A Mogul In Motion

A Mogul In Motion by Lyric Swinton

A lot of praise and acclaim has been given to the stellar 2023 that Swerve Strickland has had. His current path to wrestling immortality has become impossible to ignore, even for his harshest critics. When we reflect on the beginning of his time with All Elite Wrestling in March 2022, the signs of greatness were always there. Within his first 4 months in AEW, he was wearing gold, winning the AEW World Tag Team titles from the Young Bucks alongside his Swerve In Our Glory partner, Keith Lee. That win started a trend of stealing the show. On the night of All Out 2022 with a star-studded card, a memorable beginning & an infamous end, it was Swerve In Our Glory vs. The Acclaimed that stole the mantle for match of the night.

Since 2022, he’s competed in AEW, ROH, NJPW Strong, AAA, MLW, Defy, Wrestling Revolver, among other promotions. Swerve Strickland has become the guy that can go anywhere and represent AEW or even better, represent himself at the highest level. His versatility continues to be one of his greatest assets. He can strike hard, fly high, and display technical prowess with the best from any roster.

The success of pairing Swerve as a centerpiece with the always entertaining Prince Nana (plus his viral dance moves) and the intimidating muscle provided by the Mogul Embassy’s Brian Cage, Bishop Kaun, & Toa Liona cannot be understated. In stadiums, arenas, TikTok videos, and more, fans of all demographics are doing the Nana dance and shouting the words to Swerve x Flash Garments’ Big Pressure Remix to the top of their lungs.

I’ve had the pleasure of being able to witness many of Swerve’s greatest AEW moments in-person. On August 27, 2023 in Wembley Stadium, he teamed with Christian Cage to face Darby Allin & the icon Sting in a coffin match. Although the match itself was good, witnessing 80,000-plus people yell “Swerve’s House!” invoked chills in everyone in the building. Fast forward to a little over a month later to his home turf of Seattle, Washington, fans were chanting for Strickland before doors even opened for the pre-WrestleDream episode of Collision, a card where he wasn’t even scheduled to appear. 

Even after a gigantic crowd reaction at WrestleDream (coincidentally his 33rd birthday weekend) accompanied by a big win against former AEW World Champion Hangman Adam Page, the highest praise of the night for Strickland came from his peers. At the corresponding media scrum, Adam Copeland, Chris Jericho, and Kenny Omega sang Strickland’s praises and highlighted him as both a main event level guy in the company as well as a dream future opponent.

Despite an impressive match catalog in the first 10 months of 2023, Swerve Strickland’s career Magnum Opus (so far) emerged in the form of November’s Full Gear Texas Death Match versus Hangman Adam Page. In a year where AEW’s public perception has been on a rollercoaster, the rivalry of Strickland & Page has been a breath of fresh air and an overwhelming success. We still are barely a month removed from the match but it’s been dissected, debated, celebrated, and contested more times than I can count in internet wrestling circles. It was a bloody, jaw-dropping, and frighteningly beautiful display of pro wrestling storytelling at its best. 

Two nights before making deathmatch history, Strickland and Page had an impromptu brawl at Pro Wrestling REVOLVER that immediately went viral on social media. Despite this, the moment that stood out most to me was when the cameras weren’t rolling. The segment was over, Adam Page had stormed away in his all-black rogue cowboy ensemble, and yet, Swerve stuck around to watch the rest of the show. Even in intermission when he was surrounded by fans eager to share their excitement for his upcoming Full Gear match and hopefully grab a selfie, he greeted them all with a kind smile and took pictures with everyone who asked. In that moment, he was reminiscent of the larger-than-life world champions that we all grew up watching as fans and it was even more evident that he’s well on his way to becoming one. 

It’s become clear that Swerve Strickland doesn’t just want to be AEW’s first Black World Champion one day, even though he’s been very vocal about that being his primary goal (and rightfully so). He wants to be in the best in the world conversations with the Ospreays, Omegas, and Danielsons of the wrestling industry. He wants to be the type of wrestler that fans rally around for Forbidden Door dream matches and All In main events. Even more importantly for fans like me, he wants to be the bridge between AEW & Black culture, as seen by his on and off screen affiliations with hip hop stars like Rick Ross and DJ Whoo Kid.

In the span of one week, Swerve put on a banger in the AEW Continental Classic, appeared at the Power Book III: Raising Kanan season premiere party, hung out with the NFL Commissioner whil his theme song played in the background, and tore the house down at a House of Glory show. The intersectionality and duplicity he offers as both a wrestler and a mogul is something that we haven’t quite seen before in wrestling.

On any given day, he’s juggling a multitude of responsibilities. He’s a father, a rapper, an actor, the co-host of a very popular podcast, in addition to putting on the best performances of his career in AEW and still finding time to give back to the indies as both a wrestler & sponsor. Whether he’s appearing on Hot 97 radio in New York or capturing the hearts of thousands via bloodbath in Los Angeles, Swerve has managed to make all of his movements in 2023 look effortlessly cool. Being a “mogul” isn’t a gimmick, it’s who he is. 

The current AEW roster is one of the most stacked arrays of talent in wrestling history. For some, this would provoke nerves and insecurity but for Swerve, the competition and pressure to stand out is just fuel for the rocket to super stardom he’s been riding since Revolution 2022.

I admit that I had no idea who Swerve Strickland was before he debuted in AEW. His run in WWE happened to coincide with a time when I had taken a large step back from wrestling aside from a few PPVs a year so I had no idea what to expect. Fast forward 19 months from his AEW debut, I can confidently say that he is one of the best wrestlers in the world today and one day, he truly could be the biggest star of them all.

2023 was about proving if Swerve Strickland’s shoulders were strong enough to carry the weight of the home of professional wrestling. 2024 will be the long anticipated crowning of All Elite Wrestling’s new King. 

Whose house? Swerve’s house.

Lyric Swinton is a South Carolina-bred freelance wrestling writer/host/creative, primarily covering AEW, NJPW, ROH, NOAH, AJPW, & STARDOM. She is also the co-host of Bodyslam.Net’s AEW Dynamite post-show titled, “The Dynamite Book”. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, & Twitch @LyricWrestling and on YouTube @LyricSwinton.

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