Aerial Monroe has reinvented herself as Big Swole and made quite an impact, but before that was crucial in the reinvention of another wrestling character -- Lina Fanene's Nia Jax.
Swole has a direct connection to WWE with her husband Cedric Alexander appearing on the Raw brand. She's subsequently been featured on the 2018 Mae Young Classic, as well. Just ahead of Cedric moving to WWE full-time, Swole actually beat him to the punch with a main roster debut on August 1, 2016.
Swole told Fightful during a pre-WWE interview what she remembers about getting the call from fellow indie wrestler Devyn Nicole.
"I was contacted by one of my really good friends and she was like “Hey, are you busy? We have RAW in Atlanta, can you drive down? Then we’ve got Smackdown and NXT,” and I was like, “Yeah, sure.” We get there and it’s just her and I there, as far as female extras. And I’m looking around and I’m like, “okay, Nia Jax is gonna have a match,” and this is when she’s having all the enhancement talent stuff and I was like “You know, I’m the smallest woman out of us two, I’m probably gonna get picked.” And ‘lo and behold, because I’m the smallest they’re like,“we pick you.” Swole remembered.
Swole's task resembled one of Britt Baker, who appeared on this very series -- a new, freshly drafted, and looking to make an impression Nia Jax. If you saw Jax's draft reaction video, you could tell this was unexpected for her, and within weeks she'd be heavily featured on Raw, and given a steady gauntlet of enhancement matches featuring Baker, Scarlett Bordeaux, Delilah Doom, and Swole herself.
Contrary to Jax's portrayal on WWE's Total Divas reality series, Swole says Jax was nothing but great to deal with, although they gave it to each other in the ring.
"I got picked to have the match with her and she’s such a sweetheart," said Swole. "We went through it. And it came off pretty well. They let me have a little bit of offense. Beforehand it was straight squashes for pretty much everybody else. So I was pretty glad they let me do that as well as I did a little impromptu kinda move, ‘cause she ended up slapping me while I was on the turnbuckle. I wasn’t expecting the slap, so I was like—my total reaction is super natural, I was like “Oh, okay.” So when she came to get me again, I’m like “Ah, well, I’m gonna give this receipt whether you like it or not,” and I just kicked her straight in the face. She was like “Oh, okay, now we can continue with the match.” But, it was great."
The match came and went and all went smooth. Jax does have a reputation for working stiff, and Swole was fine with that.
"She was just like “Oh, was I too stiff or anything?” I was like “No.” Then she was like “I’m glad that you gave some offense so it wouldn’t look stupid.” Because you’re not gonna just slap me [like] I’m not gonna hit you back. I mean, my daughter’s watching, so mama’s gotta defend herself," Swole laughed.
As mentioned, Jax's stiff reputation extended back then, and Swole was quick to admit that some of the offense didn't feel too great, but she knew it was coming. Even beyond that, Swole knew her reason for being there was to help get Jax over. The finishing move of the match didn't quite go as planned, and isn't a move we've seen Jax pull out very often, as impressive as it may be.
"That short arm clothesline? Yeah. That one wasn’t that bad. Not as bad as the finishing move," Swole clarified. "The Samoan drop into the powerslam. She was asking if she could do the new finish she was working on, and she was like “Are you okay taking this?” I’m like “I’m fine.” You know? It doesn’t really matter. I’m here for you, Bubba, we’re gonna get you over. She practiced it, everything’s cool and everything. When she’s practicing it she’s putting her knees up, so when she actually did the move I wasn’t expecting her to go all the way down. But, I sold it."
In showings Swole's, it can often lead to more. The likes of James Ellsworth have taken enhancement matches and turned them into full-on contracts with WWE. The feedback and suggestions were aplenty, giving the future Big Swole another benefit outside of a payday and getting her face on WWE Raw. One suggestion got shot down by Vince McMahon himself.
"It was Road Dogg. Yes, ‘cause he kept going “Your name is Aerial Monroe?”, so he tried to get them to announcement as Aerial Sputnik Monroe.” I was like “Aw, man.” We almost got it through. Almost, until Vince heard it and was “No.” Like right before I came out he changed his mind. Road Dogg, Triple H, Steph[anie McMahon], Randy [Orton?]—all of them said my selling was really good. Finn liked how I moved around in the ring. It was really all positive. They just really loved that I was selling, and I have a unique style of selling," Swole said.
You'll often hear stories about people showing up for enhancement matches hours before they were needed. Swole didn't get in her own head about that, and thanks her military experience for that.
"Yeah, I didn’t do any of that," she said. "I showed up on time, like maybe ten minutes or so before. I firmly believe, when I was in the Air Force they taught me that window is like fifteen minutes. If you show up above, anything like twenty minutes beforehand, that’s just too early. But, you have that fifteen minute window where you can show up. But, don’t show up directly on time. If you’re early, you’re on time; if you’re on time, you’re late."
Things ended up working out pretty well for Swole, now a fixture in AEW's women's division.
You can check out previous editions of Enhancement Stories below!