Top Dolla reveals how Hit Row’s return to WWE came about

“I never stopped talking to Hunter,” says returning talent, hailing “clean slate”.

Photo Courtesy: WWE

Top Dolla has given a detailed interview discussing how last night’s return to SmackDown for the Hit Row faction came together.

Speaking on Busted Open Radio, the returning star said that he had never stopped communicating with Paul Levesque after he was released in November 2021, along with Ashante ‘Thee’ Adonis, B-Fab, and Swerve Strickland (then known as Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott).

Strickland is now signed to AEW, where he and Keith Lee hold the AEW World Tag Team Championships.

Top Dolla, real name AJ Francis, said (transcription courtesy of Fightful):

Even when Hunter was not in NXT, even when we went up to SmackDown, even when we got released, I never stopped talking to Hunter. We had talked a lot already about hopefully working together in the future.  

He added that Swerve was not originally envisaged as part of Hit Row, saying that Levesque had made the addition in order to create a faction rather than a tag team with a manager. “It clearly worked,” he said, “but Hunter saw it when it was just the three of us.”

Turning to contact being made by Levesque with the group to assess interest in a return, Top Dolla continued:

About a week and a half ago, he hit me up and was like, ‘How are the rest of the guys?’ ‘We’re good.’ None of us wasted time this whole time. I was on tour, I did shows in New Orleans and LA for music, wrestled at GCW, MCW, ACW. [B-Fab] lives in Columbia, so she was doing her thing down there, modeling. [Ashante] was doing acting stuff in Atlanta and LA, model stuff. We never stopped training and being ready. 

He was like, ‘How fast can I act and get you guys here?’ This was on Wednesday of last week. ‘If you really want us, we can be there tomorrow.’ We ended up having a Zoom call with him, the three of us, and planned out what would happen the next couple of days.  

This week, we got physicals and contracts. I don’t know how the story broke that I was going to be there, but I knew it wasn’t somebody with all the information because they didn’t know [B-Fab] was going to be there, which we played into. When Me and [Ashante] came through the curtain, you thought it was just going to be us, and we had [B-Fab] come through last. ‘Yeah, she’s here too.’ She’s an important part of the group.

During the interview, Top Dolla also refuted claims that he had been hard to work with, saying: “I’m not hard to work with; I’m hard to fool.”

He also said that the group was returning with no hard feelings although he admitted his dejection when they were released:

In the conversation I had with Triple H, he was like, ‘I don’t know what happened before, and to be honest, I don’t care. It’s a new place. I want you to understand that you have a clean slate. There are no hard feelings on this side, I hope you come with no hard feelings on your side.’ It was a breath of fresh air. 

I was down when we got released. Hit Row was hotter than anything in wrestling. Period. I don’t care who you are, get your feelings hurt if you want. When we got released, I feel we had something great and it turned into ashes in my hand. It made me stop watching wrestling for the first time in my life. I went eight months without watching wrestling.

About Neal Flanagan 61 Articles
Based in Northern Ireland, former newspaper journalist and copy editor Neal Flanagan is a lifelong pro wrestling fan, Trekkie, and somewhat of a self-confessed nerd.