Match Point: Austin Aries vs Shane “Swerve” Strickland (4/13/18)

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Austin Aries vs Swerve
Credit: DEFY Wrestling

Match Point is an ongoing series at Last Word on Pro Wrestling, where we look at intriguing matchups in indie wrestling and beyond. They may be dream matches, first-time matchups, or hotly anticipated rematches. Today’s edition features a title vs. title match taking place at this Friday’s (April 13) DEFY Vibes event, as Austin Aries will be putting his Impact Global Championship on the line against Shane “Swerve” Strickland, who is putting the DEFY 8xGP Title up for grabs, in a first-time meeting for the two champs. One man is guaranteed to walk away a double champion, but who will it be?

It all started on Twitter as in mid-March, DEFY 8xGP Champion, Shane “Swerve” Strickland, issued a challenge to Impact Global Champion Austin Aries for the DEFY Vibes event. Strickland invited Aries to “Swerve City” in a champion vs. champion, title for title, winner-take-all match. Aries, who has not been one to back down from a challenge if it means adding more belts to his collection, was quick to accept the first-time ever meeting, which will be taking place this Friday in Seattle.

The Belt Collector Looks for One More

Austin Aries has been an incredibly busy man lately but he doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. Since his non-compete with WWE expired in October of 2017, Aries has popped up at more well-known independent promotions than one would think imaginable. And not only has he made appearances for the likes of Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, House of Hardcore and Defiant to name a few, but most of the time, he’s left there with their titles.

Austin Aries is a quintuple champion, with five titles between four companies based in three different continents (North America, Europe and Australia). Aries won the first of these titles, the World Series of Wrestling (WSW) Heavyweight Championship, when he defeated Ricochet in November. He followed this up by winning the Defiant Championship in December, dethroning Marty Scrull. Next up, about two weeks later, Aries took down Mark Haskins to win his International Pro Wrestling (IPW): UK World Championship.

It was then that Aries, who made his first independent appearance since leaving WWE by showing up at Impact Wrestling in November, made his return to the company. All three championships in tow, Aries began calling himself the “Belt Collector,” and it wasn’t long until he would add to his haul, defeating Eli Drake on his first night back, to win the Impact Global Championship, his second world title in the promotion (he won the Impact World Championship in 2012). Aries didn’t stop there, however. He picked up his fifth title not long after, beating Matt Sydal for the Impact Grand Championship, in a match where both belts were on the line. The win made Aries just the fifth grand slam champion in Impact/TNA as he had previously won the Impact World Tag Team Championships with Bobby Roode in 2013, as well as being the longest-reigning X-Division Champion and six-time winner of the belt.

While he has not yet won a belt in Ring of Honor, Austin Aries made a shocking appearance at the 16th Anniversary PPV in March, challenging World Television Champion Kenny King, to a future match. In his challenge, Aries told King he was coming for the only title in ROH he had never won. King hasn’t formally accepted the challenge but if Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling can work something out, there is no doubt that match will be on the cards in the future.

Aries has won more matches than he’s lost since hitting the indies again but that doesn’t mean he is undefeated in title matches as Aries does have one blemish there, falling short in his Destiny World Wrestling Championship match against Pete Dunne and James Ellsworth in January. But other than that, the Belt Collector has not only won titles but defended them, all over the world.

“To have an opportunity to travel the globe and compete at a high level to where I can simultaneously represent 4 different professional wrestling companies, from 3 different continents, as their Champion is an accomplishment I’m proud of and most grateful for,” Aries said in an interview with Impact Wrestling. “It’s a great challenge, but one that offers me the influence and reach to help the professional wrestling industry as it continues to move forward progressively to create a better overall business landscape for quality talent and companies. The longer I can hold or add to my Championships the longer I have all the opportunities and perks associated with them, so I’ll work hard and do whatever it takes to remain in my position as “The Belt Collector” and that is the truth.”

Swerve City

In a quest to collect so many belts and already in possession of five, Austin Aries has certainly become a wanted man. Sydal offered up his Grand Championship just to get a shot at Aries’ Global Championship, and in DEFY Wrestling, Shane “Swerve” Strickland, is doing much the same.

Strickland, who is better known to some as Lucha Underground‘s Killshot, won the DEFY 8xGP Title and the Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) Championship in July of 2017, defeating Davey Richards, Joe Gacy and Lio Rush in a match where both belts were on the line. Before losing the CZW Championship in November, Strickland picked up his third belt, defeating Douglas James and Jordan Devlin for the Pacific Coast Wrestling (PCW) Light Heavyweight Title. Strickland may have lost the CZW Championship, but is still in possession of his other two belts, something Aries noted while responding to the Twitter challenge.

As of now, it seems that each man will just be putting up one of their belts but anything can change by Friday. And if so, that could mean that up to four titles would be on the line in this showstopper.

Both Austin Aries and Shane Strickland kept busy during Wrestlemania Week, with Aries working The Crash and House of Hardcore while Strickland worked AAW/Fight Club Pro, PROGRESS, RevPro and the WrestleCon SuperShow. Both men also worked Impact vs Lucha Underground where Aries lost to Pentagon Jr. in a triple threat and Strickland as Killshot, alongside the Mack, failed to capture the Impact World Tag Team Championships from L.A.X. This title for title, while not in New Orleans, will certainly be a great bookend for what could become a very memorable week for one of these men.

Most likely, that man will be Austin Aries and he will show up at Redemption on April 22nd, for his recently announced title match against Pentagon Jr. and Fenix, with one more belt added to his growing collection.

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