Swerve Strickland Beats Claudio Castagnoli On AEW Collision In First World Title Defense

On a night when "AEW Collision" was expected to gain a big ratings lead-in from Game 3 in the NBA playoff series between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat, the show opened with Swerve Strickland's first promo as AEW World Champion. It closed with his first title defense, a main event battle with Blackpool Combat Club's Claudio Castagnoli that saw the new champion emerge victorious.


Strickland's show-opening promo hit all the standard babyface notes, declaring this "the Dynasty Era" — in tribute to his title win, which took place at the first-ever AEW Dynasty PPV — and promising to fight to make his reign worth all the sacrifices he'd made to achieve it. He closed by issuing an open challenge to defend his title that very evening in Jacksonville, and Castagnoli immediately answered, setting up a 21-minute barnburner in the main event.

The match was built around a trifecta of Swerve Stomps, the finishing move Strickland used to win the championship at Dynasty. He actually hit the first one on Castagnoli a little more than halfway into the match, but Castagnoli kicked out, then turned a House Call attempt into a Giant Swing. Later, Strickland tried the Stomp again; this time, the infamously strong Castagnoli caught him, balancing Strickland on his shoulders for a moment before dropping him into a European uppercut. This time it was Strickland who managed to kick out. Finally, in the closing sequence, Castagnoli popped Strickland into the air, likely going for another European uppercut, but Strickland brought his feet down instead, hitting the Stomp from out of nowhere and, this time, immediately following up with the House Call for the win. Strickland celebrated in the ring with Prince Nana as "Collision" went off the air.