Ready for anything

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May 12, 2006

Ever since Lashley debuted on SmackDown last September, he has been a dominant force. It's undeniable that the hard-hitting, soft-spoken Lashley has all of the tools to eventually become one of the elite Superstars in WWE. Friday night, Lashley has the opportunity to get one step closer to elite status, when he takes on Finlay in the King of the Ring semifinals.

Winning the King of the Ring has been historically significant for several WWE Superstars. It helped launch the careers of such greats as Bret "Hit Man" Hart, Triple H and Stone Cold Steve Austin. The young Lashley is well aware of what this could mean for his career.

"It would be a huge stepping stone for me," Lashley told WWE.com from the locker room area at SmackDown. "I think winning this match and going to the finals of the King of the Ring Tournament would be a big boost for my career. Losing this match would be a setback, but I don't think about losing because losing is not an option for me right now."

During his relatively short time on SmackDown, Lashley has steamrolled much of the competition he has seen. But Finlay has been a different story. Lashley has a long history with his King of the Ring opponent. In fact, it was Finlay who helped JBL end Lashley's undefeated streak at No Way Out. They have had several brawls over the last couple of months as well, including a parking lot melee which saw Lashley use his almost superhuman-like strength to overturn a car. But through it all, Lashley has never recorded a win against Finlay. Earlier today Finlay told WWE.com that he thinks he's in Lashley's head, but the SmackDown powerhouse disagrees.

"He's not in my head at all because Finlay has never beaten me. He's cheated every time," said Lashley. "I had a clear victory against him several times, and he's pulled out that shillelagh. Tonight I just have to keep my eyes open and be more aware of what's going on in the ring, and I'm sure that I'll beat him."

If Lashley can finally overcome Finlay, he would meet up with Booker T in the finals at Judgment Day. Booker T has been saying for weeks that it's just a matter of time before he becomes "King Booker". And, since Kurt Angle had to withdraw from the tournament due to injury, it gave Booker T a bye. So, the five-time WCW Champion will be well-rested for the King of the Ring finals. Booker T has never even mentioned Lashley as a threat to the throne. But Lashley said that Booker will be in for a rude awakening if they meet up at Judgment Day.

"He hasn't given me any respect at all. Every time he talks about the King of the Ring Tournament, he doesn't even mention my name," said Lashley. "He's hoping that I'm not in the equation. He's hoping that he can go against the people he's already challenged because he knows he can't defeat me. So, if I win this match tonight and move on to Judgment Day, it will be a match like no other."

Can Lashley finally overcome Finlay? Or is the fighting Irishman really in the powerhouse's head? Tune in to Friday Night SmackDown at 8/7 CT on UPN to find out.

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