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That number is one that haunted Roderick Strong for much of his ROH career because those two digits represented the number of opportunities he had to claim the World Title. That number also represented the number of times he failed to claim the championship despite his power, despite his brutal chops, despite his array of backbreakers, and despite the devastating Stronghold submission, it was a destiny that seemed as if it would forever elude Roderick. Still, in spite of those defeats, in spite of what most men would consider setbacks, Roderick excelled in the face of his adversity and remained undaunted in the pursuit of his dream to someday claim the ROH World Title. This is the story of how that dream became a reality…
Picking up where ‘Messiah of the Backbreaker’ left off, this 20 match compilation chronicles the journey Strong took to finally become Ring of Honor World Champion and the collisions with foes such as Nigel McGuinness, Austin Aries, Bryan Danielson, and Tyler Black that took him there. In addition, for the first time, Roderick sat down with the ROH cameras to discuss his thoughts and share his reflections on the matches & the opponents that he encountered along the way. Be it KENTA, Jay Briscoe, or Davey Richards, Strong has left an indelible impression on both his foes and Ring of Honor fans alike.
Witness the wars that forged the champion and hear him open up like never before. This is Roderick Strong and this is his Destiny Fulfilled…”
MATCH #1: Roderick Strong vs. Kensuke Sasaki, The Tokyo Summit, 9.14.08
Sasaki’s GHC Heavyweight Championship is not on the line here. He did happen to win the belt from former ROH World Champion Takeshi Morishima. He became the only man to win the top title in NOAH (GHC), New Japan (IWGP Title), and All Japan (Triple Crown). Strong starts by going after the arm and Sasaki throws him aside. He continues to be aggressive though, and actually controls the early minutes of the match. Strong goes to the second rope and Sasaki stops him with a chop and hits a rana. It’s all Sasaki now, as Prazak reminds us that Sasaki will fight Claudio Castagnoli at the upcoming Glory By Honor VII. Strong makes with a kick to the face. He hits a few chops and a dropkick for one. A slingshot suplex gets two. He stays in control and hits a uranage backbreaker for two. Sasaki comes back with a powerslam. He drives Strong into the corner and hits some chops and a lariat for two. A judo throw gets another two. A leg-trap powerbomb gets two. Strong makes a comeback with a couple of his signature moves but can’t hold him down. Sasaki finally ends it with a Northern Lights Bomb for the pin at 12:21. That was a decent power match hurt by the fact that Strong never had a conceivable chance at winning. Sasaki shows Strong respect, and Strong reciprocates.
MATCH #2: ROH World Title Match – Roderick Strong vs. Nigel McGuinness, Driven (2008), 9.19.08
McGuinness has been the champion since 10.6.07, and this is his twenty-fifth defense. They show a quick video package that tries to make it seem like these two are in some kind of feud, but they’re really not. They did have a pretty good match back in January in Chicago though. They start with chain wrestling in the early going, with the champion seeming to have the advantage. Strong gets an early flurry so McGuinness rolls towards the ropes to break his momentum. They come back to the center of the ring and McGuinness targets the arm and shoulder. Strong fights back with his signature chops. A backbreaker gets two. He goes to the second rope but McGuinness stops him and takes him down with a hammerlock bodyslam and Strong rolls to the floor. The champion follows him out and continues working over the arm. He hits a running European uppercut against the guardrail and the champ is firmly in control. Strong once again fights back with chops but McGuinness withstands them. Back in the ring McGuinness stays in control of the arm. Strong tries to fight back but the champion hits him with a hammerlock DDT. The headstand mule kick in the corner actually works, but it only gets two. Strong tries chops again but McGuinness hits a rolling elbow and Strong is down for an eight-count. Now if he’s knocked out for eight seconds why not just pin the guy? The match spills to the floor and Strong finally takes advantage, hitting a running forearm off the apron. He hits another chop and gets a two-count in the corner. A leg-cradle backbreaker also gets two. A pump-handle backbreaker gets another two. The champion avoids a charge in the corner and hits the kick to the back / clothesline combo for two. Strong comes back with the gutbuster and a running Yakuza kick for two. McGuinness comes back with what I think is his first big lariat of the match, but Strong kicks out at two. He tries the Tower of London and Strong avoids it, but can’t avoid another lariat, which again gets two. The Tower of London also only gets two. He tries another lariat but Strong ducks it and hits a slingshot powerslam for two. He hits a couple of clotheslines in the corner and sets McGuinness on the top turnbuckle and hits a unique backbreaker for two. Moments later another backbreaker gets two. McGuinness comes back and sets Strong on the top rope and hits a lariat for two. He follows up with a Tower of London right onto the edge of the apron. He tosses Strong back into the ring and once again it only gets two. Strong comes back with a Yakuza kick, beats Nigel to the clothesline, and hits a Tiger Driver for a very close near fall that the crowd bought hard. He brings the champion to the ropes, but he winds up taking a big lariat for yet another two-count. The crowd bought that one too, but in the opposite way. McGuinness hits a couple of lariats and another Tower of London. That’s enough to finally put Strong away at 24:20. Much like their match back in Chicago this was really good, with a couple of new moves I’ve never seen before, and good psychology and selling throughout.
