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Posted in: The Crow's Nest
The Crow's Nest - It Pays to Be Roode: A Bound For Glory Series Retrospective
By TheCrow
Sep 12, 2011 - 11:50:54 PM

1) It Pays to Be Roode: A BFG Series Retrospective

If you remember from my first column here, I made a point of saying that one of the reasons I choose to remain so loyal to TNA throughout all of the "hard times" is because I have faith that eventually that loyalty will pay off. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, it may not even be by this point next year, but eventually I will receive some sort of reward for my loyalty. Well folks I am happy to say that TNA has given me one hell of a payout (figurative, not literal of course) for both the time and money that I have invested in their product. To sum it up, Robert Roode (who I have made it no secret is one of my favourite wrestlers in the entire professional wrestling industry) is now the #1 Contender to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

Now I can already hear the haters revving up their engines to attack on how the TNA World Championship is not nearly as important or prestigious as the WWE Championship, and that Roode is still far from being a REAL World Champion. It may surprise you, but I do agree with part of that logic. The TNA Championship is certainly not as prestigious as the WWE Championship, and that is an undeniable fact. WWE is the bigger company, therefore their belt is kind of a bigger deal. Roode is obviously far from obtaining a WWE Championship reign because, and again this should be pretty obvious to even the dumbest of haters, he is not a member of the WWE roster.

But this is where my agreements end. Think about it this way folks. Like it or not, TNA is the #2 professional wrestling company in North America. You can deny it all you want, but it's true. Regardless of how you feel personally about the company, TNA is the other major wrestling company that wrestlers in North America aspire to join. Sure they could go over to Japan and make a nice living over there, but for those who want to remain in this continent and can't or just haven't made it into WWE, TNA is the place to be if you want to really make a name for yourself. I could make an argument for Ring of Honor as well, but realistically TNA is the bigger of the two.

So while Robert Roode might have some ways to go before getting the championship nod in WWE, I do take solace in knowing that he is a contender to a World Championship. If he does dethrone Kurt Angle at Bound For Glory, he will be a real World Champion. Again I will agree to the point that it may not hold the same amount of prestige as the World Championships in WWE, but it's a step in the right direction. Robert Roode is only 34 years old folks, and while he's certainly not "young" anymore, he has a long career ahead of him and I would not doubt that before he is done we will see him in the WWE.

But I can't talk about Roode's new found success without also talking about how he got to be the #1 Contender. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you've probably seen news about something called the Bound For Glory Series that's been going on over in TNA. To sum up the tournament, 12 wrestlers competed in matches amongst each other, and the results of those matches played a direct role in how well you did in the standings. Different point amounts were gained for submissions, pinfalls, disqualifications, etc. Points could be gained on iMPACT, PPV shows, or house shows (which TNA would film and put on their website for their OnDemand subscribers) The four men with the most points by No Surrender would compete one last time, and the man with the most points by the end of the show would go on to face the World Champion at Bound For Glory (hence the name of the series).

On paper, that description of the tournament looks like a genius bit of booking on TNA's part, but delving a little deeper reveals some major issues with the tournament's structure. These issues have made a lot of people question the overall success of the tournament, and quite frankly I cannot say that I blame them. But what kind of column would this be if I just presented an opinion not backed up by facts? You'd have to call me Michael Ignatieff (only my Canadian readers or those who follow Canadian politics are likely to get the reference there). So let's take a look at some of the most common complaints about the BFG Series and analyze them, leading to the inevitable conclusion.

One of the very first complaints I heard about the tournament, and indeed one that I have made myself a couple of times, is the names that were included into the tournament. For those of you with shorter memories, the people in the tournament were: RVD, Scott Steiner, Devon (D-Von Dudley), "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero (or Elijah Burke, for you WWE loyalists), Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Bully Ray (Bubba Ray Dudley), Crimson, Gunner, James Storm, Matt Morgan, and of course Robert Roode. A lot of people seem to think that some of the names on this list just simply don't deserve to be there. I know that I certainly wouldn't have Pope, Devon, Steiner, or Crimson anywhere near my World Championship that's for sure. But the thing that a lot of people failed to notice (again, myself included, at first at least) is that each man serves a distinct purpose in the tournament. You have your more veteran wrestlers who offer an air of credibility to someone that beats them with Ray, Devon, Steiner, and RVD (not the best of veterans I'll admit, but it's still something). You have your hungry young guns who are itching for that first taste of gold in Pope, Gunner, Morgan, and Crimson. And of course you have your loyal homegrown stars who may not be the youngest kids on the block anymore, but they can still deliver a whooping in Storm, Roode, Styles, and Joe. I won't disagree that there are names on the TNA roster who are perhaps more deserving of a shot at glory (see what I did there?), but at the end of the day the simple fact is you can't put all of your top guys in what is really the same storyline because that just deprives the rest of the program. In the same way that not everyone to compete in the King of the Ring tournament is looked at as a legitimate World Title challenger, not everyone in the Bound For Glory Series was meant to be looked at as a legitimate challenger. Remember, someone has to be on the losing end of a few matches. But more on wins and losses in a bit.

