Lashley promises he'll no longer be 'uncrowned'

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July 20, 2007

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- In the shadow of the HP Pavilion, the site of The Great American Bash, Bobby Lashley wiped the sweat off his brow as he jogged.

His black "Dominate" T-shirt was drenched. He stopped across the street from the corner of 525 W. Santa Clara Street, and perspiration flowed easily from his shirt when he squeezed its ends. The former ECW World Champion gazed at the HP Pavilion and smiled. When asked why he was smiling, Lashley remained soft-spoken but made a powerful statement. He told WWE.com that the Pavilion is the place where he would find redemption.

"In two days, right here at The Great American Bash, I will no longer be an uncrowned champion," Lashley said.

Lashley took in only two breaths before resuming his jog. At the time of this writing, The Bash was two days away, but Lashley wanted to get to San Jose early and prepare.

Since being drafted to Raw last month -- and subsequently being stripped of his ECW World Title -- he has coveted an opportunity to show the world that he is a champion. After all, he never lost the ECW World Title -- a prize he cherished and had just regained after months of facing insurmountable odds before the WWE Draft -- in a match. The former Army sergeant had prided himself -- and won a legion of fans -- on never backing down from any kind of fight and being a champion in the ring and of the people.

Now, at The Great American Bash this Sunday, Lashley has an opportunity to show that he is a champion among champions by winning the greatest prize in sports-entertainment, the WWE Championship. But he faces perhaps his greatest challenge because his opponent is practically a mirror image of himself. (WATCH: A Special Look at Cena-Lashley)

WWE Champion John Cena also knows no quit and no surrender. Like Lashley, he knows what it is like to taste his own blood, feel the sting of his own perspiration in his eyes, and somehow fight the urge to submit to his own exhaustion when all seems lost in the heat of battle in the squared circle. Cena has turned back all challengers in his nearly 10-month championship reign, and has held the WWE Championship in 24 of the last 27 months.

Lashley respects Cena and finds it refreshing that he is facing an opponent who shares his work ethic, ideals and heart.

"What can I say?" Lashley said. "John's a three-time WWE Champion who's held the title for the last 10 months, and you have to respect that."

However, with a wink and sip of Aquafina, Lashley added, "But all good things must come to an end."

The Colorado Springs, Colo., native was been battle-tested and hardened in the months leading up to his match with Cena. He had multiple battles with Umaga, the Intercontinental Champion, and turned back all challengers as ECW World Champion.

Lashley believes that his battles with the Samoan Bulldozer, who also pushed Cena to the limit earlier this year, have prepared him for The Champ. They gave him the confidence that he can overcome any challenge.

"The matches [with Umaga] showed that I am relentless," Lashley said. "It showed that I'm ready to fight. With someone like him [Umaga], you had to beat him down to win, and that's exactly what I did. So beating Umaga just sparked more confidence in my head that going into this match [with Cena] I feel I am unstoppable."

Lashley says he can't wait for Sunday's showdown with Cena at The Bash.

"This will be a great test," he said. "It'll be great because I know neither one of us is going to give an inch. But only one of us will leave The Great American Bash as WWE Champion."

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