Swerve Strickland
Strickland in June 2022
Birth nameStephon Strickland
Born (1990-09-30) September 30, 1990 (age 33)
Tacoma, Washington, U.S.
Children2
RelativesFred Strickland (cousin)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)
  • Isaiah "Swerve" Scott[1]
  • Killshot[2]
  • Lt. Jermaine Strickland
  • Shane Strickland
  • SW3RVE
  • SW3RVE the Realest
  • Swerve Strickland
Billed height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)[1][3]
Billed weight233 lb (106 kg)
Billed fromTacoma, Washington[1]
Trained by
Debut2011
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army Reserve
Years of service2008–2015

Stephon Strickland (born September 30, 1990) is an American professional wrestler and rapper. He is signed to All Elite Wrestling (AEW), where he performs under the ring name Swerve Strickland and is the leader of Mogul Embassy.

Strickland began his career on 2008, working as Shane Strickland for several independent promotions until 2019, including Major League Wrestling Evolve Wrestling, and Combat Zone Wrestling, winning the main titles of these promotions, the MLW World Championship, Evolve Championship and CZW World Heavyweight Championship. From 2014 and 2018, Strickland also worked for El Rey lucha libre based TV Series Lucha Underground, where he performed as a masked wrestler named Killshot. In 2019, he signed a development contract with WWE, where he worked as Isaiah "Swerve" Scott. He stayed on the developmental brand NXT as part of Hit Row stable, winning the NXT North American Championship, but soon after he made his main roster debut at SmackDown, he was released.

After his WWE release, he changed his name to Swerve Strickland and signed with AEW. He formed a tag team with Keith Lee, winning the AEW World Tag Team Championship. After turning on Lee, Strickland became the leader of the Mogul Embassy stable.


Early life

Stephon Strickland[4] was born in Tacoma, Washington, on September 30, 1990.[5] His father, who was a sergeant first class cook in the United States Army, moved the family to Germany when Strickland was two months old to live on an American military base in Frankfurt. Strickland spent the first seven years of his life in Germany. The family later returned to the United States and settled in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, where Strickland attended Donegal High School. He danced in talent shows and excelled in football, basketball, and track and field.[5]

Shortly after leaving high school, Strickland felt the need to follow in his father's footsteps and enlisted in the United States Army Reserve at the age of 17. He carried out his United States Army Basic Training in South Carolina, then underwent 22 weeks of Advanced Individual Training at Fort Eisenhower in Augusta, Georgia. He was then stationed in York, Pennsylvania, where he served as a 25U Signal Support Systems Specialist for eight years. He left the Army Reserve in 2015.[5][6][7]

Professional wrestling career

Training and early career (2008–2012)

Strickland decided to become a professional wrestler when he was 18 years old.[6] He began training at Ground Xero (Zero) Wrestling Training Academy in August 2008,[7] doing so while still active duty with the United States Army Reserve.[6] He soon began getting bookings around the Maryland and Pennsylvania areas.[5] He had Army Reserve commitments in York, Pennsylvania, which obliged him to wrestle only in that general area's independent circuit in the early years of his career.[6] In September 2011, Strickland made his first appearance with the National Wrestling Alliance, losing to Phil Brown.[8] In March 2012, he defeated Alex Payne in his debut for East Coast Wrestling Association.[9] He would go to debut for World Xtreme Wrestling in a six-man match on September 15, 2012.[10]

Combat Zone Wrestling (2012–2017)

Strickland made his Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) debut on February 4, 2012, in a dark match.[11] On March 10, 2012, at Aerial Assault, Strickland participated in the main event, a Best Of The Best 11 Qualifying Aerial Assault Elimination Match won by Samuray del Sol.[12] On November 10, 2012, at Night of Infamy 11, Strickland participated in a CZW Wired TV Open Challenge, but was defeated by the champion A. R. Fox.[13] At Best of the Best 12, Strickland participated in the Best of the Best tournament, but he was defeated in the first round by Alex Colon.[13]