MATCH #3: Roderick Strong vs. Jay Briscoe, Stylin’ & Profilin’, 3.13.09
For some reason Larry Zbyszko is joining Dave Prazak on commentary. Strong and Jay start off with some aggressive chain wrestling. It doesn’t take long for Strong to start throwing the chops. They’ve been going full tilt for basically the entire match. Most of the action has been too quick for strict play-by-play. They’re hitting big moves and strikes but neither man can hold the other down for long. Strong hits a series of his signature moves but still can’t get the pin. Jay tries the Jay Driller but a series of reversals leads to Strong securing a cradle to pin Jay at 10:41. That match just zipped right by, I honestly was shocked when it was over. This was one of the better opening matches in ROH in the last great while.
MATCH #4: Roderick Strong vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima, Supercard of Honor IV, 4.3.09
The crowd chants “This Is Awesome” before the match even starts. I’ll be the judge of that. They trade arm drags and stuff in the early going. Of course that quickly becomes an exchange of elbows and chops, and the crowd loves it. Strong takes control with chops, clotheslines, and a suplex for two. A backbreaker gets another two. Nakajima comes back and tarts attacking Strong’s knee. Strong makes the comeback with an enziguiri and slams Nakajima down on his face. Both men are down. They rise and start throwing chops at each other. Ouch. Strong ends that with a backbreaker on his bad knee, and he sells it like a champ. He goes up to the second rope and Nakajima kicks him in the head. Nakajima hits a brainbuster for two. Strong comes back with another backbreaker. They trade more kicks and Strong hits the gutbuster, and is able to hit the running Yakuza. He finishes up with the Gibson Driver at 9:30. They sure packed a ton of action into a small amount of time and it was quite fun to watch.
MATCH #5: Roderick Strong vs. Alex Koslov, Take No Prisoners (2009), 4.4.09
Koslov is a regular from the AAA promotion in Mexico. They lock up to start and trade armbars, and then quickly take it to the mat. Koslov instantly irritates me by doing the Kenny Omega stop sign thing, and then not even doing a move after it. That’s just awful on many levels. Strong comes back with a leg lariat and the fans chant “USA.” A backbreaker gets the first near-fall of the match for Strong. Back on their feet Koslov absorbs some chops and tries a cross body block, but Strong catches him and hits a fallaway slam. They fight on the apron and Strong knocks Koslov to the floor. Strong tries a leaping forearm but Koslov moves out of the way and Strong crashes into the guardrail. Koslov takes advantage now, throwing Strong into the guardrails a couple of times and then bringing the match back in the ring. After a few minutes of abuse Koslov puts on his Russian hat and does the Cossack Dance. I don’t really care for that. Koslov traps Strong in the ropes and locks on a surfboard, which is called Perestroika. Strong comes back with a big enziguiri, and follows up with a superplex. They get back to their feet and Strong lights Koslov up with a series of chops. Strong follows with a running forearm and a backbreaker for two. Koslov comes up with a chinbreaker, and Strong comes back with the gutbuster, and then Koslov comes back from that with the Soviet Strike (superkick) for a two-count. Strong goes for a half-nelson backbreaker but Koslov counters with a crucifix for two. Koslov has no counter for the running Yakuza though. Strong then locks on the Stronghold for the submission victory at 7:39. It was a perfectly solid match, but it could have used some more time, because I hear people raving about Koslov but I didn’t see anything in this match that really made me want to see him again.
