Swerve Strickland Discusses Becoming First Black AEW World Champion, Taking Risks

Later tonight, Swerve Strickland will have the opportunity to become AEW's first-ever Black world champion when he challenges Samoa Joe for the AEW World Championship at the company's Dynasty pay-per-view. As Strickland points out, though, this opportunity didn't come without some major sacrifices and risks along the way. Before he faces Joe at Dynasty, Strickland spoke with "AEW Unrestricted" about the possibility of making AEW history while also looking back on his own history in the professional wrestling business.


"It means a lot [to potentially be the first Black AEW World Champion]," Strickland said. "In this day and age, in the year of 2024, it's hard to accomplish something new. It's industry-wide no matter what. Box office records are being broken like every month now it feels like across the industry, so it's just trying to find your place of where you belong in the business and try to make a stamp on it, own something."

"It's a little bit easier to just follow in another path that somebody has already carved," Strickland continued. "It's a lot more challenging, a lot more risky, and a lot more damaging to try to create your own. It's a lot of risk involved with that too."

Risks & Sacrifices

To further illustrate the difficulty of forging a unique path in wrestling, Strickland referenced some of the risks he took in his personal career, such as being featured in the "Freshman" issue of XXL Magazine, which provided fans with a glimpse into his passion for his work in the music industry. Strickland also noted that venturing out of tag team competition and into the singles scene was another bold move for him to make. 


Of course, as Strickland later attested, not all risks will produce successful outcomes. Despite the mixed results, though, Strickland believes all of those trials have helped lay the path to his current position as the number one contender to the AEW World Championship.

Along with the numerous risks, Strickland chronicled some of the many sacrifices he's made in an effort to keep his career on an upward trajectory. "Having to take time away from my children to make sure I can move forward, to make sure [my wrestling career] takes off later on. It's a lot of birthdays missed, a lot of weddings, missed a lot of funerals. I lost my grandmother early this year and I wasn't able to be there for the funeral. So that was something that sticks in my mind all the time. So pushing forward, it makes me want to pay that back. Like I didn't miss that for nothing."


If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit "AEW Unrestricted" with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.