Roderick Strong's surprise debut on AEW Dynamite this week left WWE insiders and fans alike in shock as the NXT superstar jumped ship to join another wrestling promotion. All Elite Wrestling welcomed the seasoned veteran, who has been wrestling for 23 years and spent nearly seven years with WWE.
Strong is best known for his remarkable 13-year run with Ring of Honor, ultimately leading to his WWE NXT debut in 2016. During his time in NXT, he was a member of the dominant Undisputed Era stable alongside Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly (now signed with AEW but sidelined due to injury), and Bobby Fish.
Strong held the titles of North American Champion, Tag Team Champion, and Cruiserweight Champion while in NXT. From 2021, Strong led The Diamond Mine group in NXT, featuring The Creed Brothers, Ivy Nile, and Damon Kemp, who later betrayed the group.
Stokely Hathaway, now in AEW, was also part of The Diamond Mine. Strong's last appearance on NXT was in October 2022.
Roderick Strong's Unexpected AEW Debut
It is reported that Roderick Strong requested his WWE release in 2022, but the company declined and kept him off TV for the remainder of the year and into 2023.
On the April 26th episode of AEW Dynamite, Strong debuted by saving Adam Cole, Orange Cassidy, and Bandido from an attack by four members of the Jericho Appreciation Society (Daniel Garcia, Matt Menard, Angelo Parker, and Jake Hager).
Strong and Cole embraced to the delight of fans, who remembered their partnership in NXT. Interestingly, Strong was still listed as an active WWE superstar on their website during his AEW Dynamite debut. In this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer reported that several WWE insiders were shocked by Strong's AEW appearance.
AEW has already scheduled Roderick Strong's debut match for next week's Dynamite, where he will team up with Adam Cole, Orange Cassidy, and Bandido against the Jericho Appreciation Society's Daniel Garcia, Matt Menard, Angelo Parker, and Jake Hager.
Apart from his close friendship with Adam Cole, Roderick Strong's wife, Marina Shafir, also works for AEW, adding a sense of family to his new wrestling home.
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