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Byrons Articles

Two worlds, one Roddy: How Roderick Strong finds the balance between NXT and 205 Live

Fresh off a four-day NXT Live Event tour of Canada, a confident Roderick Strong sat on a bench inside the locker room of the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles with a mile-wide smile etched across his face. Despite the jet lag and muscle soreness stemming from his NXT obligations and that night’s successful 205 Live matchup, Roddy’s joy reflected the improbable new path his career has taken.

“I’m tired, but feeling fantastic,” Strong told WWE.com while removing his wrestling boots. “I’ve worked so hard to prepare for opportunities like this, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Mere minutes removed from scoring an incredible victory over Kalisto to advance to the semifinals of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament, Strong had a chance to reflect on the sudden change that’s taken place over the last month of his career.

“It has been an honor to be part of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament so far,” Strong adamantly stated. “I knew I was bringing something to the table that 205 Live had never seen. I was bringing a new intensity, and I was bringing the best I had.

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Byrons Articles

“It’s not bragging if you back it up.”

It’s a phrase we have undoubtedly heard throughout our lives. The moment when one’s expected success becomes a reality, thus allowing them to inform the world that they are every bit as good as they predicted. When it comes to a present-day example, one must look no further than two-thirds of The Undisputed ERA, NXT Tag Team Champions Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish.

“Our message is that there is nothing anyone can do to swim against this current,” O’Reilly told WWE.com. “As far as I’m concerned, every other tag team of NXT is treading in deep water and getting tired, and we are the sharks that have begun to circle.”

The braggadocios words have been a common mantra of the tag team who, along with fellow NXT Superstar Adam Cole, formed a powerful faction this past summer at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III. It was something of a prophetic moment, as it would take only five months for the ERA to earn their first taste of championship gold in the form of the NXT Tag Team Titles.

“When you produce at the level of Kyle and I, winning is to be expected,” Fish said. “After we won the NXT Tag Team Championship, we toasted ourselves on a job well done. After that, we went back to work. We are most at home in the fight or in the process, so it was back to the gym, back to training and back to studying. Sorry to disappoint, but skipping around like a couple of goofs who finally reached the mountaintop was not in the cards.”

The rivalry between SAnitY and Undisputed ERA heats up as Eric Young & Killian Dain put their NXT Tag Team Titles on the line. Video courtesy of the award-winning WWE Network.

Anyone who has followed the pre-NXT careers of O’Reilly & Fish, a thriving team for more than five years, would be hard-pressed to be surprised about their early success. Fish says it’s today’s success that reaffirms their unyielding confidence.

“We’ve been the standard in tag team wrestling since November 2012,” Fish said. “Our preparation is about precision, timing, sharpening our in-ring ability to its finest edge possible, its science. From there, we game-plan; each team is a new puzzle for sorting, calculating each move, complete with bad intent. Matches are won before the bell rings. First, we let you know the when, where, why and how — the verbal. Then comes the mental, the inevitability of what’s about to happen to you. And finally, the physical, when we put you out of your misery.”

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Byrons Articles

Whether it’s a focus on family, striving for NXT championship gold or pursuing a romantic crush, it’s no surprise that NXT Superstars have a wide-ranging list of New Year’s resolutions. Join us as some of NXT’s most popular names divulge their intentions for 2018.

“I’d like to focus on the little things. I want to be the best father and husband I can be. I want to continue to have optimal health, but more specifically, work on my gut biome. I want to volunteer and spend more time with kids who come from a similar background as I did. I want to continue to strengthen my weaknesses such as my physical mobility, break more backs on NXT, Raw or Smackdown LIVE, and become a World Champion. And, finally, meet Will Ferrell.” — Roderick Strong

“We’ve dominated NXT within a matter of five months, but it wasn’t without hard work and focus. The new Andrade [“Cien” Almas] understands that it’s work to become the champion and work to stay the champion. Our New Year’s resolution is to simply stay on top by any means necessary.” — Zelina Vega with NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas

“I have two resolutions, one personal and one professional. The personal one is to take the time each day to think about what kind of father I want to be before my first child is born in June. Professionally, I want to focus on getting better at my craft every single day so that I can look myself in the mirror at the end of each day and honestly say to myself that I got closer to my ultimate goal of winning NXT tag team gold and moving on to either Raw or Smackdown LIVE.” — Tucker Knight

