WWE Superstar Top Dolla (AJ Francis) is getting candid about the disappointment and shame he felt when he was released from the company in 2021.

Hit Row is back doing their thing on the SmackDown brand, but it was not an easy road getting there. The group was swept up in WWE’s ‘cost cutting’ wave of releases last year and Top Dolla was hit especially hard when he found himself out of work.

During an appearance on the Fox Sports Out of Character podcast, Dolla told host Ryan Satin that he was caught completely off guard when he lost his dream job. When asked about his initial reaction, he recalled, “Disappointment. Shame.”

“I’ve worked to get to that point,” he said. “We had the fastest call-up ever in NXT history. To then be released a month later it was like, I felt.. I didn’t know that this would happen. I had no assurances that I’d be back in WWE again. So I felt like maybe the two years that I had spent in NXT, getting to that point was just a waste of my time, because I was gonna have to go do something else now. What ended up happening, which was a blessing, was the fact that, I always stayed in contact with Hunter.”

He recalls being “genuinely depressed” when his career came to a screeching halt.

“When we first got released, it was tough. I was genuinely depressed. I had spent my entire life looking for a chance to get an opportunity to be on SmackDown, to be on Raw. Then I got there and then a month later it got taken out from underneath me. So it was one of the worst experiences [and] times of my life.”

Luckily, hard work pays off. He, Ashante “Thee” Adonis and B-Fab were brought back to WWE as part of Triple H‘s initiative to re-hire a slew of talented performers.

Top Dolla has gotten himself in great physical shape over the past few months. He revealed on Twitter that he was 367 pounds when he re-signed with WWE less than 3 months ago. On November 9th, he weighed in at 303 pounds – the lightest he’s been since his junior year of college.

You can check out Top Dolla’s full interview below: