Six years before becoming the SmackDown Tag Team Champions, Robert Roode recalls the first match he ever had against Dolph Ziggler. In his interview on WWE’s The Bump, he mentions that back then, he knew Ziggler would be a ferocious opponent to be standing across the ring from.

“Before I got to WWE, I knew about Dolph Ziggler,” Robert Roode noted. “I was always a fan of Dolph. When I first came on the main roster on SmackDown in 2015, Dolph was my very first opponent, and I couldn’t have been happier ’cause I knew the skill level I needed to bring myself up to match him.

“I knew the first couple of times I was in the ring with Dolph that we were great opponents. In the back of my mind being that tag team guy always, I knew that if I ever had an opportunity to have Dolph in my corner and to be a team, we would be dangerous. We would be exactly what we are: A great tag team.”

At this year’s Royal Rumble, Roode would like to rewrite history whether as an entrant in the Rumble or as a defender of his tag team title.

“Last year was my very first Royal Rumble outside of The Greatest Royal Rumble,” he noted. “Last year, obviously, being eliminated by Brock Lesnar rather quickly was not so great. So, I’m looking to make new memories in a couple of weeks. Whether it’s defending these tag team championships or going into the Royal Rumble myself and winning it, I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.”

Looking at his career as a whole, Roode says if it weren’t for his determination and confidence, he would have never climbed to the top in WWE. Now, he couldn’t be happier with how far he’s come.

“You have to have confidence in yourself, and up to that point, I was in the business for 15 years, anyway. I felt like I had a great track record, and I had a lot of confidence at that time,” he began. “Obviously, that confidence carried over to my NXT career. I became the NXT Champion fairly quickly. I had a great and memorable run down there. I enjoyed my time there very much.

“Then, coming up to SmackDown in 2017, I just continued to have that confidence and believed in myself. I knew that if I kept on this path and kept working hard, my career would continue for as long as I wanted it to. And here we are, 15 years and on top of the mountain as the SmackDown Tag Team Champions, and I couldn’t be happier.”

You can watch Robert Roode’s full interview above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE’s The Bump with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.