Source: Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast
Lashley debuted in the WWE in 2005, but prior to that he joined the United States Army and was training for the 2004 Olympics. A chance meeting with Kurt Angle, whom Lashley was a huge fan of, in 2003 made Lashley start considering pro-wrestling while working towards his dream of winning the Olympics.
"Kurt had told me that he knows I loves the Olympics, but that I needed to think about something else, considering there is no pro sports," Lashley said. "So, Kurt gave my number to Gerald Brisco for a tryout. My goal was always to win the Olympics so at the time, I had told Brisco to hold off on the tryout because winning the Olympics was my dream."
Then an unfortunate turn of events would derail Lashley's dreams. He was at a bank when a robbery broke out, and he ruptured his knee when he dropped to the ground to protect himself. With his plans on making it to the Olympics no longer on the table, Lashley wallowed in self-pity until he got a call from the WWE.
"I'm sitting there thinking that this is terrible, with me and my leg brace being on," he said. "Suddenly the phone rings and it's Mark Carrano from WWE, and I was thinking, there's no way. We hadn't had any communication in like 5-6 months. He said to me that he understood that I was interested in the Olympics, but this is a big opportunity, and there's a lot of buzz that has been passed down the office about you, so we really want you to come to Louisville and sit down with you to see if we can bring you on. I said that I was in, so he asked if I could come next week, I told him that I couldn't, and I kept trying to push the date back because of my knee situation. There was no way I was going to tell them that my knee was ruptured."
Lashley eventually went to the tryout, and even though he was in significant pain he performed well enough to make a good impression.
"First time I even took a step was running the ropes, and it was one of the most ridiculously painful thing that I ever had to go through," he explained. "Dr. Tom [Prichard] said that he liked the intensity as I was running the ropes, I was like, man, I wanted to cry because of the pain. The cool thing was I was there with Dolph Ziggler, we became friends, and every night we had the tryouts we would go back to the hotel and would have a couple of drinks. I'm icing my knee like crazy; it was four days of tryouts with my knee situation. I was learning all kinds of things, like running the ropes, taking bumps. When I left there I had left on a Friday morning after 4 days of training with those guys. I felt like I was in a car accident. I had bruised my heel, bruise in my back, my knee hurt, I walked home in so much pain. I thought that all they wanted to do was talk. I had done a lot of pushups, but I looked good, but actually had to do something, which was tough."
Lashley also discussed whether he believes it's an issue that younger talent nowadays mostly consists of fans of wrestling who aren't really athletes. He said he believes there's enough room for everyone and it's no longer about being the biggest or strongest athlete, but rather about how they carry themselves.
"Fit Finlay is believable, but he's not the tallest guy, and I believe some people go in there to just want to do the art of wrestling vs the actual fight of wrestling, and I believe you have to do both," he said. "If you are doing that certain style of wrestling, then there are certain positions that you just can't get. I don't want to see somebody beat Brock [Lesnar] just because there are certain moves that they can do. You can't bury Brock just because they want to make a cool match. I don't like that as much."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.