Hit Row: What to Expect from The Faction on SmackDown

Hit Row Drafted SmackDown

In 2019, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, f.k.a. Shane Strickland of Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) and Major League Wrestling (MLW) fame, signed a contract with WWE, debuting via the NXT Breakout Tournament. After floating around for a while taking losses to the likes of Drew Gulak and El Hijo del Fantasma (now known as Santos Escobar), he found his footing as a cocky heel character. He turned on former NXT North American Champion Leon Ruff, kicking off a feud between the two. On May 4, Scott won a Falls Count Anywhere match against Ruff due to interference from Top Dolla, real name AJ Francis of the NFL who had singed with WWE in February of 2020. After the match, Ashante “Thee” Adonis and B-FAB would also join the two to form the stable Hit Row.

Scott had struck gold with the act and very soon found himself as the NXT North American Champion, his first championship in the company. He defeated Bronson Reed to win the title on June 29. Hit Row had quickly become one of the hottest acts in NXT, with them getting over mostly through vignettes and promos, being used sparingly in the ring. During the WWE Draft, there were selected by SmackDown, soon ending their time in NXT. So what are some of the things we can expect from Hit Row in the future?

Holding Gold: What Happens to “Swerve’s” NXT North American Championship and Their Future Aspirations

“Swerve” has yet to drop the championship, but one would not be remiss in assuming we could see him drop it to someone soon. There is a possibility of him bringing the championship with him or vacating it all together which could lead to a tournament to crown a new champion, which NXT has never been afraid to do before. With the roster switches locking into place on Oct. 22, there is still ample time for Scott to drop the belt to someone. NXT has recently had a big overhaul, not only with its set and its structure but has also seen the debuts of several new talents on the roster. There is no shortage of people one might see win the title off of “Swerve.” The most logical choice would be Santos Escobar, considering the two have already been feuding for the last couple of months and already have a built-in, organic story between the two of them.

It doesn’t have to be Escobar though. There’s plenty of talent on the roster now who could take the belt from Scott. Familiar faces such as LA Knight and Cameron Grimes could believably win the championship and are both popular enough to carry it into the future. For fresh faces, Odyssey Jones and Carmelo Hayes both made good showings against each other in the NXT Breakout Tournament this year, and have been fairly popular among the crowd since. Hayes has a title match promised to himself so this could be his chance to take it. Winning the championship could be a huge boost to either man’s stock.

Regardless, expect to see a new NXT North American Champion in NXT within the next month. On the subject of championships, it also wouldn’t be surprising if the group won the SmackDown Tag Team championships within the next six months if treated properly and consistently. The tag team divisions on both of WWE’s main television shows have been incredibly shallow for a long time, running the same matches seemingly every week and month. Hit Row could be a good injection of fresh blood into the division, whilst also providing fresh and exciting matches with other tag teams. The Usos and The New Day would both be wonderful opponents for Hit Row to not only have good matches with but learn from and grow to become a great tag team/faction in their own right.

How Will Hit Row Fare on the Main Roster?

It’s no secret among consumers of the WWE product that NXT call-ups usually only go one of two ways. For every success story like Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, and Street Profits, there’s an equally disappointing call-up like a Ricochet, Bobby Roode, or Vaudevillains (remember them?). There are many reasons why an act can succeed or fail on the main roster, some of which are the fault of the workers and some of which are the fault of the producers and writers of the shows, but either way, the point still stands. The only question now is which group will Hit Row fall into?

While it is true that there are many reasons to believe Hit Row will thrive on the main roster, there are also a good few as to why they may struggle a bit with it. Firstly, they have been called up very soon after their inception. The faction was only formed about four months ago as well as B-Fab and Top Dolla are both very recently trained pro’s and are still quite green in the ring. B-Fab’s no DQ match with Elektra Lopez, while not horrible, was proof of how much she still has to learn in the ring. No one is saying she needs to be AJ Styles in the ring, she’s incredibly charismatic and that should always be her main strength, but she still needs to find herself in the ring. Calling her up too early could end up harming her more than helping her.

Contrarily, Carmella was also called up very early in her in-ring career and has ended up being a mainstay on SmackDown for five years before getting drafted to RAW during the 2021 draft, even outlasting the original act she was part of with Enzo and Big Cass, so there is always the possibility of the young performer rising to the occasion. Still, it is always concerning when someone is called up to the main roster too early. It would be very disappointing to see another young competitor with the potential see their momentum cut off before it could even start.

There’s also the basic question of whether or not the writing team will know how to handle the act. True, they have shown success with similar characters acts such as The Usos. They’ve even had success with recent factions like The Bloodline and Hurt Business (though the latter was broken up for most of the year, a decision that still baffles all) but they’ve also been very flippant with call-ups in recent years.

Just last year, Keith Lee debuted in convincing fashion, defeating 14-time world champion Randy Orton in less than 15 minutes at Payback in 2020. It wasn’t long after though before Lee was eating losses again, and just a few months ago was suffering one-sided defeats to Bobby Lashley. It seemed that they had big plans for Lee, but soon changed their mind for some unknown reason or another, and ended up cutting his legs out from under him. Lee is currently being repackaged as Keith “Bearcat” Lee, so we shall see what comes of that in the future. He is just one example of many though.

Asuka, a character that is seemingly impossible to mess up, has been mishandled multiple times since being called up in late 2017 despite countless accolades. Her start was incredibly strong, with her winning the inaugural women’s Royal Rumble, but after her loss to Charlotte Flair at that year’s WrestleMania, breaking her two-plus year undefeated streak, it looked like they had forgotten to handle her. Hit Row may seem like a recipe for success, but a sure thing is never a sure thing in WWE.

In Conclusion: Hit Row Has All The Potential

Hit Row has been an incredibly entertaining act in NXT and there’s no reason to believe they can’t be as entertaining on the main roster. While there is always a need for concern, Hit Row is an act built off of charisma and personality, the two most important things one needs to do well on the main roster. If they can carry the momentum of their act onto SmackDown with them, it wouldn’t be at all shocking if within the next year they are holding championship gold of some sort. “Swerve” and B-Fab are the workers to watch out for. Scott is incredibly talented and experience in the ring as well as having a very unique look and talking skills to boot. B-Fab, while very green, is clearly all-in on her character and is trying her best to get over any way she can. Not that Top Dolla and Ashante Thee Adonis aren’t also talented or can’t also do well, but if ever a Hit Row breakup ends up being in the works, Scott and B-Fab will more than likely be the breakout stars.

More From LWOS Pro Wrestling

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can check out an almost unlimited array of WWE content on the WWE Network and Peacock.

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