“My first New Year’s resolution is to become an NXT Tag Team Champion with my brother Tucky (Tucker Knight). Number two? Marry Mandy Rose. I’d like the Future Star of NXT Award to go to Heavy Machinery, I’d like to bench 500 pounds or more as my max, and cut down a little on my carbs to make room for more steaks. #SteaksandWeights!” — Otis Dozovic

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Byrons Articles

It’s that time of the year again. For some, the holiday season is about the anticipation of gifts; for others, it’s about quality time with loved ones. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to create memories that can last a lifetime. This week, several NXT Superstars grab a seat in the proverbial time machine and recount some of their most beloved holiday memories.

“I remember one Christmas, my parents bought my brother and I new bikes. I was so excited because not only was the bicycle my favorite color, purple, but it was also my first bike without training wheels. So, my brother and I tried to get on the bikes to pose for a picture, but we were super off-balance because the seats hadn’t been adjusted. We both ended up falling into the Christmas tree, and the picture we were trying to pose for was actually on the video setting. So now I have a constant reminder of the incident, but it always brings a good laugh to the room when we play it.” — NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon

“One of my favorite memories on Christmas Day was waking up early to open my presents, then ordering a large pizza with my mom and watching basketball later in the day. We would always make cookies and cream eggnog shakes topped with gummy worms.” — Angelo Dawkins

“My favorite holiday memory would be the night I came face-to-face with Santa. One year my mother had gathered me and my sisters together, made us a nice warm meal and, afterwards, we prepared cookies and milk for Santa. I was really jealous of the fact that the cookies we left for Santa were the chewy Chips Ahoy! and hoped that maybe he wouldn’t like that kind because they were my favorite. Nonetheless, we went to bed after setting out the cookies and milk.

“I woke up in the middle of the night to see if Santa stopped by, but to my surprise, homie was by the tree reaching into his bag putting presents under the tree! Startled as I was, I didn’t want to make noise, but a crack in the floorboard made Santa turn, and we had a faceoff. No one moved, and we just stared in silence. It was like an old Western movie with the 7-year-old version of me staring at a 1,727-year-old man decked out in his red suit, waiting to see who moved first.” — Montez Ford

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Byrons Articles

Great expectations: Why Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli’s ceiling keeps getting higher

It’s one thing to make a first impression in the world of sports-entertainment, but leaving a lasting impression can be an entirely different ballgame. Enter the NXT tag team of Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss. At first glance, both men look to be incredible physical specimens. As for that lasting impression? Both men also firmly believe they have what it takes to become the most memorable tag team in NXT history.

“Individually, we are the two greatest athletes this company has ever seen,” Moss told WWE.com. “We also both happen to look the part and talk the talk better than anyone else. So together? Damn. That’s scary.”

Although only in their infancy as an NXT tag team, Moss and Sabbatelli have no problem telling the world just how good they are.

“There’s a lot of talented people in NXT and WWE, but there’s a big difference between being talented like everyone else and being god-gifted like myself and Riddick Moss,” Sabbatelli said. “Things just come to us a lot easier than they do for most.”

Undoubtedly brash and cocky, the attitude of Sabbatelli & Moss may not be completely unwarranted. Prior to joining the ranks of NXT, Sabbatelli spent six years in the NFL as a safety after being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the 2007 draft. Moss, on the other hand, was a standout All-American linebacker at the University of Minnesota who recorded 226 tackles from 2008-12.

Great expectations: Why Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli’s ceiling keeps getting higher
While both initially saw each other as competitive rivals during training sessions inside the WWE Performance Center, Moss & Sabbatelli have since decided to conjoin their efforts to pursue tag team greatness.

“We come from similar backgrounds, and one thing that we have in common is our love to compete,” Moss said. “I thoroughly enjoy competing, one-upping and proving people wrong — in anything. In the ring, weight room, basketball court, golf course.

“I love to argue,” he continued. “Sometimes I take the other side of an argument just to challenge myself. And I still win. I always do. I’ve never lost an argument. Sabbatelli and I love to compete with everyone at the Performance Center, but the only real competition for us is each other. So, we bonded over that.”

While their athletic prowess has been one bonding point, Sabbatelli was quick to point out that their appreciation for the finer things in life has only solidified their friendship.

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