Isaiah “Swerve” Scott has established himself as one of the top faces in the NXT Cruiserweight Division. Scott has won numerous TV matches, competed at NXT Takeovers, and challenged for Santos Escobar’s NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
Before Scott swerved to WWE NXT, he was a prominent player on the independent scene. The former Shane Strickland spoke with Sam Roberts on Notsam Wrestling about his transition from the indies to World Wrestling Entertainment.
“Before coming to NXT in 2019, I was contacted from them around 2017 and I was still in the Lucha Underground phase of my career,” Scott said. “I still felt like I wasn’t finished with a lot of things I wanted to do, especially with Lucha Underground and on the independent scene. Me and Aleister Black, especially with his career on NXT, he was taking off. He was an NXT Champion and was doing big things with the company. He was my mentor. He and Sami Callihan were like mentors to me. I was being mentored by Sami Callihan on the indies and Lucha when he got there. Then, Aleister Black on the other side of the fence.
“So, Sami kept telling me there was more we can do and Aleister on the other hand was like, ‘I give one more year. Go out and do as much as you can. Be the man in a lot of places.’ That was the guidance I got in 2018 that I had, going in all these independent’s, winning all these championships, and traveling around, while having these top matches with some of the best in the industry could ask for from Japan, the UK, and America, building these bonds.
“Also, it helped me build the Swerve City Podcast. I branched out and did a lot of things before it was time for me to come into the WWE. It felt like 2019 was a year of guys shifting and I wanted to be in that shift. As we were talking about with Kevin Owens, Aleister, Adam Cole, Drew McIntyre, Ricochet. I wanted to be the next generation. So, when, Garza, Kushida came through, it felt like we were the next shift. It felt like great timing. The universe always finds its way of working itself out and it made sense.”
Speaking of his podcast, Swerve detailed how he was able to get his show from Instagram Live to the WWE Network.
“They noticed what we were doing. They thoroughly checked through all the stuff that we put out,” Scott said. “We’re putting out a clean product with a lot of jokes and a lot of laughing. They loved the warmth and the comfortability that we had with the guests coming in and expressing themselves. They loved that we had Bayley coming in and just joke and laugh. They loved that we can clown around and laugh with Kofi, MVP, Ruby Riott, Adam Cole, Aleister Black. They loved that we had that energy to get Nikki Cross dance and swing around.”
Earlier this year before pandemic precautions took live crowds away, Scott competed in his first major event at NXT Worlds Collide during WWE Royal Rumble weekend. The very next night, WWE Hall of Famer Edge made his highly-anticipated return to the ring after being forced to retire nine years earlier. While Scott has yet to cross paths with the Rated-R Superstar, he had major praise for Edge’s journey.
“Edge’s evolution was incredible,” Scott said. “He went from The Brood to getting into TLC matches, to cash in the Money in the Bank for the first time. To main-eventing with Taker at Mania, to seeing his comeback at Royal Rumble this past year. That’s a long run of developing and he’s still developing to this day.”
While Scott is only in his sophomore season with WWE, he has been in the wrestling business for over a decade. Scott cites a WrestleMania classic as what got him invested, but also touts Daniel Bryan’s miraculous journey as what made him realize this was all possible.
“It really hit me when it was Shawn vs. Taker at Mania 25. That’s where it hit me, I because I believe that’s where I started to train,” Scott said. “I just got into training in Virginia at that time. I was with the trainers and we all had a party watching Mania together and that’s where it really dawned on me.
“It came again with Daniel Bryan at Mania 30 and that’s where I realized, ‘Oh man, we can go that deep.’ Of course, the Punk pipebomb promo. Thta hit me like a ton of bricks. There’s so many. Off the top, those are the ones that really stand out to me right away. Those are the ones where I remember where I was after these matches and watching these events occur.”
If you used any quotes from this article, please credit Notsam Wrestling with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.