Roderick Strong, a former Ring Of Honor World Champion and established veteran of independant wrestling. A man who used his connections to the House Of Truth to propel himself up the ladder of Ring Of Honor, despite his long history with the company. A man who suddenly finds himself out of the ROH title picture completely following his loss to his former partner, the “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin.
Roderick Strong’s frustration has been well-documented in recent weeks. While Ring Of Honor stood together in the face of S.C.U.M, Roderick Strong found himself disenfranchised with the battle for Ring Of Honor’s soul after discovering he was not chosen as a contender for Kevin Steen‘s World Title, unlike people such as Michael Elgin, Jay Lethal, The Briscoe Brothers, Adam Cole, and even B.J. Whitmer.
An enraged Strong would insist that this was nothing new to him, a fact that has some merit in the past few months after his feud with his former partner. His rage, however, would get the better of him, leading to a recent demand on Ring Of Honor’s television show for better competition.
Enter a rising star of New Japan Pro Wrestling, “MachineGunka” Karl Anderson.
Karl Anderson is not as well-known in North America as he once was, even though he competed on the Independent scene in the United States for most of the early 2000s. Indeed, he isn’t even new to Ring Of Honor as a whole, having a minor run with the company in the later half of the decade, highlighted by a rather unfortunate showing at “Survival Of The Fittest” 2007. As a matter of fact, he is a man not unfamiliar with Roderick Strong himself, having had a memorable feud with him during Anderson’s PWG run around the same time.
A lot has changed for the man known as the “Machine Gun” since then. A man who was not aiming to compete in the WWE or TNA, Karl Anderson’s goal was always to get himself in with New Japan Pro Wrestling. In 2008, he did so, managing to find himself in a rather prominent role as one half of Bad Intention’s with Japanese monster heel Giant Bernard, who is perhaps more well-known in the states by his monikers of Albert, The Hip Hop Hippo, Lord Tensai, and most recently, Sweet T. The two would go on to win gold in both NJPW and Pro Wrestling NOAH, and maintain themselves as a dominant force for the next three and a half years.
Perhaps their most memorable feuds as a tag team involved outside of Japan talents, including Team 3-D and their title defense at Wrestle Kingdom V, where they held off the advances of both TNA Tag Team aficionados Beer Money and CMLL standouts The Muscle Orchestra, to retain their tag team titles.
However, it would not be until the man who would be come to known as Tensai signed a contract with the WWE that Karl Anderson’s stock would rise like never before.
Immediately jumping into singles competition, “MachineGunka” found himself entering tournament after tournament to help garner more attention during his singles run, and while he has yet to win such a tournament, his stock has never been higher, garnering wins over the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura and IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Indeed, in February Karl Anderson found himself in a spot not many people outside of Japan ever have, challenging Tanahashi for Japan’s biggest prize. While he would ultimately lose the match, his showing would propel him into a new stage of stardom, even getting a rare chant for his name from the always respectful Japanese fan base. This writer believes that the match these two contested is already a Match of the Year candidate.
While Karl Anderson is certainly entering Ring Of Honor’s live iPPV with a lot of momentum, one can not count out the tenacity of the leader of Camp Strong. While Karl Anderson is entering a company as a guest, and the outcome will not effect his run in New Japan, this match will mean everything to Strong’s future as a prominent figure in the main event scene of Ring Of Honor.
One can not forget the actions of Strong over the past couple of years, not only attaining his dream of being Ring Of Honor World Heavyweight Champion, but his win at any cost attitude and his lack of fear when it comes to breaking the rules. These tactics kept Roderick a major player throughout the past year, and almost ended up having him walk away from his feud with fellow member of the House Of Truth “The Unbreakable” Michael Elgin with a decidedly different outcome. Now that he’s lost his temper and found himself in this situation, expect Strong to d anything he has too, if only to ensure his victory and eventually find himself challenging Kevin Steen for the World Title.
One thing is for certain, two men that are at the very peeks of their careers are about to face off this Friday. The outcome is almost secondary to the superb match we as fans are about to see with our own eyes. While there isn’t exactly bad blood to be found between the “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson and Roderick Strong, one can expect that these two will put on a superb wrestling match at the Hammerstein Ballroom this Friday, heading into the most important weekend on the wrestling year’s calendar.
At the end of the night, however, expect Roderick Strong to come out with his hand raised in victory. He asked for the match, and while he could not have foreseen that it would be his old foe Karl Anderson across the ring from him, expect him to be ready to thwart the New Japan rising star’s challenge and go on to find himself in the title hunt in the coming months.
Prediction: Roderick Strong