On September 14, 2013, at Down with the Sickness, Strickland participated in the main event a Chris Cash Memorial Fatal 4 Way Ladder match for the CZW Wired TV Championship, but the match was won by Colon.[14] At Cage of Death XV, Colon defeated Strickland in a title match.[15] On March 8, 2014, at High Stakes, Strickland defeated the CZW Wired Champion Devon Moore to win the title for the first time.[16] At Best of the Best XIII, Strickland retained the title against Moore in a Ladder match.[17]

Then, Strickland started a feud with Joe Gacy. At Dojo Wars 6, Strickland lost the title against Gacy.[18] However, Strickland regained the title two weeks later at Dojo Wars 7.[19] In October 2014, Strickland participated in the World Triangle Tournament, a tournament held by Westside Xtreme Wrestling, Combat Zone Wrestling and Big Japan Pro-Wrestling. Strickland ended with 3 point in the Block B.[20] Finally, at Cage of Death XVI, Gacy defeated Strickland for the title.[21] After a lengthy absence in which he wrestled for WXW in Germany, Strickland made a one-time appearance in 2015 in a victory over David Starr.

In 2016, Strickland had an acclaimed series of matches with Dezmond Xavier and in the 2017 Best of the Best tournament, he made it to the finals before losing to Dave Crist. In July that same year, he then went on to defeat Gacy, Lio Rush, and Davey Richards in a 4-way to win the CZW World Heavyweight Championship for the first time. He held on to the title until November before losing to Gacy, who then immediately lost the title to Rickey Shane Page. Page then challenged both men to a Cage Of Death match for the title, which Strickland was unsuccessful at winning.

Independent circuit (2012–2019)

On May 5, 2012, Strickland made his debut for Evolve Wrestling, where he teamed with Latin Dragon to defeat DMC and Nate Carter.[22] On August 4, 2018, Strickland defeated Matt Riddle to win the Evolve Championship at Evolve 108.[23] At Evolve 114 he lost the championship to NXT's Fabian Aichner, ending his three-month reign.[24] Strickland wrestled NXT's Kassius Ohno at Evolve 116 on November 10, 2018, in a losing effort.[25][26] After not appearing for three months, Strickland returned to Evolve at Evolve 121 on February 15, 2019, to face NXT's Adam Cole.[27] He would be defeated by Cole and the following night he would defeat A. R. Fox.[28] He faced JD Drake at Evolve 126 for the WWN Championship in a match he lost.[29][30]

In 2016, Strickland made his debut in Germany for Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw), taking part in the 16 Carat Gold tournament and later their World Tag Team League, which he won alongside David Starr. They beat many established teams such as, Angélico and Jack Evans, Ringkampf (Timothy Thatcher and Walter), Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate and Trent Seven) and The Leaders of the New School (Marty Scurll and Zack Sabre Jr.).[6] During 2017's WrestleMania 33 three-day weekend, he wrestled seven matches for five different promotions, including four in one day.[7] On August 25, 2018, Strickland appeared at Triplemanía XXVI. He and A. C. H. appeared at that event to represent Major League Wrestling through the MLW and AAA partnership. They were in a Four-way match for the AAA World Cruiserweight Championship. Strickland would fail to capture the championship. On March 23, 2019, Strickland competed for The Crash Lucha Libre in fatal-4-way for The Crash Cruiserweight Championship.[31]

Strickland won the PCW Ultra Light Heavyweight Championship on March 26, 2018.[32] Two months later at their next event he defended against Douglas James with Ricky Steamboat as the guest referee.[33] He finished the year with successful defenses against Dragon Lee, Flip Gordon, Rey Horus and Darby Allin, among others.[34] On December 7, 2018, Strickland defeated Pentagon Jr. for the PCW Ultra Heavyweight Championship, becoming a double champion as he was still holding the Light Heavyweight Championship.[35] He would vacate the Light Heavyweight Championship shortly after, and he defended the Ultra Heavyweight Championship at their A2K19 event on January 18, 2019, against Brian Cage.[36]

