At the time a Hulk Hogan-vs.-Sting match was headlining one of the most successful pay-per-view shows of the 1990s, Bobby Roode was training to become a pro wrestler in his hometown of Peterborough, Ontario.
Fourteen years later, Sting and Hogan will meet again in what very well may be the Hulkster's final in-ring appearance. But this time, Roode has the chance to steal the spotlight for himself Oct. 16 in the co-main event of the "Bound for Glory" pay-per-view show emanating from Philadelphia.
Roode will appear in his most-high-profile Impact Wrestling match to date when facing Kurt Angle for the company's heavyweight title. Although he has formed one of the industry's top tag teams with Beer Money partner James Storm, Roode now has a golden chance to prove he belongs with Hogan, Sting and Angle in the upper echelon of Impact headliners.
"It's something really special to know the company has faith in you," Roode said in a recent telephone interview. "I've been here for a long time. I've waited for this opportunity. I like to think I've earned a lot of respect from not just the (Impact) office but (the wrestlers) as well.
"I've stayed loyal to this company and believed in it when a lot of people didn't. I've stayed through the good and bad times. I think I've proven myself, and James has as well."
Roode allows that the only reason he and Storm began teaming in 2008 was because Impact management "didn't know what to do with us." But they proceeded to blossom as two of Impact's top grapplers, even though Roode describes his real-life personality as being a "polar opposite" from Storm's.
"I'm a serious type and he's a fun-loving guy who also works hard but always has a smile on his face," said Roode, a married father of three. "Maybe it's a competition thing where we really feed off each other. It's a friendly thing. It's not, 'I'm better than this guy,' but, 'Let's see what you can do tonight.' "
Roode and Storm began returning to singles action during this summer's "Bound for Glory" series to determine Angle's No. 1 contender. Roode secured the spot with a victory over Bully Ray in the finale on last month's "No Surrender" pay-per-view and continued with strong performances in subsequent matches on Impact Wrestling telecasts (9 p.m. EDT Thursdays, Spike TV).
Roode admits that he and Storm had trepidation about putting Beer Money on ice for at least the short term.
"It was a concern to us, but at the end of the day we started thinking about great tag teams that did the same thing, like Edge and Christian and the Hardys (Matt and Jeff)," Roode said. "They will always be remembered as great teams. We'll always be Beer Money. We can always come back together and people will remember us."
Beer Money gave Roode the chance to ditch a gimmick that was a poor fit for his personality. After being part of Impact's Team Canada faction from 2004 to 2006, he was repackaged as "Robert Roode," with a Wall Street-themed persona.
The character did give Roode his first chance to feud against top-tier grapplers like Jeff Jarrett and Booker T. However, Roode admits he is far more comfortable now by getting to display his real-life personality in interviews rather than being "snobbish, which is not the way I am."
"I see myself like an Arn Anderson-type of guy," said Roode, referring to the most hard-nosed member of the legendary Four Horsemen. "Arn had a straight-to-business, get-the-job-done approach, but he was (popular) with a lot of fans because of his work rate and what he stood for.
"With the competition with the (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and the fact the way wrestling works is not a secret anymore, you've got to make the stories and matches as real as you can get them. I think I can produce in that fashion."
Roode can't wait to prove that against Angle a week from Sunday.
"The past few months have really done a lot for my confidence," said Roode, 34. "I think my match with Kurt will be off the charts. Win or lose, I'm just going to keep that confidence going and making a name for myself not just in Beer Money but as Bobby Roode."
For more information on "Bound for Glory," visit www.impactwrestling.com.