A.J. Francis (formerly known as Top Dolla in WWE) does not expect to see the former members of Hit Row reunite in AEW. One of the group’s members, Swerve Strickland, recently signed with the company. Francis is not surprised to see Strickland doing his own thing.
“I won’t say there’s no chance, but there’s not. I mean, they, Swerve is there because Swerve wanted to do his own thing, and more power to him,” Francis told Solowrestling. “Swerve was the last person added to Hit Row. Swerve was a singles wrestler for 10 years before he joined with Hit Row. So when Hit Row ended in WWE, he wanted to go back to being a singles wrestler and I had no issue with that because he got a family to support. He got a pig to support so, like, get your money.
“Like, always get your money, and he has a lot of friends at AEW that are willing to stand at the table for him at any given moment. So, like, use that. Use that. Take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you. Do I think that Hit Row will ever be there? Nah, I don’t. But that’s not, you know, I didn’t think that Hit Row would be released when we were released, so you never really know in this business. But at the end of the day, I’m happy for Swerve.”
A.J. Francis and the rest of Hit Row were released by WWE late last year, just weeks after the group was drafted from NXT to the main roster’s SmackDown brand. Francis reportedly had heat after his callup. He feels it was unfair for WWE to give up on the group so quickly.
“They didn’t give us a chance to, but they give other people plenty of chances to get over,” Francis said. “Like, you know, we only had I want to say three: New Day, Sami Zayn, Jinder Mahal, squash match, so we only had four segments total on the main roster. So, no, I don’t think that we were given a good chance to get over. But, you know, that’s their business call. That’s what they wanted to do. They give plenty of other people opportunities to get over.”
A.J. Francis signed with WWE in January 2020. He says he learned many things during his time in the company’s developmental system.
“One of the best things I learned in the Performance Center was that, like, I came from – like I said, I worked on the indies for a year, and on the indies, you’re just trying to have a good show,” Francis recalled. “You’re just trying to have a good match. You don’t really care, like, I’m a big dude. If everybody I wrestle is going to be small, a lot smaller than me, but I’m gonna bump for them on the indies because I want to have a good show and I want to do a good thing, you know? And I’m gonna go around and take more bumps than I should and sell more than I should because I’m just trying to put on a good show for the audience.
“But like, when I got to WWE, it really made me realize, like, ‘Bro, you don’t have to sell nothing for real. Like, you can sell, but like, you got to sell differently than if somebody your size hits you. You don’t have to bump literally at all.’ Like, in my entire WWE run, I bumped once and that wasn’t me doing the bumping, you know what I’m saying? So it’s like, I learned how to wrestle more a big man and less like an indie wrestler.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Solowrestling with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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