One of the more major complaints I've seen thrown around is that not everyone in the tournament competed in the same number of matches, which basically means that they had fewer chances to gain points in the tournament. There's really no arguing this one at all, and for once I am going to side fully with the haters. If the tournament was based on wins causing eliminations on a regular basis, things would be a little different. But since the tournament revolved around who could gain the most points by winning matches, logic and fairness would state that every competitor should have an equal chance. Looking at the final four competitors, there's a pretty significant difference in final matches. Taking away the matches from No Surrender, this is how it broke down: Roode had 15 matches, Ray had 14 matches, Gunner had 19 matches, and Storm had 12 matches. While the argument can be made that 3 of them are pretty close, Gunner has a pretty large lead in terms of total matches. It's just not right. This leads me into my next point that is directly related to this oneā€¦

This tournament was all about finding the best singles wrestler, but a big component of some competitor's final point scores was how they competed in tag team matches. In those matches, only the person who got the pinfall or submission would be awarded points, and while I can certainly see some of the logic in that, I also heavily disagree with it. If you're in one of these tag matches and your partner is about to get the win (and therefore the points), would it not be in your best interest to break up the fall and go for it yourself? As good of friends as Robert Roode and James Storm are (kayfabe at least), I refuse to believe that either one of them would willingly give up points in this kind of tournament. The only way that tag matches would have worked in this tournament would be to either give points to both members of the winning team, or to simply not have any tag team matches at all. Personally I would go with the latter, but that's just me.

Getting away from complaints about the structure of the tournament for a bit, a complaint that I made more than a couple of times was that it appeared, for a while at least, that this whole tournament was basically a way to hot shot Crimson to the World Championship. All personal bias aside, Crimson is nowhere near ready to be the top guy in any company. While he's probably not as bad as I like to say he is, he's just not World Championship material. TNA has been giving him the Goldberg treatment (a massive undefeated streak, just to make it clear) and in a tournament where the only way to gain points is to win (duh) it seemed like he was destined to win. Luckily for me and for Crimson, TNA managed to get him out of the tournament without prematurely ending his streak, and simultaneously has the chance to put him in a program with arguably one of the best performers on the TNA roster, Samoa Joe. That's the kind of thing they need to do with him if they insist on pushing him as a future champion.

Speaking of Samoa Joe, a lot of people are unhappy about his performance in the tournament, and by that I mean they're unhappy about the fact that he just couldn't seem to get a win. In fact, he ended the tournament with NEGATIVE points (due to a DQ loss). I've defended this angle from day one because I knew it was leading to something, and wouldn't you know it something has come of the losing streak. Joe was booked to look like an absolute monster and took out not only Devon, but also the guy who was running away with the tournament, Crimson. Joe is now back to being a monster, and I for one am glad. It may not have been pulled off without a hitch, but I can't argue with the results.

One thing that I noticed was that initially it seemed that they had it all figured out and that Matt Morgan was being bred as the eventual winner. Unfortunately Morgan was forced to pull out due to injury, and it was at that time that the booking started to really fall apart. It just seemed like TNA had no backup plan for the worst case scenario, and that is such a mistake on their part. While it's hard to predict that this kind of thing is going to happen, it never hurts to have a Plan B. I truthfully believe that he would have won had it not been for that injury.

But perhaps the biggest complaint I've seen about the tournament is that the final four in the tournament, so essentially the best four men to compete, had such unimpressive win/loss records. Again, not including the results from No Surrender, this is how it broke down: Roode went 6-3-0-6, Ray went 7-7-0-0, Gunner went 6-12-0-1, and Storm went 6-3-0-3. In case you were curious, that's organized as Win/Loss/Draw/Tag Win (no points). That means even though Storm had the best record, he still only scored points in half of his matches, and he still finished last out of the final four. If I as a fan am really supposed to buy each of these men as a potential World Champion, they should each have better records. Remember earlier when I mentioned that some of the people in the tournament were likely only there to provide a body to beat? They needed to be used a lot more effectively. Gunner, for instance, lost twice as many matches as he won. Really? Is that World Champion material to you? Almost more than anything, this is my biggest complaint about how the BFG Series went down.

But with all that being said, can any aspect of the tournament be viewed as a success? I know that I'll likely be crucified for my answer, but I still believe that overall the concept and conclusion of the tournament were two of the best decisions TNA has made in some time. The problem, as it usually is with TNA's most potential-filled programs, was in the overall execution. When this tournament was announced I was very hopeful that this was how TNA finally planned on proving to me that "Wrestling Matters", and at the end of the day I still believe that it accomplished that to some degree. If TNA was smart, they would make this tournament an annual thing. Of course they should learn from the mistakes they made this year, and if they can manage to do that I see no reason why this tournament couldn't be the best part of the TNA calendar year. WWE has their "Road to Wrestlemania", and now TNA can have their "Path to Glory".

Once again I would just like to congratulate Robert Roode on his victory. When I say that he is one of my favourite wrestlers in the industry today I mean it, and I truthfully believe he is bound for bigger and better things. He's been one of the most consistent performers on the TNA roster since signing in 2004 as part of Team Canada, and I am shocked that WWE hasn't made an attempt to snatch him (and potentially James Storm) up. If Roode can deliver in his newly found main event role, perhaps a few more doors will open. Either way, I am glad that my investment into the company that is so often scorned by other wrestling fans has finally paid off. It pays to be Roode folks.

But that's all for me for now, so until next time, beannacht do anois mo chairde.

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