Roderick Strong discusses keeping AEW arrival a secret, recalls uncertainty of if he'd continue wrestling or not

Originally published at Roderick Strong discusses keeping AEW arrival a secret, recalls uncertainty of if he'd continue wrestling or not

Roddy’s journey to All Elite Wrestling.

The April 26th episode of AEW Dynamite featured the debut of Roderick Strong. He made the save for his longtime friend Adam Cole. 

Strong’s road to AEW was discussed on the newest edition of AEW Unrestricted. He said while he was in WWE, he was sidelined with an injury. Near the end of 2022, Strong’s deal with the company was going to expire. He had been talking to both WWE and AEW at that point and felt it was inevitable that he’d end up joining AEW. He added that he was excited to be working on-screen with Adam Cole again. 

Where would you like me to start (my story) from? Obviously, it’s kind of a long story… In August of last year, I got injured and I was out for some time. When it was getting closer to the end of the year, my contract actually expired from WWE. So it was just one of those situations where, one, I was rehabbing, I was in a pretty decent place but not exactly sure what was gonna go on with me at the time and I had someone representing me and just kind of reached out and was talking to both companies and it was one of those weird things that it just felt like it was inevitable and just kind of walking through certain parts of the process just to do it, when I really wanted to be with my buddies and with my wife and just AEW, it just reminds me so much of what I loved about Ring of Honor. The collective everybody wants it to be better. You hear whatever but, since I’ve been there, I really get that feeling of how can we get this better? And it’s coming from everybody for the most part and it’s very motivating and I think in those kind of environments, personally, just based off my experience, I thrive better there. I consider it a lot more like college, you know? It’s not as strict as high school. You gotta come, everything like that but it’s if you’re doing the things you need to do, you’ll become successful and you’ll help the company and that’s the whole point, right? You’re there to make the company better and do what is asked of us so, so finally making that decision and just having the opportunity to like, oh, okay. When I get there, I’m gonna be doing something with Adam (Cole) which obviously excited me very much. Crazy thing is it was two days after my son’s birthday. Just the timing of everything was perfect and I was super emotional. I wasn’t able to digest it all until a few days after and I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ Sometimes, it still doesn’t even feel real. It’s just like, yeah, it’s kind of a little long, drawn out journey but we got to it and being able to debut in that position and with Adam and I don’t know, it was the best. It was awesome. Couldn’t have asked for anything better. 

Keeping his arrival to AEW was a tough secret to keep. Strong said he feels bad because he misled some people about what would be next for him. There were family members he was not honest with as well. Further speaking about the debut, he said he can’t remember the last time he was that nervous and that’s how he knew he was where he needed to be. 

It was very difficult (keeping my situation with WWE/arrival to AEW a secret). Very, very difficult but it also was something that I… I feel bad because I misled some people… I didn’t outright lie, but it was one of those things that you do realize is especially nowadays, there are no real secrets anymore in wrestling and to actually be able to be one was huge. It’s like something that people remember forever. Just exactly that. Like having Killswitch Engage, that song means so much to me. It was just too perfect. But yeah, it was definitely difficult. Even some of my family I wasn’t being honest with just because I know they were so eager to, ‘I can’t wait till this.’ You never know who’s gonna say anything so, yeah, it was cool. It was something I’ll never forget and just that feeling, I was so nervous and that’s why I felt like this is right. I haven’t been this nervous in so long. It was just too perfect.

Later in the conversation, Strong touched on being back in the ring with Samoa Joe as a part of the Owen Hart Foundation tournament. He recalled Joe being very helpful to him when they were in Ring of Honor together. 

Within his response, Strong mentioned that there was a point when he was in-between WWE and AEW that he was uncertain if he’d continue wrestling or not. 

I’m at this point right now where everything’s kind of surreal (Strong said in response to his match with Samoa Joe on AEW Collision). It takes me a little bit to digest what’s going on just because from my time away, and the uncertainty of, one, if I was gonna continue to do it or not and then getting back into it and still trying to find my footing. I’ve wrestled like five matches in the last year pretty much, and it’s against someone like Joe, who I just know what I’m gonna get. I was telling Marina (Shafir) a couple days before, I’m just like, ‘I can’t wait to go through this because this is the kind of stuff that I really love.’ I’m gonna give it my all, and it’s gonna be a war of attrition, and just to see where we’re at. Joe is one of the people when I came to Ring of Honor that was very helpful to me, so I owed him a lot. He was always watching my matches, giving me feedback, blah, blah, blah. I was just so lucky during that time. It’s crazy just to think about all the guys that were so nice and always good to me. That’s what I loved about Ring of Honor. You had your guys and then those guys found the people that they thought could — when their time is up and they were always just so helpful. I knew that I didn’t know anything so I just loved to have the opportunity, to hear those guys give me feedback and just kind of try every time I get out there to do the best I could with what they told me so it was just wanting to show Joe, we had some tag matches when we were with WWE, like in NXT and stuff. But, just to go in there and it’s a whole different animal. So, it was nice to test myself against him and obviously, unfortunately the way I lost but, just reminded myself who I am and that I can still do it the way I wanna do it.

The theme song Roddy is using for his time in AEW is Killswitch Engage’s ‘The End of Heartache’, which is the song he used on the independents. He said there was almost a point when he used that song in WWE but it fell through. 

There was a little point in my time with WWE that it almost happened (using Killswitch Engage’s The End of Heartache). I almost got it there, but some stuff happened and it fell through. It showed me, oh, the timing wasn’t right…

Strong was present on the August 9th Dynamite. He voiced his displeasure to Adam Cole about continuing to establish a friendship with AEW World Champion MJF. The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett) came out to console Strong. 

If the quotes in this article are used, please credit AEW Unrestricted with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.