Swerve Strickland Reflects On His Relationship With Triple H

AEW's Swerve Strickland was a recent guest on Talk Is Jericho where he reflected on his relationship with Triple H. He admitted that it was not as warm as other talents such as Finn Balor or Adam Cole. The former Hit Row star ended up having to tell the Game to not hesitate with him.

"Three or four times in my tenure there, I had serious conversations with him," he admitted. "For me, it wasn't Triple H as much. Triple H felt like a boss to me, and that's no slight to him or nothing like that. He was the boss and I treated him like a boss, and he treated me like an employee. He enjoyed my work, what I contributed to the show, and my talents and stuff.

"But I didn't have the warm fuzzy conversations like a Ciampa would have, like a Cole would have, like a Finn. Finn can show him stuff like his workout equipment at home and they'd laugh. I wasn't doing all that with Triple H. For me, I would kind of often be like, 'I want to be one of your guys, one of your go-to guys,' I said that day one. He said, 'For sure, I see you as one of those guys.'

"He put me in a big marquee match in NXT, or World's Collide. It was our four-way in Houston, I kill it. I am like, 'I want to be one of your guys,' I looked him in the eyes and said that to him.  He's like, 'You are one of my guys, what are you talking about?' I know when you're committed to somebody and when you're hesitant, why are you hesitant with me? I always asked him that straight up, I was like, 'Don't hesitate with me because I am going to make you look stupid at the end when you hesitate.'"

After suffering an injury, Swerve Strickland made the decision to change up his character. He told Triple H that was his plan, and the alterations impressed both Terry Taylor and William Regal.

"I got hurt with a hamstring thing, I was out for like four weeks, nothing crazy," he said. "So I was like, 'I am hurt these four weeks, I am going to come back something different.' I wasn't asking permission, I was telling him, I am doing something different. I am going to veer more to being more heelish and being aggressive, this is what I am doing. He was like, 'Okay, just get together with Johnny Russo and write it out, make sure you put in an email for me.'

"Alright, cool, you can do whatever but this is what I am doing. So that's when I came back, the hair was changed, hair color was changed, I had bikers, I went to the long pants look, put the grill in my mouth, had a different jacket. I am like, I am giving a whole different vibe. I walk into TV that week, and Terry Taylor was like, 'Oh wow, this is different, this is unique.' Regal was like, 'Oh, the grill, that's bloody brilliant. I wish I would have thought of something like that.'"

Ultimately, WWE decided to offer Swerve Strickland a financial promotion. But that wasn't enough for him, as he wanted to be pushed on television. It was Shawn Michaels who played a big impact in making that happen, as he was a fan of some matches Swerve had on the indies.

"Honestly, the person that really co-signed me, and when things took a huge uphill shift for me was Shawn Michaels. I got a promotion one day with Bloom and Canyon, and I am in their office. I'm not afraid to let you know something is bothering me," he said. "Especially if it's justified, especially if I know I can deliver on it, I'm going to let you know. Now there's a difference between bitching and whining about it, being an adult, going with the profession and giving the proper respect to people. I am military, I understand the chain of command.

"But, I am going to still be like, 'I want to be put with this and that. Thank you for the promotion and the financial side of this, but I also want that to match what I am doing on television. I don't just want to be paid to be here, I want to be paid to perform here. He was like, 'Shawn Michaels' office is right there,' I was like, 'okay, bye.' I went to Shawn and was like, 'can I have some time with you on Tuesday?' I sent him a couple of matches, he actually liked me and Darby."

Another person that Swerve Strickland impressed was Stephanie McMahon. She took the time backstage to personally praise Strickland, claiming he was her favorite heel in NXT.

"Stephanie McMahon comes to the back, and was like, 'you are my favorite heel on this show.' Literally, she said I am her favorite, I was like, Trips, did you hear that? That's kind of what drives me and why I feel like I kind of have to do more," he said. "I feel like people don't see the potential that I see. They shouldn't because it's my vision, it's mine, but I see so much. It's frustrating when someone else doesn't see an inkling of it."

Triple H ultimately trusted Swerve Strickland when it came to promos. That led to him doing them with no script, which was a decision that the Game made himself.

"Triple H, his direction was, 'take away the script, don't give him a script anymore, let him just go.' I was like, 'okay, cool,' so I am taking little lines and little mannerisms from film, and motivational speakers, and podcasters. Like Charlamagne Tha God is one of my favorite people to listen to," Swerve said. "He always has scriptures that he reads off of, he has these lines."

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.