MATCH #6: ROH World Title Match – Roderick Strong vs. Jerry Lynn, A Cut Above, 4.24.09
Lynn has been the champion since 4.3.09, and this is already his third defense. Nigel McGuinness rejoins the commentating team as Lynn and Strong start the match with some chain wrestling. The winner of this match faces Colt Cabana tomorrow night in Chicago. They trade armbars and such, and Strong lights up Lynn’s chest with a chop. Strong is in control now, working on Lynn’s arm. Lynn comes back with some armdrags and also goes to work on his opponent’s arm. Strong fights out of the armbar and whips Lynn into the ropes for a leg lariat, which gets two. He hits a huge chop and Lynn rolls to the floor. Strong follows him out and misses a chop up against the barricade. He runs Lynn’s back into the ring apron instead and gets back in the ring. The champion tries to fire up and tries to hit some strikes of his own but Strong chops him back down. For some reason Lynn feels like trying to be funny to the crowd in the midst of this beating he’s taking while defending the ultra-important ROH World Title. Lynn avoids a bodyslam and hits an inverted DDT for two. He utilizes the Gory Special and drops Strong on his head awkwardly for two. Strong reverses the momentum and tries an O’Connor roll. Lynn blocks that but Strong hits a dropkick for two. Strong once again sends Lynn to the floor. He leaps off the apron, but Lynn moves out of the way and Strong’s head connects with the guardrail. Holy crap it’s a gusher. Back in the ring Lynn puts on a Boston Crab. Strong gets out of the Boston Crab and avoids that stupid legdrop Lynn does. They fight on the apron and Lynn knocks Strong down and hits a tornado DDT on the floor. Back in the ring Lynn gets a two-count. Lynn goes for the Cradle Piledriver but Strong reverses to a Gibson Driver attempt, which Lynn reverses to an Air Raid Crash for two. They go up top and Strong is able to hit a superplex for two. Strong then locks on the Stronghold and Lynn gets the ropes. The challenger hits a uranage backbreaker for another two-count. They fight on the apron again and Strong hits a belly-to-back suplex right on the edge of the apron for two. Strong hits a half-nelson backbreaker for another two-count and puts on the Stronghold again (why do they keep calling it the Boston Crab?) and Lynn once again reaches the ropes, and then gets a rollup for two. The challenger hits the gutbuster and the Yakuza for two. Lynn comes back and hits a TKO and the Cradle Piledriver for only two! He hits a second Cradle Piledriver to finally finish Strong off at 18:21. The blood really helped the drama of the match, and kudos to Strong for going all-out to make the champion look amazing.
MATCH #7: Roderick Strong vs. Austin Aries, ROH on HDNet Episode 7, 5.2.09
They start slowly with some chain wrestling. Down on the mat Strong foolishly tries a headscissors, but you know how that ends. Aries uses a chop, which just angers Strong, so Aries takes a powder. Back in the ring Aries slaps Strong across the chest and ducks another Strong chop attempt. Aries goes back to the floor and gloats, and since he’s not looking Strong follows him out with a forearm off the apron. Strong is all fired up so Aries is trying to avoid him. Aries is able to knock Strong off the apron, and then he delivers a double ax handle off the top to the floor. He keeps the match outside the ring and continues to have the momentum on his side. Strong comes back with a cross body block off the second rope for two. Aries cuts him off and goes back to work. Strong finally hits some chops and a dropkick for two. He hits his first backbreaker of the match for another two-count. Aries uses momentum to send Strong to the floor, and he follows him out with the heat seeking missile. Back in the ring Aries hits the slingshot twisting body press. Strong hits a half-nelson backbreaker but again only gets two. An enziguiri gets another near-fall. Aries grabs a schoolboy rollup for two, and then cinches in the Last Chancery. Strong gets to the ropes. He’s able to hit Aries with a huge gutbuster and the Sick Kick. Strong locks on the Stronghold and Aries is the one to reach the ropes this time. When Strong goes for the Stronghold again, Aries sends Strong to the floor. Back in the ring Aries lands a dropkick and goes for the Brainbuster but Strong reverses back to the Stronghold! Aries reaches the ropes. Strong goes for the Gibson Driver but Aries counters it with a headscissors and hits a roaring forearm. Aries goes for the Boston Crab but Strong counters with a cradle for two. The experienced Aries rolls right through and lands a hard kick right to the head. Aries hits the Brainbuster to get the pin at 15:20. That was decent for a TV main event, as Aries was just not all that exciting in this character.
MATCH #8: Roderick Strong vs. KENTA, ROH on HDNet Episode 14, 6.20.09
Both men start aggressively as they take it to the mat. KENTA is the current GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion, by the way. Strong hits his first chop pretty early and KENTA responds with kicks. After a physical exchange Strong hits a leg lariat and both guys take time to regroup. KENTA takes the advantage and continues to wear Strong down. He uses a lot of kicks in his attack. Strong catches KENTA charging into the corner and launches him across the ring. They trade chops and slaps and Strong gets the better of it. Strong hits his first backbreaker but doesn’t go for a cover. Instead, Strong hits a fallaway slam for two. Strong lands a huge dropkick for a two-count. KENTA comes back with a powerslam from out of nowhere and both men are down. They make it back up and KENTA is a house afire. KENTA goes up top and hits a leaping lariat for two. He puts on a Crossface and Strong barely makes it to the ropes. Strong brings KENTA back in the ring with a slingshot Falcon Arrow, which is really cool. He hits another backbreaker for two. KENTA hits a springboard missile dropkick, a huge boot in the corner, and a hesitation dropkick. He follows with a sitout powerbomb for two. KENTA hits the Busaiku Knee Kick but that still only gets a two-count. Strong hits a superplex for two. He tries the Stronghold but KENTA reaches the ropes. Outside the ring Strong drops Aries in a back suplex on edge of the ring frame. Back in the ring Strong hits a gutbuster and the Sick Kick for two. KENTA comes back with the Go 2 Sleep from out of nowhere to get the pin at 12:13. They didn’t have much of a spark going on, but these two are pros so this is another solid TV main event.
