“The Messiah of the Backbreaker” Roderick Strong is one of the longest standing veterans in Ring of Honor. He has been an active roster member for over 8 years and holds the rare distinction alongside Eddie Edwards as being one of only two men to hold the ROH Triple Crown. Ahead of Ring of Honor’s return to iPPV this weekend with their Rhode Island debut “Boiling Point 2012,” Strong joined us to discuss his background, ROH career, highlights, recap some of what has been happening in 2012 and his upcoming bout with “No Fear” Mike Mondo!
1. How did you first come to be interested in pro wrestling and what made you decide to give it a shot as a career?
Strong: Like a lot of guys, I was a fan growing up. My Dad had a chance to train and being the only parent around at the time, he took me with him to practice. After sitting around and watching for a while,I had the chance to get in the ring and mess around. From that day forward, I fell in love with it and realized it was a dream I wanted to pursue.
2. What was your athletic background prior to beginning your pro wrestling training? How did that help you?
Strong: I played every sport as a kid, but going in to high school I just focused on football. The biggest thing it helped me with was conditioning and being able to push my pace even when I was exhausted. One of the biggest things in pro wrestling is learning how to overcome the mental part of training at first and being in athletics my whole life really helped with that.
3. You were trained under Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart among others. Any memories or stories of those times, and what it was like to train under the former WWE Tag Team Champion as well as being trained and breaking in in Florida, a state with a rich pro wrestling history?
Strong: The best memory I have of the training is how intense it was. He (Jim) was having them do a Japanese-style training with the squats, push-ups and sit-ups, so I had a chance to see and experience that first hand when I was really young. With Florida having such a rich history in pro wrestling really pushed me to want to represent the state and everyone that made a name in it before me.
4. Thinking back to 2003 and your ROH debut, that was a time where many guys were coming up and making their name not only in ROH but around the country. Can you share what your thoughts were at that time and now looking back, being one of the longest standing roster members 8+ years later?
Strong: My debut was the most nervous I have ever been in my career. Like you said, a lot of guys were making their name in ROH at the time and to have an opportunity to start making my name there had me excited. Wow, sometimes I forget just how long I have been in the company!
5. From Generation Next in 2004, tag team success, getting endorsed by James Gibson, singles success, ROH’s growth and more - What have been the biggest successes and
biggest challenges to you in those last 8 years?
Strong: The biggest successes have been becoming the second Triple Crown winner in ROH history and just being able to wrestle the best talent from all over the world, plus I have made some really awesome friendships along the way. Biggest challenge wise, I don't feel any have been any different than what I would've run into or encountered being a part of any company.
6. In December of 2005, you and Austin Aries won the ROH World Tag Team Titles, which you held until September of 2006, a reign that many still today consider the best ROH Tag Team Title reign in the history of the company. What are your memories of that title reign, and what does it mean to you to still hear that praise today?
Strong: That title reign really helped take me to the next level. Austin and myself both really love tag team wrestling and realize (that) when done right (it) can main event any night of the week and we wanted to prove that when we were champions. It's great to know we had set out to do something and we got it done. Goes to show you tag team wrestling can be a huge part of wrestling even in these
7. Transitioning from the tag team success with Aries, you had many memorable singles feuds and matches – is there one or two that really are memorable to you and why?
Strong: Honestly I have a laundry list of matches during my time that are really memorable and for many different reasons. During that time was when I really had a chance to grow as a pro wrestler and test myself with the best.
8. You won the ultimate prize in ROH by dethroning Tyler Black to capture the ROH World Title in New York City in September 2010. What was that night like for you, in preparation for the match, during the match and then when the final bell rang to signal your achievement?
Strong: Getting ready for that match I knew I had to bring the belt home. I believe at that time I was 0-16 or something around that in title matches and I had to make this one count. So preparation wise, I stepped up my training and dieting like I had never done before. Tyler and I had faced off quite a few times before this match up so I was as ready as ever for him. All I know is when that bell rang and I had that belt, the years of hard work and sacrifice was all worth it. It was my Super Bowl ring!
9. You completed the Ring of Honor Triple Crown earlier this year by winning and having a good, yet brief run with the ROH TV Title. You are only the 2nd wrestler to have that distinction – what does that mean to you and how does it motivate you to get back to being a champion?
Strong: I got into wrestling to be the best at it. Championships are only part of what makes up a career, but they also push you to be at the top of your game every single night and I love that challenge!
10. To fans watching ROH weekly on Sinclair Broadcast Group networks around the country or live at shows, there seems to be trouble inside the House of Truth. Michael Elgin seems to be slowly pulling himself away from both you and Truth Martini, and it has almost come to blows numerous times between the two of you. Is there any way to fix the rift that is there, who is to blame for the rift or is Roderick Strong vs. Michael Elgin something we'll be seeing in the not too distant future?
Strong: I think Elgin knows who is at blame for this situation being the way it is. I was nice enough to allow him to come into the House of Truth and I feel maybe his ego is getting just a little too big. So if porky decides he wants to make things right he will or if he doesn't you will have to just wait to see what happens.
11. At Boiling Point you take on up and comer, “No Fear” Mike Mondo, who has been impressive lately in his matches with Davey Richards and Kevin Steen among others. What are your thoughts leading into this match?
Strong: I think Mondo is a wrestler trying to find himself here in ROH and that makes him dangerous. Do I know what he can do, yes. Does that make me fear him? NO! My thoughts are no matter what Mondo brings to the table, I am a few steps ahead and he isn't going to outwork me, he isn't going to out strike me and he isn't going to beat me!
12. You faced Jushin “Thunder” Liger earlier this year – was that a “dream match” for you and what other “dream matches” are out there that you would relish the opportunity to be a part of. Additionally, what goals does Roderick Strong have in the next year, three years and five years?
Strong: Of course that was a dream match for me! I have been watching Liger for many, many years and the fact that I got to wrestle him was amazing! He can still work with the best of them and it was an honor! There are quite a few Japanese legends I would love to work with before it's all said and done. My only goals are really to keep improving in every way possible and let that take me where it will.
13. What are some of your passions or hobbies when you are not on the road or in the ring and how can fans connect with you, keep up with your schedule in Ring of Honor and beyond and buy merchandise, etc.?
Strong: I love to workout, go hit fun little dive bars with good music and great beer and go to the beach. Fans can follow me on Twitter @roderickstrong , on Instagram @roderickstrong and like my Facebook fan page.
Thanks to Ring of Honor and Roderick Strong for the opportunity to showcase them in this forum. Don’t forget to check out the iPPV this weekend (can be ordered at ROHWrestling.com) and watch ROH on TV near you – check local listings to see when they air in your area!