The Undisputed ERA def. The Authors of Pain and WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne & Roderick Strong to retain the NXT Tag Team Titles and win the 2018 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic

Roderick Strong shockingly joins forces with Undisputed ERA: NXT TakeOver: New Orleans (WWE Network Exclusive)

After Roderick Strong turns on his own tag team partner Pete Dunne, Strong aligns himself with Undisputed ERA at the close of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals: Courtesy of the award-winning WWE Network.

It was a good night to be in The Undisputed ERA. Not only did Adam Cole reign as the first-ever NXT North American Champion in a hard-fought Ladder Match, but his faction’s initially depleted ranks were replenished with one fell swoop when Roderick Strong crossed the battle lines to help them retain the NXT Tag Team Titles and become, by proxy, the winner of the 2018 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.

That extra stipulation came about after The Undisputed ERA crashed the finals of the Classic this past week, thereby leading NXT General Manager William Regal to decree that the two interrupted teams — The Authors of Pain and Pete Dunne & Strong — would meet the champions at TakeOver: New Orleans in a winner-take-all Triple Threat Match. With Cole spelling the injured Bobby Fish at less than 100% (to put it lightly) after the bone-smashing Ladder Match that made him NXT North American Champion, the bout was looking like a formality for the rampaging Authors of Pain.

Akam & Rezar seemed to seal The Undisputed ERA’s fate early on with a double powerbomb to Cole through the commentary table, but give Kyle O’Reilly credit for slapping a submission onto anything tha tmoved — at one point he had Strong and Akam in two simultaneous holds … that is, until Rezar powerbombed Pete Dunne on top of O’Reilly to take him out of the battle entirely.

O’Reilly’s ousting brought the match down to the initial finalists of the Dusty Classic, though the lone NXT Tag Champion in the contest managed to make his presence felt at key moments. Unfortunately for everyone, the madcap pace of the contest made the competitors easy pickings for Pete Dunne. Entering the match comparatively fresh, the brawling WWE United Kingdom Champion countered AOP’s power with joint manipulation and O’Reilly’s blistering strikes with some heavy hits of his own and, finally, the Bitter End. That was when Strong made his move, breaking up the pinfall and blasting The BruiserWeight with the End of Heartache before throwing O’Reilly on top of his partner to hand Undisputed ERA the win.

After the bell, Strong made his intentions completely clear, donning an Undisputed ERA armband to pledge allegiance to the faction he had just helped carry to unprecedented glory. The move may earn him some raised eyebrows from the NXT Universe that had embraced Strong’s underdog mentality, true. But given his self-stated goal to win titles in NXT, it’s hard to argue that Strong hasn’t made the best decision of his career. The Undisputed ERA is now the team to beat, and Roderick Strong is a made man.

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