When NXT was… GLORIOUS!!!

So recently we’ve seen NXT put on a quite spectacular 4 way match to crown a new NXT Champion (or… so they told us they would…)… and in the match we’re, whom were billed as, the 4 ‘pillars’ of NXT. 4 former NXT Champions who were destructed as the best or possibly the best former champions in NXT. Now… with obvious exceptions to former NXT WOMEN’S champion (and in my opinion the greatest NXT superstar of all time) Asuka, I have no complaints with the statement that Adam Cole, Tomasso Ciampa, Finn Balor and Johnny Gargano (who, although had a short reign as champion has been involved in a huge majority of the best matches in the history of the brand so his place in such company is secure, for me anyway) may well be the best of all time in NXT.

When I think of other contenders for that list, in terms of former champions you could maybe go back to Kevin Owens perhaps or maybe even Shinsuke Nakamura or Samoa Joe for their feud of the title. But I’ll tell you who’s run at the top of the Black and Gold brand doesn’t get talked about enough. Maybe that’s because his career since he made the jump up had been… not a complete failure at all, but those of his who saw his brilliance in NXT like me can’t help but be disappointed by his WWE career post his NXT run.

So… in this blog I’ll be looking back at a superstar who was in NXT for just over a year. He was pictured in the crowd at NXT TakeOver: Dallas the weekend of WrestleMania in 2016, and he debuted on the main roster on the SmackDown following NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 3 in August of 2017. In this blog I will tell you about the NXT run of the man formerly known as BOBBY ROODE. For me… ONE OF the best NXT Champions we have ever seen.

Pic: Bobby Roode ringside at NXT Takeover: Dallas - Cageside Seats

When WWE revealed during NXT TakeOver: Dallas that Bobby Roode was sat front row (the typical way in which they reveal new arrivals to NXT) you only have to hear the reaction from the live crowd to know how cool, and how big a deal the signing of the former TNA stalwart was. Roode was one of many who had outgrown Total Nonstop Action and was more than ready and deserving of his shot in the big time.

For weeks after Roode would appear sporadically on NXT TV (particularly during NXT TakeOver: The End when he was pictured walking out the office of NXT GM William Regal). Usually dressed immaculately in a smart shirt and jacket, with a basic mantra of wanting to make NXT a better place, but we weren’t fully sure how he’d do this or even if he was gonna be a heel or a babyface… Later, having made his in-ring debut during NXT’s annual shows at the Download Music Festival in the U.K., Roode would finally make his official NXT TV debut on the August 3rd episode. Roode revealed here intentions…

AT NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 2, Bobby Roode would go on to face Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas in his official debut. And we were treated to our first proper glimpse at the aspect of Roode’s WWE character that would define him… his entrance…

After defeating Almas in Brooklyn, Roode went on to beat No Way Jose in his Full Sail debut. Two weeks later, Roode try to form a partnership with a fellow Canadian ahead of the upcoming Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic…

And so the unlikely alliance of Roode and Dillinger would come up against the monstrous SAnitY on the October 12th edition of NXT… And with SAnitY putting a beating onto Tye Dillinger, Roode walked out on his tag partner and left him to be beaten… and the next week Dillinger vented his frustration…

and after the two exchanged beatdowns on another in the following weeks, the match was set between the two popular Canadians for NXT TakeOver in Toronto of all places…

Bobby Roode defeated Tye Dillinger 

If there was one way and one match you could put together in front of this crowd, in Toronto CANADA… then this was the match up to do it… The GLORIOUS Bobby Roode had a gospel choir sing him out, as he made a grand entrance typical of his time in NXT. Despite being the heel Roode was cheered as if he were the top babyface, which given he is billed from Toronto was hardly a shock but not something that was unusual even outside of Canada, given just how popular his character was at the time. The Niagara Falls-billed Tye Dillinger was given an unsurprisingly great ovation also. To put it into context how hot the ‘Perfect 10’ gimmick was at the time we were a little over 2 months away from Dillinger’s entry into the Royal Rumble match in the number 10 spot. If you made a tally of the amount of “10” chants during this match and all show and even into the next night at Survivor Series you’d lose count fairly quickly I’m sure. The match itself was very,very solid. They didn’t do much that was too complicated but what they did do was entertaining to watch, and given the crowd’s investment in both guys it made everything seem more of a bigger deal. There were ‘This is Glorious – Perfect 10′ chants at different points during the match, it went fairly 50/50 throughout but again the wrestling itself was good stuff. The best parts of the match for me were when Roode tried to mock Dillinger by hitting his Tye Breaker finishing move, and also the crowd going wild when Dillinger got in a Sharpshooter (which is seemingly the national wrestling move of Canada), only for the heel Roode to disappoint the crowd by getting to the ropes. Eventually Roode got the win with the Glorious DDT. Dillinger got a standing ovation and lots more ’10’ chants after Roode had left. A really strong good old fashioned ‘rasslin match to kick off the show.

