ROH star Roderick Strong, 5'10", 212#, turns 27 today, just a couple of months after turning heel, largely over Tyler Black's ascendancy to the world championship. The rivalry tears me up because I like Strong a lot, but I'm also a die-hard Black fan. I'm torn because I don't know whether to cheer for Strong or Black, but I sure like to see them go after each other.
The two represent two poles of what I like in wrestlers: Black is rangy, catlike, and ironic, and Strong is compact, pitbullish, and earnest. Both are quick and intense in a fight. I feel the same kind of pull between Strong and former partner (now nemesis) Austin Aries--Aries all punk roughneck scuzz, and Strong the all-American clean-cut jock.
All in all, 2010 has been a great year for Strong--in a way as good as it's been for Black. Strong is looking his best: at some angles his face resembles Ryan Reynolds', at others, Jason Statham's. His short-cropped hair makes him look tenacious and boy-next-door steamy. He's lost most of his baby fat without losing the bulk that makes him intimidating (and sexy) while ground wrestling.
(All these screen caps are taken from videos posted by ROHBrazil.)
Born in Wisconsin, Strong began training at age eleven and started wrestling professionally in Florida seven years later. At first he wrestled as a character named The Jester, but he become Roderick Strong a year later. (Strong's real name is Chris Lindsey.) His first triumph was in 2002 when he and kayfabe brother Sedrick Strong won the IPW tag-team championship.
Shortly after IPW folded in 2003, Strong joined ROH, assembling a stable of fighters known as Generation Next (Strong, Aries, Alex Shelley, and Jack Evans). In 2005 he and Aries became ROH tag team champs, losing the belts nine months later. Solo championships have eluded Strong, adding to his frustration and ire and leading to his recent heel turn.
He's consistently failed to successfully challenge former champs CM Punk and Bryan Danielson, though he has gained fans along the way. Black promised Strong a crack at the belt if he would ref Black's challenge to then-champ Austin Aries. Black won, but then Aries sabotaged Strong's challenge match by interfering. Now, turning bad under the management of Truth Martini, Strong is a favorite for snatching the belt off Tyler's waist.
Happy birthday, badass. Have a great year.