It was an emotional scene inside the GILT Nightclub in Orlando. Confetti fell as the sounds of Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better) played to excited crowd. Shane Strickland was crowned the first Major League Wrestling Champion since the promotion relaunched last year. It’s a milestone marked days before MLW’s network TV debut on beIN SPORTS.
“In that very moment I thought about where my career was when I first started,” Strickland said.
“The first few falls I took in the ring. It took me back to the very back to the beginning and all the struggles I have overcome to get to that point. I was standing in that ring with a world championship against one of the best competitors in the world today [Matt Riddle] in front of that audience.
“In front of those people in the office at MLW who did everything and worked with pretty much every major star in the industry. I felt all that wash over my face and over my shoulders and my whole body. This was nine years, and we finally made it to something like this. It was incredible and really proves that I’m on the right path of doing what I’m supposed to do and doing great things in wrestling.”
“Swerve” is proud to represent a company building from the ground up. He believes now having the platform of a Friday series will change the game.
“This will be a bigger audience to the product on a national and international scale because I’m being told we t will also be reaching out to Australia and the UK. And Germany, Japan and all sorts of different places,” he said.
“I know our outreach is going to grow and bringing more people in. I feel like after maybe a year or two later we are going to outgrow the Nightclub and will have to move into something bigger. That is something I truly, humbly believe. You always want to outgrow what came before and progress.”
Despite performing around the world for a plethora of promotions, Strickland always has his ears and eyes open. The emerging star often sits under the learning tree of MLW’s successful veterans in the ring and behind the scenes.
“MVP is one of the primary people I have been learning from at this point in my career, especially with MLW crossing over into television,” he said.
“So, I’m learning a lot from MVP. Sami Callihan is someone I have been learning from for years and someone I learn from every day of how to become a better professional and better star and present yourself in a smarter way to become a role model for some guys who are coming after me.
“You have Alex Greenfield, who you can learn a lot about story-telling from and the presentation is huge. There are so many perceptions the audience can take from you and how to draw that emotion from the crowd and draw it to the crowd. I’m learning all that from these guys like Tony Schiavone. Rich Bocchini, the list goes on and on with Court Bauer primarily.”
The champion takes his role at the top very seriously. Strickland knows with great power comes great responsibility.
“It is literally starting from scratch again even though MLW ran in the past,” he said. “And I’m one of the guys to help create this aura in the club venue is an amazing feeling. I appreciate that and the fact MLW is putting so much stock in me to be THE guy.”
Watch MLW Fusion on beIN Sports at 8/7c as part of the Friday Night Fury lineup starting April 20