POST NEWS UPDATE: AJ Francis originally wanted a group in NXT with Lio Rush & Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott

Top Dolla on the initial members of Hit Row he wanted, Anthony Greene reflects on NXT run, Darby Allin/Sammy Guevara, Bruce Prichard and more

Photo Courtesy: WWE

If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.

** Xavier Woods welcomed A.J. Francis a.k.a. Top Dolla onto the UpUpDownDown channel for a new edition of Superstar Savepoint. Francis is currently a member of Hit Row in NXT alongside Ashante Thee Adonis, B-FAB and North American Champion Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott. Francis shared that originally, he had the idea of Hit Row being himself, ‘Swerve’ Scott and Lio Rush.

I came to NXT and originally, I wanted to do the crew with [Isaiah] Swerve [Scott] and Lio Rush. Lio got released, Swerve was doing like a mad scientist gimmick so I was like, ‘Ah, maybe I should focus on myself.’ Lo and behold, Ryan Katz, one of the creative guys says, ‘Briana raps and Tehuti’s a good worker. Y’all should work together.’ So then the three of us started working and for a year, we were doing backstage promos and vignettes and having tag team matches and all types of stuff and then in the process, I get the WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures gig to host the TV show.

Two days after the show debuts, Hunter comes up to me and Swerve and says, ‘Hey, would you have a problem with Swerve being part of the crew?’ And I was like, ‘Nah, that’s great. Swerve raps’ and he don’t know that in my mind, Swerve was gonna be it in when I first got here anyway, you know what I’m saying? So I’m like yeah, this is great. So then lo and behold, he’s already doing the storyline with Leon Ruff which ends up with me catching him off the ladder and giving him my finisher off the barricade and the rest is history.

** K & S WrestleFest brought Anthony Greene, the former ‘August Grey’ in for a virtual signing. Greene shared that the original name he selected for his WWE run was ‘Ash Gibson’. The name was approved but it was later discovered that there is an MMA fighter named ‘Ashley Gibson’ who uses the first name ‘Ash’.

My first name that was chosen was Ash Gibson, was gonna be my name. I chose it, Ash Gibson. I wanted to keep the ‘A.G.’ because my gear says A.G., I feel like I’ve branded myself as A.G. for the last like seven years or eight years at that point. So I wanted to try and keep that as much as possible. It was cleared and then it was not cleared by legal because there’s an MMA fighter in England named Ashley Gibson and he goes by Ash Gibson. So they didn’t want two people in the same combat sports with the name Ash Gibson. It can get confusing for fans if they Google me. So the second best option I thought was August Grey.

Greene had several ideas laid out for the name ‘Ash Gibson’ such as a name for a finishing move and what he planned to call his fans.

I’ll be honest, I had so many ideas [for the name Ash Gibson]. My fans were gonna be my Ash-holes. My finish was gonna be called ‘Kiss My Ash.’ I had it all in my head. I was like, ‘Oh wait, yeah.’ But I’ve always been pretty creative in that sense so once I was like, ‘Oh, it’s August Grey, cool. August all year around. Hot August nights. My finish could be called The Grey Area — Grey Zone’. I wanted to do a Val Venis-like character, like kind of like — not Val Venis as in full-on porn star but almost like a Miami Vice, and I wanted to, ‘Tonight, you’re gonna see Grey’s Anatomy.’ Like stupid sh*t like that-that I thought was really funny.

As he dove more into his WWE run, Greene shared the advice he received from William Regal about not walking around with his hands in his pockets. Here’s what Greene was told by Regal:

I was walking around after the show and I had my hands in my pockets. I’m just walking and William Regal goes, ‘Excuse me.’ I usually call him Mr. Regal out of respect for what he’s done. He goes, ‘Can I talk to you for a minute?’ I go, ‘Of course.’ I thought he was like gonna give me feedback from the match that he forgot to say earlier and he said, ‘Never walk with your hands in your pockets’ and I’m like, ‘Okay,’ I took them out right away. He goes, ‘What if you tripped? How are you gonna protect yourself?’ ‘I’d probably smash my nose.’ He goes, ‘Yeah. If you think like that here, you’ll think like that in the ring and you’ll always be able to protect yourself.’ So like I took that and even in the training ring, they don’t want you leaning on the ropes ever. It’s like always be ready so I was always either hands in front of me, hands behind me and I was always ready to do something. Just at all times, protect yourself and be ready for whatever.

