AEW must be prepared to book Swerve's run as strong as possible

Fans are already complaining about aspects of Swerve's run as champion and AEW must be ready to face them head on.
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There was a lot of back-and-forth across the IWC debating the debut of Swerve Strickland as AEW World Heavyweight Champion. He took on Kyle Fletcher in a title eliminator on AEW Dynamite – a match that he won in just under 15 minutes. The argument was that Swerve didn’t get the same type of introduction as other recent champions, or even other notable names on that very show. While pointing out the optics is important, the crowd must also give AEW to work through a space it hasn’t been before.

Yes, individuals like MJF and Samoa Joe won the AEW World Heavyweight Title and were welcomed onto the next Dynamite with a long promo segment which was meant to kick off their run as champion. Swerve didn’t get that. Instead, he did what he’s continued to do for years, put on a great match. Would it have been great to see him walk out to the adulation of fans and give his “State of the Union” of sorts? Yes, but it seems like AEW is going a different route with his title run.

According to Fightful Select, their sources point to the plan that Swerve is set to get a promo slot during AEW Collision. The hope is that the NBA playoff game and its post-game coverage will keep fans in front of the television for enough time to catch Swerve and want to see who he is and what he’s talking about. From a business standpoint, it makes sense to place him in that slot. Perhaps AEW could have circumvented the criticism by switching the promo and the match or announcing the promo segment along with the match. There are several different things that could have been done, but hindsight is 20/20.

Swerve Strickland is AEW’s first Black World Champion. That’s a massive mantle to carry. It’s a designation that he pointed out as a major accolade he wanted to achieve. It means something to him and all the pro wrestling fans that relish in having champions who look like them. It is important. At the same time, there are voices ready to criticize every step and move AEW makes with him as champion. If he isn’t given the same type of run as former champions, the critiques will come. If he’s not treated as the top draw in comparison to previous champions, the critiques will come. AEW must be mindful of those issues as they book their newest champion.

Perception matters, especially in moments like this. The second he’s booked in a way that is deemed “less than” other champions, the criticisms will come and that is not something AEW wants to deal with. The company is riding a wave of positive momentum with Swerve’s win and now the Tony Khan/The Elite shenanigans. Incorrectly placing Swerve would be an unforced error. But here’s to hoping that he’s booked as the top star fans want to see because he deserves this moment and Black pro wrestling fans deserve to see someone who looks like them at the top.