The Case for Bobby Lashley Retaining the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 37

When Bobby Lashley made his first appearance as the newly-crowned WWE Champion on the March 8 [...]

When Bobby Lashley made his first appearance as the newly-crowned WWE Champion on the March 8 episode of Monday Night Raw, he looked like a million bucks. WWE had put the full weight of their production team behind him, adding lightning effects, war drums and a new logo that positioned him as a modern-day Thor.

His championship victory a week prior was a celebration. Here fans saw a dominant force stomp out a sniveling coward in a mere three minutes after being denied for three hours. The win was a culmination of a 16-year journey, taking "The All Mighty" from promising powerhouse weighed down by Brock Lesnar comparisons to undisputed mega star.

It's no wonder why Lashley's win was met with overwhelming praise from wrestling fans online, or why WWE hasn't even bothered to portray him as that much of a heel inside the ThunderDome — where crowd reactions are determined by the push of a button.

So does't it seem like a waste for him to drop it right away?

Lashley and Drew McIntyre will clash over the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 37, and it feels like a forgone conclusion that McIntyre will become a three-time WWE Champion by beating the champ and taking back the title effectively stolen from him two months prior.

On the surface, McIntyre winning back the title makes a lot of sense. He was the flag bearer for Raw throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and never got the chance to actually hold the title in front of live fans. His victory over Brock Lesnar took place inside of an empty Performance Center. His loss to Randy Orton and regaining of the gold both occurred in front of rows of LED screens. Seeing him finally get to have a moment he can share with fans is the kind of emotional send-off WWE loves to close out a WrestleMania with.

But that's also operating under the assumption that fans won't cheer for Lashley instead — even though everything we've established about his victory and presentation (not to mention The Hurt Business being one of the few things that's kept Raw afloat for nearly a year) means they likely will and should. And if they do, how do you think they're going to react when their new favorite guy loses?

It's funny. WWE has gone a full year without having to worry about live fans vocally rebelling against their booking. But it looks like they're setting themselves up for exactly that on the fans' first night back.

So what's the alternative then? Have Lashley retain, and set McIntyre off on a path of redemption. Now you have a guy who had the chance to finally have his moment of triumph, and he let it slip through his fingers. You have him battle his way back to restore his confidence, feuding in the upper mid-card with guys like Keith Lee and Riddle (maybe even The Fiend?), then set the rematch for SummerSlam.

Why SummerSlam? Because for as much as people have talked about WrestleMania having 25,000 live fans, what's not being brought up is the fact that WWE will go back into having weekly shows in the ThunderDome afterwards. WWE officials have repeatedly stated the promotion won't start touring again in front of live crowds until the second half of the year, and what better way to kick-off the return to normalcy than with a live crowd at WWE's second-biggest annual pay-per-view? Then if you book Lashley vs. McIntyre II you'll have McIntyre's journey tied directly into fans coming back for good.

Or if that doesn't work, keep Lashley as WWE Champion for a while. It's been fun so far, and April 10 feels a bit too soon to pull the plug.