I Want To Talk A Little Bit About Bobby Roode

You’ll often hear about how Bobby Roode is the best thing in TNA right now and has been for the last few years. I see talent in him, but he’s not quite superstar that everyone thinks he is. There’s just something missing about him and today we’re going to look at what that may be, although it’s not as hard to find as you may think. The thing holding him back can be found in two men: Booker T and Bret Hart. Let’s get to it.

 

Let’s start back in 1991.

 

The Hart Foundation loses the tag belts at Wrestlemania VII and quietly split so Bret can move on to his long awaited singles push. He wins the Intercontinental Title at Summerslam and moves on to the world title about 15 months later. his first world title reign doesn’t go all that well and he loses the belt about four months later at Wrestlemania IX. he wins the title back at Wrestlemania X and goes on to become the guy in the WWF for the next few years.

 

Now let’s look at Booker T. Harlem Heat goes on sabbatical in late 1997 due to Stevie Ray’s injury and Booker wins the TV Title the night after Starrcade. Over the next few years he dominates the midcard and wins the world title in the summer of 2000. While WCW would be out of business in less than a year, Booker’s ascension to the main event was handled quite well with Booker going from a solid midcarder to the top star the company had. He transitioned to the WWF main event scene and eventually won a world title there after rising through their ranks.

 

On the third hand you have Bobby Roode, who also went from a successful tag team to the world title and being one of the top stars in the company. Roode held the world title longer than anyone in company history, yet I don’t think there’s much of a case to be made for his title reign meaning all that much. Bobby turned heel after a match with James Storm and held the title for about nine months, yet he never became all that big a deal. Now why is that the case?

 

What we have here are three cases of guys going from a successful tag team and becoming the world champion later in their career. Of these three, Booker’s first title win and reign might have made the most sense. Bret’s title win came out of nowhere at a house show in Canada that was released on a Coliseum Video called Smack Em Whack Em (check that tape out. It’s one of the best home videos ever released). Roode’s win came on Impact a few weeks after the biggest show of the year. Booker’s came on PPV (albeit as a substitute for Hogan).

 

So what was holding Roode back? There are several instances and all can be compared to the other two title reigns.

 

First of all, there’s the look of change. This one really is simpler than it sounds: when Roode became a singles guy, he looked just like he did when he was in Beer Money. Think back to Booker T winning the world title. He was wearing black trunks and boots in a very simple look, which was different than what he had worn earlier in his career. When he was in Harlem Heat he had worn a singlet and when he had been in the midcard it was a pair of long tights.

 

It doesn’t sounds like much, but the attire a person wears to the ring can mean a lot. Think back to Hulk Hogan. He’s by far the biggest hero of all time and when he turned heel, the look started to change. He was wearing black, he had a beard, and started wearing sunglasses. Jericho switched to trunks when he turned heel and Undertaker is always altering his look, even a little bit at a time. Bret and Roode had the same look they had had for years before winning the title: a singlet for Bret and trunks for Roode.

 

Another thing that slows Roode down is his name: Bobby. I know he’s had that name for years, but it sounds like the name of a nine year old paper boy, not the world heavyweight champion. Look at some of the biggest names ever: Hulk, Savage, Stone Cold, Rock. Then we have Bobby, which sounds like it belongs on the Mickey Mouse Club. I know it’s minor but I have no idea why he changed it from Robert, which at least sounds more serious.

 

Back to the big things, let’s take a look at the finishing move. What is Roode’s finisher? The exact answer doesn’t exist, as Roode has several of them. I’ve seen him get wins with a Crossface, a fisherman’s suplex and the spinebuster. The Crossface doesn’t work for him as a heel due to wrestling law #84: top faces shall not submit. The fisherman’s suplex is ok at best and the spinebuster is so common that it’s barely a finishing move at all.

 

On the other hand look at someone like Hart. He had one and only one move and it was OVER when he hooked it on someone. Booker started using the Bookend around the time of his main event push as well and there are others who changed finishers upon getting a big push. Roode’s matches always felt like he was looking for a way to get a fast win instead of having some big move to knock someone out cold.

 

Now we get to the most important thing of all: the way Roode won the title. As I mentioned before, Roode’s title win came a few weeks after the biggest show of the year. The details of his title win make it even less impressive. Over the course of the summer, Roode had competed in and won the Bound For Glory Series, a points based competition to earn himself a world title shot. Roode had literally spent four months building himself up for the title showdown against Kurt Angle.

