Bobby Roode during House of Hardcore action at the Ted Reeve Arena in Toronto. (Sam Hudson photo)
He’s one of the most talented and decorated professional wrestlers of this generation, but on this day, it’s not world titles and storylines on his mind.
For Bobby Roode, the hot topic of the day emanates out of his home country of Canada, not far from where he grew up in Peterborough. That topic is the Toronto Blue Jays, who were just coming off a tremendously successful season and an electrifying playoff run that saw the club fall two wins shy of its first World Series appearance in 22 long seasons.
That was quickly followed by the departure of the Jays’ popular general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, a Toronto native.
“Indeed a head scratcher,” said Roode, speaking over the telephone to promote his next appearance, this Friday night in Philadelphia as part of House of Hardcore.
“I loved the Jays run,” said the proud Canadian and Blue Jays fan. “At the beginning of the season, I didn’t know what to think, but as the year went on, down the stretch, they got real hot and it was good baseball to watch. I wish they had obviously gone to the World Series.”
As for the abrupt departure of Anthopoulos, like the majority of Canada and the baseball world as a whole, Roode is baffled.
“I don’t know about that news.,” he said, admitting he hadn’t had time to fully absorb it to that point. “I don’t know the full extent of it, but it’s pretty interesting (after) having had such a successful year. A shocker for sure.”
While the Anthopoulos mystery confounds Roode, uncertainty is becoming old hat for Roode, a megastar for Total Nonstop Action.
The company’s future has been shrouded in uncertainty and mystery for a number of months recently and, at times, throughout its history.
Rumours of the company’s demise are as searchable on the Internet as Jose Bautista’s now legendary bat flip. And like the great Jose, Roode chooses to flip aside that uncertainty and focus on what he does control, the present.
“After a while, you just become numb to it,” Roode said of the rumours surrounding TNA’s demise. “(Fellow Canadian and TNA star) Eric (Young) and I have been here for 12 years with TNA,” Roode said, adding that as early as the Wednesday Night Pay-Per-Views some dozen years ago, rumours of TNA’s death have been being predicted and reported. “From week to week at that time, they were saying we would be done. And then we got on Fox Sports, Spike TV and here we are today.”
It’s cliché, Roode said, but all the TNA talent can do is focus on the present, which for Roode includes a planned TNA tour in India later this month, and a double-shot of House of Hardcore in Philly and New York on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
“I guess in a way, you just kind of have to try to ignore it and think back to where we were before, people saying that we’re never going to make it, we’re done, we’re done, we’re done … but we continue to strive and make headway. I’m trying to stay positive. I think we’re all trying to stay positive.”
Adding to the uncertainty surrounding the embattled company is the fact that it long ago taped all of its TV, months in advance, leaving its talent at home awaiting the next move.
“The way our schedule was, we taped a lot of TV in advance so we haven’t really been around each other a lot. The house shows, live events have been trimmed down a little bit, so we’ve taken a bit of a hiatus,” he said, adding that as far as he knows, the Indian tour is a go.
“Hopefully we’ll have some good news being brought up even before then or around that time.”
For now, Roode is extremely excited about his fourth appearance on Tommy Dreamer’s HOH. Roode’s last HOH appearance was as an unannounced surprise at HOH’s international debut in Toronto in July, a great moment for Roode.
“It was special,” he acknowledged, adding he wished it could have been made more special by being promoted on the card, but he was a last-minute addition.
“There was some uncertainty about whether I was allowed to do the show, but everything came to fruition a couple of days before the show,” he said. “I’m glad it did. I wish I had have been advertised and had have planned it out a little better with having friends and family around, but I was just happy to be there.”
Seeing that packed house not far from his home town — for a guy he considers a true friend and a company he believes in — was a great experience, Roode said.
“I’m happy for Tommy. HOH is a great place to work. It’s a great locker room, a great atmosphere, the fans are incredible. I’m happy for Tommy and HOH, for the crowd,” he said referring to the more than 1,700 in attendance in Toronto. “They had a full house at the Ted Reeve Arena, it’s such a cool place to wrestle in and I’m glad everything worked out.”
That Roode, under contract to TNA for the last dozen years, is making his fourth appearance in 11 HOH shows is a testament to the respect that Dreamer commands in the industry, Roode said.
