The arrival of FTR in AEW was highly anticipated for many months before it actually went down. The former WWE and NXT stars were clearly unhappy for a long time before finally being granted their WWE releases in April. The team had built a rivalry up with The Young Bucks over social media for several years, and an arrival in AEW meant that they could finally pay off that anticipated match. For their part, AEW leaned into that right away.
FTR currently finds themselves the AEW World Tag Team Champions, and The Young Bucks will have a chance to earn a shot at the titles when they compete in a big match this Wednesday night on AEW Dynamite.
Speaking recently on the official AEW podcast, FTR discussed their frustrations at WWE and how often they were asking for their releases.
"I think it's something we thought about for a very long time. In January 2019, that was the beginning of us asking for a release," Dax Harwood recalled. "We had asked to speak with Vince. TV is a very busy day, so we kept putting it off and putting it off. And finally, we had a match on RAW and we came back sweaty in our trunks, and we walked right through the curtain, right up to Vince and Hunter, and said, 'can we talk to you guys for five minutes?' Vince couldn't leave because he was producing a show.
"Hunter said, 'I'll be there in five minutes.' So we waited outside. He comes and talks to us, and we politely asked for our release. Initially, I think he felt we were bluffing. He said, 'yeah, OK, well, go talk to Mark Carano. We can get everything set up.' So we did that. The next day, we got a phone call that said it's not happening. So anyway, what I'm getting at is from January 2019, we had an idea of what we wanted to do.
"I would sit at my kitchen table, and I had my laptop and I would write up ideas for us and how we would-- at the time, there was no AEW. There were talks of it, but there was no AEW. But how we would transition from Monday Night RAW to either the indies or whatever was next, I had so many ideas."
The team talked about trademarking the name FTR before AEW was even a company.
"Before AEW was announced-- they announced it at midnight on January 1. We had already applied for the 'FTR' trademark because we knew that we weren't gonna be able to have The Revival," Cash Wheeler noted. "We knew we wouldn't be able to Dash, Dawson, and all that stuff, and we had talked about it. We had tons of five-hour car rides going from show to show. We were like, what do we do? Do we use FTR as the name if we ask for a release, because we weren't sure at this point.
"This was probably November-December . So we went out and buy all the trademarks because we decided that's the way to go, because we can have different acronyms for different things. And there's a lot of different ways we can run with that, and it's creative and gives us leeway. So we filed for that, and then AEW is announced. We're like, 'we're not getting out of here'. We asked anyway because we didn't know what we wanted to do.
"We just knew we wanted to go out and bet on ourselves, but as soon as we heard that was announced, we're like, 'oh yeah, they're not letting anybody go anytime soon'. We asked anyway, like I said, they initially said yes. Then there was a change of heart and it was another 15 months."
Harwood revealed that the team was asking for their release at least once per month.
"We were very persistent. We asked once a month maybe," Harwood revealed. "We tried to get producers and writers to fight us. I remember one time, I was going over this promo, and I had the mic, and we were cutting it for everyone to do a run-through or whatever. And Hunter's standing there, and Michael Hayes is there, and Johnny Ace is there.
"I'm surprised he wasn't on Vince, but he was actually there. So I'm standing there, I'm cutting my promo, and the promo they wrote for us and the angle that we were going into was so bad. And I finished, and I said, 'who in the f--k wrote this, Martin Scorsese?' And I put the mic down, and then we got called to the office with Bruce Prichard and Triple H."
FTR's frustration even carried over to catering and a member of the writing team.
"I remember sitting at catering one day with one of the guys who was going to be on TV that night. I won't say his name - one of our good friends," Wheeler recalled. "It was the two of us at this table. We're both eating, and the guy's to my right. The writer walks from my left, reaches over me and my food to shake the other guy's hand, and doesn't acknowledge me at all.
"I was already not in a great mood, and I just lost my s--t. I said, 'don't you ever reach over somebody in any setting, over their food, over them, ignore the fact they're even there, and have a conversation with somebody who's already in mid-conversation. You can come in and say, hey, sorry. Sorry! Carry on, but don't ever disrespect somebody like that because I'm not gonna put up with that s--t.' I was like, 'yep, I got to get out of here. I'm going to kill somebody soon.'"0comments
The team clearly seems more happy now with AEW and they are in the midst of some of the best work of their careers.
H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcript.