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Bobby Lashley’s rise to the WrestleMania main event was impossible to see coming one year ago

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Back in 2012, I wrote about how far The Miz had fallen down the WrestleMania card from one year to the next. He went from headlining WrestleMania 27 in 2011 to almost not getting a match on the WrestleMania 28 card in 2012. As WrestleMania 28 was approaching, he cut a promo on Raw expressing his own incredulity over his absence from the card, and this led to him being added to a Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny match.

He we are nine years later, and I’m getting those vibes again, only in the opposite direction.

Bobby Lashley’s return to WWE in 2018 was bizarre right from the start, as WWE introduced him to today’s audience by using a terribly awkward storyline involving his sisters. It resulted in one of the worst Raw segments of that year.

Sometime after that, Lashley’s gimmick became centered around his spectacular ass. I was caught in an ass-induced stupor every time he showed off his marvelous cannon. But of course it was hard to take him seriously as a top heel with that kind of approach. Not surprisingly, Lashley struggled to move up the card.

Fast forward to the end of 2019: Lashley married Lana on Raw and was all wrapped up in a sex-fueled storyline that also included Rusev and Liv Morgan.

As that storyline began to lose steam, Lashley was actually pinned by R-Truth in February 2020 at Super Showdown in Saudi Arabia.

This brings me to one year ago at WrestleMania 36. In what I consider to be the most forgettable match of the two night event (even more so than King Corbin vs. Elias), Lashley was defeated by Aleister Black. Looking at where both men are at right now in WWE, it’s a mind-blowing result. There was no storyline at all for that match. My colleague Sean Rueter had to come up with his own best guess for the story when he attempted to write a match preview, because WWE gave Lashley and Black nothing to work with here. Lashley was close to a complete afterthought on the WrestleMania 36 card, and he lost his match. Nearly everyone knew he would lose, too; 94% of the voters in our community poll predicted that Aleister Black would beat Lashley at WrestleMania 36.

With all of that context in mind, I am amazed that here we are one year later, and Bobby Lashley has a chance to actually compete in the main event of night one of WrestleMania 36 on Apr. 10. Even if he doesn’t get that main event spot, he’s walking into the biggest card of the year as the defending WWE champion. That seemed like an impossible scenario one year ago at this time.

This might not be the biggest rise up the card from one WrestleMania to the next, because Becky Lynch went from losing in a pre-show Battle Royal at WrestleMania 34 to pinning Ronda Rousey in the main event of WrestleMania 35. But what Lashley has managed to accomplish here is incredible, and provides a bit of hope for other struggling WWE stars on the roster that sometimes things do actually change in this company.