MATCH #9: World Tag Team Title Match – Roderick Strong & KENTA vs. The American Wolves, Violent Tendencies, 6.26.09
The Wolves have been champions since 4.10.09, and this is their sixth defense. They are of course accompanied by Shane Hagadorn. KENTA and Davey Richards start the match, as there is heat left over there from their singles match back in April. Strong is replacing the injured Bryan Danielson. Richards quickly bails and Edwards comes in, and I can tell right now that I’m going to have a hard time keeping up with this action. The Wolves take a moment to powder, and then when they get back in the ring it’s on once again. Strong and KENTA take control and work Edwards over in their corner. The Wolves reverse the momentum and take over on KENTA. Strong gets tagged back in and no one can gain firm control in the early going. The Wolves take control of KENTA for a while, which ends when Richards and KENTA exchange blows and knock each other out. Richards makes the tag to Edwards, and KENTA is able to make the tag to Strong as well. Strong is a house afire, but the Wolves weather his storm and try to double-team him, but their attacks get countered and Strong makes the tag to KENTA. This match has pretty much been non-stop action. It’s been much too hard for me to keep up with in a play-by-play sense, I’m just enjoying it. Of course the referee eventually loses control, and the crowd is chanting “this is awesome.” After a long stretch of chaos, Edwards traps Strong in a half Boston Crab and Strong taps out at 21:05. That was an absolutely tremendous tag team match with non-stop action, as can be expected from the Wolves now. Even though it’s illogical for KENTA to win the titles, the crowd still bought it and helped make a supremely entertaining match.
MATCH #10: Roderick Strong vs. Nigel McGuinness, The Final Countdown Tour: Boston, 9.25.09
Apparently this is a Special Challenge match. These two met a almost exactly one year ago in Boston at the Driven 2008 pay-per-view, when McGuinness successfully defended the ROH World Title against Strong. They lock up fiercely and jockey for position. McGuinness goes for the arm and takes Strong down to the mat. Strong escapes and hits a leg lariat and a backbreaker for two. He starts hitting chops and McGuinness fights back with a hard forearm. McGuinness goes right back to the arm. Strong makes a brief comeback but McGuinness cuts him off with the headstand mule kick, which the crowd greets with “same old shit.” That seems to energize Strong, as he hits a nice dropkick. Strong now hits a series of strikes and a pumphandle backbreaker for two. McGuinness comes back with the kick to the back/clothesline combo in the corner, once again prompting a “same old shit” chant. Strong comes back with a Falcon Arrow, and then he goes for the Stronghold but McGuinness reaches the ropes. The battle spills to the floor and McGuinness whips Strong arm-first into the barricade. Back in the ring McGuinness hits a short-arm lariat for two. McGuinness then locks on the London Dungeon to no reaction, and Strong reaches the ropes. He gets Strong up on the top rope but misses the Lariat. McGuinness doesn’t miss the Tower of London though, and Strong kicks out at two. The problem with McGuinness’ style over the years is that none of his finishers are over anymore. He goes for the jawbreaker lariat but Strong rushes over and traps him in a Boston Crab in the ropes. That’s a cool spot. They go back to the floor and Strong hits a torture rack slam on the ring apron (sick) and that gets two. Back in the ring Strong goes for a superplex but McGuinness counters with a sunset bomb. McGuinness once again locks on the London Dungeon but Strong reverses to a cradle for two. He tries another headstand, but Strong counters with an enziguiri, a gutbuster, and a running Yakuza kick for two. A Gibson Driver gets two, and Strong immediately follows up with another one to get the pin at 16:46. That was a fun offensive minded matchup, but knowing that McGuinness was on his way out made the conclusion a little flat. McGuinness cuts a quick thank you promo before heading to the back.
