Fair warning, this column is a repost of one I wrote a couple years ago. It was a reaction to what was, in my mind anyways, one of the most inconceivably stupid booking decisions I had seen TNA make at that point, and to this day I sometimes wonder how different the landscape of that company could be had things happened differently. Would certain wrestlers be better off? Would others have suffered?
I'm talking about the night Bobby Roode lost his World Championship match at Bound For Glory in 2011, after winning the inaugural BFG Series tournament.
If you can remember back that far, you may recall that I was... less than pleased with how things turned out. I managed to focus some of that frustration into a column, which is the one I will be posting below, and I remained bitter for some time after that.
I still think Roode may have been better off in his singles career (at least for a short period of time) had things gone differently on that fateful night, but I don't know that it would have made a significant difference in the bigger picture. Roode likely would have been temporarily taken out of the main event after his initial run, James Storm would have flirted around the title scene for a bit before heading back down to the mid-card, Aces & Eights would have likely still debuted, etc. etc.
Sadly, as I cannot see any alternate realities, we'll never know for sure.
I hadn't been on the Main Page here for very long when I originally posted this column, and I certainly hadn't written anything this close to a rant at that point. Things have obviously changed since then, as anyone who follows me on Twitter will be more than slightly aware of, but I always enjoy looking back. While I always prefer to post original, fresh content, my schedule has been rather full lately and I haven't been able to complete the couple of columns I have on the go right now, or at least not to my satisfaction. So for now, this is going to have to do. Thank you for your patience, and enjoy this brief trip down memory lane.
Folks, I like to think that I'm a pretty forgiving guy when it comes to being let down by a wrestling company. I forgave WWE after a decision to make The Great Khali a World Champion. I forgave WWE after releasing Muhammed Hassan, although that one took some time. I forgave TNA for hiring Matt Hardy. Hell, I even forgave TNA for not hiring Low Ki during that X-Division hiring spree. One of the things that I am asked the most about my TNA columns is people wondering just how I manage to remain so loyal to a company that so often lets down its fans. Again, I'm just a fairly forgiving person that way. But you know what I'm going to have trouble forgiving TNA for?
Bobby Roode not winning the TNA World Heavyweight Championship last night at Bound For Glory.
This goes so far beyond me just being Roode's biggest fan. If you know anything about me at all you should also be aware that Kurt Angle is one of my all time favourites, so I definitely don't have an issue with him being the champion. Unless of course him being champion comes at the cost of months of build-up of a new challenger of course.
I'm sure you noticed a common theme amongst any Bound For Glory related column over the past couple days, specifically when it came to people's predictions for this title match. 99% of these columns said something along the lines of "TNA has spent so much time building Roode up to be a legitimate title contender over the past couple of months that it would be retarded for him NOT to win the title". I agreed with that statement and even made it a couple of times myself.
Ever since September 11 of this year, the date that Roode won the BFG Series at No Surrender, TNA has spent every week making sure that the fans got to see Robert Roode. He had matches every week against allies from his faction to hype up the title match and to give the fans some solid exposure on what Roode can do in a singles match. The 2 weeks prior to the PPV saw lengthy video packages of Roode in his hometown of Peterborough detailing the road he's travelled to get to where he is. It all seemed set in stone, Robert Roode was about to become the new face of TNA and establish himself as a top name in the industry.
But no, that's not how TNA rolls.
If the reports are to be believed, Roode was indeed supposed to win the title originally. But then that geriatric fuckwad Hulk Hogan had to go and open his mouth and lobby against that ending, which of course resulted in Angle retaining the belt. What does Hogan have to gain by holding Roode down? Does he honestly think Roode isn't ready to be a World Champion? Well Hulk, the fans would beg to differ. If you cared to notice the MASSIVE reactions he's been getting lately, as well as the fact that he's probably one of the most talented wrestlers/performers on the TNA roster, you'd know that he's ready. He's been with the company for 7 years now, through thick and thin, so it's pretty clear he's a loyal company guy. On paper, Robert Roode is the ideal World Champion.
So where does that leave Roode's dreams of becoming a World Champion some day? In the same report that detailed Hogan lobbying even further against Roode winning the belt there were a couple of different scenarios that have apparently been tossed around. Let's take a look at those, and then a couple of other scenarios that I want to discuss.
Bobby Roode Wins the Title on a Future Episode of iMPACT, or a Future PPV
This would be my preferred scenario because it still results in Roode becoming World Champion, but I still have some issues with it. Bound For Glory is to TNA what Wrestlemania is to WWE, which means that it is their biggest PPV event of the year. It's the PPV that TNA talks about most and it's the PPV that their wrestlers can have a career defining moment on. If someone in WWE wins a World Championship at a PPV other than Wrestlemania it's not really a big deal. Even for someone who wins the belt for the first time, a non-Wrestlemania title win just isn't as prestigious. Same goes for TNA. If Roode had won the belt last night, he would have won his first World Title on the biggest show of the year for his company. If he now goes on to win the title on a free episode of iMPACT I'm still going to be super happy about it, but TNA has now robbed him of his "Bound For Glory Moment". That leads into my next point…
Bobby Roode Wins the Title at Next Year's Bound For Glory
This scenario presents more than one problem in my mind. I've said before that I think TNA should make the 'Bound For Glory Series' an annual event as it would be an amazing tool to elevate new talent to the main event. If Roode winning the World Championship is going to be delayed a full year so he can still have that "Bound For Glory Moment", he would then have to win the BFG Series again, which in turn takes away from younger talent who could benefit from a big win. That's all assuming that TNA goes ahead and holds the tournament again of course, so here's another issue I have with delaying the title win. TNA is rather notorious for waiting to put their top belt on a wrestler even when the time is absolutely right. Samoa Joe for instance used to be one of the hottest things going in TNA and fans everywhere were screaming for a World Championship run. What did TNA do? They waited until his momentum had cooled, gave him the belt, and quickly took it away because it didn't work out. Roode is in a similar situation now where everyone expected/wanted him to win the belt last night, but he didn't. If TNA delays the inevitable for too long they're going to miss out on what could be a gold mine for them. There's an old saying that says "those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it", and if TNA knows what's good for them they will heed that warning. Robert Roode is currently one of the best things they have, and if they're not careful they're going to miss out on a great thing.
Hogan Keeps Pushing Roode Away From the World Championship
If this scenario happens, I'll likely go insane. Hogan made an absolutely bonehead move by coming out in an interview and saying that he doesn't believe Roode is "the next guy". Apparently Hogan forgot what company he was working for, because no sane person would ever shit on a guy that the company is pushing that hard. And for him to lobby against Roode at the very PPV that, if reports are to be believed, Roode was scheduled to win the belt at? How did no one slap this idiot. If Roode never ends up winning the TNA World Championship then that company deserves to die. It would be one thing if Hogan was raising solid points about WHY Roode doesn't deserve a title run yet, but nothing like that has been released yet. Hell, Hogan even said in the very interview that he buried Roode in that "the company could be behind him, the whole world could be behind him, I don't think he's the next guy". So Hogan is essentially saying that regardless of what the fans and the company he works for think, Roode is not a World Champion caliber wrestler because Hulk Hogan says so. I'm sorry, but that's absolute bull. Roode is a future world champion regardless of what Hogan thinks, and if he doesn't win the belt at some point it's going to be a tragedy.
