Bobby Roode will make his NXT television debut next Wednesday. Once again, WWE has cashed-in on a big name free agent.
Roode spent the majority of his 18-year career in TNA Wrestling, where he was a multi-time world and tag team champion. He gained popularity wrestling alongside “Cowboy” James Storm as a member of Beer Money and eventually became a main event heel as “The It Factor.”
But his run with the company came to an end in March. Roode was rumored to join WWE for several weeks shortly after.
The 39-year-old appeared in the audience during the NXT TakeOver: Dallas broadcast in April and has made several house show appearances. But this upcoming Wednesday will mark his official WWE television debut.
So what can we expect from Roode in NXT? Well, it seems that he’ll be taking on a heel role based on his recent work.
Roode has worked matches against Finn Bálor and No Way Jose and teamed with Samoa Joe and The Revivial. His leaked theme song literally sings his praises as “glorious,” which makes his role as a cocky heel seem obvious.
Roode will likely take on a similar role to former “Dirty Heels” partner Austin Aries. Like Aries, he can excel as the arrogant bad guy and provides veteran credibility to any feud.
In fact, the two could reunite either for sporadic matches or a long-term angle. But it’s more likely that both Roode and Aries will work as the brand’s top heel singles competitors after NXT Champion Samoa Joe.
So who will Roode work against in an angle? Most signs point to Shinsuke Nakamura winning the NXT Championship at TakeOver: Back to Brooklyn.
While it’s likely Roode will be used against an up-and-comer, his experience would also benefit in an angle with the “King of Strong Style.” Nakamura has already feuded with Aries and will have completed an angle with Joe. WWE will want to continue pairing him with a capable hand before calling him up to the main roster.
Roode’s prestige provides him with a realistic chance at challenging for the title after picking up several wins. No one will argue that’s he’s “undeserving” after making a huge deal about him signing with WWE.
There is also an opportunity for Roode to continue working with No Way Jose, like his former teammate Aries is doing now. Are you starting to see a pattern here?
All of the former TNA standouts are being used in similar ways to give NXT credibility. Joe is the champion, Aries is the steady-handed heel and Roode will likely follow suit. Once Joe is promoted, Aries and Roode will become the brand’s top heels. However, they will continue working against young talent for the time being.
Andrade Almas is another perfect opponent for Roode. Andrade gained fame as “La Sombra” in Mexico, but hasn’t made as much of a connection with the NXT crowd. Feuding with Roode may give his babyface persona a much-needed jolt. The Ontario native will not only add entertainment to the feud, but also find ways to gain heel heat.
There’s also a chance for Roode to work an angle with the returning Hideo Itami. This is probably the best-case scenario for using the former TNA Champion early. Itami is one of NXT’s top Superstars and is a veteran in his own right. However, his only flaw is cutting a promo in English after spending the majority of his life in Japan.
Roode would be able to do the heavy lifting in promos, while Itami can get in the final zinger. Plus, the feud itself would be one that gains interest based on both superstars’ body of work.
Roode can be used in many ways, whether as a top heel or tag-team specialist. He provides NXT with veteran credibility which may be needed after more callups.
Despite his age, Roode should have a bright future in NXT and earn a shot at WWE’s main roster.