MATCH #11: Roderick Strong vs. Tyler Black, The Omega Effect, 11.14.09
These two absolutely tore it up in the Survival of the Fittest 2009 finals, so I hope for more of the same here. It’s a tense lockup to start and Strong complies with a clean break. They take it to the mat and wrestle to a standoff. Black grabs a headlock and takes Strong down. Strong battles up and gets to the ropes, and this time Black breaks clean. They trade moves and once again come to a standoff. They’ve been pretty evenly matched thus far. Strong hits a leg lariat but only gets one. He unleashes a couple of chops, and when Black tries to chop back he gets chopped down. Hero calls Strong’s chops “punctual.” So what, they’re on time? I don’t get it. They continue to trade holds and strikes, with no one gaining a prolonged advantage. Strong wears Black down for a bit before he fires back, but one chop takes Black down. Black absorbs a few stinging chops and then hits a Tornado DDT. He creatively works Strong into the Tree of Woe and hits a running dropkick to the face for two. He goes to the apron and hits a springboard lariat for two. Strong comes back with a snap powerslam for two. He hits a Half-Nelson Backbreaker for two, and then a Falcon Arrow for two. Black counters a gutbuster with a Frankensteiner, and then hits the Paroxysm for two, and then actually hits the quebrada for two! He usually misses that and hits a standing shooting star press, so kudos. Strong sends Black to the floor but gets kicked in the face for his troubles. Black goes for another springboard maneuver, but Strong dropkicks him out of the air for two. After a few more maneuvers, Strong locks in the Stronghold and Black is forced to reach the ropes. Strong tries the Gibson Driver, but Black reverses it to an F-5 for two. They fight over on the apron and Strong is able to hit Black with a belly-to-back suplex right on the ring frame. Black fights back with a hard kick to the face and both men are down. They get back in the ring and start trading shots. They step it up and trade kicks, and both men are down. They both go for finishers and Black hits God’s Last Gift but Strong kicks out at two! Black goes for the Phoenix Splash but Strong knocks him down and hits the torture rack backbreaker for two. Strong hits the gutbuster and big kick for two. They both hit big maneuvers and once again they’re both down, and time expires at 20:00. It wasn’t quite as electric as Indianapolis, but these two obviously have chemistry and they’re doing a good job at making them appear evenly matched as the top two babyfaces on the roster.
MATCH #12: Roderick Strong vs. Bryan Danielson, ROH on HDNet Episode 34, 11.16.09
These two have had some of the best matches in ROH history, so this is a fitting send off for Danielson before heading to WWE. They chain wrestle to start, trying to set the pace. Strong hits an early backbreaker for a two-count. He hits another one for another near-fall. Strong uses chops and submission holds to wear Danielson down and keep up the advantage. Danielson gets fired up and unleashes a series of slaps and a knee lift. He continues with kicks and a running dropkick to the face. Strong uses a variety of backbreakers in his attack, looking to soften up the back for the Stronghold. Danielson goes up to the top rope for a missile dropkick but Strong catches him in the Stronghold, and Danielson counters that to an inside cradle for two. A series of reversals ends with Danielson locking on a triangle choke and Strong is able to reach the ropes. They fight on the apron and Danielson dropkicks Strong to the floor. A baseball slide dropkick sends Strong into the crowd and Danielson hits the springboard dive, wiping Strong out in the third row! Back in the ring Danielson hits the missile dropkick. Danielson follows with a flying knee strike for two. He locks on Cattle Mutilation but Strong counters it so Danielson goes for the LeBell Lock instead. Strong counters that into the Stronghold and Danielson counters that into head stomps. Danielson locks on the Triangle Choke, which Strong impressively breaks with a backbreaker. Both men are down. They rise and trade chops. Strong catches Danielson with a uranage backbreaker and a torture rack backbreaker for a near-fall. They fight up on the top rope and Danielson hits the belly-to-back superplex. Danielson locks on Cattle Mutilation! Strong powers out and hits the gutbuster and the Gibson Driver for two. He puts Danielson on the top rope and Danielson unleashes a series of elbow strikes. Strong responds with an enziguiri, a super gutbuster, and the Sick Kick to get the pin at 18:01. These two were always great opponents so this was fitting match for Danielson to bow out after. They almost never stopped for the entire match and the crowd was red hot.
MATCH #13: Roderick Strong vs. Kenny Omega, Reverse the Curse, 12.5.09
I’m not the world’s biggest Kenny Omega fan, but Strong is amazing so let’s see what he can do here. They chain wrestle to start in the feeling-out process. Strong lands an early chop but Omega absorbs it and is able to go on offense. Prazak and Hero discuss who Croyt is on commentary as Strong takes over with a leg lariat. Strong uses chops and Omega tries to match him, but that’s a fool’s game. Omega uses his quickness to take over and then he grounds Strong with a headscissors. He goes for a cross body block off the top rope but Strong cuts him out of the air with a dropkick. Strong catches a snap powerslam for two. A backbreaker gets another two-count. Omega comes back with his version of the bulldog for two. Strong dumps Omega to the apron and hits an enziguiri right to the face. Omega comes back with the idiotic Stop Sign Enziguiri to knock Strong to the floor. He follows with the moonsault off the beam to wipe Strong out. Back in the ring Omega hits a springboard missile dropkick to the back of the head. They trade counters and Omega hits a dropkick and the dragon suplex for two. Omega hits the cross-legged brainbuster for another two-count. Strong counters the Croyt’s Wrath and slams Omega down for a two-count. He hits a uranage backbreaker and locks on the Stronghold. Omega reaches the ropes. They trade more counters and neither man can score a pinfall yet. Strong hits a Torture Rack backbreaker for a near-fall. Omega hits a reverse rana for two. Both men rise and trade strikes. Strong hits a huge Sick Kick from out of nowhere but only gets two. He follows up with a gutbuster and the Gibson Driver to finally get the pin at 20:25. This was a decent athletic exhibition but the match had very little in the way of story. Strong even admits being disappointed in the match in the interview portion.