In late June, Greene was released from WWE. He spoke highly of the coaches at the Performance Center and what he was able to take from the likes of Brian Kendrick, Terry Taylor and Ace Steel.

So my coaches while I was there: My first coach was Scotty 2 Hotty, then I went to Sonjay Dutt and Brian Kendrick’s class and then at the end of my time I had Ace Steel as my coach who is best known for training CM Punk and Colt Cabana and he had a great indie run on his own as well. On show days, William Regal watches absolutely everything. He’ll be the first person to tell you that something was not good and how to make it better. All of his feedback was always like a good critique in a way to help you make it better. It wasn’t just, ‘That sucked.’ ‘How can I make it better?’ Always very precise with his feedback. Terry Taylor, genuinely like one of the best minds. He thinks in such an old school-fashion but he’s able to mold it into a way that it works in 2021. He’s a guy that had to produce X Division matches in TNA in like 2007 and ‘8 so he knows what the Elix Skipper, AJ Styles, Alex Shelleys of the world want to do and he’s gonna make it crisp for what the professional wrestling, I guess, psychology should be. Those were the biggest.

** AEW’s Darby Allin, Sammy Guevara and Tay Conti were a part of a panel at Terrifcon. Darby was asked to recall his first time meeting Sting and it was an hour prior to Sting’s All Elite Wrestling debut.

Allin: For Sting, it was cool because I didn’t meet him until pretty much, you know, an hour or two before he went out there and he didn’t know much of me at the time but he just knew my promo videos and the one I showed him was me running my friend over with a car, so he was like, ‘I’m gonna be in good hands with this guy.’ He was cool, he’s open to anything. He’s a real great dude.

Sammy Guevara mentioned AEW’s Double Or Nothing 2021 show where he and The Inner Circle took on The Pinnacle in a Stadium Stampede match. Guevara has previously stated that he wanted to jump off the stadium and he added that he also wanted to jump out of the helicopter but that was not approved.

Guevara: At Double Or Nothing, the Stadium Stampede, I tried to jump off the stadium again and I also tried to jump out of a helicopter. They kiboshed everything unfortunately so I think Darby [Allin’s] beating me right now but, we’ll see what I do next [as far as high-risk moves].

Sammy was signed to AEW in early 2019. Darby recalled watching the Double Or Nothing 2019 press conference and he jokingly questioned how Sammy was able to get a deal.

Allin: I remember watching that press conference and I wasn’t even hired yet and I was so pissed off just watching it and like seeing him [Sammy Guevara] get announced and I was like, ‘What?’ We came up on the indies together and I saw him and I was like, ‘That guy? When am I gonna get a contract?’

Darby shut down the rumor of him being in the new Jackass film. He said there was no way for him to be involved because the contracts for the film had already been signed.

Allin: It’s not true though, stop clapping. It’s not true. No, I was hanging out with Steve-O and people thought I was actually gonna be in the movie and then I said yo, by the time anything could have happened, the contracts were already done so I can’t like legally do it. So like, that’s the thing.

** There’s an interview with Fuego Del Sol on the World Class Pro Wrestling YouTube channel. Fuego has become a regular on AEW programming and he was recently added to the Nightmare Family. Fuego said he thought his run with AEW was over following their show in Jacksonville before getting back on the road.

Three weeks ago, I thought I was done. I guess it’s almost four weeks ago now at this point I think. I thought that was it. I thought, ‘Jacksonville’s over. I had a fun run at AEW, this is it for me. I’m going home.’ We did a whole big goodbye Vlog.

As far as Fuego not being signed exclusively to AEW goes, he feels it’s just as simple as Tony Khan not being completely sold on him yet.

Oh man, it really comes down to — it kind of is [that cut-and-dried]. It comes down to one man. He’s not completely sold on me yet so…

He added that his goal is to end up being signed by AEW, but if WWE were to make him an offer, that’s something he’d have to consider.

Also, I feel like the goals of people have changed man. A lot of wrestlers now coming up don’t wanna go — right now, I’m a free agent, I’m unsigned so if WWE offered me something, I’d have to take that into consideration but, the goal right now is to get signed by AEW. It’s not to go get signed by WWE.

