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The Triple H Era of WWE is off to a rousing start. In short order, the former WWE Champion has produced a critically acclaimed SummerSlam and brought back a handful of stars from his NXT Black & Gold Era. Vince McMahon’s son-in-law’s latest return came on last week’s Friday Night SmackDown when he brought tag-team/faction Hit Row back into the fold. The day after the surprise comeback, Hit Row member Top Dolla joined the Busted Open podcast to share the details of his call with Triple H, asking him, Ashante “Thee” Adonis, and B-Fab to come back.

The rise and fall of Hit Row 

Triple H, who brought Hit Row back to 'SmackDown' last week, pictured in 2019.
Triple H | Jerod Harris/Getty Images

In 2020, NXT wrestlers Top Dolla (former NFL player A.J. Francis) and Ashante “Thee” Adonis teamed up with manager B-Fab to form the hip-hop record label faction Hit Row. After the tag team of Dolla and Adonis debuted, the behind-the-scenes team at NXT added Swerve Strickland (fka Isaiah “Swerve” Scott) to the crew. 

With the full faction in place, Hit Row became one of the hottest groups in all NXT

The group’s rapid rise through the NXT ranks led to a call-up to the main WWE roster less than a year after their debut. However, joining the big show was the beginning of the end for Hit Row. 

Shortly after their first appearance on the main roster, WWE creative decided to release the team’s manager, B-Fab. On Busted Open, Top Dolla shared that he stood up for his stable-mate, saying she is an integral part of the team, and that wasn’t received well by WWE brass. Two weeks later, WWE released the rest of Hit Row. 

Top Dolla, Ashante “Thee” Adonis, and B-Fab returned to ‘SmackDown’ after their 2021 release from WWE


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After Hit Row’s release, the four members (mostly) went their separate ways. Swerve Strickland moved on to AEW and is not a member of the promotion’s Tag-Team Champions Swerve in Our Glory with “Limitless” Keith Lee. 

B-Fab went back to making music, and A.J. Francis and Tehuti Miles (Adonis) hit the independent wrestling scene as the tag team, The HitmakerZ. 

During this time, Francis kept in touch with Hunter Hearst Helmsley and sent him videos of The HitMakerZ in action to let the WWE exec know “that the band was still together.” 

When Triple H took over as Head of Creative for the company, the all-important call Francis was hoping for came. 

“Hunter knew what we were capable of from jump,” Francis told the Busted Open crew. “So then when he gets the reins, and he’s like, ‘Yeah, 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.”

Francis also shared exactly how that phone call with Triple H went down. 

“About a week and a half ago, he hit me up, and he was like, ‘Hey man, how’s the rest of the guys?’ I was like, we’re good man!'” Francis shared. “He was like, ‘Hey, how fast can I get you guys here?’ This was on Wednesday of last week, and I was like, ‘If you really want us, we can be there tomorrow.'”

Hit Row didn’t fly to Connecticut or Orlando the next day, but they did have a Zoom call with Triple H and did physicals and contracts shortly after that. 

Their return on SmackDown now brings the Triple H/NXT return count up to seven. So far, since Helmsley has taken over, released former NXT stars Dakota Kai, Karrion Kross and Scarlett BordeauxDexter Lumis, and the three members of Hit Row have come back in the fold. 

Now, the biggest question in WWE is, who will Triple H call next? 

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