Roderick Strong Joining AEW Led To Some Shocked Reactions In WWE
Roderick Strong debuting on AEW Dynamite led to some people in WWE offering up shocked reactions at the site of the NXT superstar in another company.
All Elite Wrestling added yet another talented veteran wrestler this week when Roderick Strong, who started wrestling 23 years ago, made his debut after spending nearly seven years in WWE.
Many wrestling fans know Stong best from his 13-year run in Ring of Honor that led to his WWE NXT debut in 2016. While in NXT, Strong was part of the dominant Undisputed Era stable with Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly (currently under contract with AEW although he’s out of action due to injury) and Bobby Fish. While in NXT, Strong was a former North American Champion, Tag Team Champion and Cruiserweight Champion.
Since 2021, Strong was the leader of The Diamond Mine group in NXT that included The Creed Brothers, Ivy Nile and Damon Kemp, who turned on the group. Stokely Hathaway, who is in AEW now, was also part of The Diamond Mine. Strong’s last NXT appearance was in October 2022.
It is believed that Roderick Strong asked for his WWE release in 2022, but it was not granted at the time and he was kept off TV for the rest of this year and all of this year.
During this week’s April 26th episode of AEW Dynamite, Strong debuted by saving Adam Cole, Orange Cassidy & Bandido from an attack by four members of the Jericho Appreciation Society (Daniel Garcia, Matt Menard, Angelo Parker and Jake Hager). Strong and Cole hugged to a big ovation because fans remember them in NXT together.
At the time of Strong’s AEW Dynamite debut, he was apparently still listed on WWE.com as an active superstar in the company.
In this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer wrote that some people in WWE were shocked to see Strong debut in AEW.
“Roderick Strong debuted on the 4/26 Dynamite show and saved Adam Cole from the JAS so they are back together. While we do know of people in WWE who knew Strong wasn’t coming back, many in the company believed he was still under contract and were shocked to see him on TV. He was still listed on the WWE roster (so was Naomi) when he did the AEW run-in.”
“Strong had asked for his release a long time back and was turned down. However, the decision was made not to use him when he got hurt and they did the angle where Damon Kemp took him out as the cover story. It was noted to us that there were no plans to bring Strong back after that point.”
AEW has already announced Roderick Strong’s debut match because next week on Dynamite he will team with Adam Cole, Orange Cassidy and Bandido against the Jericho Appreciation Society’s Daniel Garcia, Matt Menard, Angelo Parker and Jake Hager.
In addition to being close friends with Adam Cole, Roderick Strong’s wife Marina Shafir also works for AEW, so he will have some family there as well.