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AJ Francis Details How He Was Backstage At Recent Raw, Talks WWE Departure

March 20, 2024 | Posted by Andrew Ravens
WWE Smackdown Top Dolla AJ Francis Image Credit: WWE

On the latest episode of Strictly Business, AJ Francis was the guest host where he talked about his second WWE departure, being backstage at a recent Raw, and more. You can check out some highlights below:

On blazing his own path since his WWE departure: “It’s great, man. I’m doing what I always knew I could do. I intentionally have not changed my wrestling gear, I have not changed my entrance attire, I have not changed the way that I talk. I’m doing everything exactly how I was doing it at the three-letter company in the sky. And I’m doing that intentionally, because I want to prove that it could have worked if I had a chance. And the thing is, it’s like, on top of that, WWE doesn’t need me to get them exposure, right? Like WWE can call the NFL, or the Big 12, or Pat McAfee, or whoever else they want to get whatever exposure they want, whenever they want it. They’re the biggest one of the biggest brands in the world. But the thing is, is like, the level of access that I have to a lot of different things like Super Bowl media row, like the Pat McAfee show, like Scott Van Pelt show on ESPN, like my ability to be on ABC, NBC. Like when I hosted the Cheezeits Citrus Bowl, right? All of those things, other companies absolutely need that level of access. They need that level of exposure, they need someone to put their brand out there.

“So like, I was just at a charity basketball game in my hometown, where Gillie and Wallo, two of the biggest names in hip hop and one of the biggest podcasts in the world, the Million Dollars Worth of Game Podcast. They hosted the game, and Lou Young, crazy internet celebrity, was there. NDO Champ, crazy internet celebrity was there. The list goes on and on, people like Three Oh Black. People like funnysalesmen (Kenny Brooks). Some of the biggest names in the music industry, and on-internet personalities were all at the event. And we were able to give brand exposure to TNA because of that. And you know, like I said, TNA needs that level of exposure. NWA needs that level of exposure. MLW needs that level of exposure, GCW needs that level of exposure. CCW needs that level of exposure. I could go on and on. So when I bring my former NFL teammate and four-time Pro Bowler, whose jerseys are hanging right here behind me, Brent Grimes to CCW, an independent wrestling show, people think I’m crazy. They’re like, ‘How do you do that?’ When DJ Whoo Kid pulled up in a Lamborghini to GCW in Tampa, people were like, ‘Why is DJ Whoo Kid here?’ They’re there because of me, you see what I’m saying? So it’s like, I’m able to bring a different level of access and celebrity and ability to these companies that don’t really get it all the time. And because of that, that makes me that much more of a valuable asset. Like I said, WWE doesn’t need that. WWE doesn’t need me to get Snoop Dogg and Lil Uzi Vert to come to WrestleMania. Like they just don’t, right? That’s just a fact. That’s just a matter of fact. My being able to use my connections helps every other company in the world.”

On having more freedom to make outside appearances: “Yeah I mean, I never felt the need to stop doing any of them. There’s a reason why, as soon as I got released from WWE, you saw me everywhere doing everything. It’s because I’ve always had the ability to go on these shows and do these things. The only reason I haven’t done it is because I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers in WWE. Like, you have to ask for permission to do everything in WWE. I don’t need permission no more. Like if I want to do Big Noon Kickoff on FOX for the Maryland game, I just show up. I don’t have to ask one person who asked another person to get approval from another person, or for them to be like, ‘Oh, well no, we don’t want you to do that.’ And then now I can’t do a big opportunity because what? I am at the point now where wrestling is one of the many things that I do, right? And wrestling is something that I love doing. And I’m not going to stop wrestling anytime soon. Where I wrestle is determined by who cuts the check.”

On being backstage at a recent WWE Raw:“I was just backstage at Raw, literally on Monday [last week]. I was in town for Bun B’s Houston Rodeo. Bun B invited me to his show, so I pulled up because that’s my OG. And while I was at the rental car place, the guy who was giving me my car was a fan. And he said, ‘Yo Top Dolla, you coming back tonight?’ And I was like, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ He’s like ‘Raw’s in Houston.’ I was like, ‘What?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, Raw is Houston.’ So Raw just happened to be in Houston. I text Triple H. I say ‘Yo, I’m just trying to come backstage, see the guys, you know what I’m saying? It’s not that big a deal.’ Like, I’m not out here trying to, like, ‘Yo, bring me back right now.’ I’m not doing that, I’m just trying to see the guys, right? That’s all, all my friends, all the people I work with.

“And he set it up, you know, and was able to go backstage. And everybody that I saw from Paul Heyman to Jey Uso, to Triple H, to Road Dogg, to Becky Lynch, to Cody Rhodes, to Seth Rollins, to Tommaso Champa, Finn Balor, everybody. Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre. Everybody that saw me was nothing but love. It was nothing but, ‘I’m so happy for you, you’re killing it. Hope to see you back here soon.’ Paul Heyman came up and gave me a hug. He said, ‘My day has been made ain’t seeing that you’re here.’ So it’s like, I know that the people there that I worked with know how talented and good I am, and that I should still be there. But through no fault of my own, I’m not. And here’s the thing; that’s cool. Do your thing. WWE does not need me. It don’t need anybody? It’s a well-oiled machine. I’m one spoke on the wheel, the wheel gonna keep turning. Shout out to CM Punk, right? But like, that’s another example right there. CM Punk is back there too. So it’s like, you never know what the future holds. But what I know is that I’m not waiting around for that either.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Strictly Business with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.

article topics :

AJ Francis, RAW, WWE, Andrew Ravens