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Roderick Strong Recalls Almost Retiring in 2009, Feeling Left Behind and Doubting Himself in the Indies

December 22, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
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– On the latest episode of After the Bell, Roderick Strong spoke about his struggle with feeling left behind in the late 2000s as many of his contemporaries began moving to WWE. Strong told Corey Graves that he recalled how, as people like AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, and CM Punk began to make it to the bigger companies, he started to doubt himself and even considered leaving the industry in 2008 and 2009.

You can check out highlights and the full podcast below:

On being left behind when his contemporaries began making it to WWE: “No, it’s true. I kind of feel like I’m the last guy of that era on the indies. And it’s been interesting for me, because when I started around wrestling was like ’95. So I got to see all the different waves and different eras, and the things that were becoming popular. And then when I got kind of grouped in with the AJ Styles, the CM Punk, the Samoa Joe, the Daniel Bryan [group]. Even though I was a young kid at the time, I felt like, ‘Oh wow, this to me has potential to be the greatest era of wrestling ever.’ And then as guys started to make it, you know even though I was doing a lot of great stuff with Ring of Honor, I was going to Japan. I was doing a lot of fun stuff, [but] you just start thinking, like, ‘What, do I just not have what it takes? Am I not good enough?’ And there was a stage there where I started getting in my own head.”

On nearly retiring from wrestling: “And I think it was about 2008 into 2009 a little bit, I kind of contemplated, ‘I don’t know if I necessarily really want to do this anymore.’ Not like I was jealous of all the other guys’ success; I just felt personally that I’m in the same league as them, and I wanted the opportunity to show the word. And you know, it was a small stretch of time, I’d say just a few months, but after that I kind of had a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting with myself, and looked in the mirror and said, ‘You know, your path has always been different, and it’s going to continue to be different. And eventually when you get the opportunity, you’re going to make the most of it.’ And here I am today.”

On if he was caught off guard when it finally happened: “I was actually talking to my weight-lifting coach at the time, Coach West. And this was earlier in 2016. I had spoke with Ring of Honor and told them I wanted to just go internationally. I just didn’t want to be with the company anymore for a little bit, I had almost been there 13 years. And I just needed a break. To much of something is — [I was] just overexposed with the company, they didn’t really know what to necessarily do with me, blah blah blah. And it got to the point where me and him were having a conversation one day, and I said, ‘You know, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that if I never go there, I’ll be okay. But I’m going to continue to prove all over the world that I’m as good as I feel I am. And legit, when I left the gym that day, I got a call [from WWE]. I was like, ‘What the’ — like I was freak[ing out], like, ‘This is unbelievable.'”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE’s After the Bell with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.