Swerve Strickland Opens Up About What It Means To Become First Black AEW World Champ

Two years and one month after he first debuted at AEW Revolution 2022, Swerve Strickland reached the top of the AEW mountain last night at AEW Dynasty, defeating Samoa Joe to become the 11th AEW World Champion and the first-ever African American to hold the title. It was a monumental moment for both Strickland and the promotion, and one where the significance wasn't lost on Strickland.


Moments after his victory, Strickland joined the post-Dynasty media scrum to talk about becoming the first-ever black AEW World Champion. Strickland not only took a ton of pride in achieving the milestone, one he hasn't been shy about chasing, but in being the figurehead for the AEW "dynasty," going as far as to call himself the "face of the franchise."

"A ton of hard work went into this," Strickland said. "Nothing was guaranteed at all. Nothing was handed out to me. I had to do a lot of inner searching to figure out what I needed to change up, what I needed to improve, and have a lot of humility to be honest with myself and say 'Hey, you're not great at here. You're not the best at here.' And figure it out and just work at it, no excuses, cause...in my culture, where I come from, we're not awarded excuses. Excuses get us nowhere or killed. And I want to stay alive. I want to keep pushing. I have so many things to fight for, so many people to fight for. And that's what drives me every day."


Swerve Reveals Message He Wants Fans To Receive From His Title Win

Later, Strickland was asked about the message he wanted his title win to send to black fans, particularly kids, who watched his victory that evening. While he admitted it was hard to choose one specific message, Strickland ultimately settled on declaring that his title victory was proof that, while it wasn't easy, any goal is possible and can be achieved, if one is willing to rise up, work hard, and take what they want instead of waiting for it to be given.


"I kept saying this throughout the week, throughout these interviews and media I was doing, I was like 'What happens if this doesn't work out? I don't win the championship?'" Strickland said. "'Oh, we'll push it down the road. We've got to wait for a bigger moment. We've got to push it down the road again.' That's happened several times in history, and pushing it down the road results in missed opportunities that never happen. 

"And I've seen that way too many times as a kid growing up...They've seen opportunities for us pushed down the road. 'We're going to build it bigger to something around the corner,' and boom, injuries. Boom, somebody else gets the opportunity in front of them. Boom, that person's not as hot as they were before, and the timing was missing. And boom, that person you never see or hear from them again...When it's our moment, we have to take it. That's the message I wanted to send. That's why I came out in the outfit that I wear. I'm not coming to be rewarded the crown and the throne, I'm here to take it. That's what we have to do. We have to take it."