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’s Adam Cole Discusses Creative Freedom
NXT Champion Adam Cole is at the height of his success with the promotion, recently defeating Johnny Gargano in another instant classic to capture his first NXT Championship, and he is talking about how things go down in NXT.
Unlike much of the main roster, where promos are often scripted and comedy-acts are more common, Cole says that superstars in NXT get a bit more creative freedom, as he had with Gargano for their match.
“One of the coolest things about NXT is we have a ton of creative liberties to come up with the story and the vision we have for the match” Cole said, during an interview with TalkSport. “Of course, there’s input and advice given and there’s suggestions or, you know ‘we need something this way’ (but) we do have a lot of freedom, which is great.”
Cole added that he and Gargano came up with the format for their two out of three falls classic at NXT Takeover: New York.
Fandango, Apollo Crews, Killain Dain Make Returns to NXT
WWE is starting to allow superstars on their main rosters to transition back to NXT, much like they did with Tyler Breeze, who recently returned to NXT, where he had his most success, following around 2 years of meandering on the main roster following his callup.
Fandango, Apollo Crews, and Killian Dain made their returns to NXT tv at Winter Park, FL at Full Sail University for Thursday’s NXT TV tapings.
Fandango, also making his return from injury, made the save for his Breezango partner, Tyler Breeze, who was on the receiving end of an attack at the hands of the Forgotten Sons. Crews made his return to take on Kushida in singles competition, and Dain made a brutal attack on Matt Riddle following Riddle’s win over Arture Rass.
Fandango had been out of action after suffering a shoulder injury back in July 2018.
Tommaso Ciampa Undergoes Successful Surgery
Ciampa is expected to miss 3-6 months as he recovers from the surgery.
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