WWE’s desire to bolster its roster to ensure the biggest talent pool they’ve ever had has hit a couple of stumbling blocks since the brand extension has gone into effect. Shelton Benjamin was already advertised to make his return to SmackDown two weeks ago, but an injury will prevent him from officially returning to the WWE, at least in 2016. MVP was thought to coming back, but a low-ball offer and no championship guarantee stalled negotiations. Even Tommy Dreamer turned down an offer as he had too many other commitments.
Instead, the WWE Universe has witnessed the returns of Jinder Mahal and Rhyno, and reports of Curt Hawkins’ backstage presence at SmackDown waiting for his first assignment. Also, NXT has seen seven of its superstars get promoted with more on the way supposedly this fall.
Even more reinforcements may be needed in order to adequately fill out both brands, especially now with Ryback officially departing and rumors swirling around the impending departure of Alberto Del Rio. Those reinforcements have been, and will continue to come from all over the world as the WWE continues to create the allure of being sports entertainment’s premier destination.
Last week, the Inquisitr reported that top independent star Roderick Strong was on his way to WWE, citing Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio, who indicated that it was pretty clear. Strong is one of the best wrestlers in the world, mainstream affiliation or otherwise, and it was only a matter of time before the WWE came calling. His commitments with PWG wrapped up on July 30 at PWG 13 after spending 13 years with Ring of Honor.
In an update to that story, Daily Wrestling News is reporting that Strong, who earned the nickname “Mr. ROH” during his time with the Ring of Honor promotion, will be starting with the WWE by the end of August or the first two weeks in September at the latest. The plan, like many other independent stars before him, is to start in NXT, but it’s an encouraging sign that Strong passed all of the rigorous, detailed medical and physical tests that the WWE puts new talent through so he can begin performing almost immediately.
As noted, NXT will continue to need and develop top new stars to carry the flag of the brand. With Finn Balor and American Alpha already on the main roster and Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe expected to get called-up before long, that need will come soon. The hope is that the likes of Hideo Itami, Austin Aries, and Bobby Roode can carry the load until their call comes, at which point, Strong and others could be ready for that spotlight.
Strong reporting to NXT first also gives Triple H an intimate look at the company’s newest superstar. The Game is responsible for the success of the developmental brand, but he was also extremely instrumental in signing Strong, and apparently speeding up the process that will see him report within a few weeks. Hunter is very high on many Ring of Honor guys and would have signed another in Moose had it not been for a domestic violence issue several years back. It’s been reported that once that blows over, WWE will be back in touch, but for now, Moose is signed to TNA.
We can now add the name Roderick Strong to a list that includes Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Cesaro, Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn of superstars who earned their stripes in Ring of Honor before eventually making it to the big time that is the WWE.
Does Strong have what it takes to go from Mr. ROH to Mr. WWE at any point in his career?
[Image via WWE]