TNA World Heavyweight title
There were 12 TNA stars vying for a World Heavyweight Championship title shot in the Bound for Glory (BFG) Series. 12 men going through match after match, knowing the result of each would further their cause or damn them to mediocrity.
Bobby Roode was one of those men.
A mainstay in the promotion since 2004, Roode has seen TNA grow from niche indie company to a distant but stalwart national number two behind WWE. He, unlike Sting, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Jeff Hardy or most of the other names used to promote the company, is a TNA homegrown talent, through and through.
So when he pinned Bully Ray at No Surrender to win the BFG Series, it felt like Roode would finally get his due. He would march into Philadelphia, defeat former WWE wrestler (and champion) Kurt Angle and hold his title high as a testament to the strength he -- and by proxy, TNA -- had.
Except it didn't happen like that.
Roode lost and many were critical -- myself included - of the booking decision. Six months later, after Lockdown, we are faced with a very similar situation. This time it's James Storm entering Nashville as the conquering hero but coming up short.
Again, many are critical.
I'm more inclined to see how this pans out as I'm now of the opinion Roode's loss at BFG and subsequent rulebreaker turns has created one of the most interesting characters in recent memory.
Stay with me, Cagesiders.
Angle defeated -- with a little help from the bottom rope -- Roode at BFG and left him -- and everyone watching -- shell-shocked.
My Cageside colleague Geno Mrosko was highly critical of the match as was most of the internet wrestling fanbase.
Why would TNA build and promote Roode for so long only to have him falter? Worse yet, why would they hotshot the title to James Storm in a seconds-long match on the next episode of Impact only to have Roode turn rulebreaker two weeks later and defeat Storm?
It's exactly what happened. The two BFG headliners trotted out on the next edition of Impact and Angle revealed a contract clause which disallowed Roode to challenge for the World Heavyweight title again as long as he held it. Thinking he was in the clear, Angle didn't expect then-General Manager Sting to come out and schedule an impromptu title match with Roode's tag team partner, Storm. One superkick from "Cowboy" later and we have a new champion.
It was here the seed of villainy was planted in Roode. He saw someone achieve what he had worked so hard to attain and do so in a matter of seconds. Roode went through 16 grueling matches including his war with Bully Ray at No Surrender to earn a shot at the title and someone waltzes in, on Sting's whim, and easily takes what he sweat and bled over for so long.
Worse yet, it was his friend and tag team partner. If anyone knew what kind of living hell Roode had put himself through to get to the title and the living hell he was experiencing after coming up short, it was him. James Storm celebrated with the title, the title which 24 hours earlier should have been wrapped around Roode's waist.
The next week, he defeated Samoa Joe to earn a shot at Storm's title. The two partners faced off a little less than three weeks after BFG. It was during this bout that Roode decided he wouldn't leave anything to chance, he wouldn't let the situation spin itself out of his control. He was going to take fate by the short-hairs and ensure a victory.
He became a desperate man and desperate men are capable of anything.
With one swing of a beer bottle, Roode went from TNA homegrown golden boy to reviled rulebreaker. He's held onto the title since then, usually by the skin of his teeth, and has defeated the likes of A.J. Styles, Jeff Hardy, Bully Ray, Sting and most recently Storm.
Roode's fall from grace has been interesting to see as it brings up the question, how will he return to the light? After turning his back on his partner, his friends and the fans who have supported him, how will Roode redeem himself?
Perhaps he doesn't. Perhaps the darkness he dove into to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship has consumed him and there's no hope for salvation.
Only time will tell.