Bobby Roode, love him or loath him he has written himself into the TNA record books, by becoming the longest reigning World Champion in the company's ten year history.
The Canadian born grappler enjoyed plenty of success as a tag team wrestler holding the NWA World tag team titles twice and then becoming four time TNA tag team champions as part of Beer Money with James Storm.
However, since turning his back on Storm, Roode has risen to the very top in the singles division, and we caught up with the leader of the selfish generation to talk about working with Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, his dream match, and the current state of tag team wrestling.
Q. Congratulations on becoming the longest reigning World Champion in TNA's history. What was that achievement like?
It is obviously a great achievement. I had alway dreamed of becoming the world champion, so to achieve that goal and then surpass it by becoming the longest reigning champion in the company's history is something incredibly special.
Q. During your reign as World Champion what have been some of the highlights?
There have been a ton of highlights: getting the chance to work with all the top guys in the company, being able to travel around the world and representing the company, and getting the opportunity to come over here this past January for the live Impact tapings at Wembley and to defend my title was special.
Q. Was there ever any doubt in your mind that you would become World Champion?
I knew that I had the drive and the passion to be one of the best. I don't think I'm better than anybody else, but I just go out to the ring night in and night out and try to perform to the best of my ability. And, every-time I'm on TV or I'm at a live show, I try to make my match the best part of the show. So far it's all been pretty successful for me, and I just hope there is a lot more to come.
Q. How did you first get into the sport of professional wrestling?
I was a fan growing up, just like everybody else. Growing up in Canada I was a Hockey player, but I got to a certain part in my life when I knew I didn't want to make a career playing hockey. After seeing guys like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, I thought it would be pretty cool to do what they do, and I wanted to be a big star like them.
I then started training to become a professional wrestler and, after the first day, I was hooked. I continued with my training, and in 1998 I had my first match and the rest is, as they say, history.
Q. You mentioned some of the guys that you watched growing up. Were you inspired by any of the Canadian wrestlers?
Bret Hart obviously paved the way for all of us Canadians getting into the business, and I was a huge Bret Hart fan and enjoyed watching him wrestle. Whenever the big shows came to my hometown my parents would always buy front row tickets. So, I not only got to experience it on television but got to experience it live as well.
Q. When Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair turned up in TNA, you got to work very closely with all three guys. What was that like?
As a kid I grew up watching these guys and then to end up working with them was kind of surreal, but at the same time you have to remember to rise to the top in this business you have to bring yourself to that level.
That was something I was very conscious of. I had a great time working with all three of those guys but would like to think they enjoyed working with me as well.
Q. During your career you have held six tag team titles, four of those with Beer Money, but what to make of the current state of tag team wrestling?
When James and I formed Beer Money, TNA was putting a lot of focus on the tag team division, and it worked in their favour because James and I were becoming very hot with the fans. The likes of Motor City Machine Guns, The British Invasion and Team 3D came into the mix, and with four great tag teams, TNA didn't really have a choice but to push the division.
Right now I think tag teams have kind of fizzled off. James and I split, Team 3D have split, the British Invasion are no more, so it is quite hard to focus on the division when there are no official tag teams.
Q. We may have lost some great tag teams but since Beer Money and Team 3D have both split. We have ended up with four great singles wrestlers with Bully Ray doing well and Devon also becoming Television Champion.
Everybody gets into this business to become a world champion and to be a singles star. I think being in a tag team you enjoy it and you do your job. Tag team wrestling is a very unique thing, but once you get that opportunity to step out on your own you want to make it very special and you want to make it last. So, I think that is what we all did.
Q. As well as being the longest reigning World Champion, you also hold the record for the longest reigning TNA tag team champion with James Storm. Do you think anyone will be able to break either of these records?
It's tough to say really, but those records are something that I am really proud of because they are the only two titles I've held within the company. And, I've shared that with James being the longest reigning tag team champs, but now I'm the longest reigning World Champion.
It is something very special, I take a lot of pride in what I do. I'm a professional, and I love this business. I will just continue to go out there and try to improve every night and learn as I go, and hopefully this long title reign will continue.
Q.Your going to be back in the UK in January, hopefully defending your World Title on the next TNA tour. What is going to be different on this tour?
I've been very fortunate to be on every tour to the UK since the start, and this year we have something special lined up because every year the UK fans turn up in numbers. Every year there are more and more fans turning up to our shows.
Last year we brought Hulk Hogan and Sting over, and we did our first international Impact tapings over in the UK at the Wembley show. And, this year we are going to do the same thing, which we are very excited about, but we are also going to bring the steel cage over.
Every April, we have a PPV called Lockdown, with every match held inside the cage. So, on our next tour in the UK, we are going to start the road to Lockdown, and every single night on the tour there is going to be a cage match.
Q. Have you enjoyed TNA Impact going live each week during the summer?
Yeah, absolutely. We have done live shows before, but this is the first time we have done consecutive live shows. When your live, anything can happen so I think it is a win, win not only for our company but for the fans to tune in and not knowing what is going to happen.
When we were doing the taped shows, people would read the results before watching, which probably makes the show a little less interesting. For the talent, it gives us that extra little encouragement to go out there and be the best we can be because we know we are live and anything can happen. And, I think the results so far have been good.
Q. TNA this year is celebrating 10 years as a company, and you have been with the company for eight years. In that time, how has TNA improved and grown?
We have grown leaps and bounds. I came into the company in 2004, and we were doing the weekly PPV's on Wednesday nights. Soon after I joined, we then got a weekly TV show on a network that aired us at 11pm. We then got a deal with Spike TV, but there was a period when we weren't on TV at all. We just ran a monthly PPV.
Once on Spike, we then went on primetime. And, now going live and doing international tapings are shown in a hundred plus countries. The faces and the talent we have in our locker-room now is incredible with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Sting, Kurt Angle and Jeff Hardy, but we have also built a lot of our own talent. So, I think TNA has grown overwhelmingly over the last ten years, but I think it is just the start of something special, and I think the next ten years will be great.
Q. Do you enjoy playing the role of the 'heel'?
With what I am doing now, what you see is what you get. If people hate me, let them hate me and if they like me, they like me. What you see on television, that is who I am. I feel very comfortable and am very confident in my abilities, so it doesn't bother me if people choose to like me or hate me.
Q. You have been in the ring with lots of great wrestlers, is there anyone you haven't been in the ring with yet who you would love to have a match with?
One guy comes to my mind straight away and it would be a champion versus champion match, and not only that the longest reigning World Champion versus, the longest reigning X-Division champion. I would love to get in the ring with Austin Aries. A champion versus champion match hasn't been done in such a long time, and I think with Austin's star on the rise. And, where I am at right now, I think given the right time and given the right purpose that would be a really good match.
Catch Bobby Roode in action in his 'dream match' against Austin Aires at Destination X on Challenge TV Sky ch 125, Freeview ch 46 and Virgin ch 139 on Wednesday 11th July at 10pm