On March 9, 2019, Strickland gave a farewell speech at a DEFY Wrestling event, indicating he will soon be signing with a major company.[37] At Wrestle Summit 2019, he appeared as PCW Ultra roster member.[38] At the event he lost his PCW Ultra Heavyweight Championship to Mil Muertes.[39] Following Wrestle Summit, Strickland revealed that on April 6, he will wrestle for Wrestling Revolver at WrestleCon's Pancakes and Piledrivers event. In the match, he teamed with Joe Gacy and Eddie Kingston to face-off against oVe, in what was promoted as his last match on the independent circuit.[40]

Lucha Underground (2014–2018)

Strickland participated in El Rey Network professional wrestling television series Lucha Underground. Strickland became a central character on Lucha Underground, as one of a small group of characters to appear in every season.[5] His friend Ricochet being on the show led to him sending Konnan some of his demo tapes in late 2014. This led to a tryout match with Willie Mack and him later being signed by the company.[5] He portrayed the character of Lt. Jermaine Strickland, a military vet who carries dog tags to honor the memories of his fallen comrades and wrestled under a mask as Killshot.[41] During the first season, he aligned with Big Ryck and Willie Mack and participated in a tournament for the LU Trios Championship, but they were defeated in the finales by the eventual winners Angélico, Son of Havoc and Ivelisse.[42] Following the first season, Strickland asked head writer Chris DeJoseph if he could write some background and story for his character. This led to it having more military elements.[5]

In Season 2, had a feud with Marty Martinez after Marty stole his dog tags after a match between them ended in a no contest. Their feud ended in a Weapon of Mass Destruction match, where Killshot defeated Martinez.[citation needed] After the match, Killshot started a storyline when he received a letter from A. R. Fox, a former brother in arms who Killshot left for dead in battle. They faced each other at Ultima Lucha Tres Part I in a Hell of War match where Killshot won. ESPN called it "one of the most brutal contests to ever be televised in professional wrestling."[5] Two weeks later, The Mack reunited Killshot and Fox and won the Trios Championship. During Season 4, Killshot had a feud with Son of Havoc which culminated at Ultima Lucha Cuatro in a mask vs mask match. After losing the match, Killshot surrendered his mask to Son of Havoc and revealed his identity as Lt. Jermaine Strickland. As he was leaving the temple, he apologized to Dante Fox and asked to be relieved of duty. Being granted permission, Killshot exited the Lucha Underground temple.

Major League Wrestling (2017–2019)

On October 5, 2017, Strickland debuted in the main event of Major League Wrestling's 2017 rebirth show One Shot by defeating Ricochet.[7] On April 12, 2018, Strickland defeated Matt Riddle at one of MLW's first major shows, to win an eight-man tournament and the vacant MLW World Heavyweight Championship.[5] He lost the title to wrestler Low Ki after Strickland had a few successful defenses, with his reign lasting 91 days. Following that he feuded with Sami Callihan, which ended in a street fight won by Strickland.[citation needed] They also participated in a War Games match in September 2018, where Callihan attacked Strickland during his entrance, removing him from the match. This was reportedly done to write him off television if contract negotiations changed.[43]

On episode 32 of MLW's weekly program MLW Fusion, Strickland faced Low Ki in rematch for the Heavyweight title. However, after a distraction, Ki "ripped" out some of Strickland's hair and rolled him up for the win. After the match, Strickland grabbed a microphone and begun a worked shoot towards MLW management turning heel in the process. He mentioned owner Court Bauer and blamed management for his bad luck as of late. He ended the promo with, "As of right now, I am terminating my contract and I'm.." as his microphone got cut off. Strickland proceeded to throw trash at the MLW employees that were confronting him, he fliped off one of them and hopped the rail into the audience and left.[44]