MATCH #14: Roderick Strong vs. Davey Richards, ROH on HDNet Episode 41, 1.4.10
Remember when TNA decided to go head-to-head with WWE Monday Night Raw? ROH was on Monday nights too, and on the first night the two bigger companies were facing off, Ring of Honor was presenting this as their main event. Obviously Strong and Richards take it right down to the mat. They counter each other frequently in the early going as both men try to take the first sustained advantage. The fight spills to the floor, where they exchange chops. Strong gets the better of that battle. He tries a whip but Richards reverses it and Strong crashes into the guardrail. Richards then kicks Strong into the crowd. He brings Strong back into the ring and goes to work on him with strikes. They go back to the floor and this time Richards hits the Orton DDT, causing Strong’s head to bounce off the floor! Back in the ring Richards continues the onslaught. AMERICAN WOLVES! Richards goes up top and Strong lands a huge kick to the head. Strong goes up and hits a huge superplex. Both men rise and trade strikes again. Strong hits a Falcon Arrow for two. He hits a dropkick for another two-count. Richards comes back with kicks and hits the handspring enziguiri for two. He lands a big boot to the face and a missile dropkick for a near-fall. They trade pinning combinations for a series of two-counts, and then they clothesline each other and both men are down. Back on their feet they trade strikes again. Richards hits Kawada Kicks and Strong responds with chops. I hate it when Richards tells his opponent to hit him back. Richards weathers Strong’s strikes and hits a kick to the head, big clothesline, and a bridging German Suplex for two. He locks on the Texas Cloverleaf and Strong reaches the ropes. They go to the apron and Richards attempts a DR Driver. Strong fights out of it and hits a backbreaker on the ring frame. Back in the ring Strong hits a uranage backbreaker for a close near-fall. Strong hits the gutbuster and tries the Sick Kick but Richards catches him in an exploder suplex. On the next attempt Strong hits the Sick Kick but it only gets two. Richards hits the Alarm Clock but Strong comes right back with another gutbuster and the Gibson Driver to get the pin at 16:09. These two are usually good together, and this was no exception, a good TV main event.
MATCH #15: Roderick Strong vs. Brian Kendrick, 8th Anniversary Show, 2.13.10
It’s interesting to note is that this is the first match in ROH where Kendrick has been billed as “Brian Kendrick” rather than “Spanky.” They take it to the mat right away, attacking each others’ arms. Kendrick switches gears and goes after the leg. Strong doesn’t appreciate that so he starts throwing chops. Kendrick tries to cover up in the corner and gets stomped. Strong hits a backbreaker for a two-count. He continues working the back, hitting a vertical suplex for two. He hits a fallaway slam and Kendrick rolls to the floor. Kendrick tries to escape but Strong catches up with him, only to get caught with a drop toehold into the barricade. Now Kendrick is in control, so he slides back in the ring to regroup. Back in the ring Kendrick nails a dropkick for two and then locks on a Camel Clutch. Strong fights out of the Camel Clutch but Kendrick cuts him off with a neckbreaker for two. Kendrick hits a kick to the back of the head and chokes Strong against the middle rope. He goes to the second rope and Strong chops him all the way to the floor! Strong hits a leaping lariat off the apron and whips Kendrick into the barricades. He hits another chop and rolls Kendrick back in the ring. Kendrick hits a dropkick, and Strong comes back with one of his own for two. Strong hits a leg-capture backbreaker for two. He sets Kendrick up for a superplex but Kendrick fights him off and hits a side kick for two. Kendrick goes for Sliced Bread No. 2 but Strong counters it. Strong tries the gutbuster but Kendrick reverses to a crucifix for two. Kendrick hits a tornado DDT and then a beautiful Frog Splash for a two-count. He goes for Sliced Bread No. 2 again but Strong blocks it and hits the torture rack breaker. Strong hits a running boot to the face and then the Gibson Driver to get the pin at 10:25. I know he was miserable in WWE, but Kendrick has really become an excellent all-around worker since working there. This was the right choice to open the show.
