Roderick Strong def. Kalisto
Following an impressive first-round victory against Hideo Itami in the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament, NXT Superstar Roderick Strong faced a daunting challenge in former WWE Cruiserweight Champion Kalisto. Kalisto and Strong brought vastly different in-ring styles to the bout, leaving the luchador seeking a fast-paced offensive to keep his opponent’s hard-hitting style at bay.
Kalisto’s strategy paid dividends as he used his agility to keep Strong on defense. Even as Strong attempted to counter a hurricanrana on the outside, Kalisto used momentum to drive Strong into the barricade. Breaking the official’s 10-count, however, proved to be a mistake for the lucha dragon, as Strong drove him into the ring apron and dropped him on the announce table.
The effective counter and subsequent drop onto the table gave Strong the opportunity he needed to unleash his hard-hitting ability and impose his will on the former United States Champion. Focusing his attacks on Kalisto’s lower back, Strong also took the time to taunt his opponent, giving the luchador the drive he needed to continue.
As the WWE Universe cheered on the incredible action, Kalisto regained momentum and put his opponent back on defense. Unrelenting, the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion attempted his patented Salida del Sol, only to be dropped onto the ropes.
A struggle on the top rope soon led to a jaw-dropping reversal by Kalisto that nearly took Strong out of the contest for good, as he landed awkwardly on his shoulder.
Resilient and determined to continue on his Road to WrestleMania, Strong countered a series of strikes from Kalisto into the perfect trifecta of jumping knee strike, backbreaker and the End of Heartache to secure a hard-fought win and advance to the semifinals to face Cedric Alexander.