We heard from the WWE Champion, The Miz, ahead of Monday Night Raw’s huge championship match and so it’s only fair we hear what the challenger has to say! Andy Spoors joined the world’s media, as Bobby Lashley looked back on his journey, The Hurt Business and those segments with Lana, Sami Zayn and his ‘sisters’…

Who has been your biggest supporter during your career?

Bobby Lashley: My biggest supporters are, of course, family and my kids. That’s what I do everything for man. I’ve been doing this forever and it’s one thing to be able to show your kids that hard work does pay off and that’s what I’ve been doing. Every time, when I’ve won a title, I like to bring it home, we take some pictures, we have some fun and we celebrate.

So, absolutely without a doubt. But you know there’s the people that I grew up with from my old wrestling partners, to some of my old team-mates and everybody. They know what I’m about, they know how hard I work and they know that it’s time. I deserve what I get, because I put in the work to get it.

It’s been about 10 months since the Hurt Business was formed on Monday Night Raw. How do you think it has gone and how do you all get on backstage?

Bobby Lashley: It’s been amazing man, because originally when MVP came back to the Royal Rumble, we just started talking and started brainstorming. It was something that I wanted to do for some time, bring a group together, and I talked to MVP about coming on as kind of the advisor. 

Then, we not just looked at some of the best participants but some of the best people that we could put in. Not just the best wrestlers — we looked at people that were going to be close to us and I’ve been friends with these guys forever. So everything that we’re doing is natural because we are close. We are friends so it’s been great man.

Every day we come in and we all put in work and then afterwards, we all go have a bite to eat and we think about our next strategy. So, it’s a good time man and those guys have been great for everything, they are on fire right now and we just keep going.

You’ve been part of some pretty strange angles since your return back in 2018, such as Sami Zayn and your ‘sisters’ and the wedding with Lana. You’ve also mentioned that you really want to face Brock Lesnar. If you become WWE Champion, is he the man you want to defend against? 

Bobby Lashley: It was always me first of all. What I always tell people is that I love and enjoy every single thing that I’ve done in the WWE and everything I’ve done period. You know a lot of people are like ‘well you’re not where you’re supposed to be!’ and everything’s a journey. My journey was, of course, a little different since coming back but man I look back at it and I say you know what it just shows that I’m willing to pay my dues. It shows that I’m in there for the show and it shows that I’m ready for my time again. 

As far as Brock goes, you know Brock is one person. But how I look at it is Drew beat him in like no time. So before, my sights were set on Brock for some time, but like I said Drew’s the man. He beat him and I’d choose him, he also beat Goldberg too. Of course, Brock is that kind of mystery mastery match everybody’s wanted me to have for some time now, but right now, I’m looking to be the best and Drew is the top guy.

What is the best piece of advice that you would give to Bobby Lashley at the start of his career knowing what you know now? 

Bobby Lashley: Be safe, be strong and the wrestling business has ups and downs. Like everybody knows and says it’s not always that you’re on top and there’s sometimes where you have to scrape and crawl or beg and plead. Do everything you can! So, I would tell my old self the same thing that I knew from the beginning. Be persistent, stay in the fight no matter what. My favourite quote is the harder you work, the luckier you get. I’m not scared of hard work and I’m not afraid of hard work, so my new luck is on its way just based on the hard work that I put in.

Some fans may be surprised to know that you have Panamanian ancestry. How connected are you with your Latin American roots? 

Bobby Lashley: Well, my family came from Panama, so I’m my first generation here (in the States) with my sisters. My dad moved here when he joined the military when he was 20 years old and then he had us here in United States. Unfortunately, he didn’t teach us Spanish, which I’m kind of upset about, but I’m still really in touch with my background. I went to Panama once a few years back, that family and I loved it and I keep in contact with all of them. We have Panamanian reunions and stuff like that so I’m really intense and I like to keep coming back and doing something. I know I talked to my dad a little while back about possibly opening up a school out there or opening up a gym or some kind of training facility, so that’s kind of something that I’d like to do in the future and hopefully I can make that happen. 

On Monday Night Raw, you will be facing The Miz for the WWE Championship 15 years after your WWE debut. What does this opportunity mean to you? 

