TNA Wrestling: Roode/Storm, Hogan/Hart and the Argument of Wrestler vs. Showman
*WARNING* THIS STORY CONTAINS SPOILERS FROM THE THURSDAY AND NOV. 3 EPISODES OF IMPACT.
Ever since TNA's big pay-per-view, Bound for Glory, there has been some controversy over the TNA World Heavyweight Title situation. It started before the PPV had even begun.
TNA star Hulk Hogan was on a Sirius radio show during Bound for Glory weekend where he said he wasn't convinced that Bobby Roode, who was competing for the heavyweight title against Kurt Angle at the PPV, could be the next franchise of TNA.
Roode, according to PWInsider and Dave Meltzer, of the Wrestling Observer, was booked to win the match at Bound for Glory, but the finish was changed sometime on the day before the show after lobbying by Hogan.
Both the interview and the report that he was responsible for the change of the main event finish resulted in Hogan taking a beating online from TNA fans on his Twitter and Facebook pages.
Hogan found himself on the defensive and responded by saying how important it was to have a mainstream star for the company being able to go on the Today Show and ESPN, as Hogan did the week of Bound for Glory. He told fans not to worry because there were "plans for the Canadian (Roode)."
Those plans started on Impact the following Thursday when Roode's Beer Money tag team partner James Storm defeated Angle (who was severely hobbled by injury, which was considered even more reason to put Roode over at Bound for Glory) in three minutes to become the new TNA Heavyweight Champion.
******ADDITIONAL WARNING: SPOILERS BEGIN HERE********
Roode defeated Samoa Joe on Impact Thursday to become the No. 1 contender with the Roode/Storm title match set for the following Thursday's show that was taped in Macon, GA on Wednesday.
In that match, Roode turned heel, hitting Storm with Storm's trademark beer bottle to become the new champion.
Roode, at the direction of Hulk Hogan, went from being built as the next top babyface in the company to a full-on heel.
The question is why?
Hogan's comments in defense of what happened at Bound for Glory, and in the interview prior, tell the story. During the Sirius interview, Hogan also said:
"Bobby Roode’s a tremendous athlete. I would change. I’d bill him from Venice
Beach, Calif., or Omaha, Neb., instead of, I dunno, Canada, eh? I love
him to death. He’s a great kid. When he looked down at me from the ring, and we
had an argument one day, and he goes, 'What the hell have you ever done?' I said,
man, this guy’d be a great heel."
It seems to have foreshadowed Roode's heel turn. It was also one of two comments referring to Roode's being Canadian.
The funny thing about that is Roode's similarity to another Canadian wrestling star, one Hogan has never been fond of, Bret Hart.
Like Hart, Roode is more of a skilled in-ring wrestler with decent promo skills as opposed to an over-the-top showman of the likes of Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior or, to a lesser extent, Storm (though Storm's in-ring skills are solid).
When Hogan left the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) in April 1992, it was Hart (basically the anti-Hogan) who rose in popularity to the top of the company.
When Hogan returned in February 1993, he won the WWF title unexpectedly at Wrestlemania that year, beating Yokozuna immediately after Yokozuna had defeated Hart for the title.
He would drop the title back to Yokozuna a couple of months later, which angered Hart, who was under the impression Hogan was to drop the title to him.
Hart blamed Hogan for the change, Hogan blamed WWE Chairman Vince McMahon for making the call.
McMahon would then put Yokozuna in a feud with a Hulk Hogan-like character in the "All-American" Lex Luger. However, it would be Hart the fans would get behind and who would eventually win back the title and start a long reign as a WWE main event star.
Hogan went to World Championship Wrestling and was a part of the business-changing NWO angle. Hart would join WCW in December 1997 setting up the possibility of the match between Hogan and Hart that never happened in WWE.
That match never happened, something Hart blamed partially on Hogan in his book, "Hitman:My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling."
The two would have confrontations after WCW closed, notably at the WWE Hall of Fame. Hogan was on with New York Hot 97 DJ Pete Rosenberg earlier this month talking about the heat the two have and how he nixed the idea of Hart coming to TNA.
The fact is Hart and Hogan are two different style of wrestlers and Hogan is enamoured with those that fit his mold over Hart's. Roode is a Bret Hart kind of wrestler. James Storm is the Hogan kind.
Hogan's comment on Roode being Canadian is another issue. A Canadian cannot be the top babyface of an American wrestling federation?
Like many of Hogan's perceived views on the business, Hart proves that is not the case. Hart was the top guy in WWE at a time the company had success.
He was able to achieve mainstream success (appearing on shows like The Simpsons and Mad TV) without having the overly muscled physique or being a dynamo on the mic.
Roode is now the evil heel Canadian champ, wasting months of build as a top babyface and some great video packages going into Bound for Glory.
Are great personalities who can do great promos the only answer to be a top star? Yes, guys from Hogan to Stone Cold Steve Austin and from The Rock to John Cena and CM Punk (granted Austin, Rock, and Punk are also skilled in the ring) were big stars in great part due to their personalities.
However, guys like Hart, Chris Benoit (prior to his tragic end), AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan have showed that you can be a star without being a flashy personality.
Hogan boasts about his ability to appear on mainstream shows, but you have to consider that is not all because of his wrestling pedigree. Most of those interviews talked as much about his rift with his ex-wife Linda and the rumors she has been spreading as about his wrestling career or TNA.
If that's what gets you mainstream exposure, is it worth it?
The angle with Roode and Storm has yet to play out to its conclusion, but one must wonder if Hogan's view on what makes a star may have done damage that has prevented one TNA wrestler from becoming one.
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