Fresh off a four-day NXT Live Event tour of Canada, a confident Roderick Strong sat on a bench inside the locker room of the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles with a mile-wide smile etched across his face. Despite the jet lag and muscle soreness stemming from his NXT obligations and that night’s successful 205 Live matchup, Roddy’s joy reflected the improbable new path his career has taken.
“I’m tired, but feeling fantastic,” Strong told WWE.com while removing his wrestling boots. “I’ve worked so hard to prepare for opportunities like this, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Mere minutes removed from scoring an incredible victory over Kalisto to advance to the semifinals of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament, Strong had a chance to reflect on the sudden change that’s taken place over the last month of his career.
“It has been an honor to be part of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament so far,” Strong adamantly stated. “I knew I was bringing something to the table that 205 Live had never seen. I was bringing a new intensity, and I was bringing the best I had.
There is no one who can outwork me.
“I’ve said it continuously in NXT: There is no one who can outwork me,” he added. “When you commit yourself to do the things I do, day in and day out, you firmly believe that opportunity will present itself. And because I train the way I do, I was prepared and victorious.”
With a first-round victory over familiar adversary Hideo Itami, followed by this past Tuesday night’s win over Kalisto, Strong is one step closer to not only the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, but also a chance to compete on The Grandest Stage of Them All, WrestleMania.
“I’ve strived my whole career to do this at the highest level, and being a champion in WWE would put a stamp on my legacy,” he said. “I’ve had to do some soul-searching at times. I reflect a lot, not on where I have been but where I want to go and how to get there. When you consider what I’ve had to overcome in life to even get here, it puts things into perspective. I believe my past setbacks are part of what it takes to build a champion. After all, how can you fully appreciate winning without knowing what it’s like to lose?”
With The Messiah of the Backbreaker continuing to divide his attention between his title aspirations on 205 Live and NXT for the foreseeable future, the question now becomes whether he can maintain his focus on both paths. According to Strong, his strategy is all planned out.
“I’ll keep my focus by waking up tomorrow morning, hitting the WWE Performance Center, outworking everyone in the room, studying film and applying myself at a level no one can handle,” he said. “The world has not yet seen the best version of Roderick Strong. Whether it’s 205 Live, NXT or WWE, I am the very best wrestler today and strive to prove that every time I walk down that ramp. I live with a championship mentality and strive for nothing less! It’s Roddy versus the world.”