Sometimes we have a hard time differentiating the nuances of pro wrestling. An aspect of a wrestler’s performance can be an overall good thing while still having a few negative qualities. In Bobby Roode’s in-ring debut with NXT, this is something we should acknowledge.
Roode burst onto the NXT scene in incredible glory. His theme music is being dubbed the best thing since sliced-bread, the way he has worked the microphone has been nothing short of phenomenal and many seem to agree upon the idea that he can be on the main roster right now headlining shows.
That can all be true, but we can still look at his in-ring performance on Saturday and realize he didn’t exactly do all that well inside the squared circle.
Removing his glorious entrance into the ring, the match itself was a fine one in terms relative to any other regular match. Thing is, Roode was pretty unspectacular in it. In fact, it was Andrade Almas who stole the show. Honestly, if it weren’t for the latter, we could be talking about how much a dud that match was instead of how great Roode is.
An undersized, Triple H-lite type of performer, Roode never got going. If one were to go back to count how many offensive moves he actually performed too, a more clear idea would be made that he’s far more an in-ring storyteller than the type that will ever wow a crowd with impressive moves.
To be clear: That is fine. Talent far worse in the ring than Roode have thrived without having particularly impressive move sets. From Hulk Hogan to who have you, being an excellent tactician is only one of the many moving parts than can make a pro wrestler great.
Still, it should be noted as somewhat troublesome that in Roode’s debut that he had to be carried by another talent to a slightly above-average match. If this will forever be the case for the rest of his career, his lifespan as a worker in the WWE is going to have a short window.
Luckily for Roode, a benefit of the doubt has already been placed on him. The Internet Wrestling Community swears its allegiance to him, so many of his shortcomings on Saturday night have already been overlooked. Barely anyone is discussing his underwhelming finisher, that he botched a few moves, and that most of his in-ring skills were limited to lariats and suplexes – something we would kill John Cena for.
Closing in on 40 years old, we are in dangerous territory with the talent. He most certainly oozes the type of charisma we want in a main event level heel, but without the crowd cheering for him – coupled with ho-hum matches – will we be invested in him for the long haul?
This is where things get tricky. The IWC loves itself Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Roode, etc., but didn’t love any of them enough to watch TNA when all trotted about that wrestling federation at the same time. While I personally believe that highlights more of the IWC’s often hypocritical/hipster nature, it can simply be that the benefit of the doubt many are giving Roode now is solely being done because the IWC has not watched Roode in a long time – thus not knowing his in-ring capabilities have slightly diminished.
Roode isn’t an abomination in the ring. He is fine. He isn’t some sort of must-see act, however. At NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, we found out how far his abilities have decreased. While not an insane drop, older talent do not tend to get better with age. Rather, they tend to get even older and less skilled.
Bobby Roode is an overall great talent. His ring work was just sub-par Saturday night. That said, whatever the WWE has planned for him, the company better hurry, as his already tiny window appears to be shutting – in terms relative to in-ring abilities – quicker than I think most realized or are currently willing to admit.
That is unless the IWC will be so blind in its love of a non-WWE guy we are going to pretend he’s better in the ring right now than the polarizing Roman Reigns, which he is not.