Bobby Lashley: Man, it means everything. If you know the time that I had off when I was away from WWE, I went off and I fought to legitimise myself. I went out and did independent promotions to kind of give back to wrestling shows, the wrestling community, then the independent wrestling community that I’m paying dues. I’m showing respect so I feel that I’ve been crossing all the boxes and checking all the boxes off up until this point.

Ultimately you know that is the best thing and the greatest thing that you can do in the wrestling business. To win that world title and I always knew that I had what it took to be there, I just never had the opportunity to get there. Now this Monday I have got an opportunity to get there. I’m trying out training like you wouldn’t believe ever since I came back. I’ve been training like you won’t believe and I’m going to say it again…I’m going to continue saying it over and over again: the harder I work the luckier I get. 

So, this is it. I mean this is what my whole career’s about. I’d like to be able to go to Hall of Fame knowing that I won world titles, that I was at the top of the food chain when it came to everything in the sport of professional wrestling. 

The match everybody’s talking about, is a match between you and Brock Lesner. Do you think there is a lack of respect in that, because you are not champion and Brock Lesnar is not even in the company at the moment? Is it maybe a lack of respect towards the champion and the championship?

Bobby Lashley: Absolutely! Because like I said before, Drew beat Brock so of course he’s probably at home a little upset. But at the end of the day, in order to be the champion you gotta beat the man that’s what everybody always says and it’s their favourite quote by Ric Flair. 

I helped Miz beat Drew, but outside of that truth I think all the focus should be on Drew and then if Brock wants to come back in the picture he can work his way back up there to that title shot. There’s a lot of people right throughout Monday Night Raw, myself, Braun and there’s several other people that want to get their shot at the title. He’s not the man, so of course that fight everybody would love to have some time in my career, just because of the similarities between Brock and I, but at the end of the day if Brock comes back, I welcome that challenge. It’s up to him, if he doesn’t then Drew’s the man. 

What’s been your highlight of being in the Hurt Business?

Bobby Lashley: You know we always say it’s matches. Of course, matches make highlights of your career, but I think just this energy of us all getting together has been the highlight. The time we were all able to stand on that stage holding all the gold up, that was a huge, huge moment for myself and for the whole group.

But then there’s so many different high points that we’ve had from just hanging out, just being together, bringing the group together and like I said, and everybody always says, the best is yet to come. But at this point, that time we all held up the golds, I think that kind of legitimised us as a group. There haven’t been too many factions that came together where everybody was standing there with gold around their waist so that was huge. 

You have been preparing to be WWE Champion for a long time. Heading into a huge match against The Miz how do you prepare? 

Bobby Lashley: Well, I think you answered the question at the beginning of your question. When I first came in, I was looked at as world champion material, so training doesn’t change. Of course, I always ramp things up just a little bit more when it gets to those big matches but training isn’t changed. I’m doing all the same things that I have always done and I just work a little harder, work a little smarter, but it’s just business and the Hurt Business is about business and it’s business as usual! 

You helped The Miz cash in his Money in the Bank contract at Elimination Chamber. Can we say you have partial credit in his WWE Championship reign? 

Bobby Lashley: Yeah, it was 100% because of me! This was the deal. The Miz was looking at a way to cash in that briefcase and he knew that he didn’t have an opportunity to just catch Drew when he was down. Because, when Drew’s down he gets right back up, so he had to make sure to find a way that you cannot get back up. And there’s only one person in the company that’s been able to put Drew down and I made Drew staydown. So that’s why the deal was made with me. Of course, we’re businessmen so that business of helping him enabled me to get the shot that was inevitable. That I needed. That I wanted, and I finally got. So of course I was the reason why Miz won the title.

What has the Hurt Business done not only for the career of Shelton Benjamin but Cedric Alexander in particular? They’re both incredible athletes that weren’t really being utilised terrifically on television prior to The Hurt Business. What do you think about their contribution and how pleased you are they’re now getting the recognition that many feel they deserve?

Bobby Lashley: Yeah man I love it! I think it’s amazing, you know I keep going back to these quotes that I live by and one of the quotes is sometimes you have to believe in somebody else’s belief in you. When MVP and I put together The Hurt Business, we looked at some of the people that we knew had a huge amount of potential, they just need to be on the right platform or be on the right route.

