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AJ Francis talks using his NFL background to help his pro wrestling career in TNA

Ash Rose
AJ Francis talks using his NFL background to help his pro wrestling career in TNADAZN
Former WWE superstar made his debut for TNA in January.

New TNA star AJ Francis has revealed what he's taken from his career in the NFL to help him as a professional wrestler.  

Francis was on the books of several major NFL teams after playing college football for Maryland, including the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and the Washington Redskins, before making the switch to pro wrestling in 2020, when he joined WWE's Performance Center. 

As part of the stable Hit Row alongside Swerve Strickland, Francis was known as Top Dolla but was twice released by WWE and found opportunities restricted in the company. Now in TNA after making his debut at January's Hard to Kill, Francis spoke about what qualities from his NFL days he's managed to transition to working in a wrestling ring. 

"I think the biggest thing I brought for the NFL and football is toughness," Francis said in an exclusive interview with DAZN

"The reason I say that is because I'm not going to take twenty bumps in a match, but I'm going to take at least one really big bump every match. Often, I'll take a powerbomb through a table or a moonsault, or one really big moment, and people are like, 'How do you do that?' but that's like one really big play in football. I'll play eighty snaps in a football game.

"I'm in control of every match that I'm in because I'm so big; you're not going to be able to do anything to me unless I let you. I get to control what I do and what I take, and I'm willing to do crazy stuff, too, because I know it's only going to be one thing.

"The showmanship part of it, I was just born like that. There are showmen in the NFL, but the only time you get to be a showman is after a play. So, seventy plays you're not a showman, you're a grunt, you're a gladiator. If you're lucky, you'll get ten plays to show off a little bit.

The other thing that I've used in wrestling is that I'm not afraid to play in front of a big crowd. When I was in the NFL I played in Dallas Stadium in front of 100,000 people, so I was used to having to perform in front of a big crowd and you only get one shot at it. In wrestling you mess up, you mess up. In football, if you mess up, nothing might happen, or they might go score a touchdown, and everyone knows it's your fault - so that's your one shot." 


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