Richard "Rich" Swann (February 15, 1991) is an American professional wrestler signed to WWE and assigned to the Raw brand as part of the cruiserweight division. He is a one-time WWE Cruiserweight Champion.
Swann is also known for his work on the American independent circuit for promotions such as Evolve, Full Impact Pro (FIP) and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG). He has also worked for promotions like Chikara, Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), Dragon Gate, Dragon Gate USA and Jersey All Pro Wrestling (JAPW). He is a former two-time FIP World Heavyweight Champion and one-time Open the United Gate, Open the Owarai Gate and Open the Triangle Gate Champion.
Swann was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. Swann's father was killed by his girlfriend when he was 12 years old and his mother died when he was 16, after which Swann "fell in with a rough crowd" and began using cocaine. However, after his supplier died of a heart attack, Swann, with help from his aunt, stopped using cocaine, got an apartment, and finished high school.
Professional wrestling career
Swann originally started training professional wrestling at the age of 14 in 2005 under Adam Flash, Darren Wyse and Ray Alexander in York, Pennsylvania. He made his debut in 2008, working under the ring names Rich Money and El Negro Mysterio. Swann's influences include Psicosis, Eddie Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Rob Van Dam, Jerry Lynn, Super Crazy and The Hardy Boyz.
Combat Zone Wrestling (2009–2013)
In 2009, Swann began training under DJ Hyde, Drew Gulak, Ruckus and Sabian at Combat Zone Wrestling's (CZW) training school and made his debut for the promotion on May 9, 2009, wrestling in a dark match, where he was defeated by Sabian. Swann made his main card debut on June 13 with a win over Chris Halo. On October 10, Swann entered a tournament to determine the inaugural CZW Wired TV Champion. After a win over Joe Gacy, he was eliminated by Adam Cole in his second round match on November 14. On January 30, 2010, Swann formed the "Irish Driveby" tag team with Ryan McBride, defeating the Spanish Armada (Alex Colon and LJ Cruz) in their first match together. After a win over the Switchblade Conspiracy (Joe Gacy and Sami Callihan) on February 13, Swann and McBride were granted a shot at the CZW World Tag Team Championship on March 13, but were defeated by the Best Around (Bruce Maxwell and TJ Cannon). Afterwards, Irish Driveby earned victorious over teams like Notorious Inc. (Devon Moore and Drew Blood), The Garden State Gods (Corvis Fear and Myke Quest), and Team Macktion (Kirby Mack and T.J. Mack). On August 7, Swann unsuccessfully challenged Drew Gulak for the CZW Wired TV Championship. On September 10, Swann and McBride entered a tournament to determine the new CZW World Tag Team Champions, defeating Team Macktion in their first round match. However, on November 13, they were eliminated from the tournament in the semifinals by Philly's Most Wanted (Blk Jeez and Joker). On January 7, 2011, the Irish Driveby was defeated by the Runaways (Joe Gacy and Ryan Slater) in what would turn out to be the team's final match together.
After twice failing to qualify for the Best of the Best X tournament and unsuccessfully challenging Adam Cole for the CZW World Junior Heavyweight Championship, Swann was looking to restart his CZW career, but on May 14, 2011, suffered another loss against Alex Colon. After the match, Robbie Mireno, Ruckus and Chrissy Rivera entered the ring and announced they were reforming Blackout, before offering both Swann and Colon spots in the stable, which both accepted. With his new partners, Swann formed a new, exciting and popular version of one of CZW's most accomplished groups. After a six-month break from CZW, during which Swann supposedly represented Blackout in Japan, Swann returned to the promotion on November 12, when he, Colon and Ruckus defeated Alex Payne, Joe Gacy and Ryan Slater in a six-man tag team match. On January 14, 2012, Swann received another shot at the CZW World Junior Heavyweight Championship, but was unable to dethrone Sami Callihan. During 2012, Swann began spending more and more time in Japan, resulting in his time with Blackout being short-lived as early in the year, Alex Colon and Chrissy Rivera quit Blackout to form the new 4Loco stable. After another seven-month break from CZW, Swann returned to the promotion on August 11, losing to newcomer Shane Strickland in a singles match. The two had a rematch on September 8, where Strickland was again victorious. After the match, Swann offered to shake Strickland's hand, but then laid him out with a spin kick. On November 10, Swann first unsuccessfully challenged Masada for the CZW World Heavyweight Championship during an afternoon show and later in the evening, also failed to capture the CZW Wired TV Championship from AR Fox in a four-way match, which also included Lucky 13 and rival Shane Strickland. Swann and Strickland had their third singles match against each other on December 8 at Cage of Death XIV, where Swann was able to pick up his first win over the newcomer. Swann received another shot at the CZW Wired TV Championship on February 9, 2013, at CZW's fourteenth anniversary show, but was again defeated by AR Fox.
