In January 2019, The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) asked for their WWE release as they were unhappy with the direction of the tag team division. The release didn’t come in 2019 as the duo remained on television, winning the tag team titles, forming an alliance with Randy Orton, and being made fun of by The Usos.
Their contracts were set to expire in 2020 and despite big money offers, all signs pointed to them leaving. But Vince McMahon had one more idea for the tag team before they were set to leave.
“We had been trying for a while to get a meeting with Vince ,but we knew it would be unlikely because the FOX transition and XFL were extremely hectic. He was busy,” Dash Wilder recalled on Talk Is Jericho. “Part of our negotiation was we wanted to talk to him and air our grievances face-to-face. We had never talked man-to-man-to-man to say ‘this is exactly why we don’t want to stay.’ It kept getting delayed and then we were told it might not happen. We were ringside, putting a match together, and [Mark] Carano texted us to say ‘meeting in Vince’s office. ASAP.’ We went straight to Vince’s office, he handed us these big foldouts, and the first page was us as we are now, you open it up and there were multiple versions of their vision for us. The pictures have leaked, they’re 100% legit, they were handed to us by Vince himself.”
On April 18, photos leaked showing Dawson & Wilder looking like a mash-up of Ninja Turtles, Flava Flav, and pirates.
This was Vince McMahon’s plan to repackage The Revival as a comedy team. New music. New gear. Smfh pic.twitter.com/BHPeg2IewZ
— Cassidy Haynes of Bodyslam.net (@Casshooole) April 18, 2020
The idea was to repackage them as a comedy team, a stark contrast from the serious “No Flips, Just Fists” persona they had been known for.
“Vince hands us these (photos), I’ll put my hand on the bible and tell you, I laughed out loud in front of everybody. It was me, [Dawson], Vince, Bruce Prichard, and Carano. They were all serious and started telling us why it would be a good idea. They talked about the Ucey Hot and back shaving stuff where we showed we can do more than be serious, straight-faced ass-kickers. We could show different sides and different levels of charisma, which we never got a chance to do, even though we asked a lot. We told them straight up, and I think this was when they realized we weren’t bluffing or trying to negotiate a higher number, we looked at them as said, ‘Here is the deal, these are not good. But we will do this until our contracts expire. We’ll do whatever you want. We’ll give 100% and have fun with it. But when our contracts expire, we’re not re-signing. There’s no way we’re staying past June.’ That was Friday at SmackDown. On Wednesday, we got a phone call saying we were pulled from everything,” said Wilder. “The numbers that have been reported contract-wise, $750,000 a year or whatever, it was higher than that. It was more than that for us to do the clown, Cat in the Hat, Flava Flav stuff. We said, ‘we’ll do this until our contracts expire, but we’re not re-signing for any amount of money unless it’s way up there.'”
Dawson added that he isn’t sure if Vince thought the gimmick was the greatest idea in the world or if his plan was to bury them on the way out.
Dash continued, explaining the idea behind the costumes and gimmick.
“When they first described it, it was ‘we’re doing this out of spite. Tag teams don’t get the respect they deserve and they have to be a comedy act to get TV time,’ which is true. Most tag teams who get TV time do comedy and if you’re more serious, you’re considered not charismatic. So it’s us taking the piss out of how we perceived the division being disrespected. It’s not terrible when it’s on paper. I don’t know how it would have been executed as the weeks roll on, but us doing (the angle) out of spite to be upset about how tag team wrestling is disrespected, I was okay with it. We could have had fun with it and probably made decent money. I don’t know if there’s a long shelf life or if we’d be above super-low card comedy.”
Dawson agreed that the gimmick had a short shelf life and wouldn’t elevate them or the division past the midcard, but knows that they were about to leave, decided to move forward with the gimmick and to have fun with it.
Sadly, fans never got to see the gimmick come to life on television as The Revival were pulled from the road, making their last television appearance on the February 7 episode of WWE SmackDown. They were released on April 10.
As far as the leaked photos go, Dawson believes it was someone in creative who sent the photos out.
“They got leaked out, and the craziest thing is, the boys are kayfabed more than anybody else in the company. I can tell you with 100% certainty; the boys aren’t the ones leaking out the information. Those photos had to have come from someone from creative who came up with that costume. When I saw those, we just laughed. We couldn’t believe for so many years; we watched as the boys got kayfabed from all this news and the people in the office were the ones leaking the information,” he said.
Wilder added, “That happens a bit where we find out on social media. We’ll be in the locker room and someone says, ‘Check this out’ and that’s how the news makes it to the locker room.”
The former Revival now go by FTR or The Revolt. Dash Wilder is now Cash Wheeler while Scott Dawson is Dax Harwood.
The duo remain free agents following their release.
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