On the April 26th episode of AEW Dynamite, Roderick Strong shocked the world when he made his debut in the company to help Adam Cole fight off members of the Jericho Appreciation Society.
The segment began with Adam Cole in the ring demanding a face-to-face meeting with Chris Jericho after members of the JAS and The Outcasts attacked his wife Britt Baker the previous week. Instead of meeting him face to face as Cole wanted, Chris Jericho appeared on the tron, saying he wanted nothing to do with Cole. However, the ruse was soon made apparent when Jake Hager, Daniel Garcia, Matt Menard, and Angelo Parker ran to the ring to attack Cole. Orange Cassidy and Bandido tried to help, but they were thwarted in their efforts.
The odds were evened, however, when Strong’s logo appeared on the tron and the man himself ran down to take out the JAS members. He and Cole faced off for a moment before hugging, making it clear that despite any past history, the longtime friends were once again on the same side.
Strong’s appearance came as a shock not only because it was unannounced, but also because many in WWE believed he was still under contract there. Strong hasn’t been seen on NXT TV since suffering an injury and being written off in August with an attack from Damon Kemp.
Roderick Strong’s WWE Contract Expired In November
Now, a new report from PWInsider Elite reveals the timeline of events that led to Strong becoming All Elite. According to the report, Strong’s contract with WWE actually expired last November. The expiration went largely unnoticed because WWE doesn’t announce NXT departures, and his contract expired rather than him being released. His free agency was so under the radar, in fact, that his Superstar profile was listed as active on WWE’s roster page even after making his AEW debut.
Continuing, the report notes that due to Strong being “banged up,” he chose to take some time away from the squared circle to prepare for the next phase of his career. He had been in talks with All Elite Wrestling for some time leading up to his debut, and the date for the big reveal was planned to take place in Florida to avoid Strong being spotted while traveling as he lives in the area. He was kept hidden backstage until it was time for him to make his grand appearance.