Dragon Gate USA and Evolve (2010–2015)
On July 24, 2010, Swann made his debut for Dragon Gate USA, defeating Scott Reed at the tapings of the Enter the Dragon 2010 pay-per-view. On September 11, Swann made his debut for Dragon Gate USA's close affiliate, Evolve, taking part in a six-way match, which was won by Johnny Gargano. Swann returned to Dragon Gate USA during the September 25–26 weekend, taking part in four-way and six-way matches won by Chuck Taylor and Brodie Lee, respectively. On October 29 at Bushido: Code of the Warrior, Dragon Gate USA's first live internet pay-per-view, Swann was defeated in a singles match by Homicide. Following the match, Swann was approached by Austin Aries, who offered to take him under his wing as his new protégé. However, after Aries was defeated by Masato Yoshino, Swann seemingly turned down his offer. Later that same event, Swann, Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano attacked Cima and Ricochet, before announcing that they were not joining any of Dragon Gate USA's established stables, but were instead forming a new one named "Ronin". The villainous Ronin stable wrestled their first match together at the following day's Freedom Fight 2010 pay-per-view, defeating Aries, Genki Horiguchi and Ricochet in a six-man tag team match. On January 28, 2011, at United: NYC, Swann was defeated by Aries in a singles match. During that same weekend, Ronin started a rivalry with the Blood Warriors, a new villainous stable led by Cima, effectively ending Ronin's run as villains. On March 1, Swann and the rest of the Ronin stable started their first tour of Japan with Dragon Gate USA's parent promotion, Dragon Gate. During the tour, which lasted until March 15, Ronin worked mainly in matches against the Blood Warriors. On April 3 at Open the Ultimate Gate 2011, Austin Aries, who had just lost a match, where he had put his Dragon Gate USA career on the line, feigned passing the torch to his former rivals in Ronin, but instead ended up turning on them and joining Blood Warriors. On June 3 at Fearless 2011, Swann was defeated in a singles match by Blood Warriors leader Cima, following interference from Aries. Two days later at Enter the Dragon 2011, Swann and Gargano teamed with Masato Yoshino in a six-man elimination tag team match, where they defeated Blood Warriors representatives Austin Aries, Brodie Lee and Cima.
On June 8, 2011, Swann, without Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano, started his second tour of Dragon Gate. During the tour, Swann aligned himself with Blood Warriors' rival stable, Junction Three. On July 24, Swann unsuccessfully challenged Naoki Tanizaki for the Blood Warriors Authorized Open the Brave Gate Championship. On August 6, Swann and Junction Three stablemate Gamma entered the 2011 Summer Adventure Tag League, but were eliminated in their first round match by Blood Warriors representatives Naruki Doi and Yasushi Kanda. During the tour, Swann also got to show his comedic side, first working under the ring name "Rich Ichikawa", and then as "Swann Hansen" in a match on November 5, where he defeated Stalker Ichikawa for the Open the Owarai Gate Championship, Dragon Gate's comedy wrestling title. In mid-November, Swann returned to the United States for a week to take part in Dragon Gate USA events. During the events, Swann, Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano began having problems with each other. On November 13 at Freedom Fight 2011, Swann earned a big win, when he pinned Blood Warriors member Akira Tozawa in a tag team match, where he and Chuck Taylor faced Tozawa and BxB Hulk. Six days later, Swann returned to Japan and Dragon Gate. The tour lasted until Dragon Gate's final event of 2011 on December 25, during which Swann and Junction Three stablemates Dragon Kid and Gamma unsuccessfully challenged Kzy, Naruki Doi and Naoki Tanizaki for the Open the Triangle Gate Championship. After the match, Tanizaki attacked Swann and stole his Open the Owarai Gate Championship belt, which was later vacated as a result. Swann returned to Dragon Gate in February 2012 and on February 9, took part in a fourteen-man tag team match, where Blood Warriors defeated Junction Three, which, as a result, was forced to disband. The following month, Swann aligned himself with the new World-1 International stable to oppose Mad Blankey, the former Blood Warriors taken over and renamed by Akira Tozawa. On March 29, Swann made another short return to the United States, taking part in a Dragon Gate USA and CZW co-promoted event, which saw Ronin being defeated by Mad Blankey representatives Akira Tozawa, BxB Hulk and Uhaa Nation in a three-way trios match, which also included the D.U.F. trio of Arik Cannon, Pinkie Sanchez and Sami Callihan. During the following day's Open the Ultimate Gate 2012 pay-per-view, Chuck Taylor turned on Johnny Gargano, effectively ending Ronin.
