Hideo Itami def. Roderick Strong in an NXT Championship No. 1 Contender’s Match
With a title opportunity against NXT Champion Bobby Roode at TakeOver: Chicago at stake, Roderick Strong wasn’t short on grit, skill or motivation as he battled Hideo Itami. Instead, Strong simply learned what so many competitors before him have found out the hard way: Once Itami hits the Go-To-Sleep, there’s no coming back.
In an epic clash that divided the NXT Universe, Itami and Strong left it all in the ring. Full Sail University broke into dueling chants of “Let’s go, Roddy” and “Hideo” as the two would-be contenders traded big hits. For every punch, kick or elbow Itami landed, The Messiah of the Backbreaker responded with some form of a spine-wrenching slam including, at one point, a backbreaker onto the edge of the ring apron.
As the action approached the 20-minute mark, Strong popped Itami on the jaw with a leaping knee strike. But some three years after his blockbuster signing with NXT, Itami had come too far to let an NXT Title Match slip through his fingers. Itami repaid Strong with a hesitation dropkick in the corner before hitting the GTS for the hard-fought win. In the ultimate show of sportsmanship, Itam then helped Strong to his feet and held his hand high before leaving the ring with The Glorious One in his crosshairs.
Strong’s night wasn’t over, yet, however. After the broadcast ended, WWE.com cameras stayed glued to the action. SAnitY swarmed the ring and laid out the exhausted Superstar in a brutal beatdown, begging the question: Why has NXT’s chaotic contingent renewed its focus on Roderick Strong?