gonna be a KKK rally downtown in Louisville.” I was like, “bro, are you serious?” So what did I do? I stayed at home! I didn’t say “no, fuck this” and get my stuff and go down there and say I’m gonna take these people out. No. I don’t care. That’s what we talked about. We talked about freedom of whatever we wanna do.

So if we’re talking about freedom, if you don’t like me because I’m black, you have that right. Just don’t violate me, don’t do anything to me directly. You have the right to hate me. I could care less. Are you a bad person because you hate me? No, you’re not. I have some friends on both sides. I have some friends that are strong atheists and I have some friends that are really religious. And I love them both. And I’m not gonna call either one of them a bad person because they have a different view than I have. So I’m not about it. I will never get drug into no mudslinging with Trump. I think it’s childish and I think it’s reckless. I think the only thing we should look at is just the numbers. And right now, our unemployment is doing good and our deficit is shrinking. 

RS: That inability to have a discussion without things turning into mudslinging, do you think everything that happened with the election amplified that divide? 

BL: Yeah, because what happens is the media is like shoving it down your face and evoking so much emotion with everything. With everything. There was just a piece not too long ago [that] was like better than any vignette that ever could come from professional wrestling, about this [situation] just to make him look like a horrible person for what he did. And it’s like, come on man. We gotta stop doing this, because all we’re doing is fighting each other and then adding fuel to the fire with everything going on. 

As the president, you have so many fires to put out. You have so many jobs to do. So, if you’re over there being successful at this, and somebody’s like “oh you gotta come over here” and you’re like “oh shit, okay I’m gonna go over here.” And then it’s like, I’m gonna get him on this and I’m gonna get him on that, and he’s running around in all different directions. And then everyone talks about the tweets and everything like that. Look, if you wake up in the morning and you tell us exactly what you’re gonna do and then you do it, that’s what you’re doing. That’s all I care about. I’m not gonna go into any opinions.

And lastly, the last point on this, is I was interviewed one time about my time with him, and I’m talking the same way I’m talking to you. There’s not one bad thing that I said about him. Then I sat and watched the interview later on, and it was like cut up, pieced up, and it sounded like I was dogging him. So, if somebody comes and says yeah there’s fake news, I’m gonna say yes [because] it happened to me directly.

On his dream opponents

RS: You draw a lot of comparisons to Brock Lesnar because of your similar size and success in both professional wrestling and MMA. If you could face Brock, would you prefer it be a wrestling match or an MMA fight? 

BL: Whichever one pays more. I really don’t care. At the end of the day, we’ve gotta feed our kids, and right now I think either one will do it. It’s one of those things where UFC, with the Floyd Mayweather thing, I know it’s not gonna be as big as that, but Mayweather and Conor McGregor came up there and they actually crossed. It was like, Dana White shook hands with Floyd Mayweather in a different promotion and made something magical. I think at the end of the day, these people are gonna understand the same thing. 


RS: If you could face any wrestler inside a cage in an MMA fight, who would it be? 

BL: Brock Lesnar.

RS: If you could pick any MMA fighter to face in the six-sided ring in Impact, who would it be? 

BL: Jon Jones. 

RS: If you could have one dream feud with anyone in wrestling or MMA history, who would you pick? 

BL: The Rock. Without a shadow of a doubt, it would be The Rock. Because in the wrestling business you wanna be in there with the most popular person. I mean, I was at the Arnold [Classic], and The Rock just came in for an autograph signing and they had to have like a special room that they actually have above everyone else where you had to walk up the stairs and there’s like a little tower. And they had this line of people, and when they announced The Rock was coming, you’re talking about bodybuilders, Arnold Schwarzenegger, everybody [already] walking around [this convention]. The place, it was like a mad dash. I thought it was a shooting and everybody was leaving, but it was because of The Rock. So, without a doubt, if I could have a feud against somebody, I would like to get a rub from The Rock for sure.

RS: Of people on the Impact Wrestling roster, who do you think would give you the biggest challenge in an MMA fight? 

BL: I’d probably say Moose. He’s probably one of the more athletic, he’s one of the bigger guys. I think if he turns to [fighting], I think he would get the right training and probably be a force to be reckoned with. A fight is about athleticism, and Moose is probably one of the more athletic guys we have on the roster and big guys we have on the roster.

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