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 Takeover: Blackpool Card
WWE is preparing for their upcoming NXT event, NXT Takeover: Blackpool, and after the airing of this week’s NXT, the full card is now in focus.
NXT UK’s first Takeover event hits the WWE Network, live from Blackpool, England, this Saturday.
Here is the card, at the time of this writing:
NXT UK Women’s Championship Match – Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Toni Storm
NXT UK Tag Team Championship Match – Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven and Tyler Bate) vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake)
WWE United Kingdom Championship Match – Pete Dunne (c) vs. Joe Coffey
No DQ Match – Dave Mastiff vs. Eddie Dennis
Travis Banks vs. Jordan Devlin
WWE Reportedly Interested In KUSHIDA
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA is reportedly drawing interest from WWE, according to a report from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
KUSHIDA, 35, has been the cornerstone of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s light heavyweight division and one of their most recognized stars, globally.
The report indicates that NXT is the destination if WWE were to lure KUSHIDA from New Japan.
With NXT globalizing, an NXT Japan seems like a natural progression for the brand and KUSHIDA could be in those potential plans moving forward.
Matt Riddle Talks About Joining WWE/NXT
NXT superstar Matt Riddle has been gaining popularity since his landmark signing earlier this year, and during a recent interview with ESPN for their story on the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, Riddle says that he should have been with WWE long before his 2018 signing.
“I moved my family down here, I’ve got three kids and a wife, so it’s nice,” Riddle said.
“I just wrestle in Florida every weekend. We occasionally do tours or TakeOvers, but for the most part, now I get to spend more time with my family. I’m more local, and it’s great. The training here is top-notch,” he continued. “Where I was, I was lucky to even train three times a week, because my schedule was so insane — and I didn’t have the coaches or amenities to do [much more than that].”
“I just feel like I belong here. I felt like I belonged here three-and-a-half years ago when I had my first try out.”
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