In 2019, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott officially signed with WWE. Like many of the signees during this time, Scott – who went under the name of Shane Strickland on the indie scene – was a hot commodity before stepping into the company. However, following the announcement of his arrival, NXT didn’t really do anything of note with the former Lucha Underground star. Scott was mostly spinning his wheels in the developmental brand until he turned heel on Leon Ruff and then formed Hit Row. Finally, Scott was given something to do, and the NXT brand noticed the potential of Hit Row. The group consisted of Top Dolla, Ashante “Thee” Adonis, and B-Fab. The faction didn’t last too long in NXT, but Hit Row made an impact during their time in the brand. The group felt fresh, modern, and cool, which isn’t what many people describe as the WWE product.
The group was gaining steam and they were quickly drafted on the blue brand. Unfortunately, their debut was bad out of the gate. First, they were positioned as babyfaces. On one hand, it makes sense because the group was getting over with the fans in NXT, but more often than not, factions are best served as heels. The Shield, The Wyatt Family, The Four Horsemen, NWO, Evolution and their reign of terror: It’s not impossible to have a babyface faction, but history suggests that heel factions are certainly the best route. But it’s not just the fact that they were brought up as babyfaces, it’s that their roster debut had no purpose behind it. Hit Row could’ve worked as a babyface unit if they was a motivation for their time on Smackdown. Instead, they made the most generic debut that allowed them to shine a bit, but it ultimately didn’t make an impact. Nexus made the wrestling world take notice by storming Raw and destroying everything in sight. It’s still one of the most talked about debuts in modern wrestling, despite the fact that officials fumbled the group months later. The Shield interrupted a top championship match and laid waste to top stars John Cena and Ryback. Instantly, they put the world on notice and their motivation was to correct the injustice in WWE.
Exactly what was the purpose for Hit Row? To just be there? The faction wasn’t truly allowed to showcase their style and uniqueness that made them stand out. There wasn’t any sort of statement that made everyone take notice. They just arrived, worked a simple match, and left. It only got worse when B-Fab was released. It was bad enough that the company didn’t really do anything with the group onscreen, but they took away the only thing that made Hit Row standout. It’s rare that women are in male dominated factions, and B-Fab added something to the dynamic. Granted, B-Fab was a terrible wrestler. But this is on the company because they moved Hit Row from developmental way too fast. B-Fab wasn’t allowed to grow as a in-ring performer and the group wasn’t given time to shine in front of the national audiences. However, B-Fab didn’t have to be a wrestler, she could’ve easily been a valet. Or, the company could’ve been secretly training her behind the scenes. Once the group lost B-Fab, their identity went down to being a generic three man group.
We still didn’t understand their motivations on the main roster and Hit Row was just floating on Smackdown. There were reports surfacing that Vince McMahon only saw Top Dolla as the main event star. Scott – who was the original leader in NXT – had been delegated to tag team status with Adonis. No disrespect to Top Dolla, but Scott is the veteran of the group and should’ve been the leader heading the charge. But in truth, it doesn’t matter because Top Dolla wasn’t particularly doing anything special before the group was released out of nowhere. The company didn’t even give Hit Row a chance to prove themselves on the main roster. They were simply tossed out there without any plans and the booking told the fans everything they needed to know about the group. Hit Row just wasn’t important because Vince McMahon told audiences that they weren’t. It’s short sighted to bring up talents that you don’t have any plans for. WWE left a ton of money on the table because they didn’t know what to do with the group and got bored with them extremely quick. It doesn’t help that The New Day is on the same brand, so there personalities got to stand out more. Even though The New Day is beyond stale. Hit Row had all the potential in the world to be the next great faction in WWE. It’s just a shame Vince McMahon didn’t see that.