If you look down that roster you couldn’t think of a better person than Shelton Benjamin, who has been amazing his entire career and the same with Cedric too. Both of those guys are incredible, so they just needed to be in the right group and be around the right people in order to see their full potential. That’s why we did that, (they fit) so many things that MVP and I talked about so bringing those guys in and they were perfect fit for it. But at the same time, they’re also really good friends, so it’s good to see those guys right back on top where they deserve to be. 

What was the main motivation for your return in 2018 and was there any hesitation at all to return to the company? 

Bobby Lashley: There was no hesitation and there was motivation from the time that I left. You know, sometimes you have to take a step back in your career to propel forward. I thought that it was a good time, I was at a real high point in my career when I left originally. At the same time there was some unfinished business that I wanted to attend to with fighting. There were some things going on in my life, so when I left I actually went right in to training. I thought that staying up and going to fight a little bit would kind of ease that tension, of that drive that you want to still compete. 

At the same time, the fighting was something that I got into to legitimise myself so that I get those big matches. If the Brock match was going to happen, I would have to have a fight background. If you want the big matches with Drew, coming in as hot as he is, what’s the equaliser for Drew? Somebody that has a fight background, somebody that loves to fight, up against somebody that has proven his fight ability. So, it goes beyond wrestling, which is something that you have to take a step back and prepare for. I never wanted to leave and coming back I knew that it was a good time, so I was ready for my comeback.

This is probably one of the biggest matches that we’ve seen on Monday Night Raw but you’re absolutely no stranger to these high-profile matches. You were famously part of WrestleMania 23 ‘Battle of the Billionaires’ and you’ve been a world champion outside of the WWE. How would you rank those opportunities compared to this one on Raw? 

Bobby Lashley: All those were enormous, but this one at a WWE world title? In WWE you can’t get any higher than this, so I mean I gotta put this a little bit higher than everything else. But like I said before I am ready, I’m prepared. I was built for these kind of matches, I love them! Some people get butterflies in their stomach, I get the same butterflies but at the same time I go out there and I just love it. I embrace it. 

I can’t wait for Monday to happen! I’m training, I’m trying to get to sleep early so I can wake up early, so I could try to get in and prepare for it. This match is going to be enormous, I mean me and The Miz, we’re going to tear down the house, but I’m also going to rip him apart and take that title, because this is something that’s owed to me. 

You lost your United States championship at Elimination Chamber. If you win the WWE Championship will you want to recover this United States Championship too and become a double champion? 

Bobby Lashley: You know that would be beautiful!  That would be beautiful to win the WWE Championship and then go back and beat-up Riddle and take back the United States Championship. That would be huge, and I never even thought about that, I kind of put all my focus towards The Miz at this time since I had that match. But now that you say it, that might be something that we might have to sit down and decide if we want that title too. Like we said it many times before, we’re in for the gold man and we’re trying to take them all. 

In fans’ eyes the biggest match you’ve had in WWE so far was the ‘Battle of the Billionaires’ at WrestleMania 23 with Donald Trump, Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin. When you beat The Miz, are you looking towards this year’s WrestleMania that will be the first to have fans in over a year as the WWE Champion? Would it eclipse that biggest moment? 

Bobby Lashley: Oh wow you know I gotta say yes to all of those. I’m so focused on that Monday match that all those other things that you said, I’ve kind of tried to push in the back burner a little bit. But absolutely beating Miz, I 100% believe that I’ll be going into WrestleMania to be the main event. There are two opponents out there that still hunting, actually three opponents out there that are still fired up and still ready to go for that title. After what I did to Drew, I’m sure Drew is going to want to have an answer to that. 

So, after beating Miz I gotta keep my head on a swivel because I don’t know where he’s going to be coming from or when he’s going to be coming back to gain revenge for what I did to him. So, I gotta keep my eye out for Drew but at the same token if Drew is a real man, what he would do, is allow me to have that match with Miz and then challenge me for that title at WrestleMania. That’s what he would do if he was a real man, so we’ll just see how he reacts. 

How much are you missing the fans being inside the arena?

Bobby Lashley: We all do. Everybody talks about it in the locker room at the show, we miss the fans more than anything. I know fans miss coming to the show, but we miss them also. The energy of the fans cannot be matched by anything. We get the fans there and the fans get to have the experience of being able to login to the ThunderDome which is a cool thing, and more people get to actually be there in the arena from all over the world. But, at the same token it’s one thing that we want. To actually be right up face to face with some of those fans and we will be at WrestleMania. I love to travel to Central America. We’re definitely going to get back out there and travel and hopefully WWE get back out there. The energy was amazing so we’re definitely looking forward to getting back there in front of the crowd and I think the crowds are ready for us too. 

