Roderick Strong: Destiny Fulfilled
Ring of Honor
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
Every roster should have a Roderick Strong.
Sure, there’s a long-forgotten role involved; in this day and age, there’s a lack of respect for guys who actually do that quaint concept called wrestling; and yeah, Roderick Strong didn’t get much of a chance nationally, but he’s a guy that is simply necessary.
Not just for fans who actually enjoy talent in the ring; talent that battles, innovates and exudes a passion. Not just for fans, but for opponents. There’s a need for guys who can go, no matter who they are in the ring with. There’s a need for guys like Strong, who plays out a style more than just playing the role of an indie wrestler. There’s a need for a guys who can do quaint things like selling and rising to the level of their opponents.
By the way, the “new” look of the Ring of Honor compilation formatting is very good.
We get matches from the HDNet era, with excellent quality (not to mention Dave Prazak) and a slightly different approach to ROH that unfortunately never made it to Sinclair. I love the odd angles, the crisp production and a little less glitz, a lot more emphasis on the in-ring.
Sure, the fans are a huge part of the show, but I got tired of the camera panning the fans a long time ago.
The other positive aspect of the compilations is the insets of Roderick Strong speaking to the camera, which adds a lot to the depth of the matches. While there’s a certain sense of inconsistency and a bit too much breaking kayfabe in a casual, trivial, this-isn’t-real-but-worked sense, this DVD is the better for hearing and seeing Strong speak.
While the history of Roderick Strong isn’t fully on display here (we get no championship run, none of the No Remorse Corps era, nothing but hints about Generation Next), we get a great look at what makes Strong a great roster player.
The best match, ironically, is the first one.
Strong takes on Kensuke Sasaki at the Tokyo Summit, and this, my friends, is awesome.
What’s amazing is that Strong and Sasaki are reasonably similar height (Sasaki a lot thicker, though) and what we get is a throw-back to an older era where two powerful guys do battle, actually do some interesting things which Old School fans called WRESTLING, and we get a lot of Roderick Strong selling, setting up a story and genuinely performing in the ring.
As opposed to hitting 50 high spots in the typical indie match; trading those spots to the point of dizziness.
Strong continues to be highlighted in battles with Nigel McGuinness, Jay Briscoe, Katsuhiko Nakajima and Alex Koslov.
By the time we get to Jerry Lynn, there’s a theme established: Roderick Strong has a style, but his interactions with other styles really sets him apart. Whether it’s the technicality of McGuinness or the Lucha/entertainment approach of Koslov, his consistency makes these matches.
By the time we get to Disc 2, we see bigger matches, more indie-riffic matches, but still an underlying style of Strong, even in with vastly talented guys like Tyler Black, Bryan Danielson and Davey Richards.
Disc 2 really features a few battles against, and one with Tyler Black as a tag team.
At the time Black was the World Champion, and ultimately and at the end of this compilation it would be Strong who upends him. These two ROH World Champions went in different directions since that last match on the DVD, a No DQ Match with Terry Funk playing “enforcer”.
Weirdly enough, Tyler Black is slotted in a similar position, the less charismatic, the less character-driven talent, albeit more completely capable in the ring (as part of the Shied). Meanwhile Strong set course for wrestling in other indie promotions last year, but returned to ROH and is the technically sound foundation of the Decade.
One thing missing in the compilation is a lot of tag matches. Earlier in his career, Strong formed one of ROH’s all-time great teams with Austin Aries. This DVD has a few top-notch battles against Aries, but only two tag-team matches.
Strong as the “Arn Anderson” of a tag team seems a natural fit, Strong as the veteran presence paired with a young gun seems also promising. But this is not the “destiny” fulfilled by this DVD.
Roderick Strong is one of the few in Ring of Honor to hold all the Championship gold, and his talent is distinctly on display here, against the top indie talents of the United States and notable stars of Japan (KENTA, Katuhiko Nakajima, Sasaki). He works well against the elites, and despite his grumblings, his work against Alex Koslov and Kenny Omega show his ability to work with younger talent.
Above all, there’s his epic battles with ROH Champions: McGuiness and Tyler Black. In these, he’s clearly the underdog, but battles with a fire and a display of storytelling that brings out the best of the sport, and shows what it means to not just be talented, but to be great at being a professional.
All that and I didn’t throw any chops at ROH, or even mention that Roddy Strong is one of the all-time masters of slapping guys silly.
Joe Babinsack can be reached at