SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Former WWNLive star Rich Swann landed in WWE by chance after making a name for himself on the independents. But, if you know Swann’s story, it’s a credit to his hard work and determination overcoming major obstacles.
“I’ll never forget it. I just got done at an EVOLVE Wrestling show, and I wake up one morning and see a tweet to me from a famous rapper named Wale. He tweeted out that Apollo Crews (Uhaa Nation in WWNLive) and I are the future of the business and we need to be in WWE. I guess that caught the attention of Mark Henry, and I got linked up with the tryout from there,” Swann said.
It’s apparent WWE likes Swann’s story of using wrestling to escape a troubled upbringing. The privilege of watching Raw was used as motivation for Swann to stay on the right path growing up in a rough neighborhood in Maryland. It was also a source of comfort when both of his parents died before the age of 20.
“I saved up the money and got training, and exactly when I started, my mom passed away, so that was very hard,” Swann said about his start in the wrestling business. “After that, I just committed myself to getting here (WWE) and staying on the right path, because for a while I started going down the wrong path. But after I finished school and started wrestling, started taking off really well, wrestling just changed me. It made me realize that you can’t be living in the past. You have to embrace what has changed you in your life and what you have been blessed with, and now I’m here.”
Swann is an under-sized high-flyer who is motivated by the competitive roster. He said it makes him “work that much harder” to prove that he belongs. Swann made his NXT live debut on Halloween Weekend competing in a battle royal, but he hopes that once he gets real opportunities on house shows, TV tapings, and eventually “Takeover” specials that it will lead to a resurgent Cruiserweight division.
“Wrestlers like Psicosis, Eddie Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, RVD, Jerry Lynnn, Super Crazy,” Swann said of his influences. “Once I found out what ECW was when I was in middle school – boom – that turned me. WCW, too. I love these bigger guys, but I knew I was never going to be that big. The cruiserweights, however, look at these guys move, flipping around, doing crazy things and being daredevils. Guys like The Hardys. I was drawn to them because that’s what I wanted to do.
“I really hope that one day there can be a cruiserweight division comeback. I feel like the state of cruiserweight wrestling in WWE – it’s not lacking because you’ve still got smaller guys who can move, like Kalisto, Sin Cara, Dolph Ziggler, Neville, guys like that that are just ridiculous. If there’s ever a cruiserweight division to come back, I’d like to be the face of it, like Rey Mysterio back in the day. That’s one of my goals.”
[ READ MORE: Swann talked about his upbringing and background on a 2014 edition of Kevin Steen (Kevin Owens)’s Highspots DVD series. PWTorch columnist Sean Radican reviewed the doc HERE. ]
[Swann photo (c) WWE.com]