On episode 278 of The Art of Wrestling, TNA's Bobby Roode talked about coming up in Canada and training with Sean Morley, also known as WWE's Val Venis. Also, Roode talked about the WWE developmental deal that never was.
Roode, who is from Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, began training with Morley in 1997, around the time when Morley was signed by WWE.
"I started training with Val Venis, Sean Morley. He was a friend of mine. He lived just 10 minutes from me, so I met him at a gym and we kind of went back and forth. I knew who he kind of was. He's like, 'yeah man, I've got a ring in the back of my backyard.' I was like, 'yeah?' and he was like, 'yeah, come on out.'" Roode continued, "I got in there and I kind of did some stuff with Sean and from that minute, like, from the moment I locked up and got inside the ring, I was hooked and I was like, 'man, I've got to do this. I've got to learn.' And he never charged me [anything]. Sean charged me absolutely nothing. I mean, I went to his house maybe twice and it wasn't like formal training. It wasn't like, 'okay, we're going to do rolls.' It was like, 'okay, this is how you lock up. This is how you hit the ropes.' And then Sean took off. I think he went down to Mexico at the time."
Apparently, Roode was close to signing a developmental deal with WWE prior to signing with TNA. From 2002 till 2004, Roode competed in dark matches for WWE. Kevin Kelly, who was working for WWE at the time, asked Roode, hypothetically, if he would sign a developmental deal. Although Roode said he would, nothing came of it. Roode would not have much more success with then Vice President of Talent Relations, John Laurinaitis.
"The excuse I always got from John Laurinaitis was 'we have nothing for you and you're too good for developmental, so go get over somewhere else and come back and see us', so I went and got over somewhere else and I just haven't left." Roode added, "at the time, I felt like I deserved [a WWE deal]. I did everything you guys asked me to. I know I showed heart and passion."
According to Roode, the instance that ultimately resulted in Roode signing with TNA was when Vince McMahon himself showed interest in Roode and nothing came of it. As the story goes, Roode flew himself into Calgary, Alberta, Canada and Tom Prichard secured Roode a dark match against Chuck Palumbo.
"I remember Sgt. Slaughter was the agent and he came back [after the match] and he was like, 'that was really good.' He goes, 'Vince came on the headset and asked who you were.' I go, 'well, that's cool.' So then, I get up the next day and I drive six and a half hours to Kelowna Beach, B.C. [Canada] to do the [WWE] SmackDown taping and I'm at the building and I'm walking around, just kind of backstage. And Vince walks up to me and he shakes my hand and he goes, 'I really liked your work last night. I love the way you sold. You looked really good out there. We're going to get you another match tonight.' It blew my mind. Right? So I go out there, I have another match. I think I worked [Johnny] Stamboli that night. It probably wasn't a five-star match, but I mean, it was a decent match. And if Vince, the owner of the company, comes up to me and puts me over and then Johnny Ace is like, 'yeah, we've got nothing for you', those are the kinds of things that I'm like, 'man, why am I doing this to myself?' And not only that, I flew myself there and did whatever. I mean, we all did it, but it's just like, those were the things that I was starting to be like, 'this isn't for me anymore.'"
In addition to these topics, Roode discussed growing up in Canada as a professional wrestling fan, his long tenure with TNA, and much more. Click here to check out the entire show. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Art of Wrestling with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: The Art of Wrestling