How the Navy Gave AEW’s Swerve Strickland a Basis For Professional Wrestling


Now chasing the world heavyweight championship in All Elite Wrestling, Stephen “Swerve” Strickland has nice type in terms of successful titles. The 6’ 1” man-mountain from Tacoma, WA, is a former NXT North American Champion and AEW Tag Workforce Champion, and, if he can take the crown from Samoa Joe on the AEW Dynasty 2024 pay-per-view on Sunday, April 21, this 33-year-old warrior will develop into the primary black kingpin within the firm, an achievement that is essential to the inspiring professional wrestler and rapper. M&F sat down with Strickland for a wide-ranging dialog, and we quickly came upon that his army coaching may be a deciding issue within the hotly anticipated heavyweight conflict.

AEW Swerve Strickland wearing a leather duster inside the wrestling ring

Spending the vast majority of the primary seven years of his life on an American army base in Frankfurt, Germany, the place his father, a sergeant top notch, was stationed, Strickland grew to become enamored with the concept of service. Whereas the household did return to the US, and Strickland picked up a love of dance whereas additionally excelling in soccer, basketball, and monitor and area, the younger prodigy quickly adopted in his dad’s footsteps. He entered the US Military Reserve at 17 and after finishing primary coaching, developed himself even additional, present process 22 weeks of Superior Particular person Coaching. Strickland served as a 25U Sign Assist Programs Specialist for eight years, however the intestinal fortitude required to finish this sort of coaching would undoubtedly develop into an incredible basis for a profession between the ropes.

“Primarily, it was a variety of endurance,” shares Strickland. “It was rucksack marches, going for 9 miles and stuff. That was really actually taxing on the again.” The younger upstart mastered his posture and type, and was quickly blitzing throughout the sector. Morning wakeup calls have been 4am, and coaching started 4.30am. “All of that’s mentally exhausting earlier than it even will get to the bodily (train)” he says. “I all the time made certain my power got here from my core and my thighs.” The soldier-turned-grappler says that deadlifts have all the time been an necessary facet of his conditioning. On the peak of his lifting, Strickland explains that he may deadlift 425 kilos (193 kilograms) at a body weight of simply 180 kilos (82 kilograms).

Extremely, Swerve Strickland skilled to develop into a professional wrestler early into his army profession and was compelled to maintain his matches native to take care of his military reserve commitments. After leaving service and furthering his title on the unbiased wrestling scene, he appeared in Lucha Underground, Main League Wrestling, and numerous different promotions till he signed with WWE in 2019. It was there that he held the NXT North American title for 105 days, however would quickly be launched from the corporate a lot to the frustration of followers and wrestling critics alike. Stronger than ever, the powerhouse tells M&F that round this time, he was hitting deadlifts of 615 kilos (279 kilograms) whereas nonetheless weighing lower than 200 kilos (91 kilograms).

Swerve Strickland Believes in a ‘No Excuses’ Mentality

Happily, after the frustration of exiting WWE, Swerve’s spirit stayed the course and he held on to his dream of being a world class professional wrestling famous person. “With out the psychological coaching (within the military), I don’t suppose I might have lasted, or I might have give up,” he shares. “I don’t suppose I might have had a constant profession in professional wrestling.” The wrestler explains that his army coaching meant that he was additionally in a position to keep mentally sturdy sufficient to sacrifice sleep when his daughter was born, and nonetheless chase his goals, placing within the onerous work required so as to transfer ahead. “You don’t get excuses within the army, so that you don’t get excuses in life,” explains Strickland. “It’s not gonna be honest, no one’s gonna hand you something, you’re going to must work onerous, and you’re going to have to dam out a variety of negativity, a variety of doubt, and push via.”

Put up WWE, Swerve Strickland competed in New Japan Professional-Wrestling in 2022, and signed with All Elite Wrestling that very same 12 months. Inside months Strickland had earned gold as soon as once more by successful the AEW tag-team belt alongside Keith Lee, however it will be a brutal Texas Dying Match in opposition to “Hangman” Adam Web page that basically put the grappler on the map. A massacre, the matches ruleless barbarity divided viewers, however it was praised with a five-star score by the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, and served to point out that Strickland was a person who may maintain his personal in big-time bouts.

“That was the second to go above and past,” he explains of the gutsy efficiency. “It’s that chokehold you wanna have on this business.” The momentum earned throughout that match has helped drive Strickland to his present place as primary contender for the AEW title in opposition to Samoa Joe. However beating Joe at AEW Dynasty 2024 isn’t just about incomes a title for himself, however extra so about turning into AEW’s first black champion and offering some illustration.

“I known as it out on a promo,” says Strickland of voicing that want. “I put consciousness to it, not in a slight to anyone, it wasn’t to get again at somebody, it wasn’t to slight Tony Khan, it wasn’t to slight AEW, or name out a problem. No, it was to place out that these are my goals and aspirations, that is my motive, that is what I carry, that is what anyone who’s from a unique tradition or a minority in any method, all of us carry that. I’ve no issues with going out any saying it, as a result of it’s true. Nobody (else) can communicate my very own reality. I would like the duty to hold that on and make my in-print. Shout out to the opposite folks which might be doing it. I acknowledge you too, and I would like you to know that I’m supportive of you guys too.

After all, Swerve Strickland has followers of all colours and creeds. Already one in every of AEW hottest superstars, the No. 1 contender says that he lives by the phrases he as soon as obtained from John Cena when he requested the icon the right way to develop into among the best within the sport. The reply? “One fan at a time,” responded the mentor. AEW Dynasty can be broadcast dwell on April 21, 2024.

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