AEW Star Recalls Frustrating Times In WWE NXT, Being “Held Aside”

Swerve Strickland Keith Lee AEW

One AEW star opened up about not reaching the heights he’d hoped in WWE NXT.

Despite finding some success during his time in NXT and even capturing the North American Championship, Swerve Strickland admits the time wasn’t right for him to be crowned a main event star in the promotion. Speaking to Mark Hoke on the Mark Hoke Show, he recalled his time in WWE’s third brand, saying:

“It was a great experience, but there were also times where I was like, ‘I know I can offer more. I know that I’m being held aside because there is so much focus on the top of the card with the stacked roster with guys that are feeling the same way as well.’ They have the opportunities and are getting their chances because they’ve been feeling like they haven’t been used to the best of their abilities, so now it’s their turn to get theirs and their opportunity to showcase that.

“As me, I’m like, ‘Ah man.’ You can’t just cut the line and jump in front of these guys that have been there. Then, there are the occasional guys who can jump the line and get right to the top. That can be frustrating. There were those frustrating times, especially when you have all this creative energy and these different ideas that you can truly give something different and unique on the show. At the same time, it’s not your show and it’s not necessarily your time to push that idea because they have their plans as well.”

Swerve Strickland Compared His Time In WWE NXT To Working In AEW

Continuing, Swerve Strickland used an analogy to compare his time in WWE NXT to his rising popularity in AEW.

“It’s almost like writing a movie and someone has the idea…say you’re writing drama and suspense, but I have great horror. ‘I’m not writing horror right now. I’m writing suspense. We’ll have time for horror. Don’t know when I’ll need it, but we’ll get to horror. Let me finish my suspense first.’ That’s what it feels like.

“Finally, when you get your chance to showcase that horror and you blow it out the water and make that classic, it’s like, ‘I need volume two and volume three.’ That’s where NXT and WWE feel was for me. I’ve seen it with countless other people too. When they get on and get their time and chance to showcase and change the world like pro wrestling and entertainment, it’s beautiful.

“For me, AEW, I didn’t necessarily have that time to wait. It was cool to come out and be like, ‘I have horror.’ ‘Cool, we don’t have horror, show us what your horror is all about.’ Boom, here we go. That’s what AEW felt like. To have that opportunity, no different than WWE’s roster being stacked full of talent, AEW was jam-packed full of talent and being able to showcase that and work with those guys is unlike any place you could ever be.

“It’s rewarding when you know your ideas are being heard, and they take a chance on it. It could always fail, but at least they take a chance on it.”

At AEW WrestleDream on October 1st, Swerve Strickland’s stock rose even further when he was able to defeat ‘Hangman’ Adam Page, albeit with help from Prince Nana at ringside.

h/t Fightful