Hit Row made their WWE main roster debut on the Oct. 22, 2021 episode of SmackDown. One week later (on Oct. 29), the entire group appeared on TV again in a backstage segment with New Day. B-Fab (Briana Brandy) was then released on Nov. 4, so she wasn’t around for Hit Row’s next television appearance dealing with Sami Zayn on Nov. 5. The rest of the group was fired on Nov. 18, three days before Survivor Series.
During an interview on Chris Jericho’s Talk is Jericho podcast, Swerve Strickland discussed the timeline leading to Hit Row’s bizarre WWE release. Things seemed promising after their first couple weeks on television, particularly with Edge telling them that WWE really needed a cool young act like Hit Row. But then B-Fab was left out of WWE’s travel plans for the Nov. 5 episode of SmackDown, and things got weird when Top Dolla (AJ Francis) called WWE to ask about it:
Here is Swerve’s account of what happened, courtesy of Wrestling Inc’s transcription:
“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.”
“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 [McMahon], and [Bruce] Prichard, and [John] 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 [planned for their angle with Sami Zayn]’ and Vince starts laughing.”
Chris Jericho followed up by asking what they were specifically scolded for. Swerve said they had heat for Top Dolla’s phone call about B-Fab’s travel situation:
“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.’”
Swerve said there was also heat for Top Dolla’s controversial rap on Jinder Mahal:
“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.’”
Swerve and the rest of Hit Row were then fired by WWE days before Survivor Series, but the group did have travel plans for the show at one point:
“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 just throw the whole thing away, they were done with it.”
It’s completely understandable why the members of Hit Row were confused by WWE’s decision to leave B-Fab out of travel plans for the Nov. 5 episode of SmackDown. She was an integral member of the group, so naturally the rest of the group will have some questions when a strange decision like that is made for no apparent reason.
If Swerve’s account is accurate, then WWE management looks incompetent, short-sighted, and/or petty. They should know a decision like that will need an explanation to go along with it. And if the explanation is, “We are going to fire her,” and they don’t want to say that, then punishing the rest of the group for the turmoil WWE itself caused is ridiculous.
What do you make of Strickland’s timeline of Hit Row’s release from WWE, Cagesiders?