Challenge issued. Challenge accepted. On December 15, Roderick Strong is headed back to EVOLVE for the first time since July 2016, as he’ll take on Fabian Aichner and Austin Theory for the EVOLVE Championship.
It all started with a tweet.
Over the weekend, Roderick Strong posted an interesting tweet that sparked some conversation. The tag team champion commented on how NXT superstars are holding some EVOLVE titles and noted that he’s won just about every WWNLive (EVOLVE’s parent company) title in his career, except that top championship. Strong threw out a challenge saying maybe he’d show up at EVOLVE 117 to “shock the system,” aka dethrone Fabian Aichner for the title.
One of several NXT stars to show up at EVOLVE and unexpectedly claim gold in the company, Aichner won the company’s top title in a six-way ladder match at EVOLVE 114 in October. Since then, he’s defended the title on EVOLVE’s last two shows, first against Kassius Ohno and most recently against Anthony Henry in a match that ended by DQ. While guys like Henry and Darby Allin have expressed their intent to go for the EVOLVE title, it was Strong who was added to the match as Aichner accepted the challenge from his NXT colleague.
— Fabian Aichner (@FabianAichner) December 2, 2018
Hold up, Roddy. Yeah, it’s #undisputed you are great, but the EVOLVE Championship is mine. I’m getting the shot on Dec. 15th at EVOLVE 117 at La Boom. Just a heads up you will not #shockthesystem because I’m the #NeXT EVOLVE Champ. Dunna dun dun da dun da…😉 https://t.co/QnBk7BOPgt
— Austin Theory (@austintheory1) December 2, 2018
One-fourth of NXT’s best stable in company history, Undisputed Era (Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish and Adam Cole) Strong is, of course, best known for his time in Ring of Honor where he was with the company for parts of 14 years (2003-16) and held the mantle of “Mr. ROH.” However, Strong also spent time wrestling for World Wrestling Network and EVOLVE from 2014-16, crafting a pretty decent resume for himself there as well.
Roderick Strong made his EVOLVE debut at EVOLVE 34, facing Uhaa Nation (WWE‘s Apollo Crews). He worked just two cards that year, the second of which saw him take on Drew Galloway (WWE’s Drew McIntyre). In 2015, Strong was a much more prevalent character in EVOLVE’s hierarchy. He took part in high profile feuds with Galloway, including a steel cage match, and against Timothy Thatcher, including in a two-out-of-three falls match.
Against Thatcher, Strong earned the #1 contendership for the EVOLVE Championship, a belt which was held by Galloway. At EVOLVE 44, Strong was unsuccessful in his attempt to defeat the champion. As he wrapped up his independent commitments and was NXT-bound, Strong faced Matt Riddle at what was presumably his last EVOLVE appearance, EVOLVE 64.
But thanks to WWE’s new partnership with EVOLVE, Roderick Strong is making his return and he’ll be doing it at La Boom in New York City, the same place where he wrestled his last match with the company in 2016. In addition to the title bout at EVOLVE 117, Strong will also be working EVOLVE 118 where he’ll face a man who challenged him to a match, Darby Allin.
Before you go around throwing challenges…..TAKE a hard look at who's been fighting for that EVOLVE championship.
So before I learn my lesson let's see how bad things can get.
Come on down to EVOLVE and pay me a visit at EVOLVE 118 on Dec 16 in Deer Park, NY. https://t.co/rFJ1ppmHXz
— DARBY ALLIN (@DarbyAllin) December 2, 2018
In addition to Strong’s return, EVOLVE 117 and 118 will feature NXT stars, Fabian Aichner, Kassius Ohno and the EVOLVE tag team champions, the Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins).