AJ Francis, also known as Top Dolla has broken down how Hit Row’s recent WWE return came about, revealing that Triple H promised a clean slate and a fresh start.
Ever since Triple H was appointed WWE’s Head of Creative the former World Champion has been busy reshaping the main roster.
Fans were given a sign of things to come as Dakota Kai returned to WWE at SummerSlam, and in the weeks since, the returns have kept on coming.
On the August 12th episode of SmackDown, Hit Row, the faction made up of Top Dolla, B-Fab and Ashante “Thee” Adonis made their return to the blue brand. The trio along with now-AEW star Swerve Strickland had starred in NXT for much of 2021 before being released just a month into their run on the main roster.
During an appearance on Busted Open Radio, Top Dolla broke down how the return came about, revealing that even after being released, he stayed in touch with Triple H.
“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. I sent him clips of the stuff we were doing. I sent him clips from GCW, ACW in Trinidad, and clips of me and [Ashante] working together as a tag team, letting him know the band was still together.
Swerve being added to Hit Row was a Hunter call. Hunter added Swerve to Hit Row because he already saw what we had been doing for a year and was like, ‘This is a good opportunity to debut a faction instead of a tag team with a manager.’ It was cool, it was a good idea, it clearly worked, but Hunter saw it when it was just the three of us. He knew what we were capable of from jump,”
Continuing on, the star said that the groundwork for the return was laid just a week and a half before they walked out on SmackDown.
“When he gets the reigns and is like, ‘I want to bring my guys back,’ we were one of his top priorities to get back because he knew what we could bring to the table. 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, modelling. [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,”
The former NFL star said that he would sing Triple H’s praises “to the high heavens” as there are any number of stars and acts he could have brought back, but he chose Hit Row.
“It was a really cool process because Hunter…there are a million people Hunter could run back. The list is hundreds of people long that are talented performers that were released in the last five years that are still young and able to do these things. A million people he could bring back, but he called us. That made me feel, not just special, but grateful. That’s why I will sing his praises to the high heavens.
Everyone in the world thinks they know who I am. Everyone in the world thinks I’m hard to work with. People who never worked with me had one conversation with me and felt they could talk down to me like I’m not a 30-year-old man. I told them about themselves and then they get in their buddy’s ears like I’m hard to work with. In actuality, I’m not hard to work with, I’m hard to fool. You can’t tell me something you’re not going to stand on. That’s how I was raised.”
At the time of his release it was reported that Top Dolla had rubbed some people up the wrong way, while it has since been said that he was a “heat magnet.” Despite these reports, the star explained that Triple H offered him a clean slate, making a point of saying that he didn’t care what had gone on before.
“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 release, 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,”
The former NXT star added that it was SummerSlam which sparked his interest in wrestling again, reiterating his thanks to The Game.
“I told Triple H ‘thank you,’ it’s probably the only word he thinks I know, because I told him ‘thank you’ like six times yesterday. ‘Thank you so much.’ He knows the real me. He did Most Wanted Treasures with me. He saw me in a non-wrestling sense. He saw me not with ‘the boys in the locker room’ sense. He’s seen me and knows how I really am as a person. He knows that all that talk about me being hard to work with and being difficult is bullshit. He was willing to put himself and his neck on the line to be like, ‘these guys are talented. I want them back,'”
On SmackDown Top Dolla and Ashante “Thee” Adonis made short work of Brendon Scott and Trevor Irvin, before being joined by B-Fab to put the blue brand’s tag team division on notice.
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.