For several years Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal had been described as a guy that could make it in the wrestling business because his ability to verbally destroy his opponent just as easily as physically destroy them along with his deep amateur wrestling background (NCAA Division II National Champion with over 100 wins in his collegiate career). Now, he is signed to TNA Wrestling and will be making his debut for the company Thursday night, and is also signed to Bellator Fighting Championships as an MMA fighter at the same time. The crossover of wrestling and MMA has a pretty long history from guys like Ken Shamrock and Dan “The Beast” Severn and Warren Sapp’s “baby” brother Bob Sapp to more recent crossovers like Brock Lesnar, Bobby Lashley, and Batista. Hell, even TNA’s Kid Kash and WWE’s Alberto del Rio (then known as Dos Caras Jr.) had brief MMA runs (del Rio even broke an opponent’s arm with a Suplex in an MMA ring in Japan).
So the precedent is there for the crossover but wrestling and fighting in MMA at the same time? That precedent has not been set as of yet. Bobby Lashley was supposed to do it when he was in TNA, but never got around to actually fighting while in TNA and then left wrestling all together. Lashley even claimed he left TNA because of the need to focus on his MMA career. For the moment both TNA and Bellator seem to be happy and excited about the possibilities of this partnership, but how long with that last the first time King Mo is injured in an MMA fight or vice versa? Let’s say King Mo is a natural in wrestling much like the guy he will most obviously initially be compared to, Kurt Angle, and is holding a TNA Championship and on a hot run when he has a Bellator fight and suffers a serious injury in the fight? How well will TNA take that news? What if tears an ACL in a TV match on Impact which he’s scheduled to fight for the Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship in a couple of months? How would Bellator take THAT? Even worse what if King Mo completely bombs in TNA and is an absolute disaster in the ring, and then turns around and losses his first few fights in Bellator? That would not be good for either side. Those are obviously the negatives possibilities, but what are the positives?
If King Mo gets hot in TNA and also starts winning in Bellator (he did win his last two fights via KO though his last one was overturned to a draw due to Mo failing a drug test) and his buzz starts to draw? King Mo holding a championship in both the wrestling world and the MMA world could most definitely be an attention getter and could definitely give both companies the buzz and attention they’re hoping for here. It could also lead to some form of crossover “fight,” Ken Shamrock back in a TNA ring calling out King Mo or some other form of crossover that could draw fan interest. In TNA and Bellator’s minds the potential obviously outweighs negative possibilities, though Bellator may be hedging their bets on King Mo much in the same way Elite XC did with Kimbo Slice, we saw how that went. All these questions are going to be answered soon enough and whether you’re an MMA fan who despises wrestling and any thought of a crossover or completely fascinated by this idea, either way it’s going to be interesting to watch. Whether it’s a huge success or an XFL sized failure.
King Mo makes his TNA debut tonight (Thursday, October 4th) on Impact Wrestling.