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01 January 2015

Roode Awakening

          
    His knuckles turn white as he pulls the boot laces taut enough to cut the circulation off of any average man. Looking at the tiled locker room floor, each crack resembles the ventured roads of Canada, and the U.S., which served as the catalyst for the many paid dues of this well-traveled wrestler. Lying beside him – the TNA Heavyweight title. Its' sheen lashes at him like the many stars that he has faced on the way to the top. Staring into each golden plate, they all cast a different reflection resembling the many faces worn over the past decade. His opponent has made his way to the ring and is receiving solar-like heat from those in attendance. It - is - time. 

     Adjusting his knee-pads, he stands to rest his two hundred and thirty plus pound frame on his now tightly laced boots. The locker room door was a cardboard flap as the adrenaline was overwhelming - the corridor to the entrance ramp was drab in comparison to this glistening star. In the gorilla position, he looks down at his decorated waist. Once again he wears the World Heavyweight title; his last reign was a record breaker, this reign has just begun. The curtain rests millimeters from his scruffy chin - brief feedback from the PA system brushes the blood red curtain against his two-week old whiskers. Music strikes the ears of thousands on hand and Christy Hemme raises the microphone to her velvet lips, "...and now making his way to the ring, the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, Bobby Rooooooooooode!"

    In 2011, Bobby Roode's record breaking title run commenced with controversy, a question of character, and a literal bottle-half-empty. Disbanding Beer Money, Roode subsequently sabotaged and cheated his way through the first few months of his initial title reign; nonetheless, he gruelingly brawled the likes of James Storm, Jeff Hardy, Bully Ray, and Sting. The outcomes were all successful and the matches were all exciting to watch. Finally, an apropos win against A.J. Styles cinched the aforementioned record as we continued to take the "It Factor" quite seriously. Roode was dominating while his run was formidable. The only perceived flaw in his armor - his kayfabe ego. Roode's cocky persona, although highly entertaining, was a pitfall painted by creative; this was extremely transparent before, and after, his battling loss against Austin Aries. Exceptionally long, heel title runs are a bit unorthodox, so Roode may have been unintentionally booked for a limited amount of success; especially since Aries was scripted as the very over anti-hero. Not to be misunderstood - two hundred and fifty-six days as champion is absolutely no failure; however, I personally believe that his growth could have been significantly greater. Usually, the mainstream face of your organization is either a baby-face or an anti-hero. Roode was neither. Taking a contrasting standpoint as to what is deemed usual, his reign should have somewhat reflected NWA Ric Flair's franchise run regarding its development.

   Roode should have been booked not only to surpass Style's record, but to be escalated to the championship levels of Hogan, Thesz, Race, Flair, Backlund, and Sammartino. With his reign running concurrent to C.M. Punk's, he should have, at the very least, held the strap for months after Punk dropped it to the part-time Dwayne Johnson. Currently, TNA sets wrestling precedence and takes the World Heavyweight title seriously while planning their champions thoughtfully. Markedly, Roode was booked as the face of TNA, in turn, his run should have gone from impressive to iconic. A worldly run outlasting some of wrestling's greats, not just TNA's finest, would have been quite the statement and subsequent exclamation point. Albeit an unpopular opinion, I did not agree with the decision of Roode dropping the title to Aries at that point in time. Aries may have been ripe for the strap, but I believe that the feud should have went on for a much, much longer period of time (a la Flair vs. Steamboat or Rhodes; Undertaker vs. Mankind; hell, even Heenan and Hogan). Nevertheless, there is no point in looking back now - save the retrospect for the "Old School" Mondays hosted by a celebrity of the week, the superfluous Hall of Fame celebratory flashbacks, and the hollow Slammy awards citing the year's funniest live-action stuffed animal. The vision of most wrestling organizations is vastly looking in the progressive direction of forward, but I digress. We are looking at a new age of TNA - a new channel (a new Destination) - a new champion. This is a new Bobby RoodeNow devoid of the former self-defeating self-image, he has the precise mindset and attitude; an overall formula to rival his legitimate abilities and past title run. 

     Bobby Roode is finally being booked like the face of an organization and packaged to facilitate an even stronger reign this time around. Roode's victory over Lashley was impressive as the warfare can be deemed parallel to any traditionally noted feud in all of wrestling history. His determination to, once again, capture the TNA gold obscured any questions of his prior intentions, actions, booking, and brief hiatus from the hunt. Roode beat the juggernaut despite the size difference, despite Lashley's entourage, and despite the moniker of The DestroyerBring on James Storm, bring on Bram, bring on EC3, and feed him Lashley leftovers. The only thing that the "It Factor" is in jeopardy of losing during his newfangled title run is his own record... as he may obliterate it. 

The wrestling world is in for a Roode awakening.

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