It was just yesterday on AEW Dynamite that Swerve Strickland battled hometown New Orleans hero, Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs alongside the very talented Keith Lee.
Despite the fact that Starks pretty much held court in his hometown of New Orleans, Strickland and Lee were well received and the crowd was also on their side, but then again, we are speaking of the AEW audience and unless it’s MJF in the ring, or any ‘Sports Entertainer’ (sorry JAS), then it’s safe to assume that there is a respect for both sides of the ring in AEW from the most part of the fans. It was clear last night.
And really what’s not to expect? The four men are epic in-ring athletes and they proved it in quite the entertaining match last night.
Swerve Strickland’s arrival in AEW perhaps came as no surprise to many out there. It was inevitable that he’d arrive in such a company; he does deserve to have landed in a top promotion and he has been doing very well. But what of his career until now? Why is he so heralded, you may have asked yourself.
And dear readers, those that know Strickland well, you all most certainly know why he’s so heralded and if that’s the case, read on and enjoy his epic in-ring moments from the past—what we feel to be his top eight—and for those who need an introduction to this epic in-ring talent, behold some of the greatest moments in pro wrestling history, for which one Mr. Isaiah Swerve Strickland was at the helm.
Say it with me now…
There we go. So without further ado…let’s get into it then.
8. BotW Live at the Hive – September 2018 – Chris Bey vs. Shane “Swerve” Strickland
Chris Bey is a massive talent over at Impact Wrestling. Of course he did quite a bit of wrestling all over, and the work he put in with one Swerve Strickland needs to be on this list; specifically this match, which delivered on absolutely all fronts.
7. Lio RUSH vs. SWERVE 2 – DEFY Championship – AUG 3rd, 2017 – Temple Theatre, Tacoma, WA
Lio Rush doesn’t always get the respect he most certainly deserves. His matches in AEW last year were masterpieces to say the least. Of course we haven’t seen all that much of him as of late, as his AEW contract expired in February of 2022. He is currently signed to New Japan Pro Wrestling, but I hope to see him in yet another match with Swerve Strickland. Just take one look at this match to see what they can deliver.
6. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Johnny Gargano at NXT’s Great American Bash – July 8th, 2020
I mean was there ever a question as to what would have happened once these two got into the ring? None at all in my book, and the match they ended up delivering here was of course yet another masterpiece that both men should be absolutely proud of.
5. Matt Riddle vs. Shane Strickland – World Heavyweight Champion Title Fight – April 12th, 2018 in Orlando, FL
There was no question as to the heights that Matt Riddle would reach and this match is proof of that. But in professional wrestling, it takes two to not only Tango, but to Waltz in perfect unison. These men pulled it off on this night and cemented their respective futures.
4. Killshot vs. Dante Fox – Hell of War Match – Ultima Lucha Tres
I absolutely love matches like this…essentially 2 out of three falls. There’s more to these than just a single pinfall quite obviously, but you need talent as an athlete and story-teller to make them entertaining until the very end. These two men most definitely fit that bill.
The match of course calls to mind the 3 Stages of Hell match between Steve Austin and Triple H at No Way Out, 2001 (WWE), only at Lucha Underground it was way different…
1st fall was contested under 1st blood rules…2nd fall was contested under a no DQ basis and final fall was contested under an ambulance match rules basis, where a bloody Dante Fox was placed into a waiting ambulance, but don’t take my word for it….
3. Swerve Strickland vs. Tony Nese – AEW Rampage – 3/11/22
What an introduction for Swerve to the AEW audience. There are those fans out there that won’t touch WWE with a ten foot pole, and I can understand that sentiment sometimes, believe me, but the man has had an immense career, as I’m sure this list proves, but to have seen him in this match with yet another WWE expat in Tony Nese, and for it to have gone off as beautifully as it did was tremendous to behold.
2. Son Of Havoc vs. Killshot – Lucha Underground – Ultima Lucha 4
That Killshot character of his gave until the very end and it showcased yet another side of this tremendous talent if you ask me. This match in particular proved that he could tell a story not only with his talent and with what he could put his body through, but with his face. This man has tremendous amounts of conviction and he can most certainly act, which certainly came in handy at the tail end of this match.
1. DEFY1 LEGACY – Friday January 13th, 2017 vs. Cody Rhodes
Yes, Friday the 13th…but scary for another reason outside of a giant guy chasing you with a machete in a hockey mask…scary in the way that the meeting of two independent icons meeting out there on the canvas on an independent stage, if that makes any sense. Perhaps exhilarating and nerve-wracking is a better term in the end.
And really, is there any question as to why this landed at the top of the list? He faced Cody Rhodes…a Cody Rhodes that at that point in his life and career felt he had a lot to prove…having left WWE a bit before at the time of the match, Cody was firing on all cylinders, eager to prove himself on the independent circuit (pretty much like he is now, only the other way around, and boy is he delivering), but at the time, what better talent to go up against than the star of this particular list? At the time, perhaps no one, and they delivered one heck of a match.