Q&A: AEW's Swerve Strickland On Adam Page, Death Matches & Biggest Bouts - Exclusive

Swerve Strickland, one of the most intriguing wrestlers in AEW, has seen a sharp rise in his popularity, and screen time recently. The multifaceted talent brings a unique blend of athleticism and charisma with him to the ring, but he's also seen success in other ventures, such as his Swerve City Podcast and music career. Swerve's ability to understand media and entertainment across the board, as opposed to just between the ropes, has allowed him to see success both at the independent level, but also across companies such as WWE, Lucha Underground, MLW, DEFY Wrestling and more. 

As he prepares for what may be his biggest challenge, Swerve spoke with Wrestling Inc's Jack Farmer to discuss his highly anticipated match with "Hangman" Adam Page at AEW Full Gear, his thoughts on participating in a Texas Death Match, and why going to opponent's homes make a story feel more personal. 

Media Helping Create Buzz For Indie Wrestlers

Jack Farmer: Ah yes, ladies and gentlemen, Jack Farmer here being joined by Swerve Strickland, wrestler, podcaster, musician. In fact, Swerve, I just got to ask, if you're at a party and someone asks, what do you do? What do you tell them?

Swerve Strickland: Mogul.

Mogul. Probably the best answer.


You've got a big match coming up, Full Gear this weekend. Before we talk about that though, I actually want to go back to the last big show you were on and I want to talk about a post-show media scrum. You were asked a question about who people should have their eyes on and you said the media should do their job and tell other people who we should have our eyes on, and so I want you to know I did my research and I did my homework, and so I just really quick want to give a shout-out to a few people from DEFY, Cody Chunn, Midnight Heat, Vert Vixen, as well as people here in Southern California, Jordan Cruz, Slice Boogie, and Referee Scarlet Donovan. I want people to check those people out and if you like more, come reach out to me. So I just want you to know I'm listening. I'm doing the job here, Swerve.

Thank you. Because truly, it's a domino effect, man. The more those names circulate and the more you guys talk about them and bring them up, the more buzz it gets and the more the promoters have to follow through with the buzz. They want to hear the echo chamber spew out those names. They want to know who the talent is. Let you guys tell them, tell the world dictate that these guys are stars and where they should go and who should be booking them and putting them on promotions. It's what worked for all of us in the last 10, 15 years with this whole era of social media. So the more these names trend, they're tagged, they're brought up, they're put into these conversations or where you want to see these guys go or when these wrestling promotions put out a list of names, who's out there? When you guys put these guys on these lists and you tweet these guys and you bring them up in mentions, those guys get seen and not just the promoters but the fans.

Absolutely. And look, anyone who's listening to this, if you want some more, feel free to hit me up, but I'm a big believer that I think one of the most fun things to do as a wrestling fan is follow a wrestler from before they made it big until they reach higher heights. You know what I mean?

Yeah. It's like rock bands.

Yeah, 100%.

The Build to His Match At Full Gear

I do want to segue again into your big match you have coming up. Full Gear, you were once that guy that was trying to make it big, breakout. Now I feel like you and Adam Page, things have gotten pretty testy. You guys, you had a great build up to your previous match, but now it seems to continue and people are saying big things about this. In fact, I went on to Twitter and @CeeHawk, who works for The Ringer, actually said, "Guys, Swerve/Hangman is my new Rock/HHH, IC title feud. I will not be taking questions at this time." I got to ask, do you like that comparison?

I love it. I love any type of comparison to the greats. Anytime. With the home invasion stuff, they were like, oh, that reminds me of Pillman and Austin. I'm like, thank you, that's cool. And putting our little spin on it, putting our little thing into it, it's been very personable. It's been very vulnerable. You're finding out who we are as people and we're solving it with the wrestling, it's not the other way around when the wrestling, you find out who the person is. This the person going into the matches, which is how it's always been.

It's almost very cinematic-esque with theater and movies. You see these guys trading words and daggers in between each other doing certain just awful things until you meet up in the movie in the middle of part of the movie and it's like, oh man, okay, they had their battle, but you know they're going to meet again later on in more dire circumstances, on the top of a skyscraper with blaming this all around, you're setting the tone for like, oh, this is the ultimate battle. It's going to take place here.

