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.
** Lince Dorado took part in a virtual signing that was put together by Captain’s Corner. He reflected on executing the ‘Shooting Star Press’ off the top of the Elimination Chamber structure in 2020. Dorado spoke about vaguely pitching the idea to Vince McMahon and when it came time to enter the match, the referee outside the cage had been trying to get Lince’s attention. Lince felt that if he answered, he was going to be told not to do the move. He did not respond to the official until he and Máscara Dorada f.k.a. Gran Metalik were released from their pod.
So, this match [Tag Team Elimination Chamber match in 2020] was obviously not for us but I told Metalik [Máscara Dorada], I said, ‘I need you to be incredible. More incredible than we’ve ever been. I want people to talk about this, I want them to have a reason to be like, why did they not push The Luchas?’ And everything like that. The night before or the week before, me and my girl had went to this trampoline park that had this trapeze. I always wanted to be in the circus, so I wanted to try the trapeze and I wanted to see what I can do and I wanted to see if I could do a swing with a Shooting Star Press into this foam pit, which I did. It was awesome, easy and I was like, ‘I wonder if I can do that, just not swinging, but at the Chamber?’ Because I saw Kalisto do it but I think that’s what he was trying to do but he couldn’t get the rotation. So he ended up just kind of splashing and even then, it was kind of — I think the cage was just a little bit smaller because the cage I had wrestled in was 26 feet high. Every pod was ten feet, every part of the cage was ten feet and then the park that I was at, because it was domed in, it was I think at the six to eight feet mark. But so, Metalik had the idea to give [John] Morrison the ‘rana off the pod, which I was like, ‘Yes, that’s awesome. That’s exactly what I needed’ because you know, again, I think we were the first team eliminated, which going in, we already knew it. We were trying to fight. You know, give us a chance kind of thing, but I was like all right. They’re not gonna give us our chance, we’re gonna take our chance then and then I remember I.R.S. [Mike Rotunda] was the producer, him and Jamie Noble and I had told — I was like, ‘I can tell this to Jamie Noble and he wouldn’t care. But if I tell this to I.R.S., if I can sell this idea to I.R.S. that this is gonna be safe, accurate and we can do this completely okay, then I know that this old-timer is gonna be… he’s gonna be okay with it.’ I told him and his eyes lit up. He goes like, ‘That sounds so dangerous’ and I was like, ‘But I’m telling you, I bet you I can do this.’ He goes, ‘Well, if you think so, let’s go talk to Vince about it’ and I go, ‘All right, let’s go.’ I was even saying, ‘You want me to go?’ And so, I think he was tired of telling me that to back me down and I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go.’ I sat right here, right next to him and I was like, ‘Hey look, we’re about to do something cool. We’re gonna get eliminated, Lince needs to show out. I know I can do this safely, I know I could do this without detriment of the company. It’s gonna be awesome’ and he looks at me and he goes, ‘You think you can do it?’ Put his hand out, shook his hand and then we got in the pod and I remember one of the refs, I don’t think he knew what I was thinking. I think he knew what I was thinking, but he didn’t know so I was kind of being vague with it.
So then I just remembered Danilo [Anfibio], one of the refs — awesome ref by the way — he was the ref by my pod and he goes, ‘They’re asking if you’re gonna flip’ and I think finally, somebody had gotten to Vince that, ‘He’s gonna flip once he gets to the top’ and this is before we even got out of the pod. So I’m hearing him but I’m pretending not to hear him. If I answer him, he’s gonna tell me not to do it. I was like, ‘I’m not gonna give him the opportunity to tell me not to do it.’ So then finally, the pod opens and I go, ‘Yes! I’m gonna do it’ and I ended up going into the match like right away. I didn’t give him an opportunity to say anything. But what messed me up, ten minutes before that spot, I went to go Spiderman on the cage and I slipped off, my foot hooked onto the cage and then my whole right ankle just turned up. So if it wasn’t for my boot, I wouldn’t be able to wrestle but my boot held everything together. It was like crazy. So I actually did that jump and landed on my boot and on my heel with an injury so, yeah.