** Bruce Prichard and Conrad Thompson hosted a ‘Ask Me Anything’ for the latest Something to Wrestle with podcast. When asked to select who should induct the ‘Brother Love’ character into the WWE Hall Of Fame, Bruce named The Undertaker, Gerald Brisco or Vince McMahon and if he was still alive, the late Bobby Heenan.

Well I think that probably Undertaker or Jerry Brisco just from a personal side of things and/or Vince [McMahon]… and again, that would never happen [Brother Love’s WWE Hall Of Fame induction] so, back in the day, if he was still alive, I would’ve — Bobby Heenan would’ve been the perfect guy. Just because of how close we were and how much he helped me with that character and how much we did on-camera as well.

There was a pitch from Bruce Prichard that included himself as an on-screen character that was shot down. He threw the idea out there of him appearing on TV as himself and ‘breaking the fourth wall’ by reaching out to Mark Calaway as he portrayed The Undertaker character.

I actually pitched to do Bruce [Prichard on-screen] at one point when we were looking to bring The Undertaker back and to dye my hair like a dark, auburn red kind of and not be Brother Love, but just to basically be Bruce and to break that fourth wall and talk to Mark [Calaway]. That didn’t go over very well and didn’t get beyond the pitch.

One celebrity that WWE wanted to bring in was legendary football coach and analyst John Madden. Bruce shared that the company tried multiple times to bring Madden in to commentate a WrestleMania.

John Madden. John Madden was the Moby Dick, man. He was the big whale that we couldn’t just land and John doesn’t fly so anywhere that John went, John would have to go by bus and inevitably, whenever we would have WrestleMania, we would always contact John and say, ‘Hey, we’re a year out. Here’s where we’re gonna be. Are you gonna be anywhere near there that you could get there by bus?’ And John would look at his schedule or say, ‘Hey, I gotta get closer to it’ and it just never worked out. John did some things with us remotely. We would go to him. We had Bobby Heenan, as he put as the manager of his all-Madden team, the first manager ever put on the all-Madden team. I became friendly with John. He was a great guy, but it just never worked out. He was the one that we always wanted to do color commentary, bring in for WrestleMania and have Madden do commentary on a WrestleMania and unfortunately, it never worked out.

The topic of conversation turned over to the late Andrew Martin, also known as ‘Test’. Prichard says WWE did have very high hopes for Martin and that’s why he was pushed at a young age, despite there being a bit of resentment from some of his colleagues.

I think that we looked at Test with high hopes of being a main event guy. I think that probably the thing that hurt Test in some ways at the very beginning was Vince Russo making the comparison to him and Kevin. ‘He’s gonna be the next Kevin Nash bro. Look at him’ and I think to Shawn [Michaels] and everybody, it was like, ‘He’s no Kevin Nash.’ But Test was young and at that time, Test came in very young with very little experience and I think somebody asked him, ‘Hey man, how many matches have you had?’ And he like counted, I think he had like 21 matches. ‘This f*cking guy’s had 21 matches and he’s in the main event on Raw?’ But I do think in some ways that was good. Just sometimes man, you gotta get new talent out there and go. He had a great look, had some charisma, natural charisma. But we did have high hopes for Test early on.

** Revolution Pro Wrestling announced NJPW’s Yota Tsuji for their 9/4 show. Tsuji is going on excursion.

** The most recent guest on Highspots Wrestling Network’s Virtual Gimmick Table was Fuego Del Sol. He spoke about the crowd reactions he receives and the amount of fanfare he has garnered.

Oh man, to say that it’s everything I ever dreamt of would be an understatement. The fans, the connection I have with my fans right now, it’s still surreal. It’s almost like an out of body experience dude. To sit there and to hear it and like to know this is what you’ve worked all your career for, to see it, I can’t put it into words, you know? There’s no — it’s just overwhelming and I love it so much so, as long as they’re with me and they’re riding with me, there’s nobody that can tell me sh*t. That’s what I do.

** Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated caught up with William Regal to get his thoughts about the passing of Bobby Eaton.

** During the most recent Grilling JR podcast, Jim Ross heaped praise onto the SmackDown commentary team of Pat McAfee and Michael Cole. J.R. feels that Cole’s work is being credited more because of how good a partner Pat is.

