On the first live edition of Impact for summer 2012, Sting defeated Bobby Roode in a non-title lumberjack match. Afterward, general manager Hulk Hogan announced that Sting will receive a TNA world title shot against Bobby Roode at TNA's Slammiversary.
There is an image of Bobby Roode that is becoming commonplace in my mind. It is of the world champion, flat on his back, bolstered by the bottom turnbuckle, clenching his world championship as if it is being pulled at from every angle.
In a sense, it is.
Bobby Roode has become the kind of traditional heel champion we often saw before the days of Mr. McMahon. In those days, the heel world champion was always targeted, though seldom directly, by the company management (who always happened to be “good” and “decent” and was doing the "right thing" in taking out a heel champion by whatever means could be justified).
Bobby Roode calls himself the IT Factor, and he is just that. The Indirectly Targeted Factor.
Hulk Hogan doesn’t seem to have a personal grudge against Bobby Roode, but seems bent still on putting every baby face in the company in line to target him. I like that there is, for a moment, no would-be Mr. McMahon in at least one wrestling company’s general manager position.
I also like seeing Bobby Roode escape Hulk Hogan’s many attempts at crowning a more “appropriate” world champion.
Bobby Roode did just that two weeks ago when he had to face one of four possible opponents. On that night, he defeated A.J. Styles to become the longest reigning world champion in 10 years.
Yet, now a similar challenge awaits Bobby Roode.
His legacy and the direction of TNA will be on the line when he defends against Sting at Slammiversary.
Just as Bobby Roode cemented his legacy by going into the live summer as the longest reigning champion in TNA history, if he can outlast Sting at Slammiversary, he will be the first world champion on the other side of the event that marks TNA’s 10-year anniversary.
This is no small matter. These are the type of strides that lead a man to the top of the mountain in the wrestling world.
Not only would it elevate the legacy of Bobby Roode, but it may well make the difference in the future of the career of James Storm, who, on Impact, teased he may soon return.
It is far different to challenge a former tag team partner because he is heavyweight champion than to challenge him because he has wronged you. No man wants to set himself on the path of Marty Jannetty.
You can mark them throughout history, talented or not.
Marty Jannetty, Christian, Matt Hardy, John Morrison.
One tag partner always gets the short end of the stick.
If Bobby Roode prevails at Slammivesary, however, not only will it cement his legacy and keep TNA developing a younger brand of star, but it will no doubt provide James Storm another opportunity to make a major play for the world title.
But in front of Bobby Roode now are the icon Sting, the indirect support of Hulk Hogan, and one pay-per-view that will mark the end of one decade and the beginning of another.
We know Bobby Roode will close the decade in TNA as champion. For Roode, it's been a decade in which he was more enforcer and tag wrestler than the dominant force. Sting, however, was more of a dominant force in the first 10 years, but surely he cannot be expected to do the same in these next 10 years.
The only question is, who will be standing when the second decade begins? Or, if it’s the champ, who will be back to the mat clenching the title for dear life when the next decade begins?
Any good heel will tell you it’s not how you do it or what you look like doing it.
It’s just that you do it, by any means necessary.
And at Slammiversary, for the sake of his legacy and for those who came up with him, Bobby Roode must do it.
By any means necessary.