Dorado was brought into the fold of WWE via the Cruiserweight Classic tournament. He shared that he was about to quit pro wrestling before WWE contacted him. At that point in time, Dorado felt content with what he had done in wrestling.
Everything, those are the best memories [WWE Cruiserweight Classic] of WWE honestly. I just remember everybody being hungry! Like the best. That was the time that I was still in from the indies, going into WWE but like, people were hungry, they wanted to wrestle, they wanted to have the best matches still and it was just like talent from all over the world, people I’ve never seen in my life too. You know, even live, people have never heard of or never seen live. But, to me, I had just tweeted this out yesterday, I said, ‘This is the best group of guys ever.’ That was the best group of talent I’ve ever had to share the ring with and I shared the ring with absolutely everybody in the Cruiserweight Classic in some capacity whether it was a singles or a tag match. It was where like — easy, fun, reminded me why I loved wrestling. It just was an incredible time. That was a time also too, I was about to quit wrestling. I was about to be. I told myself — I was twenty — I think I was 27 turning 28, but close to that 30 number. I was like, ‘You know what? If WWE hadn’t called me after I did Japan, Mexico, TNA, AAA,’ this and that, I was like, ‘I think I’m good’ and then I was making gear for Bayley and my phone rang and it was William Regal…
He went on to tell the story of being involved at Raw 25 at the Manhattan Center. Dorado and Mustafa Ali were brought to the venue from Monday Night Raw at the Barclays. There were two locker rooms and they entered the first, which turned out to be The Undertaker’s locker room. Dorado and Ali wrestled prior The Undertaker’s segment and before they went out to the ring, Undertaker told them to not go over time.
This is actually, okay, 25th Anniversary of Raw that they did the double taping from Manhattan Center and Barclays Center. Me and [Mustafa] Ali were at the Barclays Center, we didn’t have sh*t on the show and we get a text at the same time, ‘Hey, Triple H needs you at the Manhattan Center’ which was about, you know, about ten miles away but the New York traffic, what? About 45 minutes? So we’re like, ‘All right’ and then Ali looked at me and said, ‘Hey, did you get this text?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I wonder what it’s for.’ So we ended up going in because we don’t know what we’re doing. So there’s two locker rooms. There’s one right ahead that says ‘male locker room’, doesn’t say anything else. Just says ‘male locker room’ and then there’s one down the hall. But you know, my lazy ass was gonna do to the first one I see that’s available so I ended up going there with Ali. But we realize it’s kind of small. It’s like four seats and we’re like, ‘Okay, well it’s the Manhattan Center. Maybe they just have small locker rooms.’ But mind you, everybody’s looking at us as we’re turning the corner. I remember Revival [FTR] looking at us like, ‘Look at these motherf*ckers. What are they doing?’ And then all of a sudden, Road Dogg comes in, a camera crew comes in and then Undertaker comes in. We’re in The Undertaker’s locker room. So me and Ali are like, ‘Oh snap. Sorry sir.’ We get up, he’s like, ‘What? Do I stink? Sit down’ and I was just like well if Undertaker said sit down, I’m gonna sit my ass down. I ain’t gonna try and go nowhere else, and we sat there the whole night with The Undertaker. Me and Ali ended up wrestling for three minutes in between the break. So there was like a match, then they sent us out to razzle the crowd and then after our segment was The Undertaker’s segment and right before that, he goes, ‘Don’t go over time’ and I was just like, ‘Oh God, we gotta go.’
** Coming off WWE Elimination Chamber, Ronda Rousey went live on Facebook for another gaming stream. She was explaining why Judo was the most tasking on her body out of any sport she’s been a part of and within that, Rousey detailed her schedule with WWE for the next several weeks.
No, Judo’s definitely the hardest on my joints than MMA or pro wrestling. I was about ready to retire from Judo just because of how bad it was on my knees when I was like in my early 20s. But, what’s it called? — no, I was surprised. Even at the Royal Rumble, I wasn’t even breathing hard at the end of it and in the match the other day [in Saudi Arabia], I wasn’t even, yeah. I’m an athlete, you know? So I’m not talking about breathing hard. I wasn’t feeling like I was — I couldn’t catch my breath or something like that. So no, I feel great and I haven’t been that sore yet, but I got a bunch of live shows coming up. I’m doing SmackDown this Friday and then I’m doing a live show, I think there’s one in Rochester and one in like Ohio, right? I think like the actual SmackDown is in Pennsylvania. It’s something like Pennsylvania, Ohio, I’m gonna do three shows in a row. I don’t have a match on SmackDown but I’ll be doing a match the next two nights in — on the live shows and then the next week, after SmackDown, I’m doing two live shows. I’m doing M.S.G. in New York and then I’m going to Montreal. So, in the next two weeks, I’ll be having a bunch of matches. Ask me again then. I think it’s more of like the repetition of doing a bunch of matches in a row that’ll really get to you, start to be sore and the travel. Just constantly being able to sit upright but, we’re lucky enough where we actually get to travel on a bus so, I’ll be able to like lay down and not have to jump on a car or on a train after wrestling which helps.
** The group collectively known in WWE as Hit Row (Shane ‘Swerve’ Strickland, A.J. Francis, Briana Brandy & Tehuti Miles) are reuniting on 3/19 for Maryland Championship Wrestling. Strickland spoke about the group at length while doing a virtual signing for K & S WrestleFest. He stated that he would’ve been fine if he was the one to be released from WWE and Brandy, Francis and Miles could stay in the company and continue being Hit Row.
It was the case of just myself getting released and they [Briana Brandy, A.J. Francis & Tehuti Miles] were there, I’d still feel better about that because like, I know I can go anywhere and be pretty okay, build my own thing. I just felt bad for my team and I’m always gonna feel like that, you know what I mean? Because I was like — for Ashante [Tehuti Miles] the most because that’s all he ever wanted to be, a WWE wrestler. He went through a lot with his military life and he told that story on The Bump, the episode we were on. Talking about being bombed over there, overseas and getting shot at and getting concussions from bombs going off and going through true war time and getting that trauma. So all he ever wanted to do when he [came] back was push harder and be in the WWE so that’s where my heart went to, it was him primarily in our group, you know? But, if I could sacrifice myself being released for them to just stay there and do their thing, then I would.
He felt that Hit Row was not able to establish equity within the WWE system to show the level of ambition that they were showing. Swerve said that ambition can be taken as being disrespectful or not being patient when it comes to opportunities.
I feel like, say, and based off of what I’m seeing from the product now with like main roster and NXT, ambition can be misconstrued as a disrespectful thing. It can be [construed] as we are — we don’t wait our turn or we’re jumping pecking order or things like that. Well, we got this way because we all had ideas and we were hellbent on just — we were all focused on the same thing. We just had different ways of doing it, but that’s what made us move together, you know? What they want from their talent in their product now, they want guys with no shape. They wanna make their own, mold their own clay. They don’t want hand-delivered talent ready to go, unless you have guys that have been integrated in their systems for a long time in years, like Tommaso [Ciampa], Pete Dunne, a WALTER, Gunther, whoever. You know, they’ve been there for so long, they’re familiar with them and they’re comfortable with them. Adam Cole would’ve been one of those guys too if he had chose to stay, but they would’ve been — they have equity and they’ve been lasting long at the company. They have rapport with them. We’re [Hit Row] — a lot of these — I think I’m the longest-tenured person there in this group, so they trusted me but, for everybody else, they were still new. So us coming with ideas, ready to go, we wanted it, we wanted to jump out on TV, we wanted to do all these things. I felt like for them, it was just like, ‘No, we want — we want what…’ for them, I felt like they — we were already a made product. We didn’t need any more detailing. They wanted to detail and for them, I guess that was like a turnoff for them, so they just dispersed it because there was nothing more to detail with us. We’re already a finished product, you know? So the only way to like — you can’t do much more with a finished product but like… they wanted a Mustang, you know what I mean? Like no, we’re ready to drive, we’re ready to race now. It’s almost like — we had went to a product that already had New Day and Usos and stuff like that so you can’t have three starting quarterbacks in their mind. You know, you already have your franchise quarterback, but you also drafted — you have two backup quarterbacks that are like first-rounders. So it’s like, we gotta trade ‘em off to, you know, Tennessee. We can send them to another team that needs a quarterback because there’s already three starting quarterbacks there.
He was later asked about his run-ins with Vince McMahon. They did not get the chance to form a close relationship, but Swerve said McMahon was a fan of Hit Row’s work and gave them freedom. He also touched on how supportive Edge was.
Um, I had a couple of conversations with him [Vince McMahon], little discussions. I wouldn’t say we were close. We didn’t have time to get really close like that but, when we [Hit Row] first came up, he definitely was a fan of our work. It was like, he gave us a lot of freedom.
Out of everybody that I was close with there, I would say Terry Taylor and Shawn Michaels are my close friends, and Edge. Edge was like my guy. He gave me a big hug when we got drafted.
From 2014-2018, Swerve was a part of Lucha Underground. He said he misses the series all the time.
All the time, all the time [Swerve responded when asked if he misses Lucha Underground]. It’s definitely brought to the United States national TV broadcasting, a lot of big stars you see for the future that are killing it right now; WWE and AEW.
** Both Ace Romero and Larry D are no longer with IMPACT Wrestling after requesting their respective releases from the company. Ahead of competing in wXw’s 16 Carat Gold tournament, Romero was interviewed by Wrestling-Infos.de. He said he talked to Larry recently and wished him well going forward. Romero responded “never say never” to the idea of he and Larry teaming again.
I talked to Larry a few days ago. I kind of told him, ‘Hey, I’m happy for you. Whatever comes next, I hope it works out.’ He’s obviously very talented, very knowledgeable. He’s been in the wrestling business for quite a while and I’ve really enjoyed tagging with him, so never say never. We’re two motivated big guys who want to go out there and show the world what they’ve got!
When asked about his relationship with IMPACT, Romero is of the belief that it is good. He hopes that the door will always be open for him to return later down the line.
I would say it’s good and I don’t have a bad word to say about them. As I said, at the end of the day it’s about business and I understand that. The circumstances just happened and you can’t blame anyone. But I also hope that the door will always be open for me. You never know what may happen in the future and hopefully, one day we will find ourselves back together to do business.
** Chris Van Vliet pushed out his interview with Taya Valkyrie. She joined WWE in early 2021 and departed the company in November of that year. Taya expressed that due to the uncertainty of the brand’s direction and the releases, she and others were walking on eggshells.
100%, I think everybody was. I can only speak for myself, but I can say that the energy definitely shifted. We were hearing rumors all the time of, ‘They are going to be firing people this week.’ So then the whole week everyone is scared. But we are all there busting our asses. I ended up training with Steve Corino and the boys in the tag class. I loved training with MSK and Imperium. They are pushing me and making me do new stuff. Everything was good and everyone was working hard, but the shift of how they wanted NXT 2.0 to be literally changed from one day to the next. So I feel it made everyone feel like they are holding their breath.
During her time with the sports-entertainment company, she was known on-screen as ‘Franky Monet’. Taya tried to use her independent name in WWE but she could not because of the name ‘Valkyrie’ being used by NXT UK’s Aoife Valkyrie.
No, so everyone was calling me Taya at the PC [Performance Center] because they all know me. No one calls me by my real first name ever. Then they were like, ‘Hey, we are going to go through some names.’ And they give me a list and you can go through them and make suggestions. Man, I tried so hard to keep Taya. They didn’t want to keep Valkyrie because there is a Valkyrie that works for NXT UK. But with Taya I tried really, really hard. I’m sure that somewhere in a book there are some ridiculous names. So yeah, it just started the 2 week back and forth of going through with the names.
She spoke about the extensive background check that WWE does ahead of signing a talent to a deal. Taya stated that the process took several months and that includes medical work. She added that if there’s a skeleton out there about someone, WWE will find it.
It [John Morrison being in WWE] didn’t help me get my foot in the door but I do think that it helped me make the decision that I made to go there. Once he had left IMPACT, I was just like oh my God. We had been working together for several years for several different promotions, so the idea of us being able to be together again was a huge influence on my decision to sign with WWE. It’s a very long and stressful process, I don’t know if people know that, but it is a lengthy several months of paperwork and background checks, medical, all that stuff. This is all while you are trying to figure out, well am I going to get this job or not? Once everything happened, it was like we are doing this. That was a huge motivator for John and I to be together and working for the same company.
I have never had to do that before. In Lucha Underground, we had to do a lot of medical testing, which is for the TV network 100%. They run the TV show, so it’s like the liabilities and stuff like that. But that is the first time that I have gone through something like that on that level. If there’s a skeleton out there then they will find it.
** While speaking to WrestleTalk’s Sanchez Taylor, Shane ‘Swerve’ Strickland recalled Roman Reigns expressing to him how he understood how heavy it was for Hit Row to lose Briana Brandy (B-FAB) due to her release from WWE.
I wouldn’t say (I lost interest in) pursuing WWE, because I was always interested in being there, but as far as the act of Hit Row, it kind of lost all the soul to it. The heart was gone. You took the heart out of us. Without the heart, everything else kind of falls apart a little bit more. They also didn’t give us the direction or a good enough amount of time to find our next heartbeat and get in the rhythm with everything. So it kinda just was like, ‘Let’s just do what they want, and see how long we can go with this before they make their next decision and move,’ and we can only adapt from there.
And I remember Roman Reigns talking to me about that, he hit me up in the hallway, he was like, ‘Man I’m sorry about what happened, y’all losing the girl in your group man, that’s heavy.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah man, we just gotta find ways to adapt and overcome’. He’s like, ‘That’s all you can do really’. And it was a real short conversation, it was just like that.
** News.com.au caught up with NXT 2.0’s Xyon Quinn. He expressed that his main goal is to get to the main roster. Xyon said that’s where his focus and energy is and he’s hoping to get the call up soon.
I think my next main goal is to hit main roster. That’s where my focus is at, my energy is towards. Obviously being here for three years now, I’ve learned a lot more about the craft. At the moment, I’m just working on my craft, getting myself right and getting myself ready and hopefully I get that call up very soon. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster but I’m getting there. I’m still loving this, it’s still my passion. I’m real happy, glad I made this move. Hopefully I get back onto the screens soon and you guys will see me soon on the main roster.
** The written version of Fightful’s chat with Killer Kross is live and he told the site that there was an abundance of backstage footage that WWE filmed throughout the pandemic. He wonders if that footage will be used for a piece one day that could explain what exactly occurred during this time period.
It does feel really unusual [how things shifted in NXT]. Thinking back, there’s just so many things that weren’t adding up and making sense from just before Takeover to all the way on the way out. I still have a ton of friends that are there and there’s just so many question marks all over everything. If it’s ever going to come out, you know they’re just gonna do some two-hour program and just find a way to monetize all the weirdness. But there’s so much, man. I even think too, everything during the pandemic when we were filming at the beginning of it, there’s so much backstage footage.
I wish people could see how close we all got and banded together during such uncertain times. All that stuff was filmed. There’s gonna be programs about that one day for sure. There could be, of how we had to adapt in those times and how we were living and what people were going through emotionally and how they were feeling. Maybe it’s too early to do a program on that right now, but I do wonder if they’re ever just going to tell everybody what the f*ck actually happened. Because so many of us would actually really like to know, me being one of them. Like, what the f*ck happened?
** K & S WrestleFest hosted a virtual signing with ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton.
** The likes of Nunzio, Bull Dempsey and Gary Michael Cappetta are among those scheduled for IWF’s 25th Anniversary Show.
** Ice Ribbon’s Tsukasa Fujimoto was interviewed by Tokyo Sports.
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.