When the “OG3” of Hit Row made their triumphant return to the WWE Universe for a quick squash match on SmackDown, it garnered a pretty darn big pop. The fans assembled in the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, were very excited to see Top Dolla, Ashante “Thee” Adonis, and most importantly of all, B-Fab, the group's valet who was released two weeks before the rest of the faction last year and wasn't rumored to return, the online reaction was hot, and even the biggest critics had to surrender to the fact that it was a very good decision by Paul “Triple H” Levesque to bring the crew back together.

Certainly this was a night to remember for fans of the music-making maulers, but the night ended on a sour note for one former member of the team, as Swerve Strickland, known to the WWE Universe as Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, saw his congratulatory gif post turned into a breeding ground for online marks duking it out over whether or not his run in AEW cut the mustard.

Though Strickland did reply to the haters in a macro way, posting that he's “wasting away” over top of a picture of AEW's belt-holding champions, alas, the damage was done – folks wanted to debate whether or not Swerve would be better off back in WWE with a faction that wrestled exactly one match for roughly 2 minutes of bell-to-bell time, and they didn't particularly care what he thought about the matter.

And yet, the question did bring up a largely forgotten appearance Strickland made on the Talk is Jericho podcast where he was asked about his time in the WWE and gave some less than flattering comments about his relationship with Triple H, who would be his boss if he re-signed in 2022. Will this unearthed interview end the debate once and for all? Eh, probably not, but it is worth noting, especially in the context of the fact that Vince McMahon largely only elevated Hit Row to the main roster because he liked A.J. “Top Dolla” Francis as an athletic, charismatic big guy.

There's no guarantee Swerve would even return to WWE if offered a chance.

In professional wrestling, being on the booker's good side is vital to prolonged success. Sure, occasionally, a performer will be so good that they are able to succeed despite having a bad relationship with their former boss, like the Kayfabe relationship between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Vince McMahon or the real-life relationship between Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon, but for the most part, if a wrestler doesn't get along with a booker, said booker will simply stop booking them, as there are no shortage of wrestlers who are both extremely talented and more their speed.

Swerve Strickland, to his credit, tried to get on Paul Levesque's good side, but time after time, the man with the book never quite connected with the eventual leader of Hit Row. Here's what Strickland had to say on the matter on Talk is Jericho, as transcribed by Wrestling Inc.‘s Matthew Wilkinson.

“Three or four times in my tenure there, I had serious conversations with him. For me, it wasn't Triple H as much. Triple H felt like a boss to me, and that's no slight to him or nothing like that. He was the boss and I treated him like a boss, and he treated me like an employee. He enjoyed my work, what I contributed to the show, and my talents and stuff.”

“But I didn't have the warm fuzzy conversations like a Ciampa would have, like a Cole would have, like a Finn. Finn can show him stuff like his workout equipment at home and they'd laugh. I wasn't doing all that with Triple H. For me, I would kind of often be like, ‘I want to be one of your guys, one of your go-to guys,' I said that day one. He said, ‘For sure, I see you as one of those guys.'”

“He put me in a big marquee match in NXT, or World's Collide. It was our four-way in Houston, I kill it. I am like, ‘I want to be one of your guys,' I looked him in the eyes and said that to him. He's like, ‘You are one of my guys, what are you talking about?' I know when you're committed to somebody and when you're hesitant, why are you hesitant with me? I always asked him that straight up, I was like, ‘Don't hesitate with me because I am going to make you look stupid at the end when you hesitate.'”

Yeah, that doesn't exactly read with the same level of respect as what Bobby Fish afforded to his former booker.

Now granted, Swerve did point out that other members of the WWE front office appreciated what he brought to the table, with William Regal, Shawn Michaels, and even Levesque's wife, Stephanie McMahon, complementing his work, but in the end, it seems like Strickland was ready to leave WWE just as much as they wanted him gone, as he's since taken his talents all over the indie world, to every major American wrestling promotion save Impact, and most importantly of all, become a champion in AEW alongside Keith Lee. Call AEW the “Bush League” if you want, but Strickland doesn't seem to mind.