Swerve Strickland Details Hit Row’s WWE Release, Being ‘Scolded’ By Vince McMahon

11 months ago by Connel Rumsey

Swerve Strickland Details Hit Row’s WWE Release, Being ‘Scolded’ By Vince McMahon WWE

Before Swerve Strickland was competing for AEW, he was a member of the ‘Hit Row’ group as Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott in NXT and very briefly SmackDown before the group’s release back in November.

Swerve recently made an appearance on Talk Is Jericho, where he detailed the group’s rather brief run on the WWE main roster. He spoke about their first main roster opportunity, a two minute unscripted promo in Baltimore prior to Top Dolla (AJ Francis) facing Cedric Alexander.

He explained:

“For me, the first thing was when we did the draft. We were there in Baltimore, we did a dark match, we had AJ wrestle Cedric. 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, ‘oh no, you’ve got two minutes, go do your thing.’ Very rare, for all four of us.”

Swerve continued on, noting that WWE Hall of Famer Edge greeted them after their promo, saying that they are needed on the show, before detailing the story of finding out about B-Fab’s (Briana Brandy) release.

He explained:

“They had the match and everything, Edge was one of the first people to greet us in the back. 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 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 dampener on a lot of things.”

Swerve continued, recalling how AJ Francis checking in on Briana’s flight information led to the group being scolded by Vince McMahon.

He said:

“AJ, apparently him calling and asking about flight information for Briana was like a no no, and stuff. So, we had a talk with Vince, and Prichard, and Laurinaitis like 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, ‘oh, 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.’”

When Hit Row was released, many fans pointed to a rap video that AJ Francis (Top Dolla) made about Jinder Mahal and Shanky as one of the potential reasons for their departure.

Swerve spoke about Francis’ rap, saying:

“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 approved it, he thought it was funny, he thought it was great, 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.”

“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.”

Strickland was recently defeated by Darby Allin in a men’s Owen Hart Cup Tournament qualifying match on AEW Rampage. You can see a full list of all win/loss records for the AEW men’s roster at this link.

transcription via WrestlingInc

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