What did you think of how the Retribution storyline was set up and do you think Retribution could still be rebuilt into a dominant force like we’ve seen with The Hurt Business?

Bobby Lashley: Not like The Hurt Business but I think that they have their own direction that they need to go. I know that they have Ali at the front of Retribution and Ali is incredible. He has a great mind for the business, he has the energy, and he brings everything to Retribution, so I think that they have a long way to go. I think you’re going to see a resurgence of Retribution, they just need to find a different show because they can’t be on the same show with Hurt Business. We run Raw, so if they want to be able to be a dominant force, they may need to look at SmackDown and maybe look at a different direction. But I love those guys and I love that feud. They had some big strong guys there that are tough, and they have Ali leading. That is probably one of the best bits of business, so I think they have a long way to go. 

It’s a big match on Monday would you say this is possibly one of the biggest matches in your career? We’ve seen The Miz through media this week and he’s up for it. How does it rank in terms of all the stuff you done on Monday Night Raw? 

Bobby Lashley: I’m going to put it at the top just because of what’s behind it. I’ve had some great matches on Raw. I mean, I beat Roman on Raw, I had Finn Balor on Raw, I had Elias on Raw, I had Braun on Raw. I mean I’ve been involved with some crazy things since I’ve been back and all have been great experiences. But just having the chance to go for that WWE title and be able to get that WWE title, I think that’s gotta be on the top of my list. 

If you could add any woman from the WWE roster to The Hurt Business, who would it be and why?

Bobby Lashley: Shoot, see this is how rumours get started! There’s a couple of people that I think would definitely be aligned for The Hurt Business. One of the ones that I’ve seen Tweeted about several times and I think that she’s in line for what we’re doing is Naomi. She’s definitely on top of list. Another person that that some people haven’t thought about too much is Mickie James. I started out around the same time Mickie did and we’ve been really close friends for a long time, and I think she’d have the same mental attitude that we have in The Hurt Business. I don’t want to leave out anybody, but there’s a couple other people that we have been talking about, but I’ll just leave it at those right now. 

A lot of fans think that this is where you belong on the roster, dominating on Raw for the past year but was there any part of you that felt a bit frustrated with where you were on the card?

Bobby Lashley: I thought at the beginning that because of who I was and what I did, and what I’m capable of doing that I should have been right at the top as soon as I walked into the business and walked back in. But you know what? That’s not how it works and sometimes you have to do the work and you have to pay your dues. 

WWE is no different from any other huge organisation, they’re not just going to let somebody come in and walk right at the top. You have to go, because I know I paid dues before and I paid dues when I wasn’t in the WWE, when I took my break to fight and everything. But coming back I felt that I would have to kind of grab a little bit and have to do a bit of the dirty work, but I knew ultimately, I would be right where I needed to be, where I deserve to be. And that was on top. 

This will be your second opportunity at the WWE Championship since your return. What did you learn from your first against Drew McIntyre at Backlash? 

Bobby Lashley: Never take your eyes off the title. That’s a big thing. When you get to the wrestling business there’s all kinds of factors that can kind of pull you away and take your focus off of what’s important and that’s what I did. Having a big opportunity like that, I never ever want to have an opportunity like that get pulled away from me, because I don’t have my focus on where it needs to be. 

Going up against Miz, how many people right now don’t want that to happen? Drew, pissed off because of what I did to him at the PPV, Braun pissed off because of what happened on Raw. Going up against Miz and he has a tonne of people that want his head. So, although I have Miz to focus on, I got all those other factors in the back of my mind. But if I just keep focus on Miz and I go out there and do what I need to do, I don’t think I will have a problem winning this title…

What can we expect to see this Monday on Raw?

Bobby Lashley: I mean total freaking destruction. Just like I’ve been doing these last few weeks, total destruction. I’m going into a different mind frame right now than anyone in the roster and MVP puts stuff in my ears to fire me up before every match. So, right now, anybody that steps in that ring with me is going to get completely destroyed and I will be walking out with that WWE Championship.

Find out if Bobby Lashley can capture his first WWE Championship tonight on Monday Night Raw, live on BT Sport.