On March 31 at Mercury Rising 2012, Swann took part in a six-way "Chuck Taylor Invitational" match, which was won by El Generico. Later that same event, Swann saved Johnny Gargano from Chuck Taylor, chasing his former stablemate out of the arena. In April, Swann returned to Dragon Gate for another tour, during which he again made appearances as "Swann Hansen". On July 28, Swann defeated Chuck Taylor via disqualification in a Dragon Gate USA grudge match. The following day at Enter the Dragon 2012, Swann and World-1 International stablemate Ricochet were defeated by AR Fox and Cima in a match for the vacant Open the United Gate Championship. On November 2 at Fearless 2012, Swann pinned Chuck Taylor for the win in a six-man captain's fall tag team match, where he teamed with ACH and Cima and Taylor with his new Gentleman's Club stablemates Drew Gulak and Orange Cassidy. Two days later at Freedom Fight 2012, Swann defeated Taylor in a No Disqualification match. On February 14, 2013, Swann returned to Dragon Gate, teaming with Masato Yoshino in a tag team match, where they defeated Jimmy Kagetora and Jimmy Kanda. On March 3, Swann teamed with World-1 International stablemates Naruki Doi and Shachihoko Boy to defeat the Jimmyz (Genki Horiguchi H.A.Gee.Mee!!, Mr. Kyu Kyu Naoki Tanizaki Toyonaka Dolphin and Ryo "Jimmy" Saito) for the Open the Triangle Gate Championship. On May 10, Swann entered his first King of Gate tournament, but was eliminated in his first round match by Genki Horiguchi H.A.Gee.Mee!!. On June 1, Swann received a shot at the Open the Brave Gate Championship, but was defeated by the defending champion, Masato Yoshino. On June 5, Swann, Doi and Shachihoko lost the Open the Triangle Gate Championship to M2K (Jimmy Susumu, K-Ness and Masaaki Mochizuki) in their second title defense. On July 28 at Enter the Dragon 2013, Dragon Gate USA's fourth anniversary event, Swann teamed up with his World-1 International stablemate Ricochet to unsuccessfully challenge The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) for the Open the United Gate Championship. On September 22 at Evolve 24, Swann unsuccessfully challenged former Ronin stablemate Johnny Gargano for the Open the Freedom Gate Championship. The rivalry between Swann and Gargano culminated in an "Evolution's End" match on August 10, 2014, where Swann was victorious. Post-match, Swann was attacked by the Premier Athlete Brand of Anthony Nese, Caleb Konley and Su Yung, leading to Gargano returning to the ring and chasing the three away.
On September 13, Swann received his first shot at the Evolve Championship, but was defeated by the defending champion, Drew Galloway. On January 10, 2015, Swann, Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano reformed Ronin and defeated the Bravado Brothers (Harlem and Lancelot) and Moose in a match, where the losing team had to split up. On April 18, Swann and Gargano defeated Anthony Nese and Caleb Konley to win the Open the United Gate Championship. On May 30, Ronin successfully defended the title against Drew Gulak and Tracey Williams. After the match, Gargano announced they were retiring the Open the United Gate Championship since Dragon Gate was the past and demanded the creation of the Evolve Tag Team Championship. On August 15, Swann turned on Gargano, costing him his match against Ethan Page. Swann would defeat Gargano the next night after interference from Page.