MATCH #16: Roderick Strong & Tyler Black vs. Austin Aries & Kenny King, ROH on HDNet Episode 49, 3.1.10
Strong and King start the match. Not much happens and then Black tags in. Black shows King why he’s the current ROH World Champion. King consults with Aries and Strong tags back in. Whatever Aries said must have been good advice because King takes control. Strong fights back with a dropkick though and tags the Champ. Black works on King so Aries pulls his apprentice to the floor to regroup with him. Back in the ring Strong tags in again. Finally Aries tags in and goes to work on Strong’s arm. As soon as Strong hits a chop Aries runs to the corner and makes the tag. Aries and King use some chicanery to take control of Strong and isolate him from Black. After several minutes of abuse due to solid teamwork by Aries and King, Strong is able to make the hot tag. Black is a house afire, taking both men out and sending Aries to the floor. He hits King with Paroxysm for a two-count. A standing shooting star press also can’t get the job done. Black makes a blind tag and wipes Aries out with a dive! Strong catches King with the Sick Kick for a near-fall. He hits the gutbuster and Black tries to follow with a superkick but he accidentally hits Strong instead! King covers for the pin at 12:14. That was solid tag team formula stuff and did a good job building tension between Black and Strong.
MATCH #17: Roderick Strong vs. Colt Cabana, Hate: Chapter II, 7.23.10
They start with some chain wrestling, with Strong going after the arm. Cabana tries going after the leg and it looks like tempers are starting to flare but Cabana is still just being goofy as he takes a powder. Back in the ring Cabana locks on a headlock. He hits a shoulderblock and switches it up to go after the arm. Strong escapes a hold and takes a powder. Back in the ring Truth Martini wastes little time in interfering to give Strong the advantage. Cabana ducks a clothesline and hits a double chop. Strong comes back and kicks Cabana in the gut and throws him to the floor. He works Cabana over, and then brings him back in the ring to hit a DDT for two. Strong can’t sustain an advantage though, as this match continues to go back and forth. Cabana hits the jabs, the Flying Apple and a clothesline for a near-fall. He secures a victory roll but Strong kicks out at two and proceeds to shut Cabana down with chops. Strong hits an enziguiri and a side slam for two. Cabana rolls that over for a two-count of his own. Strong then rings Cabana’s bell with a knee to the face. That looks like it legit caught him. Strong hits a knee lift and an enziguiri for two. He then locks on the Stronghold and Cabana reaches the ropes and then scores a rollup for two. Strong puts Cabana up on the top rope and kicks him in the head. Cabana reverses the momentum and hits a super gutbuster across the top turnbuckle for two. That’s new. Cabana goes for the Colt 45 but Strong slips out so instead he goes for the Bill Goat’s Curse. Strong kicks him off and the referee gets distracted long enough for Truth to hit Cabana with the Book of Truth (unbeknownst to Strong but knownst to us). That gives Strong the chance to hit the gutbuster and the Sick Kick to get the pin and keep his spot at 14:23. That was a decent back and forth showing, and I really like the idea of Truth helping Strong behind his back like that.
MATCH #18: Roderick Strong vs. Austin Aries, Salvation, 7.24.10
They lock up and Strong forces Aries into the corner. These two of course have a long history together so both men are cautious in the early going. They take it down to the mat and Strong uses a headscissors. Aries counters with his own headscissors, but Strong uses a familiar escape. They continue exchanging holds, and when Strong lands his first chop Aries takes a quick powder. Back in the ring they go back to trading holds and it’s a very even contest. Strong hits a leg lariat and some more chops. Aries comes back by raking Strong’s eyes across the top rope. He goes up top and Truth Martini grabs his ankle, so the referee ejects Truth from ringside. Once again he was interfering behind Strong’s back, so Strong has no idea what happened and is confused as to why Truth has been kicked out. Meanwhile Aries knocks Strong to the floor and follows him out with the Heat Seeking Missile. Aries goes to work on the midsection and throws Strong back in the ring. He continues wearing Strong down, keeping him grounded. He tries a Boston Crab but Strong escapes with hard kicks to the face. Strong then hits a hard knee to the face to knock Aries loopy. He fires up with a quick flurry of offense, including a snap powerslam for two. Aries reverses a whip and hits a forearm. He then hits a neckbreaker, snapping Strong’s neck off the middle rope. He goes up and hits a missile dropkick. He tries to follow up with an IED but Strong catches him and hits an enziguiri. Strong hits a gutbuster but only gets two when Aries gets his foot on the bottom rope. He goes for a Gibson Driver but Aries forces him into the corner. Strong tries another one but Aries ranas his way out of it, and then armdrags Strong into the turnbuckles. Aries then hits the IED for two. He goes for the Last Chancery but Strong rolls through for a two-count. They trade chops and Aries wins the battle with a hot shot. Aries hits a modified jawbreaker but it only gets two. The battle spills to the apron and Strong is able to hit Aries with an enziguiri. Strong then drops Aries on the top turnbuckle with a backbreaker for two. He locks in the Stronghold but Aries escapes with a small package for two. Strong then hits a half nelson backbreaker. He tries another one but Aries counters with the Crucifix Bomb. Aries hits a kick to the head and goes for the brainbuster but Strong counters with a suplex into a backbreaker, and then hits the Sick Kick for the win at 17:56. These two have always been good together, whether teaming up or facing each other and this was no exception. Strong is looking good going into this title shot coming up at Glory by Honor IX.
