AEW star Swerve Strickland was recently interviewed on Talk Is Jericho as he spoke about how Hit Row was promoted to the WWE main roster and what circumstances led to their release from the company.
You can check out some highlights from the podcast below:
Swerve Strickland on Hit Row being called up to WWE main roster and B-FAB’s WWE release: “For me, the first thing was when we did the draft. We were there in Baltimore, we did a dark match, and we had AJ [Francis] wrestle Cedric [Alexander]. But before that, we had like a two-minute promo live, all four of us. They just wanted to see how we interact and stuff like that. They didn’t even ask to hear it. They were like, ‘You’ve got two minutes, go do your thing.’ Very rare, for all four of us? “They had the match and everything, and Edge was one of the first people to greet us in the back. He said like, ‘We need this product, we need this on this brand. This is the great content that we need, it’s young, it’s hip.’ We were like, ‘Oh, cool.’ Then the following week, I forget what city we were in, but we flew out. We did another backstage promo with New Day, without Big E. Big E was on RAW with the WWE title. Then the week after that we were getting flight information, and then Briana [B-FAB] didn’t have any. We were like, ‘Wait, what’s going on?’ So, AJ called to make sure everything with the flight info was good. They said ‘No, everything is good. She’s not needed this week.’ Then on the flight, literally mid-flight coming down, your phone starts buzzing and everything. We see that she’s released along with a bunch of other releases and all that stuff. We were just like, ‘Oh, what?’ Especially as a female that can talk with the guys in the group. This is our Nicki Minaj right here. That kind of put a damper on a lot of things.”
On their the entire group being let go by the company: “AJ, apparently him calling and asking about flight information for Briana was like a no-no. So, we had a talk with Vince and Prichard and Laurinaitis in the hallway of the arena. It was like a little bit of a scold session. But, at the end, it turned into being like, ‘Don’t worry, we have a lot of fun stuff,’ and Vince starts laughing. Basically, just AJ, we wanted to travel together just making sure everybody was good. That’s like our sister, but it was mainly on AJ and stuff, and it was like, ‘No, you don’t do that,’ but it turned into a positive way of like, ‘This is what you’re going to do tonight, something with Sami Zayn. It’s going to be awesome, it’s going to be fun.’
“Then AJ did a social media rap thing, and it was deemed offensive. He used an Indian instrumental beat, and it was deemed offensive, and he didn’t get clearance for that. You know, the red tape you’ve got to go through to clear certain things you want to do individually on a social media platform. Jinder [Mahal] approved it, he thought it was funny, he thought it was great, and he was like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ But they didn’t get approval. Then we were getting travel for Survivor Series, then it went away. It got back that we were doing just SmackDown, and that was it. Then that went away, and we were doing SmackDown, RAW, and Survivor Series. Then, literally, an hour later we got calls from Laurinaitis saying we’re all let go. So, it was just really weird.”
On what he thinks led to their release: “They say it was just the heat within that. I guess there was contract negotiations with B that I don’t know about. I think everybody individually had different things they felt like, overall, there’s no point in having the whole group together if there’s going to be this person, this person, this person. So, they just throw the whole thing away. They were done with it.”