AJ Francis Weighs In On Former Hit Row Stablemates' Time In WWE

AJ Francis has moved on from WWE following his second release from the company, most notably appearing for GCW, TNA, and his latest stop in MLW. Still, his time as part of Hit Row, a faction he originally founded, is something he looks upon fondly, and even though he isn't in WWE anymore, he's uniquely proud of all of his former fellow stablemates.


Speaking exclusively with Wrestling Inc. last week ahead of an appearance at MLW Intimidation Games (an event that did quite well), the former Top Dolla put over all of his Hit Row mates while also lamenting the lack of opportunity for the group — and for himself — to do more in their time together under the WWE umbrella.

"I'm proud B-Fab is finally getting to show what she can do in the ring," Francis said, alluding to her recent affiliation with Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits, as well as her showing in the Last Chance Battle Royal ahead of WWE Elimination Chamber on "Raw." "I'm proud that [Ashante 'Thee' Adonis] is getting an opportunity to actually be on TV and show what he's capable of," he added, referencing Adonis' alignment with Cedric Alexander in backstage vignettes amid an apparent push for him as well. 


As for Swerve Strickland, formerly known as Isaiah "Swerve" Scott, Francis' praise was slightly more specific. "For Swerve, [he's] been doing his own thing for a couple of years now. Hopefully, he gets the opportunity to win the world title, but you never know in this business," he said.

Still something to prove

No matter how things shake out for AJ Francis or for any of his former allies, the group itself will always be something he holds close to his heart.

"The cool thing is that, for me, Hit Row was my brainchild from my first run on the indies before I got to WWE where it was called The Row," Francis explained. "And it was cool because it completely changed Swerve's character," he noted specifically, hinting at a reconnection for Strickland to his hip-hop roots. "It gave us opportunities to be on TV."


After being moved to "SmackDown" as part of the 2021 WWE Draft, however, things didn't plan out quite as anyone had foreseen. With the COVID-19 pandemic in full force, all four members were released within a shade over a month, and though they were brought back — save for Strickland, who went to AEW — the faction's blueprint never came to fruition.

"Obviously, we went to 'SmackDown' and [everything] changed but I'm grateful that an idea that I created was good enough that it wasn't really changed at all," Francis said. 

The hands-off approach to an independent concept doesn't always happen in WWE, historically, and while Francis is proud of that, he doesn't understand the lack of opportunity the group got, especially from a speaking perspective.


"I was on 'NXT' for four months," he detailed. "I was on 'SmackDown' for almost two years, and I had more promos on 'NXT' than 'SmackDown.' The Hit Row logo has a microphone in the middle of it and we never got it. Me not getting a microphone for more than 15 seconds in two years is a travesty of justice. And I say it all the time, I'm the best promo in this business. If anybody thinks that I'm not, feel free to tell me I'm wrong."