***3/4 

After another big TakeOver win, Roode soon set his sights on gold… and on the December 21st NXT Roode took part in a fatal 4 way match to decide the number one contender to the NXT Championship, then held by Shinsuke Nakamura…

A few weeks later Roode and Nakmura made their championship match official… Nakamura at this time was the most popular star in NXT and had come out of a grueling rivalry and series of title matches with Samoa Joe as the victor… but Roode’s momentum was very strong heading to San Antonio and it was not beyond the realm of possibility that the dream reign of Nakamura could be over once again before it even got started…

In what I thought was a good, good match (****1/4) that some said went too long (just over 27 minutes) Bobby Roode made NXT… GLORIOUS!…

So after a long spell as one of the mainstays of TNA, Bobby Roode was now the NXT Champion in WWE.

To fill the gap of time between TakeOver shows, it was played up that the former champion Nakamura had suffered an injury, but would not need surgery. In the meantime Roode instead defended his title against a surprise contender… A couple of weeks later, the NXT Champion ruthlessly beat up No Way Jose. He won a match quickly against him and continued the beat down after, even using the single leg crab submission that he had injured Nakamura with… but of all people to make the save it was a returnee to NXT… having come out to run Roode out the ring, he took the mic to address the NXT crowd…

The week after Shinsuke Nakamura made his in ring return. And a week after that Kassius Ohno got his shot at the gold. Bobby Roode defending the NXT Championship against Ohno took place on the March 15th 2017 NXT, in a decent TV main event Roode retained.

But it was all leading to the big match in Orlando… the night before WrestleMania saw an NXT TakeOver headlined by Bobby Roode defending the NXT Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura. Again they went long (28 minutes) and again it divided opinion, but I liked it (****). It would turn out to be Nakamura’s last big night in NXT before he went up to SmackDown.

NXT TakeOver: Orlando results: It's a Glorious era in NXT - SBNation.com

So… with Nakamura gone what next for the NXT Champion Bobby Roode (now holder of the current incarnation of the NXT Championship belt, a VAST improvement I’m sure everyone would say)… well… what about someone Nakamura knows very well… A man who’s WWE run, before and sadly after this too, was blighted by injury… on the April 19th NXT we got our answer of what next for Bobby Roode as NXT Champion…

A month later at TakeOver: Chicago, on a show that saw the championship match take second place to the tag team ladder match in the main event spot, and was more overshadowed by the great UK championship match between Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate, Roode and Itami had a really fun, but somewhat forgotten match. In a little over 17 minutes Roode retained in another solid outing (****1/4).

With Itami descending into a frustrated heel after his title match loss, Roderick Strong then emerged as the next would-be contender for the NXT Title. On the June 7th NXT Roode took exception to Strong’s intentions…

As the two continued going back and forth on NXT TV, the rivalry soon got very very personal…

And so a classic tale of the hard-working, family man babyface versus the cocky, arrogant heel champion was set up… as TV feuds go this was quite the rivalry… one that (as it was only a tv only feud and not leading to a TakeOver) has been forgotten… especially given Strong’s heel run since this has been much better than his time as a babyface when he first came to NXT…

He’s just… he’s just the best heel isn’t he? WHAT A PRICK! And I absolutely fucking love how much of a cocky asshole he is!

Roderick Strong Archives - Page 3 of 8 - WrestlingRumors.net

On the July 5th 2017 NXT, in what was an excellent TV title main event, Roode and Strong went nearly 20 minutes, with Roode once again retaining the NXT Championship (****1/4).

After that things turned to one of the biggest NXT shows of the year… the annual pre-SummerSlam TakeOver show in Brooklyn. On the July 19th NXT two monsters went to war to decide who would go on to challenge the Glorious champion…

WWE NXT results: Drew McIntyre vs. Killian Dain

Drew McIntyre defeated Killian Dain to earn the opportunity to challenge for the NXT Championship in Brooklyn. Bobby Roode would face the biggest threat to his title reign yet.

After going back and forth the week prior, the final NXT before TakeOver saw McIntyre face off against fellow contender Roderick Strong, with The Messiah of the Backbreaker still eager to prove himself a worthy challenger for the NXT title…

WWE Photo

As the two crowd favorites were in the middle of a great match, the opportunistic champion made his mark, and jumped in to attack his future opponent. Roode had the advantage going to Brooklyn.

WWE Photo

In the main event of one of the all-time great NXT TakeOver shows. The Glorious Era came to an end in a GREAT match (****1/2). If you have access to the WWE network go out of your way to watch Drew McIntyre vs Bobby Roode from TakeOver: Brooklyn 3.

And with that… Bobby Roode’s time in NXT was effectively over. He would debut on SmackDown three days later, and wrapped his NXT run in a losing effort to Roderick Strong on the August 30th NXT show. He signed off with a farewell match, winning at an NXT live event in Toronto.

Bobby Roode. For me, one of the all-time best runs in NXT history. For character work, his build, his in-ring work, everything about him and his time in the black and gold brand was just the best. I love everything about him as a performer. And yes maybe his run on Raw and SmackDown hasn’t been such a spectacular success, but runs as a US Champion and multiple time tag champion can’t be considered complete failure can it? Now Robert Roode and having not been in a featured spot for a while now, who knows what the future holds for him… but nobody will ever be able to take away from his run and time that he spent blessing NXT with his presence…

…and everything about it was… absolutely…

WWE: Glorious (Bobby Roode Entrance)

Josh.

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