It may have taken Bobby Roode longer than anticipated to perform in a WWE ring, but now that the former TNA and NXT champion is on SmackDown Live’s main roster, he should remain a top contender for the foreseeable future.
Given the current state of the company and the unbalanced roster of the Tuesday night brand, how Roode is book is curious at best. Just like AJ Styles, WWE should capitalize on Roode’s popularity and his ability in the ring rather than string him along as a mid-card player.
Roode is best known for his 12-year tenure working for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) from 2004 to 2016, where he is considered a “TNA Original”. Roode debuted as part of Team Canada in 2004, becoming NWA World Tag Team Champion with Eric Young. After a singles run following the team’s breakup, he formed a successful tag team with James Storm as Beer Money, Inc. Together with Storm, he is a six-time TNA World Tag Team Champion and they are the longest reigning champions in TNA history.
Roode subsequently defeated Storm to become TNA World Heavyweight Champion and became the longest reigning Heavyweight Champion in the company’s history, holding the title for 256 days. In his later years with the company, Roode had a final reign as TNA World Heavyweight Champion, won the TNA World Tag Team Championship with Austin Aries, and was a one-time TNA King of the Mountain Champion.
Add his most recent run as NXT Champion and the 40-year-old is primed for a run in the main event picture. I cannot help but think what might have been had Roode (and Styles) debuted a decade sooner at a time when John Cena was just hitting his stride and performers like Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Edge and The Rock ran the asylum. Would there have been 16 title runs for Cena or continual WrestleMania moments for Michaels? Would Undertaker’s streak have lasted and how would rivalries with someone like Randy Orton or Triple H shaped what fans see today?
Roode is as close to a throwback NWA wrestler there is in this business. While he has been compared to Arn Anderson for his work ethic, his ability to cut a promo and snap in his ring, there is no denying right now Roode draws more comparisons with another former member of the Four Horsemen – Ric Flair. Despite WWE trying to create another “Flair-like” performer in The Miz or the fans wanting to see Flair as Dolph Ziggler’s manager in year’s past, it is Roode who might be the closest thing to a modern day version of the 16-time world champion and greatest wrestler of all time.
There is no way to set a course for Roode as was designed for Flair. But “Glorious” entrance, the sequined robes, the attention and detail to his clothes and how flamboyant he is cutting an interview is a mirror image of the man who walked the aisle and made every opponent look like a million bucks.
There is no doubt WWE will put the company’s world title around his waist – possibly before the end of the year – but how many chances will Roode have to taste gold and wear it proudly?
For now, Roode is best served as a babyface, possibly in feuds with Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens and maybe Jinder Mahal in the near future. His best role, however would be as a heel, taking on AJ Styles, possibly Shinsuke Nakamura, Sami Zayn and if it got to that point, John Cena.
Just like Styles over a year ago, it’s Roode’s time to shine. WWE’s booking options of late have been choppy. Maybe a dual role on both SmackDown Live and Monday Night Raw is best for his character. But should that happen, Roode won’t be compared to Flair as much as rumors will persist the company wants him to be another John Cena.
For now, Roode needs to be Roode, and carve his own path toward stardom – sooner rather than later.