They followed this up two weeks later on Fusion with a scene of Strickland and Court Bauer arguing behind his closed office door. After this, it was stated he was "contractly obligated" to appear at the December 13, 2018, MLW event, Never Say Never. At the event he was defeated by CMLL luchador Rush.[45] This match aired on MLW Fusion on January 18, 2019. Strickland opened the show with a heel promo disparaging the fans and the city until he was interrupted by Rush.[46] This would be Strickland's last regular appearance in MLW.[43] On January 15, 2019, Strickland stated on Twitter that he was now a free agent.[47]

Strickland wouldn't return to MLW until the March 31, 2022 Intimidation Games event, appearing as the mystery opponent for Myron Reed's MLW World Middleweight Championship in a losing effort, and aligning himself with Azteca Underground's Cesar Duran, (formally Dario Cueto in Lucha Underground).[48][49]

WWE (2019–2021)

See also: Hit Row

On April 17, 2019, it was announced that he signed a contract with WWE and begun working at their Performance Center, and his ring name was changed to Isaiah "Swerve" Scott.[50][51] He wrestled his debut match against Cameron Grimes, a dark match that took place before the May 1 NXT television tapings.[52] In June, it was announced that Scott will compete in a tournament named NXT Breakout Tournament,[53] where he made his debut on the July 3 episode of NXT, losing to Cameron Grimes in the first round of the tournament.[54] On the July 23 episode of 205 Live, he debuted on the brand by losing to Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak.[55] At Worlds Collide on January 25, 2020, Scott challenged for the Cruiserweight Championship in a fatal four way match against Travis Banks, Jordan Devlin, and then-champion Angel Garza, but was unsuccessful.[56][57]

On April 12, Scott was announced as a participant in a tournament to determine the interim NXT Cruiserweight Champion, representing Group B in the tournament, where he was defeated by Akira Tozawa and Gentleman Jack Gallagher, but was able to defeat El Hijo del Fantasma (who had also worked for Lucha Underground under the name King Cuerno), leaving him with one win in the tournament, thus failing to advance to the finals.[58][59] Scott then began feuding with Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar, El Hijo del Fantasma's new ring name, after Scott claimed to be the only one who has pinned Escobar. On the August 26 episode of NXT, Scott challenged Escobar for the title but lost after Escobar hit him with a loaded mask.[60] On the September 1 episode of NXT Super Tuesday, Scott and Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango) defeated Legado del Fantasma in a Six-Man Street Fight after Scott once again pinned Escobar, thus earning Scott a title shot at NXT TakeOver: 31.[61] At the event, he lost to Escobar.[62][63]

Scott then entered the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament, where he was paired with Jake Atlas, but the two were eliminated from the tournament by the eventual winner MSK (Nash Carter and Wes Lee) and following the match, argued with one another.[64] On the February 17, 2021, episode of NXT, Scott attacked Leon Ruff after losing a match to him, turning heel in the process.[65] At NXT Takeover: Stand & Deliver, Scott would participated in a 6 Way match, where he eliminated Ruff and Cameron Grimes but would be last person eliminated in the match by Bronson Reed.

On the May 4 episode of NXT, Scott defeated Ruff in a Falls Count Anywhere match after A. J. Francis interfered on Scott's behalf. The following week, Scott was joined by Francis (who was now called Top Dolla), Tehuti Miles (now called Ashante "Thee" Adonis) and Briana Brandy (now B-FAB), forming the stable Hit Row.[66] On the June 29 episode of NXT, Scott defeated Bronson Reed to win the NXT North American Championship, his first title in his WWE career.[67] As part of the 2021 Draft, Scott along with the rest of Hit Row, were drafted to the SmackDown brand.[68] On the October 12 episode of NXT, he defeated Santos Escobar to retain his NXT North American championship, only to lose to Carmelo Hayes, ending his 105-day reign. On November 4, B-Fab was released from her WWE contract, shortening the group. On November 18, Scott was released from his WWE contract along with Adonis and Dolla.[69]

Return to the independent circuit (2022–present)

On February 17, Strickland made his surprise return to DEFY Wrestling confronting Darby Allin and Nick Wayne.[70] At DEFY Fightwave, Strickland captured the DEFY World Championship for the third time in a ladder match. At DEFY The Realest, Strickland lost the title to Nick Wayne.

