Thursday, August 10, 2006

Armchair Booking: Bobby Roode

Thanks to the dissolution of TNA heel faction Team Canada, a couple of excellent wrestlers have been able to get out of the shadow of that stable and its charismatic manager, Coach D'amore. Petey "The Canadian Destroyer" Williams has been given an X-Division title shot against Senshi and Eric Young's comedy persona is totally over with his "Don't Fire Eric" campaign.

For the past several weeks fans of TNA wrestling have seen promotional video packages aimed at pushing Team Canada's former enforcer, Bobby Roode. Each package has had two distinct bullet points: 1) Bobby Roode is ready for the Big Time and 2) every manager in the organization wants this guy. I want to like these promo pieces, especially because Mr. Roode comes off as looking both smart and hungry for main event status. However, it strikes me that TNA is making a fundamental error in trying to build Roode's credibility this way. It all comes back to the most basic of storytelling precepts: don't tell what you can show.

Although I'm not 100% satisfied with the video packages that TNA has aired to promote Mr. Roode, I must note that for me at least they accomplished the Booby Roode, Old Fashion Asskickerprimary goal. They got me to care about Bobby Roode and to talk about him as credible upper-card talent. Now they need to take the next step and book the guy on an upward arc.

Admittedly, TNA only has an hour each week to move all its plotlines forward, but if you want me to believe someone's a title contender then I'm going to have to see them wrestle at some point. Start out with a good ol' squash. It'll only take a couple of minutes. During Roode's entrance let Mike Tenay and Don West gush about how Roode seems to be in peak condition. Maybe have them mention the buzz in the locker room over the various management trying to sign him. Then give Roode a brutally quick but very clean victory over the unknown jobber. Follow it up a week or two later with a bout against a midcarder like David Young of the Diamonds in the Rough. Let this one go long enough to make it clear that Roode dominates the match, at least when Simon Diamond isn't interfering in the match. Have Bobby win this one too and let the announcer-monkeys coo over how focused he was in the ring, how Bobby didn't let Simon's interference frustrate or confuse him.

Meanwhile, you parallel this thread with another focusing on the managers war to sign Roode. Let Jeremy Borash work questions about Roode into interviews with various managers. Shane Douglas should be asked if he's trying to recruit Roode. Shane can say no, insist that he's totally focused the Naturals, BUT note that if Roode called him he wouldn't hang up the phone. The week after the match with David Young, reveal that Simon Diamond is trying to get Roode to sign with him. Don't have Roode present for these segments. Instead focus on the idea that Roode is making waves even when he isn't present. Heck, if you really want to go all-out, have a fistfight between two managers both eager to sign this guy. Maybe get a disgruntled Scott D'amore into the act at this point, to plant the seed of a future feud between Roode and someone managed by D'amore.

I assume that all the focus the promo places on Roode signing with a manager is meant to signal that he isn't yet up to snuff in the mikework department. If the plan is to eventually place Bobby with a manager, then I'd recommend the delightfully satanic James Mitchell. That guy cracks me up. Have the Sinister Minister net Bobby a number one contender match or even just an Impact! main event against a headliner. There's plenty of talent in the heavyweight division, so Bobby's time may not have quite arrived. But a credible loss against a Samoa Joe or a Scott Steiner will position Roode for further top-of-the-card action.