 

The match was built up, Roode was ready, it was the main event of the biggest show of the year….and Roode lost. Angle cheated to retain the title, but at the end of the day it was Roode getting pinned in his big moment. Roode would go on to win the title about two and a half weeks later, but his fans didn’t know that at the time. Instead they saw four months of hope and buildup wasted on another Kurt Angle win, because goodness knows he doesn’t have enough of them in his career.

 

The idea was supposed to be that Roode wouldn’t know when he would get another title shot and would do anything to win in his second try. That’s all well and good, but the same result (Roode using the beer bottle to beat his longtime partner James Storm) could have been accomplished with Roode defending the title instead of capturing it from Storm. Have him say something like “Yeah I hit James Storm with a beer bottle. I’m the World Heavyweight Champion and I’ll do ANYTHING to hold onto my title.” Same result, Roode wins the match at BFG, and there’s no failure.

 

For comparison’s sake, look at the first title wins of the other two guys I’ve been talking about: Hart and Booker T. Bret won his first major shot at the title in a 30 minute war against Ric Flair by making him give up in the Sharpshooter. Booker T won his first world title match on PPV by pinning Jeff Jarrett with the Book End. Wouldn’t you agree that both of those results sound better than “won the title in his second attempt after botching his big chance?”

 

Let’s take a quick look at Roode’s title reign with the focus just on the PPV title defenses. We have: a cheating win over an injured AJ Styles, a draw against AJ Styles, a DQ loss to Jeff Hardy, a win after Sting hit Hardy with the title belt, a win over Sting after Sting knocked himself out, a win over Storm when Storm knocked Roode out of the cage, a win in a ladder match, a win after hitting Sting with a beer bottle but Sting winds up standing tall to end the show, and the loss to Austin Aries.

 

In other words, Roode defended the title nine times on PPV and won a total of one match either on his own or without cheating. I understand the idea of a heel cheating to win, but once in awhile he needs to do more than escape with the title. It made his reign look weak and made him look like a guy who was lucky rather than good. The same thing was said for the Honky Tonk Man during his Intercontinental Title reign and that’s not something you want for the world champion.

 

So does all that mean that Roode’s career is hopeless and he can never be a top guy? Of course not, as Bret went on to be the top guy in the company for years to come. It was a bad world title win and a pretty bad reign after he got his hands on the belt, but it doesn’t mean he isn’t talented. Roode is comparable to guys like Booker T and Bret Hart and both of them wound up in the Hall of Fame. Roode’s first title reign didn’t work all that well but the potential is there, which is a very important point. You might even call it the “It Factor.”

7 comments

  1. chris says:

    I agree with almost everything. Roode can be a big star. For his sake as well as TNA’s I hope he does. The only nitpick is that every top babyface you can name has submitted.

    Rocko Reply:

    I dont remember Austin ever submitting as a top face. He did as a heel but I dont remeber him doing it as a face.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    I don’t recall it either.

  2. M.R. says:

    Is it possible to be a big star in TNA? Hardy arrived as the hottest thing in wrestling and yet now feels like just another guy.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Hulk Hogan can’t move the ratings. No one is going to be able to.

  3. Eric says:

    Would you suggest that maybe in between PPV defenses, guys should defend their belts against midcarders and simply win? I’ve always thought that is a helpful way for a heel to gain some credibility.

    That said, Bully Ray is suffering from the same exact thing as Roode. Both guys are/were heel champions whose title defenses seem token all the time. With Bully, I think it’s even worse because here’s a guy that lost almost every big match he’s ever had a singles guy in TNA and then has these goons help him win a world title……except they didn’t. It was ONE GUY who tossed him a chain and he used it to win the title. So really, Bully only needed Devon to win the title. Then he’s the champion and he uses a similar finish in his next PPV defense. The babyface GM doesn’t like him as champion and doesn’t like that he married his daughter yet he has not booked a match where he has stacked the odds against Bully Ray. He hasn’t barred Aces and Eights from ringside, he hasn’t made a handicap match, he hasn’t done anything logical at all to get the title off of Bully Ray. This is why I’m not a fan of this reign at all. Bully SHOULD have lost the title the next day if Hogan wasn’t a moron.

    As for Roode, he definitely should have won at BFG and I completely agree with you. I didn’t like it then and I still don’t like it. He also should have lost to Storm who was and still is possibly the most over guy in the company.

  4. NightShiftLoser says:

    Same look, same name…new theme music. Yet Bobby Roode has done alright for himself, eh?