New Japan Pro-Wrestling (2022)

Strickland made his debut for New Japan Pro-Wrestling on the March 12, 2022, edition of NJPW Strong by accepting Jay White's open challenge. He was defeated in the match.[71]

All Elite Wrestling / Ring of Honor (2022–present)

Swerve In Our Glory (2022–2023)

Strickland signed with All Elite Wrestling after departing from WWE, debuting under the new name Swerve Strickland at Revolution on March 6, 2022.[72][73] He made his in-ring debut for AEW on the March 11 episode of AEW Rampage, scoring a pinfall victory over Tony Nese.[74] The following week, Strickland aligned himself with Keith Lee in a feud with Team Taz (Powerhouse Hobbs and Ricky Starks). Strickland and Lee would then begin tag teaming, dubbing themselves "Swerve In Our Glory".[75] In April 2022, Strickland made his debut for AEW's sister promotion, Ring of Honor, defeating Alex Zayne at Supercard of Honor XV.

At Dynamite: Fyter Fest Night 1 on July 13, Swerve In Our Glory defeated defending champions The Young Bucks and Team Taz in a Triple or Nothing match to win the AEW World Tag Team Championship. They had successful title defenses against the likes of The Lucha Brothers and the Gunn Club (Colten and Austin Gunn). They would then enter a three match series with The Acclaimed (Max Caster and Anthony Bowens), defeating them at All Out, losing the belts to them in a rematch at Dynamite: Grand Slam, and losing to them once more at Full Gear after Strickland slapped Lee when Lee refused to use pliers as a weapon, causing Lee to walk out on the match.[76] The following month, at the ROH event Final Battle. Swerve In Our Glory faced Shane Taylor Promotions. During the match, Strickland followed suit, walking out on Lee after a sequence of friendly fire attacks between the two, causing Lee to narrowly defeat Shane Taylor Promotions.[77]

Mogul Embassy (2023–present)

See also: Mogul Embassy

On the December 21, 2022, edition of on Dynamite, Strickland formed a new stable, "Mogul Affiliates", with Parker Boudreaux, Granden Goetzman (Later named Trench), and the rapper Rick Ross. Strickland, Boudreaux, and Goetzman all attacked Lee, effectively ending the Swerve In Our Glory team, laying him out on the steel ring stairs with Strickland delivering his "Swerve Stomp" finishing move through a cinder block on Lee's chest, turning heel in the process.[78][79]

Heading into 2023, Strickland began a winning streak, defeating a range of opponents, such as Wheeler Yuta, AR Fox and Brian Pillman Jr. on Dynamite and Rampage. On the April 7, 2023, episode of Rampage, Strickland joined The Embassy after he announced he was merging his own faction Mogul Affiliates with them. The group was then renamed Mogul Embassy.

