Bobby Roode vs. James Storm from TNA 2011
Post by Garrett Kidney:
Bobby Roode challenged Kurt Angle for the World title a few weeks earlier and lost. Storm then beat Angle with ease days later. That led to long time Beer Money partners colliding for heavyweight gold. This was just in the period post-Beer Money so both men had new singles music. Storm objectively came out the better in the break up music wise. Longnecks and Rednecks is what the kids these days call a banger. I once listened to it on a loop for an hour straight.
They wrestled for a while but none of that mattered. All the work was clean, they did a few “partners that know each other really well” spots, and it was a perfectly enjoyable sporting contest. But none of that was what this match was about. About 12 minutes in Brian Hebner tumbled out to the floor along with Bobby Roode. Roode then spotted Storm’s beer bottle just sitting there on the ring steps, innocently. Noticing that the referee was incapacitated Roode looked conflicted. Stung by his loss to Angle (after Angle had grabbed the ropes), Roode didn’t want to come up short once more. He looked at the fallen Hebner, he looked at the bottle. He looked at Hebner again, he looked at the bottle again. This was a crisis of conscience. Temptation just sat there staring him in the face. Would Roode give in and take the easy way out and guarantee success? Or would he try and beat his partner fair and square? Roode moved toward the bottle, cautiously, slowly picked it up and KO’ed his partner of three years with it. Roode gave in to the worst part of himself in order to achieve his dream. Roode won the World heavyweight title, but lost his integrity in the process.
This was one of the greatest stories TNA ever told. It’s rare that pro wrestling camera work warrants being called elegant but it certainly applies here. When Roode fell out of the ring, he was shot from behind with the beer bottle in the background. Almost as if it were destiny that it were there. That the universe conspired to present him with this single choice. A choice that would define who he was. They then switched to a camera shot with the bottle in the foreground that captured everything going on in Roode’s head. He was conflicted but the wheels were turning. He didn’t explicitly set out to screw his tag team partner (a problem with so many heel turns that make them feel contrived) but when the opportunity presented itself you could literally see the moment when he decided to take what he felt what was his. You could see the moment in his eyes that he, fed up with waiting and being screwed, decided to take the World title by any means necessary. The execution, the story, the production, the camera work – all flawless.
This is a difficult match to slap a rating on because it’s one of the rare cases where the story elements accentuate the whole presentation in a major way. The work was all fine but by the end of the match it was all meaningless. But the execution of that story was absolutely magnificent. So **** feels about right.