“With Tommy, I think it’s a little different because he’s somewhat associated with TNA in some aspects so I think there’s a little leeway there,” he said when asked about TNA talent appearing at HOH shows.
While he waits for direction on TNA’s future, Roode, who doesn’t make many appearances outside of TNA, is happy to appear on HOH shows.
“My contract with TNA, I’m pretty comfortable with that contract, and I don’t need to have to go out and look for work,” he said, “but if something comes along where I can go work a good show and have some fun, I’m definitely all for it, and HOH allows me to go do exactly that; to go wrestle in front of a great crowd with great people. If something comes up like that, of course I’m going to jump at the opportunity.”
While he has recently worked a tour on Canada’s East Coast and made an appearance for Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling, the lesser schedule has allowed him to recharge his batteries and get healthy.
The appearances at HOH, Roode said, are special for a number of reasons, but this weekend, when HOH returns to the 2300 Arena — the former ECW Arena — a landmark in Philly and in the business, has a little extra meaning.
TNA World champion Bobby Roode accepts the challenge of Tommy Dreamer at House of Hardcore 7. Photo by George Tahinos, courtesy of SLAM Wrestling.
“I broke in around that time when ECW was starting to get really hot and I became a big fan of ECW and everything that they stood for,” Roode said. “Being in ECW Arena in Philly is special. That was my first time ever (working HOH) when I worked Tommy’s show (last year), when I wrestled Tommy (Roode put his then TNA World Heavyweight title on the line against Dreamer in a tremendous match). That was a pretty special moment for me so I obviously look forward to getting back there.”
House of Hardcore is quickly becoming known for its “no politics, no BS” approach and its surprise appearances.
“HOH shows are definitely a lot different than any other show, from a fan standpoint,” Roode pointed out. “And obviously Tommy always has his surprises as well. That’s always fun. The last time I was in the ECW Arena, Sandman showed up and Spike (Dudley) was there and there was a lot of surprises. And that was just in my match. Tommy’s shows … they’re very unique.”
In his four appearances, Roode has carved out some special moments and been a big part of the company’s still early success. Being there for those moments and those surprises, Roode admitted, is special for the talent, too.
“I’m always a fan,” he said. “I think that’s what keeps me going in this business. I’m still a fan. I got into the business because I was a wrestling fan and when I got into the ring and started wrestling, I fell in love with it. It’s always cool to see those guys that you watched on TV.”
Roode’s appearances this time around are bound to be special as well, as he makes appearances in both Philly on Friday at 2300 Arena, and the next night at the Elmcore Centre in Corona, N.Y. On Friday, he faces his former TNA nemesis Austin Aries in singles action, while the next night, the duo teams up to take on The Wolves (Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards) in an open challenge tag-team match.
Foes one night, partners the next should make for an interesting weekend, Roode admitted.
“It’s kind of unique, and it’s fun, too because Aries and I, we didn’t start out as a tag team, we started out as competitors,” he said, mentioning Aries’ victory over him for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship a couple of years ago. “Since then, we’ve had some pretty incredible matches and we have a really good chemistry together in the ring and we really understand each other. And we’ve actually made a pretty good damn team too.
“Friday, I think the fans in Philly are going to enjoy seeing Bobby Roode and Austin Aries go at it one more time and then, of course the reuniting of the Dirty Heels the second night against the Wolves, who we made some history with this year in the best-of-five series for the world tag-team titles at TNA. I think those two nights are going to be pretty special for me and I know Austin is looking forward to tagging up again. Like I said, the chemistry that him and I have, whether it’s a team or against each other, it’s pretty special.”
While Roode is the first to admit he doesn’t know what the future holds beyond this weekend, save for a likely tour to India, he is certain about one thing: his career is far from over.
“There’s always more. That’s kind of what keeps me going is always wanting to do more and get better,” he said, adding that constantly being pushed by younger talent is a staple in wrestling. “I don’t think my career is going to be over for a while, at least I hope not. I try to keep myself in pretty good shape, both physically and mentally. You have to be mentally capable of handling all the stuff in this business as well. I’m looking forward to a few more good years for sure.”
The Bobby Roode file
Favourite food: Hamburgers.
Favourite movie: Tommy Boy.
Favourite sports team: Detroit Red Wings.
Xbox or PlayStation: Xbox.
Coke or Pepsi: Pepsi.
Wrestler, past or present, he’d like to face in a dream match: Curt Hennig.
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