Swerve Strickland is one half of the AEW World Tag Team Champions and has certainly proved to be entertaining, alongside his partner Keith Lee. However, he did not have a great time in NXT.
Strickland was known as Isiah ‘Swerve’ Scott in NXT and eventually became part of Hit Row. For many fans, he was the only good thing there. Following his release from WWE in late 2021, Swerve Strickland officially signed with All Elite Wrestling at the Revolution pay-per-view earlier this year.
While speaking with Renee Paquette, Strickland talked about his time in WWE. Strickland revealed that he felt ignored during his time in NXT.
“It’s interesting to see that people had that thought about me, like I was on the up and up in NXT and was like, ‘Oh man, you’re getting a lot of success.’ But at the time, there was no chatter about me in NXT at all because for that first year I felt like I was just like a good hand to have. That’s also what built up a lot of that resentment that was starting to build a little bit because I put over the Leo Rushes. I put Cameron Grimes over. I put over the Santos Escobars. I put over the Bronson Reeds, the Austin Theories. I kept putting all these people over. Even when MSK first came in, their debut was against me and I put them over. I put over Leon Ruff.”
“So it was just like, okay. I had like a couple conversations with Triple H. I’m like, ‘When am I going to be your guy? What is it gonna take for me to be your guy?’ I had three specific conversations with him. I’ll never forget them that I always pushed the envelope for. I even texted him one day. I was like, ‘Can I have a conversation with you?’ He said, ‘Is there anything that you can talk to Matt Bloom about?’ I was like, ‘No.’ He was like, ‘Okay, okay.’ I would stare holes in him all day at production. I wanted him to feel the heat that I was like, glaring on him. Finally, when we did have a conversation, I’m like, ‘What is your hesitation putting the ball in my hands?’ He gave me like, the answers that kind of felt like they were repetitious answers from this person asking him, this person asking him, and the one before.”
“I was like, Okay, I got it. So I knew keep tapping that egg wasn’t going to work. So I’m like, Okay, here’s me. I gotta be creative. I gotta think again. So I went to Shawn, and Shawn Michaels started really sitting down having hour-long tape studies. Just me and him, no distractions, not in the middle of TV day. It’s just me and him in the office. We were watching me and Matt Riddle from DEFY wrestling. We’re watching PCW Ultra stuff from L.A. We were watching other stuff and like, ‘Okay, I want to watch what got you here. Why are you here? That’s the person I want to see.’ That’s what turned everything around for me.”
“So it took like a year of doing all that stuff to get to that point to be able to do that, to have that equity to even get that conversation, that window open. Then it was just like, okay, cool, and that’s where it started really turning around. That’s where my hair color started changing. They put the grills in my mouth and all that other stuff. I really started dabbing into the hip hop field of things. Me and Bronson had another TV match, Jonah, and we just went at it because I felt like Triple H didn’t feel like I was intense enough. I was like, okay, so we just beat the crap out of each other, boom, had a banger. That’s when the light bulb went off for them. Then Stephanie McMahon came up and said, ‘You’re like my favorite heel. You’re my favorite heel here’, and then everything just kind of whirlwinds and went up from there.”
Strickland and Keith Lee are set to defend their AEW World Tag Team Championships at Dynamite: Grand Slam this Wednesday against The Acclaimed. We’ll have to see whether they’ll be able to retain their titles or not.
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