Robert Roode Shares His Glorious Plans for WWE 'Raw'
The welcome sounds of “Glorious Domination” played the returning Robert Roode to the ring on Raw last week. It was the first time the superstar had appeared on a WWE show since March, before coronavirus took hold. (Due to travel restrictions, he'd been unable to travel from his home in Canada to the show's location in Orlando.)
Roode came back to answer WWE champion Drew McIntyre’s open challenge. Although the veteran didn’t leave with the title, he is glad to be back doing what he loves. Coming up, Roode joins former tag-team championship partner Dolph Ziggler and Randy Orton to face McIntyre and the Street Profits.
We caught up with the “Glorious One” to see what he's been up to in the last few months and to preview what's next.
We haven’t seen you since March and the Elimination Chamber. How did you spend the time away?
Robert Roode: I had a lot of free time on my hands. The travel ban made it difficult for me to get to work every week, [so] I’ve been a fan. I’ve been sitting at home on my couch watching WWE Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown and catching some NXT here and there. It was a long layoff, around seven months. [There was] a lot of downtime to heal up physically and mentally and [a lot of] just wanting to get back to work. Thankfully, last week was my opportunity.
With so many years on the road away from your family, how did this time at home put things in perspective for you?
It was definitely different. I’ve been in this business for more than 20 years. This is the longest period of time I’ve been off and at home. When your lifestyle is like this for 15, 20 years, it’s a hard adjustment. In a way, it was enjoyable to not live out of a suitcase and get to spend time with family. [But] the circumstances [were] different this time with the pandemic and being forced to stay home. It wasn’t because of injury. The first couple of months, I definitely missed doing what I’m used to doing every week. This business is in my blood. It’s a passion. You miss the camaraderie, the schedule and life on the road, in a weird way. I’m happy to be back.
How was it getting on a plane again? What were the logistics that made it possible for you to make it back into the United States?
It wasn’t as difficult as I'd thought [it would be]. Obviously, being a part of WWE, they made sure I had all the legal paperwork in place. There are a lot of strict measures in Canada, but I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to the airport. It’s quiet. It’s not like it used to be, for sure, with different measures like temperature checks before you even cross security. Other than the fact it wasn’t as busy as it used to be and the paperwork and all that, it’s really not a lot different. It’s similar to the U.S. with mandatory mask wearing, etc.
The last time you wrestled it was in front of an arena filled with live fans. Now you come back to perform in the WWE ThunderDome. Was that an easy adjustment?
I asked around. I didn’t want to look out of place or not know something and be surprised out there—it’s live TV. You’re performing for the millions watching at home. The ThunderDome as a fan, it’s amazing. Getting the opportunity to perform in it was awesome. You’re in the Amway [Center]—it’s a large arena. The setup in that sense is exactly how it used to be before all this. It’s actually a very comfortable setting and not as crazy as you would think. Even though the fans are on screen, it’s like they’re there. It’s an amazing concept.
A lot of people were happy not only to see you but to hear that your iconic entrance music was intact. Was there ever discussion of the theme changing? How hard is it for you to have a theme that’s so popular with fans when you’re trying to get them to boo you?
I think that song is a part of me and part of the character. I don’t see that ever changing. To be perfectly honest, when Dolph Ziggler and I were tag-teaming, a lot of times my music wouldn’t play. It was Dolph’s music [fans heard] when we were coming to the ring or even [Baron] Corbin’s at the time. It's been a long time since I’ve heard that song and got the entrance by myself. It felt like Day One all over again. When [the use of that song] started in NXT, people took to it and loved it. They still do. So it’s up to me to portray the character a certain way. It is what it is. As long as fans are enjoying themselves and are entertained and get involved in what I’m doing, I think that’s all they need to worry about.
You returned against a familiar opponent in Drew McIntyre, who became WWE champion while you were away. What do you make of his ascension?
He is our top guy. A lot of responsibilities that come with being champion, especially during this pandemic—it’s just a different world. I think he is doing a phenomenal job. Being in the ring with him last week after being off for seven months was a real eye-opener. He is legit. He is a big dude who has a lot of skill. I’ve worked with Drew for many years and have gotten to know him as a colleague and a friend. We performed together outside of WWE years ago. In the ring now, he has definitely stepped up his game and deserves to be in the spot he is in today.
This week you team with Ziggler and Orton to face Drew and the Street Profits in a main event sure to impress.
I’m looking forward to getting the band back together with Ziggler and Randy, who is at the top of his game as well. And getting to be in there with the Street Profits, the Raw tag-team champions for quite a while now. They are two talented kids. I’m really looking forward to having this match.
You won the tag-team championship with Ziggler. Tell us about the bond you two have—it really translates on TV.
Tommy Dreamer always said I was his Dolph Ziggler, even before I met Dolph and came to WWE. I never understood what that meant. Dolph was my first opponent on SmackDown when I got called up to the main roster. As a fan, I knew how good he was, but being in the ring with him, [I learned] he was that much better. We became very close friends and traveled together quite a bit. We found out we had a lot in common. He has been in this company for more than a decade. He has so much experience and held every major title. I have that 20-year experience as well. We’ve been through a lot of the same stuff in this business, some of it together. The chemistry we have as a team makes us pretty special. I'm looking forward to chasing after tag-team gold again and being champions and getting him back where he should be. [He's been] fighting for his life on Raw Underground, but as one of the best there has ever been, he deserves to be in the ring every Monday night and have the spotlight on him.
There has been talk about James Storm these days and the possibility of his coming to WWE. What do you think about that ?
That’s above my pay grade. I haven’t talked to James in years. During this time especially, I don’t know what’s going to take place or who is coming in or not. I have to worry about myself. I’m quite happy doing what I’m doing with Dolph and doing my thing.
Looking ahead, what are your goals in WWE now that you're back?
To keep healthy and continue to be part of this company for as long as I possibly can. And be part of this company productively. I never want to be the guy on the bench or watch from the sidelines. I want to do everything I can to stay in the mix and be the best version of Robert Roode I can be every single week. I’m still healthy enough to be with the guys like Drew McIntyre. That’s the goal: Stay healthy and stay in the game.
You have this big match coming up that will showcase the direction you’re going in with Dolph. But then again the WWE draft is approaching. Do you have a preference on where you want to go? While you were away, you were already shifted from SmackDown to Raw.
I think I’ve been traded more than anybody. Dolph and I were Raw tag-team champions before the draft last year. We lost the titles and had a feeling we were staying on Raw, then at the last minute were traded to SmackDown. I didn’t even realize [what had happened]. We were doing a backstage interview, and they said we were traded to SmackDown. I thought they were joking. Then I was sitting at home because of the pandemic and found out I'd been traded to Raw. Who knows what is going to happen. It’s a crapshoot. I’m happy being on Monday nights and chasing after the Raw tag-team championship. If I go to SmackDown, I’m going to be chasing after the Intercontinental championship or the Universal title. Honestly, it really doesn’t matter. I’ve been on both sides of the fence over the last year. With the draft, trust me, anything can happen. And it probably will.
Lastly, with the quarantine, beards became a big topic of conversation this year. How did yours evolve while off TV?
I didn’t shave it. If anything, I grew the beard a little too long. I think I’m looking a little better!
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