The opportunities keep coming for NXT Superstar Roderick Strong. On the Jan. 30 episode of 205 Live, it was announced Strong would face Hideo Itami in the Cruiserweight title tournament.
On the Jan. 31 episode of NXT, Strong defeated former WWE United Kingdom Champion Tyler Bate to earn a title shot at current titleholder Pete Dunne. There isn’t a set date for their title bout, though it’s unlikely it will take place while Strong is wrestling on 205 Live.
— WWE (@WWE) February 1, 2018
It was a solid match between two of the best workers in NXT that kept the crowd enthralled throughout the contest. In the end, Strong hit Bate with the End of Heartache and pinned him for the win.
If Strong defeats Dunne in their title match, not only will it be his first title in WWE/NXT, he will be the first American to hold the U.K. Championship.
The Bruiserweight has been a remarkable champion since winning the UK title from Bate last year in one of the most acclaimed matches of 2017.
He has defended his title on several occasions, including a bout against Johnny Gargano on Nov. 18, a rematch against Bate on Nov. 29 and Jack Gallagher on Dec. 30. Most recently against Joseph Conners at PROGRESS 61 earlier this month. He’s also made numerous appearances with the U.K. title in WWE and in numerous independent shows.
Dunne is willing to face all challengers. During an appearance on the Royal Rumble panel, he called out all challengers, including current WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar.
Strong is one of the most talented and popular wrestlers on NXT’s roster. He has a heartwarming backstory and a brutal arsenal of moves. It’s good to see him get a shot at Dunne and the UK title – and it could be a Match of the Year candidate.
Strong has excellent mat wrestling ability and his backbreakers are the stuff of nightmares. He also specializes in submission wrestling.
Dunne has a similar style to Strong in that he is physical and will brutalize his opponents. He aims to beat up and torture his competition in route to a victory.
A match between Strong and Dunne will be physical and stiff – fans can expect to be both wrestling punishing each other and taking punishment as well. It’s a match that NXT – and wrestling fans in general – will love and talk about for days.
On one hand it seems like it would having an American like Strong challenge Dunne for the title. It is specifically the U.K. Championship, why have someone from the U.S. fight for it – or win it.
However, this could be the first step in WWE/NXT showcasing the championship on a more frequent basis. Having Strong hold the title could result in Dunne chasing him back to win the title, or having other UK competitors come to NXT and challenging him for the title. It would also give Strong his first taste of WWE gold, which is something fans have been waiting for since he came to NXT.
NXT UK Premiers on WWE Network October 17
WWE has officially announced the premier of NXT UK on the WWE Network, in a Twitter post that appeared on Wednesday morning.
Per the announcement, the UK division of the NXT brand will debut on October 17th at 8pm BST and will air weekly, featuring male and female wrestlers in the UK.
BREAKING: #NXTUK, a new weekly episodic series featuring the greatest male and female competitors from the UK, will stream on @WWENetwork on Wednesdays beginning 17th October at 8pm BST. pic.twitter.com/L8wVJquMdF
— WWE UK (@WWEUK) October 11, 2018
Lita Praises Bianca Belair
WWE Hall of Famer Lita had some high praise for NXT superstar Bianca Belair, noting her “great attitude” and how “physically gifted” she is, adding that “when I very first saw her she had that intangible star quality that I just want to see more”, during an interview with The Sun.
“Down at the performance center, all the guys at NXT are in the ring every day and in class,” Lita said. “They have everything they need to learn and there is so much talent in regards to physical ability and thinking about their character. But for someone to have that intangible star factor… Bianca Belair, along with some other the others there, is very talented.”
Lita is also impressed with how Blair uses her hair as a weapon.
“It’s crazy, no-one has ever used their hair as a weapon. It’s so cool how she thought of that and how it works. She sure has that star quality and uniqueness.”
Johnny Gargano Talks NXT, Dream Matches
NXT superstar Johnny Gargano remains one of the most popular superstars on the brand and while his callup to the main roster seems imminent, he prefers to stay on the NXT brand, a brand he takes a lot of pride in.
“I do not see why not, everyone’s dream – and mine too – is to wrestle at WrestleMania, but right now NXT is such a special place” Gargano said of a potential call up, during an interview with the Daily Star.
“We are focused on building something wrestling fans can be proud of, and we are building it together.”
But Gargano, during a recent media session, discussed some dream matches he would want to make a reality when he does make it to the main roster.
“[…] so I’m going up to the main roster…after I win the NXT title and everything’s done. After that, man, I’m gonna say, obviously Daniel Bryan” Gargano said. “That’s a dream match that a lot of people would love to see now.”
“I think I just posted a Tweet recently that the internet went nuts for, and that’s me and Seth Rollins,” Gargano said. “Because, of course, I wore my Captain America Infinity War gear and he just wore the Thanos gear, so you never know what can happen there.”
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