On the April 26 episode of AEW Dynamite, Roderick Strong made his AEW debut by saving his friend Adam Cole.
Strong had been off WWE television since October 2022 and the trail had gone quiet as to his next move. His debut on AEW was a surprise to many who believed he was still with WWE. Strong reportedly re-signed with WWE in July 2021, but reportedly asked for his release, which was not initially granted, in May 2022.
Speaking on AEW Unrestricted, Strong detailed his AEW debut.
"In August of last year (2022), I got injured and was out for some time. When It was getting closer to the end of the year, my contract actually expired from WWE. It was one of those situations where I was rehabbing, in a pretty decent place, but not exactly sure what was going to go on with me at the time. I had someone representing me, and just reached out and was talking to both companies. It was one of those weird things that it felt like it was inevitable and walking through a certain part of the process, just to do it when I really wanted to be with my buddies and with my wife [Marina Shafir]. AEW reminded me so much what I loved about Ring of Honor, the collective 'everybody wants it to be better.' You hear whatever, but since I've been there, it's been 'how can we make this better?' It's coming from everybody, for the most part, and it's very motivating. In those kind of environments, personally based off my experience, I thrive better there. I consider it a lot more like college. It's not as strict, but if you're doing the things you need to do, you'll become successful and help the company. That's the whole point, right? We're there to make the company better and do what is asked of it," he said.
Strong continued, "Finally, making that decision, and just having the opportunity and knowing when I get there I would be doing something with Adam, which excited me very much. It was two days after my son's birthday. The timing of everything was perfect. It was super emotional. I wasn't able to digest it all until a few days after. Sometimes, it still doesn't even feel real. A long drawn out journey, but we got to it, and being able to debut in that position with Adam, it was the best."
Co-host Will Washington, who previously worked in wrestling media before joining AEW, noted that he has asked around about Strong's status and was given no real answer.
Asked how difficult it was to keep things a secret, Strong replied, "It was very difficult. I feel bad because I misled some people. I didn't outright lie, but it's one of those things where you realize, especially nowadays, there are no real secrets anymore in wrestling. To actually be able to be one is huge. It's something people remember forever. Having Killswitch Engage, that song means so much to me. It was too perfect. Definitely difficult (to keep the secret). Even some of my family I wasn't being honest with because I know they're so eager, 'I can't wait until this.' You never know who is going to say anything. It was something I'll never forget. I was so nervous. That's when I felt, 'this is right.' I haven't been this nervous in so long. It was too perfect."
Strong has been tied to Adam Cole since his debut, but he's been left out in the cold by his best friend recently as Cole has developed a friendship with MJF.
On Wednesday's AEW Dynamite, Strong was stunned that Cole wanted to team with MJF to challenge for the ROH Tag Team Titles at AEW All In.
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