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.
Tommaso Ciampa Undergoes Successful Surgery
Ciampa is expected to miss 3-6 months as he recovers from the surgery.
Ricochet to be Featured on RAW and SmackDown for Time Being
NXT superstar Ricochet made his surprising main roster debut last week during RAW and his debut on SmackDown the following night, and at least until after WrestleMania 35, he will be featured on both shows.
“I will be on RAW and SmackDown going forward,” Ricochet said, according to WPSD Local 6. “At least until after ‘Mania. After ‘Mania it’s gonna be one or the other, I’m assuming, I don’t know. But, that’s what I’m assuming. But yes, going forward, I am now an official member of RAW and/or SmackDown.”
In celebration of his ascension to the main roster, over 60 of his friends and family held a surprise party to commemorate the milestone.
“This [surprise party] was beyond amazing, It was awesome, Ricochet recalled.
“I got to see family, friends, people I haven’t seen in a long time. I was honestly surprised when I walked in, this was great. It just makes you happy to see that many people care. Whether it is close friends you have known since you were three years old, or people maybe you have never met, it is just cool that you can inspire so many people. Doesn’t matter where you are from, you can live your dream.”
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? February 18, 2019
For Raw, they opened the show by saying that a bunch of NXT superstars will make their debuts on the show. This list included Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black, Tomasso Ciampa, and Ricochet. While Gargano, Ciampa, and Ricochet all made their debuts through tag matches, Aleister Black got his singles debut against Elias. It was a solid match which Black won, and helped establish him as a threat for the future.
For Smackdown, we got to see Ricochet’s singles debut and it was great. He defeated Eric Young in a few minutes. His athleticism and high flying ability is entertaining to watch from start to beginning. Hopefully, he makes his way up to the top quickly because he is one the best things going forward for WWE.
For Raw, the segment between Lacey Evans and Heavy Machinery felt like a waste of time. During an interview with Heavy Machinery, Evans came out, walked up and down the entrance aisle, then made Heavy Machinery do it. They did so and then the segment ended. This literally felt like WWE just threw that in there to kill time for their show.
For Smackdown, while we finally got to see Asuka on Smackdown since the Royal Rumble, we still have yet to see R-Truth for the past few weeks. It really feels like WWE just flat out doesn’t care about the United States Championship at all.
The Final Verdict
With Elimination Chamber done and Fastlane the next PPV up, WWE needed to ramp the focus to that. With the sudden announcement of NXT superstars making their debuts this week, there was some confusion within WWE’s storytelling. For example, Bobby Lashley for some reason helped out Baron Corbin in his match against Braun Strowman at Elimination Chamber. But, when it came to Corbin’s tables match against Strowman to start Raw, he was nowhere to be found. With that said, I will have to say that Smackdown had the better show this week too. We got build up for Fastlane main event as well as other matches on that PPV. While Raw, still is trying to figure out what to do for that show.
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