In a wide-ranging new interview Swerve Strickland has reflected on his time in WWE, discussing backstage frustrations with his role.
After successful spells in MLW, Lucha Underground and across the independent scene, Swerve Strickland signed with WWE in April 2019. The star initially appeared as a singles wrestler before creating Hit Row alongside Top Dolla, Ashante “Thee” Adonis and B-Fab.
Following the shortest of stints on the main roster, Strickland was released by WWE in November 2021, before arriving in AEW at Revolution in March 2022.
Speaking during an interview with Renee Paquette on her podcast, The Sessions, Strickland discussed his time in WWE and NXT. The star admitted that he wasn’t impressed at having to keep putting his fellow stars over.
“For that first year, I felt like I was just like a good hand to have and that’s also what built up a lot of that resentment. It’s starting to build a little bit cause I put over the Lio Rush’s, I put over the Cameron Grimes’, I put over the Santos Escobar’s, I put over the Bronson Reed’s, the Austin Theory’s. I kept putting all these people over.”
Strickland went on to break down how he tried to get a meeting with Triple H in order to vent his frustration and improve his standing within NXT at the time.
“I had 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, 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 it 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 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 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 knew keeping tapping that egg, it wasn’t going to work,”
The AEW World Tag Team Champion recalled that he then switched tactic and spoke to Shawn Michaels, going over his old matches with WWE Hall of Famer.
“Then it was just like, okay cool, and that’s where it started really turning around. That’s where my hair colour 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,”
“Then Stephanie McMahon came up and said, ‘You’re like my favourite heel, you’re my favourite heel here’, and then everything just kind of whirlwind and went up from there. That’s when Hit Row started forming.”
Commenting on his move to AEW, Strickland said that within three months he’d forgotten his time in WWE.
“So like right away, I was just like, [my] first three months in AEW made me completely forget about my last three years in WWE. I put all of that focus and energy and that resentment and stuff into building something. Now, it’s like I’m here seven months and I truly believe without a shadow of a doubt I’m the best acquisition of 2022 in any company.”
“Those big disappointments turned into big successes later on for me,”
Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee are scheduled to defend their AEW World Tag Team Championships against The Acclaimed at AEW Dynamite Grand Slam.
H/t to FigureFourOnline for the transcription.