Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler of FTR were on a recent episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast where they discussed how they now reflect on their time in WWE. Harwood talked about the first time they asked for their release, and said that from that point, they were thinking about what they would do after WWE.
"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," 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."
Wheeler added that they had already trademarked "FTR" before AEW was ever announced. He said they believed it would be a versatile name they could use if WWE released them. However, they continued to ask for their release, noting that they were never granted them until earlier this year.
"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," 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.
It was reported that FTR requested their release in January of this year, but Harwood revealed that they were asking once a month for their release. He also admitted that they had tried to start fights with producers and writers, telling a story about calling out a writer for a bad promo he had to read.
"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."
Wheeler also told a story about a writer that brushed him off to speak to another person he was talking to backstage. He admitted that he knew he had to leave at that point.
"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.'"
FTR debuted on the May 27 episode of Dynamite to the surprise of numerous wrestling fans around the world. There was a lot of speculation that they would be in AEW, and Wheeler discussed how they kept their debut a secret.
"For us, I think it was fairly easy because there wasn't any leaks in the office putting something out there every time there was a disagreement, or contract offer turned down, or something along those lines, because we can be as tightly as we need to be, especially when it's something that's gonna effect us," Wheeler said. "There's nothing in it for us to spoil our own surprise."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.