MATCH #19: Roderick Strong vs. Christopher Daniels, ROH on HDNet Episode 67, 7.26.10
They take it right down to the mat, of course. Both men appear to be pretty evenly matched in the early going. Daniels takes first control with a neckbreaker and a back suplex for two. He focuses on the back and neck, which is wise given his signature moves. Strong fights back with kicks and a backbreaker. He continues working the back, also wise strategy given his signature moves like the Stronghold and the Gibson Driver. Daniels tries to make the comeback but Strong cuts him off and hits another backbreaker to keep Daniels on defense. Strong goes for the Stronghold but Daniels gets a rollup for two. Daniels then hits the Edge-o-Matic and both men are down. Back on their feet Daniels unleashes a flurry of offense. Daniels runs Strong into the turnbuckle and hits an STO for two. The fight spills to the apron and Daniels kicks Strong to the floor. Daniels follows with an Arabian Press to wipe Strong out. Truth Martini distracts Daniels long enough for Strong to drop him back-first on the edge of the ring frame. Back in the ring Strong keeps the pressure on, hitting a backbreaker for two. Daniels catches Strong with a Flatliner and then locks on the Koji Clutch. Strong reaches the ropes. They get up and trade shots. Daniels hits a Death Valley Driver for two. Martini is able to hit Daniels with the Book of Truth behind the referee’s back and Strong follows with the Sick Kick for the win at 14:27. This was a good match and a good idea to have Strong go over Daniels leading into his title shot, but the finish was kind of lazy. That happened a lot during the early House of Truth days.
MATCH #20: ROH World Title No Disqualification Match with Terry Funk as Ringside Enforcer – Roderick Strong vs. Tyler Black, Glory By Honor IX, 9.11.10
Black has been the champion since 2.13.10, and this is his eighth defense. He of course is greeted with a chorus of boos, since he’s on his way to WWE (FCW). The crowd chants “NXT” at him, which is pretty clever actually. This is Strong’s sixteenth chance at the ROH World Title. Jim Cornette joins the commentary team. These two have had awesome matches in the past, so I’m excited for this. Despite Black’s impending departure, he still has enough supporters for a dueling chant early on. They trade holds and Strong hits a leg lariat to send Black to the floor. Strong follows him out and continues the abuse. Black counters and drops Strong chest-first on the ring apron. Back in the ring Black maintains control and the crowd stays hot. Momentum shifts back and forth several times as Martini tries to encourage Strong from ringside. Black controls for several minutes before Strong can fight back with a Falcon Arrow for two. Momentum continues to shift, and Black takes control with a gutbuster. Black tells the crowd that They Can’t See Him and then locks on the STFU! That’s awesome. Martini tries to interfere but Funk backs him off as Strong breaks out of the hold. Black hits superplex and tries to roll through for God’s Last Gift but Strong counters with a vertical suplex into a backbreaker for a near-fall! The crowd is hot. Strong hits a gutbuster and goes for the Sick Kick but Black pulls referee Todd Sinclair in the way and Sinclair gets blasted! What a bump. Funk comes in the ring and throws Sinclair to the floor, officially taking over as referee. Black hits Strong with the Book of Truth and then god’s Last Gift but it only gets two! They fight up to the top rope and Black hits the Warrior’s Way but Strong catches him and locks on the Stronghold! Black counters with an inside cradle for two. Strong immediately kills Black’s face with a superkick but it only gets two! House of Truth members Josh Raymond and Christin Able come running out in their wrestling gear for some reason, and Funk easily dispatches of both of them. Martini gets in the ring and Funk throws him back to the floor. Black hits Strong with a superkick and two Buckle Bombs, then two more superkicks, and then Strong spits in his face so Black gives him another one! He goes up for the Phoenix Splash but misses and Strong hits an enziguiri, a torture rack backbreaker, a gutbuster, and the Sick Kick to finally win the ROH World Title at 15:04. That was phenomenal, great stuff from both guys again. They’re great opponents.
This is a great set chronicling Roderick Strong’s road to the ROH World Title, and features a variety of excellent opponents. Strong is one of the longest tenured stars in ROH at this point, and he deserves being mentioned up there with some of the best in ROH history. Five of the matches on this set are four stars or higher, and ten more are between three and four stars, so this gets an easy recommendation. ROH is killing it with these compilation sets this year. You can purchase it at the ROH Store.