Looking for the opportunity to compete at WrestleMania for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, NXT Superstar Roderick Strong stepped up to take on Hideo Itami in the first round of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. Both Superstars have battled all over the world – including against each other – but now the stakes were higher than ever.
As the contest got underway, both Itami and Strong showed off their technical prowess to a stalemate, each looking for the right opening to mount a full-fledged offense. Strong eventually took control and unleashed stinging strikes across Itami’s chest, but the Japanese Superstar soon turned the tables. First unleashing a series of high-powered kicks, Itami struck with a diving leg drop from the top.
However, as Itami unleashed aggressive strikes, Strong displayed his resilience and his ability to adapt and innovate to shift the tide.
The two continued to strike back and forth with a mix of agile moves and hard-hitting blows. Battling to the outside, the two again threw punches and elbows before Strong incredibly picked up his opponent and threw him back-first into the ring apron.
Knowing the stakes, Strong and Itami remained unrelenting – Itami even executing a super Falcon Arrow, but to no avail as Strong kicked out of the pinfall.
Just as Itami thought he was about to put his opponent down for good, Strong countered, executing a jumping high knee before securing a hard-fought victory and advancing in the tournament with the End of Heartache.