AJ Francis talks about hosting WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures and plans for him to host Raw Underground.
Before Top Dolla was on WWE NXT as a member of Hit Row, the WWE Universe at large was introduced to AJ Francis through WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures on A&E. AJ was the host of the series and presented as a relatable fan who would be just as excited about finding some of these "treasures" as anyone watching at home would be.
Recently, AJ confirmed that he is under contract to host multiple seasons of the show, and speaking to Sean Ross Sapp, He says he would be down to host the show again.
“I’m down. I’m 100% down,” he said. "It’s just people all the time tell me that, ‘Yeah, the show wouldn’t be the same without you. You were the thread for all the fans of the show.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, that was intentional.’ The director told me, ‘Yo, we’re telling this story through you.’”
Furthermore, AJ reveals that Edge pitched to have AJ host the brief concept of WWE Raw Underground, asking AJ to send him some promos to see if he would be a right fit
“Literally, the true story about that is, Edge calls me and he goes, ‘Send me some promos.’ I’m like, ‘Alright.’ ‘Cause I’d already sent Edge a bunch of promos and stuff that we’ve talked about and matches,” AJ revealed. “Edge is a really good guy and he’s always looking to help out. I call him Adam, but yeah. He calls and he’s like, ‘Send me some promos.’ I’m like, ‘Okay.’ I send him two / three promos and then he doesn’t get back to me until the next day. Mind you, I’m on the road doing Most Wanted Treasures at this point. So he’s like, ‘We were in a meeting with Vince and other people and they were talking about who’s going to host RAW Underground and I thought you’d be the perfect host for it. They were actually gonna run with you as the host, but you’re on the road doing Most Wanted Treasures and that’s gonna take up too much of your schedule to be able to come back and do RAW Underground.’
“So that’s when Shane comes out as the host and then, if you really know, you got Briana, who was on RAW Underground hosting for a little bit, too,” AJ continued. “That would have been a cool opportunity, too. But honestly, I was so ingratiated in what I was doing with Most Wanted Treasures.”
“I was hanging out with Undertaker and Booker T. and Ric Flair and Mick Foley. Every night after I filmed with Ric Flair, we went to a restaurant and bar, and took tequila shots and ate steak and drank wine. RAW Underground’s great, but…”
AJ also reveals that WWE wasn't high on him getting the role and it was an A&E production choice for him to be the host of the show.
“The funny thing is them is WWE, they didn’t actively stop me from getting the role, but they didn’t want me to get it,” he said. “That was an A&E and production team call. I made it to the final round of people. They asked me in March, ‘Hey, would you like to be a host of a TV show?’ I was like, ‘Uh, okay.’ I had an interview with one person on the show and then I had an interview with another person on the show and then I had an interview with Triple H and Stephanie and the director of the show. After the last meeting, WWE didn’t want me to host the show because I hadn’t been on TV yet. But the production team and the studio were like, ‘Nah, we want him. We don’t want anybody else, we want him.’ Clearly, it was a good call. If you watch the show, you can tell hosting and TV stuff; I’ve been doing that for years.”
In regards to whether or not he will continue to host the show, AJ says it's up to WWE and it's a wait-and-see issue. Overall, he would be open to hosting again but he understands if he gets replaced.
“They just announced that they’re doing season two. They’re probably not going to film until, I would think, later this year at the earliest. Last year when we did it, I found out that I got the gig in May and we started filming in July. I was the last person added to the crew that they already had set up,” he said. “We gotta wait and see. I have a contract. I’m under contract for multiple seasons. Now, do they have to care about the contract? No. They can go get somebody else. But I also think—I don’t mean this to be offensive, I’m just being real—anybody who watched the show can tell this, too, I’m hard to replace as a host. My little quips and ranting with Booker T in the car and rapping with him. There’s not a lot of people that can do that let alone actually have experience on set. I’ve done SuperBowl commercials, I’ve done TV shows. I’ve done a lot of different things.
“The worst part of all of this is that I actually loved the show. They might decide, ‘He’s not here no more. Let’s go in another direction.’ If they do, more power to them,” AJ continued. “I hope it works out for them. Like I said, I have no ill will. I understand how the business works. They can pay Hit Row 1.5 million dollars or they can pay Brock Lesnar 1.5 million dollars to do a show. I understand how business works. That’s why they’re unifying the title, because they’re getting rid of that huge roster. It’s what they’re doing. It’s business. I was in the NFL. I’m not offended by the business aspect of it. It’s just if you don’t want me to be a part of your business then that’s fine, too. But you lose everything that I bring to the table.”
Overall, AJ knows he wasn't the focus of the show and it was the legends but he is glad he was able to leave an impact on those that watched.
“So if that’s what you want then feel free,” said AJ. “Use somebody else, do another show. I’m sure no matter who does the show, people are still gonna watch. ‘Cause, it wasn’t about me, the reason people were watching. I feel like I was the reason people kept coming back. I’m not even on the poster. They didn’t watch the first episode for me. They watched it for Mick Foley. They didn’t watch episode two for me, they watched it for the Undertaker. But the more they spent time with me as the thread of the show, the more time that they were able to recognize what I was able to bring to the table.”
AJ also recalled the Andre the Giant episode of the series and being a victim of price gouging during an auction on the episode.
“Man, that one was crazy to me because people were like, ‘Awh.’ My biggest problem is we went to the middle of nowhere Iowa, it’s snowing, right? That whole thing was in Iowa, bro. It was snowing, it was cold, it was miserable, right? We went all the way there and he was like, ‘We’re gonna do an auction.’ Which we knew there was an auction, but even when he did the auction, they tried to set us up and price gouge us. The thing is people want to be mad at what I said, what Mark Henry said, but Big Show was the one that was like, ‘Nah, we're not gonna let him sucker us into paying more when we can get another one somewhere else.’ Which we ended up doing and because of that we ended up going to Andre’s farm. We’re not gonna let him do it,” he recalled.
“Here’s the thing that people pretend that didn’t ever happen,” he continued. “So then the other guy won the auction because we weren’t going to be price gouged. Sonny was like, ‘I’m not gonna honor that because I can get more from someone else.’ That’s the craziest part. People act like what I did was crazy, but Sonny had us all the way out there to do an auction and then somebody else won the auction and he was like, ‘Nah, I don’t want to give it to you because you didn’t spend what I wanted you to spend.’ The one thing I learned about Sonny is Sonny’s gonna make sure he get his and, hey, more power to you. I’m not even mad that he tried it. You just ain’t gonna hustle me. I’m from [Pioneer City]. This ain’t my first day out here, know what I’m saying?”
WWE has also ordered more episodes of A&E Biography as well as a new series, WWE Rivals in a continuation of the programming partnership between the two entities. Learn more about the continuation here.