After months of speculation regarding Bobby Roode’s future, the former TNA World Heavyweight champion officially made his debut with WWE NXT.
At NXT’s live event at Download Festival in England, the Toronto, Canada, native entered the arena as fans in attendance let out a “holy s**t!” chant. The 39-year-old Roode went on to defeat Angelo Dawkins in his NXT debut.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) June 11, 2016
Rumors for months suggested that Roode was either on the verge or had signed a WWE contract. Roode made a brief cameo during the NXT Takeover: Dallas special. Then, earlier this week, Roode was briefly shown backstage at NXT Takeover: The End heading into NXT General Manager William Regal’s office.
During a live Facebook chat following the show, Triple H called NXT “the hottest brand in pro wrestling” and Roode’s presence as an example of NXT “being the place to be.”
— WRESTLE NEWS DAILY (@THEWRESTLEDAILY) June 11, 2016
During a conference call earlier this week, Paul “Triple H” Levesque indicated that he was working on signing both Roode and Eric Young. Young made his NXT debut several weeks ago in a losing effort to NXT champion Samoa Joe.
Roode himself indicated for several weeks, including this interview with the Peterborough Examiner, that a WWE deal was slowly but surely coming together.
“I’m not officially signed yet. The Internet has blown up over it, and I mean I’m close, but I don’t want to spoil anything or ruin anything. I want to wait until its official. I don’t want to jinx anything either.”
Roode was a mainstay of TNA for over a decade, capturing every accolade possible. He’s been an effective tag team competitor in teams such as Team Canada (with Eric Young) and Beer Money (with James Storm). He also captured TNA Tag Team gold with current NXT superstar Austin Aries.
When he finished being a full-time tag team wrestler, Roode elevated himself to singles ranks, capturing TNA World title gold on two occasions. However, after some apparent disagreements with the company, Roode left TNA this past March, ending his 12-year run with the promotion.
— Krimson Crusade (@krimsoncrusade) June 11, 2016
In the aforementioned interview, Roode also addressed his departure from TNA. While he did not have anything harsh to say on his way out, “The IT Factor of Professional Wrestling” noted that he felt “stale.”
“It felt like it was the right time. After almost 13 years in a wrestling company I felt like there was nothing really left for me to do there. I wanted to mutually part ways. I have nothing negative to say about TNA Wrestling. They treated me very, very well. It was just a matter of me being in a part of my life where I’m not sure TNA was the right fit for me anymore. The brand has been stale for the last little while and the growth wasn’t there as it was in the early years.”
With the brand split rapidly approaching, several reports have suggested that WWE is in the market for talent. It’s expected that several of NXT’s current stars will be called up to the main roster to help fill out the rosters. Roode starting out in NXT may be an indication he may not start on the main roster right away.
The next big event for NXT will the second annual NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. With Finn Balor vs. Shinsuke Nakamura being teased for the show, Roode will likely have a presence on that show, too.
[Image via WWE]