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RODERICK STRONG DISCUSSES NXT GOING LIVE, THE REACTION BEHIND THE SCENES, TRIPLE H PUTTING HIM OVER, PRESSURE OF LIVE TV AND MORE

By Mike Johnson on 2019-10-04 11:26:00

The following interview was conducted on the morning of Wednesday 10/2.

Mike Johnson: We are here at The Performance Center with the new WWE NXT North American Champion Roderick Strong . Big week for NXT, big week for you, big week for WWE.

Roderick Strong: That's right.

Mike Johnson: So you had the opportunity on the USA Network to win the first main event on NXT and the USA Network, beating the Velveteen Dream. Obviously you've had a long career. We've been doing interviews since the days you were working Florida-

Roderick Strong: Yeah, right?

Mike Johnson:  The good old days. When you look at this and you reflect on the last couple of weeks and what will be happening tonight, what does this all mean to you?

Roderick Strong: I feel like it's the classic answer of hard work paying off and all that kind of stuff, but it just feels right. And obviously to do it alongside my buddies there. We've traveled the world together and we've done so much stuff together and we are spearheading this change in wrestling, this competitive thing. I don't know, it's awesome. It's amazing. The day of the September 18th episode was the most emotional I've been probably ever in wrestling because the importance of it. To be put in a position where the company trusts me enough, I don't know.

Mike Johnson: You mentioned it was emotional. You've wrestled live on Pay-per-view, live on Takeovers. You've been the top guy in different places that you've wrestled. Compare that pressure and that emotion of where you are now and where the company, especially with the company going into two hours live on the USA Network, to working a main event against Daniel Bryan in other places and having that responsibility in other places. Is it the same pressure or is it larger now? Is it different? Maybe you feel different because you're more mature and you're older.

Roderick Strong: No, that actually was going to be what I was going to say, is just all of those opportunities before got me ready for those types of situations. And to me experience is, it teaches you the most and more than ready, I love the pressure. After doing it for so long, you need that. It makes you feel alive. And the fact that we have that every week now on Wednesday is amazing and I look forward to every opportunity that I get really.



Mike Johnson: So after the TakeOver: XXV show in Bridgeport, Triple H did a media conference and he said that you were one of the talents who is so good at making others look better and he didn't think you got the respect and you got the appreciation now that you'll get later when people look back. Seeing the company put their faith in you by putting the North American Championship on you and hearing those words from Triple H, what does that mean to you as someone who you toiled in small shows in front of 30 people in Florida to get to where you are now, to have this position and to hear those sort of compliments from one of the most important people in the industry? What does that all mean to you?

Roderick Strong: That gets me emotional, but it really has been my focus my whole career. When I got into wrestling, I always was told the important thing is making your opponent look good or whatever. But I want to bring the best out of everybody that I work with and the fact that it is being seen by my bosses and eventually will be seen by the world, they'll appreciate me for what I am. Nothing stops me from wanting to get better in that and doesn't hurt my feelings that I may not be appreciated as much currently, but it's a legacy. It's something that I've been around wrestling, this is my 24th year and just the fact that I feel like a whole new chapter just opened in my book and I get to write it however I want to write is amazing.

Mike Johnson: Talk a little bit about the energy backstage and here at The Performance Center after the announcement was made that the show's going live two hours on the USA Network. I assume everybody's always working their butt off to begin with, but how did the mood change and how did the vibe change backstage and here at The Performance Center once that became a real reality?

Roderick Strong: It really lit a fire, and obviously everybody works very, very hard here, but now there's a goal. When you're doing TV every four or six weeks, it's a little bit different field. Taped wrestling's so much different than live wrestling and there's not many people that have experience with it. So it's a whole new challenge and I think it makes people hyper focus on their weaknesses just to prepare themselves for the opportunity. Everyone's been just so fired up and I was far more, I don't want to say motivating, but it really is because every Wednesday, it's still crazy. We just got off of a four-day road loop and I got home Monday and then I realized like, "Oh, we have TV on Wednesday." It's so exciting.

Mike Johnson: Does it keep you more on your toes as a performer to know live TV every week versus, all right, I've got to tape three segments tonight. Talk about the difference in mental preparation.

Roderick Strong: Oh 100%. You got to show up every week. That is one of the things that I love about it, is just the fact that there's consistent pressure. There's not pressure and then time off and then pressure and then time off. There's every single week we're going to be doing something, and we're going to have to do exactly what they want from us. I just love the fact that we have that pressure. And I'm surrounded by Bobby, Kyle and Adam. They love it too and they feed off of that. So it just a very, very exciting and I think it's going to help with our creativity even more and it's just going to be wild to see what The Undisputed Era does.

Mike Johnson: All right, so one last question. What do you say to everybody who supported you all these years now that you're in this position and you're going to be on live TV every Wednesday when you reflect? We mentioned the small shows in Florida where you started and now you're back in Florida and you're going to be seen on a larger global scale than ever before. What do you say to all those fans who have been following you all those years and what do you say to people who are excited about NXT? What's your message to them?

Roderick Strong: That we're just getting started. Anyone that's followed me has known my work ethic and what I try to do and how much this job means to me, how much professional wrestling means to me. And really just thank you so much and I appreciate every, just every comment from the supporters and the doubters and everything. It's always fueling me to just have the best years of my career going forward. So thank you.

Mike Johnson: All right. Well thank you sir. Appreciate it. See you down the road.

Roderick Strong: Oh yeah. Very good seeing you!

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