AEW World Champion Swerve Strickland Looks Back on an Important Lesson From Shawn Michaels

Newly crowned AEW World Champion Swerve Strickland recently recalled some tough, hard truths that WWE Hall of Famer and current NXT executive producer Shawn Michaels once gave him that meant a lot to him.
AEW Swerve Strickland

Newly crowned AEW World Champion Swerve Strickland recently recalled some tough, hard truths that WWE Hall of Famer and current NXT executive producer Shawn Michaels once gave him that meant a lot to him. Strickland is the current AEW World Champion after he beat Samoa Joe at AEW Dynasty on April 21.

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Swerve Strickland’s wrestling journey has not been an easy one. Despite his rising stardom throughout his career, he faced numerous setbacks. He climbed up the ranks of the short-lived Lucha Underground promotion before the promotion died. Eventually, he made his way to NXT and then to the main roster as part of Hit Row, but he was released before he could show the main roster what he could do.

While in WWE, WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels gave Swerve Strickland some truth which was probably hard to hear, but also gave him some reassurance. While a guest on One Nation Radio, Strickland spoke at length about how Shawn Michaels told him that he would have a similar career path as Michaels. Swerve stated the following:

“I’ll never forget Shawn Michaels pulled me aside and told me, ‘Hey, Swerve. Sorry to break this to you, but you’re going to have to be one of the guys that takes the long road to get to where you need to be. You’re like me. We had to take the long road to get where you need to be. When we get there, it’s sweet. It’s a really good, sweet feeling, but we’re not the ones gifted to be like boom chosen first draft pick.’”

H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription

Michaels started his career in the tag team division, and eventually, he made his way to WWE along with his tag team partner Marty Jannetty, where they competed as The Rockers. Michaels later broke off from Jannetty and revamped his gimmick as The Heart Break Kid. He then grew into one of the most iconic and beloved singles stars in WWE history. Michaels is now considered one of the best pro wrestlers of all time.

Swerve Strickland’s Road to the World Title

Strickland may have finally entered his own “HBK” era and will be on a rocket to the top. At AEW Dynasty, Swerve became the African American AEW World champion. Fans had debated who would be the first African American to win the championship. However, once Strickland started gaining momentum in AEW there was no other choice. He has the all-around skills and charisma to carry the championship and the company.

Strickland has a long line of tough competition in AEW now that he is the champion. He recently defended his championship for the first time against one such opponent in former ROH World Champion Claudio Castagnoli, whom Strickland defeated last Saturday on AEW Collision. Strickland believes he and Michaels were the chosen ones to tell an underdog story and prove that through hard work anyone can achieve success. He compared himself and Michaels to sixth-round NFL draft picks who made it to the starting lineup to win the Super Bowl, stating:

“We’re the chosen ones to tell that kind of story and that takes a lot of discipline. A lot of early mornings [and] late nights. … Representing in that way. Representing in a way that’s not just, I just happen to be an African American man that’s working hard, but I feel like that story translates to every nationality in my opinion. Man, woman, it doesn’t matter.”

H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription
AEW Swerve Strickland
Courtesy Of AEW

Strickland also went on to thank the fans who stayed for the main event of Dynasty. Having fans stay after a series of great matches to see history be made meant a lot to him. Swerve Strickland has a wealth of great opponents whom he can have exciting matches in AEW. At 33 years old, he still has a long career ahead of him while he starts his run at the top. On this week’s AEW Dynamite, we will learn who he will defend his championship against at AEW Double or Nothing on May 26 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Can you see similarities between Shawn Michaels and Swerve Strickland’s career paths? Do you think Strickland is the modern-day Michaels? Who do you think is if not Strickland? Do you think this was the right moment to put the championship on Strickland? Let us know on social media who you would like to see Strickland face at Double or Nothing.

SOURCE: One Nation Radio, Wrestling Inc.

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Robert Watson

Just a guy reading comics, watching wrestling, and wondering if aliens exist