Jeff Hardy Is Pushed To the World Title
This point isn't so much about Roode specifically. In the same report detailing Hogan's lobbying against Roode, it was said that the decision to have Roode lose his title match may have been done to hotshot the title back to Jeff Hardy. Now I'm a fan of Jeff's, don't get me wrong. For all his personal faults, and God knows there's a lot of them, he's still a solid wrestler that is certainly capable of being a World Champion in TNA. The problem I have with him winning the belt back this soon (and by soon I mean any time in the next 6 months to a year) is that his whole storyline right now is built upon him asking forgiveness for his mistakes, most specifically how he showed up to a PPV title match so messed up that he couldn't perform. I'm all for giving him a second chance, I really am, but how are we as fans supposed to buy that TNA is going to give him any opportunity at their top prize when we're being told every week how much of a screw up he is/was? It's sending the wrong message to younger viewers that you can basically do whatever you want in life regardless of the consequences, but as long as you say "I'm sorry, it won't happen again" everything will be okay and you'll get amazing opportunities right away. Jeff needs to start from the bottom again because he really jeopardized not only his own safety by coming to the ring that messed up, but also his opponent's safety. To further prove just how damaging Hogan's ego is to TNA, in the same interview that he said Roode wasn't "the next guy", he also picked who he believed was. Who was it you ask? Jeff Hardy. Now it's coming out that Hardy may soon regain the World Championship? You can't tell me that Hogan had nothing to do with that. TNA cannot allow Hogan's ego and overinflated sense of self worth to determine their creative direction because nothing positive can come out of that. Jeff Hardy is a World Champion caliber wrestler, but he needs to pay his dues again (in a storyline sense) before TNA should let him anywhere near the top again. He's done the apologies part, now he needs to prove he's serious about changing.
Robert Roode Leaves TNA and Signs With WWE
At this point in his career, I think this is a move that Roode should seriously consider making. He's done everything he can do in TNA short of becoming World Champion, and it seems like as long as Hogan is around that's not going to happen. So would he be able to thrive in WWE? I would argue that he could. He's a pretty big guy, billed at 6'0 and 240 pounds, so it's not like they'd have to worry about him not looking like a legitimate title contender. He's capable of pulling off great matches either in a tag team or as a singles competitor and that kind of versatility would be extremely helpful. He's got a big enough fan base that it's not like he'd be a nobody coming in from the indy scene. And of course he's still young enough (34 years old) that he has lots of years left on his career, so WWE would be able to invest the right kind of time in his push. On top of that he's remained major injury free up to this point so he's still in top physical condition. Of course I wouldn't be screaming for a World Title reign right off the bat because he would have to pay his dues like anyone else, but I truthfully believe he could be a successful World Champion even in WWE. He's got a good look, he's talented in the ring, he's talented on the mic, and he's got years of experience under his belt. My only worry is how he'd be used in WWE since he's a full-blooded TNA homegrown star, and I think we all know how Vince feels about stars he didn't have a hand in creating. I would also fear for what name he'd be given since I doubt Vince would let him keep "Robert Roode", which would be unfortunate because it's a pretty sweet name. Basically I think Roode is more than capable of making an impact in WWE and could definitely make them a lot of money, but it would all come down to how he was used and that is a massive risk for Roode to take. I still think it's a move he should consider making if things in TNA don't change though.
All in all, I'm not happy about how things went down at Bound For Glory last night. Roode was robbed of his "Bound For Glory" moment because some egotistical asshole decided that he didn't personally feel Roode was deserving enough. Hogan may have done the job for Sting last night, but he really screwed Roode out of his chance. I see absolutely no benefit in TNA not giving Roode the win last night because like I said earlier, this is not the first time they've done something like this. Had Roode won the belt last night it would have been a great moment in TNA history, but now that Bound For Glory has come and passed, a future title win just won't carry the same kind of prestige.
The only potential good that came out of the past couple of months is that Roode has now proven, to the fans at least, that he is capable of being a great singles competitor and not just a tag team guy. In the eyes of the fans I believe that Roode's stock has been raised much higher than it was previously. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to matter to Hulk Hogan. Hogan needs to get with the times and take a serious look at what is best for TNA. The fans want Roode as champion, management appears to want Roode as champion, even non-TNA fans know that Roode should be champion. Put your damned ego aside for one minute Hulk, before you destroy TNA.