Roderick Strong is ready to put the past behind him following his upcoming match on NXT with Bobby Fish.
Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish were one-half The Undisputed ERA, a brand-defining faction in the history of NXT. With Adam Cole making the decision to split the faction earlier this year, everyone has now gone their separate ways and on August 3, Bobby and Roderick will go one-on-one, further severing the ties of the once-dominant group.
Speaking about the upcoming match with Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp, Strong says he is mostly ready to just get this match over with, feeling like he knows Bobby Fish about as well as you can as both a partner and an opponent.
For Strong, this also represents a return to high-level singles action and he is ready to reinvigorate his career.
"I'm ready to get it over with, honestly. It's one of those things where I have faced him before and I know what I'm getting myself into. Obviously, I personally don't feel he's the same competitor as he was back when I faced him the first time. Well, the first time, the twenty times, probably. I understand that I'm at a level far above him now. I believe I'm going to use him as an example to show everybody what I'm capable of. Bobby Fish is dangerous. His feet are very educated, the most educated feet in pro wrestling. When he kicks you, he kicks very hard. It's going to be a fight and I'm looking forward to it. The last six to eight months, I haven't been that active in the ring and all I've ever done in my life is wrestle. To get back in there and recharge, it's invigorating."
Reflecting on his past with Bobby, Roderick recalls helping him get into Ring of Honor and how the bond that they built allowed them the opportunity to succeed in WWE together, something that Roderick did not want to pass up.
"When we did the trips to Japan, it was where me and Bobby started getting close, this is before we ever really wrestled against each other. I know him way back from 2003 because he was coming around Ring of Honor and that's where I first met him. Those long bus rides, you have a lot of time to chat and get to know people. The biggest thing we had in common was how hard we wanted to work for what we wanted to get, no matter what it was. It was something we bonded over and it helped created an opportunity for him to get into Ring of Honor and to see him do as well as he did was great.
He continued, "Obviously, I had a nice feud with him at the end of my run. It's all those hours and miles on the road together. Him, missing his kids, me, at that time, trying to figure out my life and get the woman of my dreams and eventually have kids. I'm there at this point. We just got closer and iron sharpens iron. He had a different set of skills than I had back then and he helped me understand the martial arts aspect and adding that to pro wrestling, just like Kyle (O'Reilly). Kyle is someone I've looked up to in that sense as he's been able to blend such a great mixture of martial arts into pro wrestling, just like Bryan Danielson. I had to be on the end of a lot of his innovative stuff when he first started using it. I've had a lot of taste of it. That's where our relationship was formed and it was nice to see everyone succeeding. When the opportunity came to succeed together, there was no way I was going to pass that up."
Speaking about the split of Undisputed ERA, Strong would say that he is looking forward to a situation where all of the pressure is on him rather than relying on a proven faction.
"It honestly needed to be something where there was a lot of pressure on me. I know the saying, 'No pressure, no diamonds.' Honestly, for someone like me, as competitive as I am, I needed to be put in a position to be tested and to see if I really am who I say I am to myself and my bosses. For them to be like, 'Okay, we understand you want this opportunity, here you go.' There's a lot of respect for them that I have for doing that. It's one of those things where it's either hit or miss and it's all on me. I know the guys in Diamond Mine have my back and I have theirs. We're excited to see where this thing goes because it's still so new and week by week it's changing with our conversations and what we're trying to do with it and how we're trying to perform. It feels so new and refreshing."
Fightful has live coverage of WWE NXT every Tuesday. This week, NXT will once again be airing on the SyFy Network at 8 p.m. eastern time