Roderick Strong on 10 years of EVOLVE and Undisputed ERA’s “main focus”
With EVOLVE 129 and 130 this weekend, Roderick Strong is not only ready, but also eager to leave a message in the ring. That only spells doom for whoever is set to take on The Undisputed ERA’s terminator. With his crosshairs locked on EVOLVE Champion Austin Theory and Anthony Henry, The Messiah of the Backbreaker tells WWE.com he’s out to deliver a “humbling experience” to his competition. But, in addition to his EVOLVE homecoming, Strong discussed his longstanding relationship with EVOLVE, the company’s upcoming 10th Anniversary Celebration (which will stream live on WWE Network), and, of course, why 2019 will see the entire Undisputed ERA “dripping in championship gold.”
WWE.COM: Given your history with EVOLVE, I imagine it being like a homecoming each time you return and compete on shows like this weekend’s. Would you say it’s that exactly?
RODERICK STRONG: It definitely feels the same. It’s a big deal to come back and wrestle the future of wrestling, because that’s what EVOLVE is. So, to test them and be back in the old position of gatekeeper in a sense, feels good.
WWE.COM: Hearing you mention the opportunity of competing with the new talent reminds me of the age-old saying, “Iron sharpens iron.”
STRONG: Exactly. I think I bring experience, not only from around the world, but from being in WWE and having the opportunity to bring that and get those guys a chance to face someone with that much experience helps them. These are young and hungry guys, who are extremely talented, so it gives me an opportunity to test myself and make sure I still got it.
WWE.COM: This week it was announced that EVOLVE’s 10th Anniversary Celebration will stream live on WWE Network on Saturday, July 13. When you hear “10 years” and think about your history with EVOLVE Wrestling, does it feel surreal? What comes to mind?
STRONG: Oh, does it! It makes me feel old [laughs]. I felt like a kid when EVOLVE started. EVOLVE has given a lot of guys opportunities that now work for WWE and wrestle all over the world. It also gives them a chance to face people from all over the world. It’s going to be a very special night and I’m excited that it’s going to be broadcasted on the WWE Network. That’s huge for all those guys that don’t wrestle here to get a chance to show the world exactly who they are and why they’re in EVOLVE.
WWE.COM: How prepared are you for your battle with Anthony Henry at EVOLVE 129?
STRONG: This is a most interesting match for me because I wrestled Anthony Henry a few years ago – one of my last shows before I came to WWE was for PWX, an independent company in North Carolina. He was young, hungry and talented then, but rough around the edges. So, I’m very excited to see the improvements he’s made. I’ve been hearing his name a lot on the indies, doing some good stuff. Let’s see if his system doesn’t get a little shocked when he steps in the ring with me.
WWE.COM: This weekend you’re also set to take on EVOLVE Champion Austin Theory, who you and the rest of The Undisputed ERA have had issues with, in a non-title match at EVOLVE 130. Last year, you two battled in a Triple Threat Match. How are you mentally preparing for this one-on-one competition?
Austin Theory's young, super-talented and thinks he's the cat's meow. But I'm just going to punish him.
STRONG: I’m excited to finally have him to myself. He has no opportunity to run away from me, and that’s something that happens a lot in three-way battles, where it’s easy to stay away from whomever you would like to and then kind of pick at certain situations and capitalize on them. Austin Theory’s young, super-talented and thinks he’s the cat’s meow. But I’m just going to punish him. It’s going to be pretty funny to see his eyes after the first few minutes when he realizes that there’s nowhere to run. I’m going to humble that young man. It’s different if you could talk it and back it up like The Undisputed ERA does. But Austin’s just not on that level. He thinks he is, but like I said it’s going to be a very humbling experience for him.
WWE.COM: Speaking of sending a shock to the system, Adam Cole has reminded the NXT Universe time and time again that this year will see the entire Undisputed ERA dripping in championship gold. How important is that goal for the crew?
STRONG: It’s the main focus. We don’t just talk the talk; we walk the walk.
There’s no better four-man group on this planet.
- Roderick Strong
I like to say that at some point, you’ll say in the history of wrestling there’s nobody better than The Undisputed ERA. We’re going to do exactly what we said we’re going to do, and that’s become champions. We all will be wearing championship gold and it’s going to be a beautiful sight.
WWE.COM: Talk about what fans can expect this weekend at EVOLVE 129 and 130.
STRONG: People know what to expect from me. When it comes to Roderick Strong, you’re going to get everything that I have in my being, and there will be fights that will be like no other fights of the night. I love coming back and seeing how far everyone’s grown. These are two can’t-miss events. Plus, you get to come out and take pictures at the meet-and-greets and do the UE sign with me, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish. Nothing better than that.