The same month, Strickland began a feud with Sting and Darby Allin, starting when Allin defeated Strickland on the April 12 edition of Dynamite.[80] On May 28 at Double or Nothing, Stickland competed in the 21-man Blackjack Battle Royal for the AEW International Championship, but was lastly eliminated by Orange Cassidy, who retained the title.[81] Strickland received a match for the title on the June 7 edition of Dynamite, but lost when he was defeated by Cassidy. After the match, Strickland and The Mogul Embassy attacked Cassidy only to be chased off by Allin and Sting. [82] The following week, Sting, Allin and Cassidy teamed with Keith Lee to defeat The Mogul Embassy (Strickland, Toa Liona, Bishop Kaun and Brian Cage).[83] That same week, Strickland made his AEW Collision debut, losing to Hiroshi Tanahashi.[84] The following month, Strickland was forced to reteam with Keith Lee in the Blind Eliminator Tag Team Tournament, but the duo were quickly eliminated by Allin and Cassidy.[85] The following week, Strickland defeated Allin's protege and rival on the independent scene Nick Wayne.[86] On July 21, Strickland competed in the Royal Rampage match to be the number 1 contender for the TNT Championship, but was once again last eliminated, this time by Allin.[87] On the July 26 edition of Dynamite, Strickland avenged his loss to Allin, by defeating him. The feud further intensified when Allin's ally, AR Fox betrayed Allin, joining The Mogul Embassy.[88] On August 23, Strickland and Fox lost to Allin and Wayne, causing Strickland to kick Fox out of The Mogul Embassy, ending their short term alliance, ahead of the duo's match against Allin and Sting at All In. Soon after, Christian Cage was announced as Fox's replacement as Strickland's partner at the event.[89] On August 27, 2023, at All In, Strickland and Cage lost to Allin and Sting in a coffin match, after Strickland was shut in the coffin.[90]

Strickland returned, for the first time since being placed in the coffin at All In, on the September 6 edition of Dynamite, confronting "Hangman" Adam Page. Strickland berated Page, claiming that if we was given the same opportunities as him, he would be the "first black AEW World Champion". Upon further mocking Page, Mogul Embassy member Brian Cage ambushed Page.[91] The following week, Strickland once again confronted Page during his match with Brian Cage. Following Page's victory, Strickland challenged him to a match at WrestleDream on October 1. Before Page could respond, Cage attacked him, though he was saved by The Young Bucks.[92] The feud intensified at Rampage: Grand Slam, where The Elite (Page and The Young Bucks) defeated Mogul Embassy (Brian Cage, Toa Liona and Bishop Kaun) to win the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship.[93] On the September 27 edition of Dynamite, Strickland and Page met in the ring for a contract signing to confirm their match at WrestleDream. The two insulted one another, leading to Page stabbing Strickland's hand with a pen.[94] On October 1 at WrestleDream in Strickland's home state of Washington, Strickland defeated Page.[95] On November 18 at Full Gear, Strickland defeated Page in a Texas Deathmatch.[96] The match was acclaimed and received a five-star rating from Dave Meltzer, making it the first five-star match of Strickland's career,[97] but received backlash and some mainstream media attention for a moment in which Page cut open Strickland's forehead and drank his blood.[98][99][100][101] Strickland stated that telling people to avoid watching the match would have the opposite effect, and compared it to telling children not to go and see "a new insane horror movie".[102]

On November 22, Strickland was announced as one of 12 competitors in the AEW Continental Classic tournament, where he would compete in the Gold League.[103] Strickland finished joint top of his block with 12 points, allowing him to advance to the semifinal round. In the semifinal round, Strickland lost in a triple threat match to Jon Moxley, eliminating him from the tournament, when Moxley pinned Jay White.[104] On December 30 at AEW Worlds End, Strickland was originally scheduled to face Keith Lee; as Lee was not medically cleared to compete, he was replaced by Dustin Rhodes, which Strickland won the match.[105] On February 7, 2024, episode of Dynamite, Strickland wrestled Adam Page with the winner facing Samoa Joe for the AEW World Championship at Revolution. However, their match went to a 30-minute time limit draw; as a result, both men were declared number one contenders with Joe in turn scheduled to defend the AEW World Championship against both in a three-way match,[106] which was won by Joe.[107]

Personal life

Strickland has three children.[5] He is the cousin of former NFL linebacker Fred Strickland.[108]

Other media

Music career
Video games

Championships and accomplishments

Strickland as one half of the AEW World Tag Team Champions alongside Keith Lee

Luchas de Apuestas record

See also: Luchas de Apuestas

Winner (wager) Loser (wager) Location Event Date Notes
Son of Havoc (mask) Killshot (mask) Boyle Heights, California Ultima Lucha Cuatro October 31, 2018 (air date)

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