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Swerve Strickland Might Be AEW's (Second) Best Free Agent Signing Ever

The AEW roster is littered with former WWE wrestlers who have failed to make a mark with the company, but Swerve Strickland isn’t one of them. Brought in back in March, it’s easy to argue that the 32-year-old has been Tony Khan’s best signing of 2022. In fact, Strickland has been so good that one could assert that he’s been All Elite Wrestling’s second-best free-agent pickup in history, trailing only three-time World Champion Jon Moxley in that regard. He has meant less to AEW’s stability than Moxley, but that could change in time. For now, Strickland should continue to be given every opportunity to be a significant player on Dynamite and Rampage.

Strickland’s tag team with Keith Lee felt forced initially. It seemed like AEW wasn’t sure what to do with the two stars, so they stuck them together to give each man something to do. Perhaps that was the plan originally, but the dynamic between the two has been one of, if not the best long-term story Khan has going right now. For months, tensions have built between Strickland and Lee. The former is demonstrably willing to tap into his dastardly side to win matches and get his way. The Limitless One hasn’t been on board with any of that, and it might come to a head at Full Gear next month.

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Swerve In Our Glory is set to take on The Acclaimed at Full Gear, but it’s clear that Lee and Strickland aren’t on the same page at this point. The backstage segment between Strickland and Billy Gunn on Friday night was a bit on the campy side, but it was an attempt by AEW to build a story via a backstage segment that wasn’t just another interview. Khan doesn’t usually book segments like this but has been working them into Rampage over the last few weeks. That Strickland was trusted and allowed to go forward with the wrench attack on Gunn’s hands speaks volumes about how AEW views him as an on-screen performer. It was no This Is Your Life between The Rock and Mankind, but not everything has to be.

Strickland now has his fingers in several bubbling feuds that will keep him prominently involved on weekly television. Swerve In Our Glory has some unfinished business with The Acclaimed, but it seems likely that Full Gear will be the blowoff of that storyline. Seeds are planted for Lee and Strickland to split and feud, and that’s an outstanding dispute that will likely push both men up the card in AEW. Swerve also recently got into a back-and-forth on Twitter with rapper Bow Wow, which aligns with Khan’s continued desire to work with various rappers and musicians to increase their footprint. Strickland has been a phenomenal pickup for Khan and AEW so far, so much so that he’s been among the best signings in company history.

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