If you heard the name Chris Lindsey, not very much would come to mind. The name itself doesn’t suggest wrestler, and if it did, where and when he wrestled would be unknown to the listener. However, if we said Chris Lindsey was the name of the man known as Roderick Strong, wrestling fans’ ears would hopefully perk up. In his career, he has been a champion several times over, and has been considered one company’s most trusted and relied upon talent.
At the tender age of 33, Strong is creating a new path for himself as part of WWE. As a veteran with seventeen years in the ring, Strong has been aligned with some of the biggest names in wrestling and faced some of the most talented people in wrestling today. Strong often flies under the radar when considering who else has been in a promotion as well. Given names such as Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson), Samoa Joe, CM Punk and Seth Rollins (Tyler Black) have stood opposite from him in the ring, he clearly has not received the focus he deserves.
Strong was trained as a youth by Jim Neidhart and worked alongside Harry Smith (Davey Boy Smith Jr) at the age of 11. However, it was clear even at that age that there was something special about Strong. While many train countless years to achieve a modicum of technique, rhythm, and skill, Strong already showed promise as a youth, understanding how to move around the ring rather effortlessly. Those that saw him compete, including Smith, could see how quickly Strong was able to adapt.
As many may know, Roderick Strong has been synonymous with Ring of Honor. In fact, he was with that promotion for nearly thirteen years. When anyone commits that much time and work to a company, they are sure to reap the rewards of their dedication. His time with Ring of Honor saw him be both a face and a heel. He achieved the championship triple crown with the promotion and earned the recognition of being Mr. ROH.
However, he wasn’t one to rest on his laurels, and in 2016, he joined the WWE’s NXT brand. In his debut he was paired with Austin Aries, reuniting a duo that teamed together with Ring of Honor. Perhaps the initial plans were for the duo to form an ongoing tag team, but that was cut short because of Aries’ eye injury. With the change in plans, Strong was thrust into singles action, though aligning with Tye Dillinger and No Way Joe to battle sAnity. Once this ended, there was an effort to discuss Strong’s backstory, and in the associated vignettes he didn’t hold back about his past while embracing the possibilities for the future. He is in a very special place now, and, despite losing to Hideo Itami in a number one contender’s match, he appears poised to be thrust into a program with Bobby Roode, challenging for the NXT championship. The booking of this particular feud has alluded to the challenges he faced in his youth, and assuredly fans will gravitate to this because of his genuine and honest approach.
How is it possible for someone so accomplished and successful as he is to be considered, in some ways underrated? A number of reasons come to mind. Whereas many wrestlers are able to develop strong characters that stand out, Strong’s character nuances have been subtle. Often times the changes were so granular that his transition from heel to face was seamless. Strong has never been the type of face that slapped hands just to show how much of a good guy he is. Similarly, he has never been one to react to a crowd jeering him. His focus and attention are on his opposition, whether they are a face or a heel, and nothing more.
A second reason that Strong may tend to fly under the radar is that of his look. Strong’s clean-cut and well-groomed appearance shouldn’t be frowned upon, and in fact, should be embraced because it shows he takes care of how he presents himself. However, this is a contrast to others that walk to the ring with pomp and circumstance. Personally, it should be embraced as the focus should be on what he does between the ropes rather than what he does on his way to the ring. There is something to be said about commitment and effort, and for Roderick Strong, these are two qualities which contribute to how good he is in the ring. As 2017 reaches the midway point, the future continues to look bright for this man who wants to be the absolute best he can in the ring. Fans that aren’t as familiar with him will begin to pay attention, and those that are familiar with his work know that good things come to those that have worked their entire careers for it.