It seems to me that Michael Cole’s work is being acknowledged more readily now than it has here before and I give a lot credit of that to Pat McAfee, because they blend well. McAfee’s a great, you know, partner and I think that’s helped Michael kind of be a little bit more free and loose and spontaneous. So I’m glad he’s getting recognized because he had a — without sounding horrible, he had big shoes to fill there. [Jerry] Lawler and I were considered one of the best teams ever and we were there for a long, long time. We were there through the hottest period in wrestling and so they’ve been dealing him cards off the bottom of the deck for a long time and I had never had any animosity towards Michael. I never enjoyed the angles that we did together because I thought it was a waste of television time, comedy. That’s all it was. How can you take it seriously? It’s f*cking comedy man and the whole thing was built around that kind of stuff. I mean seeing two announcers, I thought — when I’m standing out there going over the match, I thought, ‘My God, what are we doing?’ So, but anyway, he’s done a good job. I think McAfee’s helped him a lot, giving him some of his confidence or they got better rhythm.

While speaking about his days as a part of WWE’s Talent Relations department, Jim Ross recalled Edge and Christian’s initial WWE contracts being for $210 per week.

I’m a big Edge fan. You know, I signed Edge and Jay Reso a.k.a. Christian and I don’t know how it worked out this way, the talents and I have laughed about it, the fact that, you know, their contract was $210 a week. I have no idea how they got $210. That was me doing it. I don’t remember why it was $210. The talent’s gotta win occasionally in a negotiation, it says ‘$210 a week,’ it’s what it is. I don’t remember the discussion about it.

** Damian Priest went live on Instagram with WWE India and shared some of the challenges that he was curious about upon his arrival to Raw from NXT. Priest said the thought of not being liked, people being negative towards him and how his boss[es] would perceive him were all concerns of his.

You know, the main challenge was just the unknown. Going into a world where you don’t know what’s happening and I keep comparing it to a new school, the new kid at school where you don’t know how people are gonna look at you. You don’t know if they’re gonna be negative, you don’t know if they’re gonna dislike you just because you’re the new kid. You don’t know how your bosses are gonna perceive you. Like maybe you rub them the wrong way right off the bat and they don’t wanna work with you or you know, you just don’t know. There’s a lot of unknowns and that was the main issue for me as far as in my head. Besides that, I’m in control of what I do and that’s all I can focus on, what I can control. I can’t control anything else backstage so to speak and how people like me or they don’t or anything else. You know, obviously as a human being, you don’t wanna be disliked and I try to do everything the right way and be cool with everybody and so far, so good. Everybody’s been awesome since the moment I stepped foot into the WWE locker room, legends and everybody alike have always been super supportive and that’s been great. It’s been best case scenario for me but yeah, that was the biggest challenge was just adapting to a new locker room, surrounding myself with new people whether it’s the production crew and so on so that was the thing.

** Bleacher Report caught up with Raw Women’s Champion Nikki A.S.H. She reflected on her run in NXT and said her Last Woman Standing match with Asuka is the match that she’s most proud of from her career thus far.

I love looking back on the last five years, and I was incredibly fortunate to be involved in these awesome stories in NXT. The Last Woman Standing match with Asuka is the match I’m most proud of in my career, so I’m so fortunate to be a part of what I was a part of in NXT. It’s been incredible for both [me and Bianca], and I’m so over the moon for Bianca as SmackDown women’s champion. I think everything happens for a reason, so when I look back at the last five-and-a-half years, everything has prepared me for this moment. I’m ready to represent the company in this way, and I’m honored and privileged to hold this Raw Women’s Championship.

** While speaking to Digital Spy, QT Marshall told the site that he lied to Shaquille O’Neal about putting a crash pad underneath the table for O’Neal’s match on AEW Dynamite with Jade Cargill, Red Velvet and Cody Rhodes.

He said something about maybe going through some tables and I told him, ‘Oh it won’t be that bad, we’ll put a really thick pad underneath,’ which was not true. I just didn’t want him to back out of it. So it was a lot of fun, as soon as he came in the back, right away, he said, ‘You lied to me! There was no pad under there!’ That’s wrestling, welcome to wrestling.

