Swerve Strickland: Take the Wheel

In life, people will fail you despite you giving what you can. Swerve Strickland himself found that out, and he found out the core message of this life lesson: keep excelling. Do not become complacent; be the best you that you can be.

During the mass layoffs that were so imposing in WWE during 2020 and 2021, Strickland found himself among them. What’s more, is that as Isaiah “Swerve”’ Scott was frustrated in his time as an NXT prospect, because despite wanting more and offering to do more, he was not offered it. Empty promises. 

What we have now in All Elite Wrestling and the independent scene is someone who took that experience of being cast aside by circumstance and shaped his mold into a compelling, sinister villainous character. There’s a mixture of The Joker, Patrick Bateman, and Marvel’s Kingpin, Wilson Fisk. Operating from the shadows, but not afraid to stand across from you – either way, that knife will impale your back or stomach for whatever suits his needs.

Credit: DEFY Wrestling

The drive it took to get to this point, I could very well see. As Isaiah, Swerve was already turning to a darker side and eventually found the pieces of what was to come with the stable of Hit Row. Strickland from the jump was evidently the star of the group, but he wasn’t going to stop others from trying to shine.

Following the release from WWE, the wheels of who his character essentially is as he stands were rolling and turning during his reign as DEFY Wrestling’s World Championship in 2022, and hearing those tires squeal was – and still is – music to the ears. Even in the stops during his feud with Nick Wayne, the Swerve we see now was but a premonition here. The motor was humming and the ride was on.

Big dreams, big city lights were in the view for the mogul – his hip-hop career was in full flow and he was being touted as a huge signing for All Elite Wrestling at 2022’s Revolution. He was being presented as a big deal and would not accept less. 

Shortly after his All Elite graphic was posted to social media, Strickland landed on his feet. His unique style showcased on a broader scale than a dark super indie, caught the eyes of fans and the industry. There’s a rhythm wholly unique to him, and it swims so satisfyingly in the ring. For anyone to be associated with him, they’d need to match his flame. 

That’s where Swerve in Our Glory came in. Keith Lee, a large, imposing figure, would accompany him. With an encyclopedic comprehension of the dictionary, the verbose goliath matched his strength with smarts and agility, moving in ways romanticized in reverence of the Vaders, Bam Bam Bigelows, and Samoa Joe’s of the past. 

Together, this pairing would quickly gain some gold. Swerve was only happy to let him in for the ride, so long as there were no detours. Swerve in Our Glory, combining Swerve’s name with the essence of Lee’s glory would see them to the AEW Tag Team Championship gold. Swerve, who had to take a dropped opportunity and broken hopes to change a negative into a positive and Keith Lee, whose life was on the line before his own WWE release, they were being recognized as something special. Unfortunately, the car they drove would crash at The Acclaimed’s sudden ascent to tag team main event levels.

The bitterness of this experience was painted on Swerve’s face after this. Try as he might to stay doing good, he instead started slipping. I mean, who cares, right? When others drop the ball on you, you have to change it. If something doesn’t work, you change it. It was time to cut off the brakes and go full speed ahead.

With the crossover appeal that Swerve has, he gained the services of some associates (with a memorable set of appearances from Rick Ross), but it wasn’t until his merger with Prince Nana’s Embassy that the Tacoma, Washington native rose to prominence, all in the background as the two entities became the Mogul Embassy. Nana’s stable, founded in 2004, had just gained a huge facelift.

Kaun and Toa Liona, the two forces of nature and destruction; “The Machine” Brian Cage, a being comprised of muscle, mohawk, and strength; and Prince Nana, a sly Ghanian manager who plots and dances like a lecherous jester to the king, swaying and swerving to Strickland’s music, getting his client’s side hustle an over act in and of itself.

Then you have Swerve himself. The Mogul is at the center of it all. With that trademark sneer and the expensive coats he wears, he has his own look. His connections to artists such as the aforementioned Rick Ross, DJ Whoo Kid, and my fellow Kansas City enjoyer Tech N9ne keeps an eye from outside of wrestling on him. 

Credit: AEW

Swerve Strickland is what happens when you realize what you have and what you bring and you utilize it. He’s at the point where the drive is reaching speeds unfathomable; the wind roars beyond the car, the motors vrooming to match it – his heart pumps so hard he can almost hear it in his ears, and the world blurs around him, as though reality itself is struggling to catch up to him. 

You’d need to be extra careful to stay out of his way, because he’s going everywhere; he swerves when he drives.