And it might not even... Maybe one of the guys perishes, but he's not dead. He's like, oh, we never found the body. Where did he go? Now you got to watch the sequel to see does he come back with all these extra things? And that's the stuff I grew up on. I grew up on those old school action movies like that, like the Die Hards and the True Lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger and stuff, and the Terminator 2s and the Predators. I grew up on that type of stuff and I'm like, man, a lot of action movies to me nowadays, they've lost a lot of the plot and the true story and the elements of the characters and stuff those guys had.

There's a lot of vulnerability to these characters and stuff and the story elements, and I always like to recreate that and put it into the only sport that you can truly really do that in on a weekly basis. Boxing has those elements, UFC has those elements, but you don't get it a weekly. A weekly televised product that you can truly do all of these elements like pro wrestling. And AEW truly gives us the platform, the creativity, the freedom, a lot of rope to really push the boundaries on things. Like me talking to Hangman's child, there's a newborn over a crib. There's not a lot of places you can really do that or allow that on national television. And the trust from the staff and the management and Tony Khan to be like, "Okay, we're putting this, we're airing it." I'm like, "Okay." There's a lot of let's push a little bit more. I'm pretty sure there's not a lot of places you could say "steal your weed" on a national television wrestling product. So we have that edge to like, oh, this is cool. Stealing weed, yeah, I can relate to that.

Invading Adam Page's Home

We talked about younger people at the start of this over at DEFY, there was a famously young Nick Wayne was someone that you had had a history with and speaking of the invasion angle, you also visited Nick Wayne at his residence. You visit, you go to Adam Page's residence. What is it about going to someone's home that draws you to that approach as opposed to what most people do, which is just wait at the arena?

It makes it more real. It makes the consequences more dire. Once again, there always has to be consequences to something that someone has said to my face. If you go up to me and say something or you take something away from me, I should have the ability to reach out and take something more personal than just like you took a title opportunity or shot to get to a title opportunity. Okay, I'm going to take something from you and that's your security, your home security, which as a man is everything. That can drive someone insane to literally sit back and watch another man enter your home and do whatever he pleases, that's the ultimate disrespect to another man, especially a father. You know what I mean? And he's sitting there watching and he can't do anything about it. He can run to try to go to the back and call, do this, but as a physical sense, he cannot do anything about it.

And he replicated that to me last night in the promo. He's beating up my manager and I physically can't do anything about it. I have to sit back and watch. So there's a lot of polarity and duality with these things. It's like, oh man, Swerve came out after All In and dressed Hangman down and Hangman didn't get a word off. Now it's like he's fired up, he's taking his opportunity to dress me down and I can't say a word about it. I can't beat him up and take the microphone or else I get suspended. So we're both being put in places where we're vulnerable and we can't do anything, and that's madness in a lot of sense. That's madness. You're willing to do anything to get back on someone. And I think a lot of people can truly feel that and relate to that physically being handcuffed and you can't do anything and there's a great dynamic. Like I said, it's a great dynamic as people just truly as people understand that.

Airing Dirty Laundry

You mentioned what happened on Dynamite, and this is something I definitely got to ask you about because I agree with you, everything you said, about the home invasion side of things, it does make you feel like you're never safe. But Adam Page, I mean he aired your dirty laundry on national television. For you, what is that like standing there while someone is saying all these very personal things about you? How does that feel for you?

It feels like a Drake/Pusha T situation. It's like, oh, he's dug up some dirty laundry and he's putting it in a diss track for the world to hear, and I was like, "How did he get this information? Who told him this? Is there a mole in The Embassy in my group? Who did he go to try to air this stuff out to the world that I really don't really put out there like that?" It's a chess match. It's the biggest chess match in wrestling right now. I didn't expect that. I didn't know where he was going to go with this information. I really didn't, and to the fact I couldn't just punch his teeth in really makes me fester and he took advantage of that. He took advantage of the fact that I can't physically do something about it, because I'm a person that truly does do something about somebody saying anything disrespecting me. I really was in a vulnerable place that I don't think I've ever been in my career and I'm on a personal sense.