Elsewhere during the conversation, QT was asked if the original idea was for him to get a singles match with Cody Rhodes at Double Or Nothing. QT feels that Tony Khan always had the idea of Anthony Ogogo versus Cody in his head. He then provided a brief update on Ogogo and stated that he’s still recuperating after undergoing another eye surgery.

I’m pretty sure, in Tony [Khan’s] mind, it was always Anthony. He brings a lot to the table, former Olympian, foreign, great looking, very charismatic, a tremendous, tremendous story to his life and to how he’s gotten to where he’s gotten. So I think that was always the plan. They had their match at Double Or Nothing and that was his first like real match. He did excellent. Right now he’s recuperating. We didn’t really go into too much detail with it but after one of the matches Billy Gunn ended up slamming his head into a guardrail, he ended up getting hurt, so he’s still recuperating and obviously when he comes back, he’ll still be the same force he was when he left.

** Aramis joined the All Real Wrestling Podcast and stated that he does have interest in joining a WWE or AEW but he’s happy with the position he’s in now which is competing for the likes of AAA, MLW and various independent promotions.

Right now, I’m very happy to be part of AAA and now, pretty soon I am going to be wrestling for MLW. I think that it’s goal by goal and as I told you, I want to be in the big companies and I’m sure that I’m going to be there because that’s my dream and I’m going to give everything of me to be there and well, I like to say that all is possible, but you need to believe that it is possible. You need to believe in you. It’s very difficult to accomplish a big goal if you don’t believe, so I believe in me, I believe in what I’m doing, what I’m going to do next and I’m sure that in the future, I will be able to say that I could do it.

** Lucha Libre Online conducted an interview with Ariya Daivari. The segment with himself and Shawn Daivari from WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble event was discussed and Ariya further reflected on the segment. He and his brother walked out in front of the crowd in Saudi Arabia with the Iranian flag which drew an abundance of negative reactions because of the storied history between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Obviously the performance I was in that night [Greatest Royal Rumble] wasn’t the most popular thing, I gotta admit and it was one of those things where you kind of learn from those mistakes, you know? People always like to push the envelope a little bit too much. As talent, I still felt kind of new at the time. I was only about a year-and-a-half in. I wasn’t really trying to say no. We didn’t know the extent of how big this Saudi Arabia stuff was, but we were told it’s a very big deal so as a new talent, I’m not gonna be saying, ‘I’m not gonna do this. I’m not gonna do that.’ I just kind of did what I was always told to do by my promoter, by the guy who is paying you. So we went out there and did it and unfortunately it did not go over well so, that’s why I put out an apology because I didn’t wanna offend anybody. I never meant to disrespect anybody in Iran, I never meant to disrespect anybody in Saudi Arabia so, it kind of took on a life of its own but that’s why I felt the need to, ‘Let me just put out this apology, try to smooth things over’ and yeah, it’s one of those things that it was [an] unfortunate situation. I think it was a bad call to do that, that particular angle but, you know they say WWE’s entertainment. They’re just trying to have these shock and awe moments and that was definitely one of ‘em.

** Episode 268 of Being The Elite:

** New Japan Pro-Wrestling uploaded Jon Moxley and Shota Umino’s match from Dominion 2019 to their YouTube channel.

** ‘Next Pittsburgh’ has a feature story on Lady Frost and her being announced for NWA EmPower.

** WWE Champion Bobby Lashley is going to the next guest on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions.

** Lincoln News Now published a story about the World League Wrestling promotion that was formerly ran by Harley Race. The promotion is now ran by Leland Race, Harley’s son. Voice actor Jim Fishback was present for WLW’s re-opening and was interviewed for the article. He recently did voice over work for WWE’s NXT brand and mentioned that he was paid very well to lend his voice to their product.

They send me a script. I spend a few minutes looking at it – and I make more money in a few minutes than I make all day working other gigs.

** Tim Storm and former WWE talent Michael Tarver will be present at Heritage Wrestling’s show in Vicksburg, Mississippi on August 14th.

** NJPW1972.com has a Q&A up with Satoshi Kojima.

** NXT’s Jessi Kamea was a guest on Teasy’s Table.

** A new episode of ‘Green With Envy’ is up on Chelsea Green’s podcast feed.

** Alexa Bliss turned 30 on 8/9.

** Ring of Honor’s Quinn McKay spoke to WrestleZone.

If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.

About Andrew Thompson 2248 Articles
A Maryland native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.