Other promotions (2009–2015)
On November 6, 2009, Swann made his debut in his hometown for Maryland Championship Wrestling (MCW), unsuccessfully challenging Adam Carelle, later known as Adam Cole, for the MCW Rage Television Championship.
On November 21, 2009, Swann made his debut for Jersey All Pro Wrestling (JAPW), losing to his trainer DJ Hyde. Swann made his second appearance for the promotion on March 20, 2010, when he unsuccessfully challenged Bandido Jr. for the JAPW Light Heavyweight Championship in a five-way match.
On January 16, 2010, Swann won his first professional wrestling title, when he defeated Lince Dorado to become the inaugural Real Championship Wrestling (RCW) Cruiserweight Champion. After one successful title defense against Skull, Swann lost the title to Steve Diaz in a three-way ladder match, which also included Skull, on June 5, 2010.
On April 24, 2010, Swann made his debut for the Chikara promotion, when he took part in the Rey de Voladores opening round four-way match, which was won by Ophidian and also included Cheech Hernandez and Frightmare. Swann returned to the promotion on February 19, 2011, when he unsuccessfully challenged Frightmare for the Chikara Young Lions Cup. On September 20, 2014, Swann returned to take part in the 2014 Rey de Voladores tournament, but was defeated by Shynron in a four-way match, also involving Chuck Taylor and Tigre Uno.
On November 7, 2010, Swann made his debut for the German Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) promotion, teaming with Bernd Föhr, Greg Excellent and Zack Sabre Jr. in an eight-man tag team match, where they were defeated by Adam Cole, Blk Jeez, Drew Gulak and Karsten Beck.
On December 3, 2010, Swann made his debut for Full Impact Pro (FIP), when he entered the 2010 Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup and defeated Grizzly Redwood in his first round match. The following day, he defeated Jigsaw to advance to the semifinals of the tournament, where he was defeated by Sami Callihan. Swann returned to FIP on October 11, 2013, when he unsuccessfully challenged Trent Barreta for the FIP World Heavyweight Championship. The following day, Swann's FIP Florida Heritage Championship match with Gran Akuma ended in a time limit draw. On December 6, Swann wrestled Roderick Strong in a match, which ended in a no contest, after the two were attacked by FIP Tag Team Champions, The Bravado Brothers (Harlem and Lancelot). This led to a tag team match, where Swann and Strong defeated The Bravado Brothers to become the new FIP Tag Team Champions. Next day, at Violence is the Answer, they retained the title against Andrew Everett and Caleb Konley. They lost the title to Juicy Product (David Starr and JT Dunn) on May 2, 2014. On November 14, during FIP's parent company WWNLive's tour of China, Swann defeated Trent Barreta for the FIP World Heavyweight Championship. He was stripped of the title due to an injury on February 20, 2015. Swann regained the title from Roderick Strong on April 18. He lost it to Caleb Konley on July 3.
On December 11, 2012, Swann made his Mexican debut for the Desastre Total Ultraviolento (DTU) promotion in a seven-way elimination match for the AAA Cruiserweight Championship. Swann was the last man eliminated by Daga, who, as a result, retained his title. On November 1, 2013, Swann won a six-way match for the Florida Underground Wrestling (FUW) Flash Championship. He lost the title to Jesus De Leon on September 26, 2014. On March 15, 2014, The Inner City Machine Guns made an appearance for English promotion Revolution Pro Wrestling (RPW), defeating The Swords of Essex (Paul Robinson and Will Ospreay) to win the Undisputed British Tag Team Championship.
Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (2012–2015)
On January 12, 2013, Swann teamed up with Ricochet for the 2013 Dynamite Duumvirate Tag Team Title Tournament. The team, dubbed "The Inner City Machine Guns", was eliminated in their first round match by The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson). The Inner City Machine Guns returned to take part in PWG's All Star Weekend 9, defeating the team of AR Fox and Samuray del Sol during the first night on March 22. During the second night, they teamed with Fox in a six-man tag team match, where they were defeated by Brian Cage, Kevin Steen and Michael Elgin. On August 9 at PWG's tenth anniversary event, the Inner City Machine Guns unsuccessfully challenged The Young Bucks for the PWG World Tag Team Championship in a three-way ladder match, which also included the DojoBros (Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong). Swann returned to PWG on August 30 to take part in the 2013 Battle of Los Angeles, but was eliminated from the tournament in his first round match by Michael Elgin. On January 31, 2014, the Inner City Machine Guns made it to the finals of the 2014 Dynamite Duumvirate Tag Team Title Tournament, before losing to the Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent?). In the following year's tournament, the Inner City Machine Guns defeated Biff Busick and Drew Gulak in the first round, before falling to eventual tournament winners Andrew Everett and Trevor Lee in the semifinals.
Swann then entered his third consecutive Battle of Los Angeles on August 29, 2015, but was defeated in the first round by Marty Scurll. The following day, he teamed with Ricochet, Angélico and Fénix in an eight-man tag team match, where they were defeated by Mount Rushmore 2.0 (Roderick Strong, Super Dragon and The Young Bucks). This turned out to be Swann's final appearance for PWG before signing with WWE.
Following an Evolve show in 2014, rapper Wale sent out a tweet, stating that Swann and Uhaa Nation needed to be in WWE, calling them "the future of the business". This got the attention of Mark Henry, who arranged a WWE tryout for Swann in September 2014. A year later, it was reported that Swann had signed a developmental contract with the promotion and would be reporting to its developmental branch NXT the following month. WWE officially announced Swann's signing to NXT on October 28. Swann made his debut at an NXT house show on October 30, wrestling in a Halloween battle royal, which was won by Bayley. Swann made his singles match debut at a house show on November 20, losing to Riddick Moss. He made his first televised appearance on the January 20, 2016, episode of NXT, losing to Baron Corbin. On the March 23 episode of NXT, Swann was defeated by NXT Champion Finn Bálor. On October 13, Swann and No Way Jose entered the 2016 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, defeating Drew Gulak and Tony Nese in their first round match. They were eliminated from the tournament on October 28 by The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar).
Cruiserweight division (2016–present)
On June 13, 2016, Swann was announced as a participant in the upcoming Cruiserweight Classic tournament. The tournament began on June 23 with Swann defeating Jason Lee in his first round match. On July 14, Swann defeated Lince Dorado in his second round match. On August 26, Swann was eliminated from the tournament in the quarterfinals by T.J. Perkins.
On the August 22 episode of Raw, Swann was announced as part of the upcoming cruiserweight division. Swann made his Raw debut on September 19, wrestling in a four-way match, which was won by Brian Kendrick and also included Cedric Alexander and Gran Metalik. On the November 21 Raw, Swann defeated Noam Dar and T.J. Perkins to become the number one contender to the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. On November 29, Swann defeated Brian Kendrick on the premiere episode of 205 Live to become the new WWE Cruiserweight Champion. The following week, Swann defeated Kendrick in a rematch to retain the title, following a distraction from Perkins. On December 18 at Roadblock: End of the Line, Swann successfully defended the title in a three-way match against Kendrick and Perkins, pinning the latter to win the match. After the match, Swann and Perkins were attacked by a returning Neville.
- Finishing moves
- As Rich Swann
- As Swann Hansen
- Signature moves
- "Mr. Standing 450"
- "The Outlandish"
- Entrance themes
- "Fight Like This" by Decyfer Down (CZW)
- "I'm on a Boat" by The Lonely Island (CZW)
- "Ronin Baby!" by Rich Swann (DG / DGUSA)
- "Junction, Baby!" by Rich Swann (DG / DGUSA)
- "World-1 Baby!" by Rich Swann (DG / DGUSA)
- "All Night Long (All Night)" by Lionel Richie (DG / DGUSA / PWG)
- "Around the World" by CFO$ (NXT/WWE; January 20, 2016–present)
Championships and accomplishments
- RCW Cruiserweight Championship (1 time)
- Rookie of the Year (2010)