On Death Matches And The Mentality It Takes To Have One

It is going to be a Texas Death Match, and now people who have only known you in AEW may say, Hey, you're not Jon Moxley doing death matches all the time, but people who have followed your career know that you can have a company defining death match when it comes down to it. What is your take on these kind of matches? Do you enjoy these kind of matches? Is this something like, Hey, I don't want to do this either, but I hate Adam Page so much, I'm willing to go through it. What's your take on a Texas Death Match?

Pretty much. Pretty much that. I've done my share of death matches. Do I want to do them? No, it's not pleasing. It's a lot of mental meditation you got to go through to do it. Jon Moxley is a madman because he can just do him on the whim like that. That's a salute to him. For me, it takes a lot to put myself back in that place. It's almost like I have to go back into my military mindset of a true killer, and that can be dangerous as a performer. That could truly be like I go over that edge and I don't come back type mentality. To be able to not also just to inflict it, to endure it, to really take that kind of pain and punishment and to keep going, keep having to get yourself back up and knowing someone else is going to come even harder with more brutality and stuff.

Texas Death Match is something, I've never done that stipulation. I'd done Three Stages of Hell, which on camera it was 30 minutes, but in reality it was more like 45 to an hour. I had never had to go through that. I haven't had to go through that in a long time, especially on pay-per-view and live television. This is going to be something that I'm really going to have to go into a dark place and truly remove myself and my consciousness from my body and let my killer instinct take over. That's all I really have as an answer because it's been a long time.

The Most Important Matches Of His Career

I know you're busy and I know you got a lot of things to do to prepare for this big event. I got a couple of quick ones I want to fire at you, if that's okay? On Swerve City Podcast, a great show, I recommend everyone subscribe to it. You had Matt Cardona on recently speaking of death matches, and he talked about how important the Nick Gage match was for him. What do you think so far has been the most important match in your career?

That's really tough because sometimes the most watched, the most viewed, the most speculated ones, don't come off as the most important. I honestly say one of the biggest, most important matches in my career that really trajected me in a different way was me and Matt Riddle from MLW. That was really big. That was what made me look like a true fighter, a true competitor, not just an athletic in ring talent. I looked like a fighter and I thank Riddle all the time for truly bringing that out in me. Surviving someone as lethal as a Matt Riddle is big.

Lucha Underground, of course, when me and Dante Fox, but before that one, I would say me and Marty the Moth, that same season, it was episode two of that same season, season three of Lucha Underground. That was what really propelled me and I capitalized off of a lot of momentum from that match, which that's a very underrated match in my career, and I think a lot of people should go back to really watch that one because I was fighting someone bigger than me who it was like that someone who won't give up to someone who won't go down.

It was like a great clash of two different personalities. That's where it all clicked for me as like, I know how to do this now. I know how to do this, and I shout out to Marty, Martin Casaus, Marty the Moth. Truly, we brought out the best in each other that nobody seen coming. A lot of people knew me and Fox were going to just go balls to the wall and kill it, but it all started from the Weapons of Mass Destruction match with Marty the Moth and episode two of season three.

Is Swerve Strickland The Devil?

So last question again and then I'll let you go. I have to ask her. My bosses, they'll get mad at me. Are you The Devil? Do you know who The Devil is? You can tell me, between us.

I'm devilish, but I wouldn't fit in that small little costume that they got going on in there. So that's all I got to say. If you go back and watch this interview, I did, I believe early in this year I spoke about The Devil not being real. I'm real, so I wouldn't want to put myself in a fictional character, because you don't need fictional characters.

I think we can leave it at that, Swerve. Thank you so much for your time. Full Gear, Saturday, November 18th at the World Famous Kia Forum in Los Angeles, California. We'll be going on at 4:00 PM Pacific Time. There's going to be the AEW Championship, MJF versus Jay White, of course, International Championship. So much more on the line, but Swerve, I'm going to be honest, your match is the one I'm looking forward to the most. Thank you so much for your time.

Thank you. Thank you for supporting.

Stay tuned to Wrestling Inc. all weekend for all your AEW Full Gear news, including live coverage of the event.