I recently spoke with Wildkat Sports CEO and independent wrestler Luke Hawx. In part one of the interview, Hawx discussed starting Wildkat, his feud with Matt Hardy, Hardy's run in WWE, Randy Orton's comments about independent wrestling and his big event in Philadelphia this Saturday featuring Hawx, Stevie Richards, Homicide and many others. You can purchase tickets for the show at WildKatWrestling.com.
When you started WildKat, what drew you to that, from being a Wrestler to running behind the scenes of running the entire show?
"Well, when I came up. I am from New Orleans, Louisiana. The Wrestling in the South was really popular. I grew up in the WWF era; so I grew up watching Hogan, Warrior and the Macho Man, because Mid-South kind of faded out when I was old enough to get into it, but I had to move for Wrestling. I had to travel around and chase my dream. There was nothing here; nothing remotely close to this area that had anything to offer this area. I knew how big it was back in the day, so my goal was to build it back up here. For anyone that wanted to learn to Wrestle, I didn't want them to move to Philadelphia, move to Florida. I knew that I had the qualifications to start a Wrestling school because I am highly qualified to teach something. Unfortunately, in Pro Wrestling, anyone can claim that they can train someone to be a Pro Wrestler. There's really no pre-qualifications to teach someone. To be a Professional Football Player, you have to look at their track record and see where they played, but Pro Wrestling, you can just go, I bought a Wrestling ring and I'm a Pro Wrestler so there's really no pre-qualifications. I really wanted to make sure the qualifications were there in order for me to start a Pro Wrestling school. I hate that there are 'turds' out there that have barely done anything and want to start training other people. They too haven't been properly trained, so I wanted to make sure that I had the right skills to teach."
You had a memorable feud a few years ago with Matt Hardy.
"That was one thing that really put me on the map. That feud with Matt really blew me up social media wise and put a lot of eyes on me. Even though I had been around a long time, there weren't that many people who had heard of me during that time, so when I started feuding with Matt that put me in the mainstream spotlight and took our feud all across the U.S. People in Mexico wanted to book us, Canada, England, Matt was so busy, we really couldn't go to other places, but we were able to take it to other places and sold out every place and were always the main event, so it was really good to get to that level."
That was before he did the Broken thing. How was it working with Matt Hardy?
"Phenomenal. Hell of an athlete. Hell of a Worker. He can fight back with you. When I am in the ring I fight at full-steam ahead. I am one of those guys that doesn't like to be outworked, I like to work hard with everybody I am in the ring with. I am very prideful in how hard I work, so Matt, even with the age and the injuries and all that he has been through, still gives you 110% every time, which was great for me because it inspires me as a guy who is a little bit younger and hasn't had that travel schedule, the 300 day a year schedule, the guy was always on the road so long with so many Ladder Matches, but keeps going, and it makes me want to step my game up more because I wanted to out work him."
What was your thought on the whole 'Broken' Gimmick?
"I love it. I love it. I think anytime you can stay relevant for so long and reinvent yourself, obviously you are doing something right. It is not an easy job to do. It's hard to get one character over for a certain period of time, let alone two. Look at certain people today who is a generic Wrestler who just can't get over. They might be a great Wrestler, and may be able to Wrestler their butt off, they can't get over for some reason. Anything you can do to reinvent yourself and stay relevant and new and fresh, to get it over is awesome."
What are your thoughts on Impact not being able to keep that gimmick?
"You know, I don't know too much about it so I can't really comment about it. I don't have cable so I don't get a chance to watch it as much. I try to keep up as much as I can, but I'm never home. When I leave in the morning I am out doing stuff with Wildcat, meetings, filming, the gym, I live in the gym, so I try to keep up with everything online. There's so much Wrestling, which is great for the Wrestling fans; there's so much Wrestling to try to keep up with that it is almost impossible nowadays. There's WWE and their 10 different shows; you have Impact, you have Ring of Honor, New Japan. You have all these tons of Indys that are putting out great Wrestling so it's a perfect time to be a Wrestling fan because you can have anything you want."
I did want to ask you about Randy Orton's comments [about independent wrestling] where people have been up in a bind about it. Did you see those?
"I did and I loved it. I'm one of those guys that is a big believer in psychology and I am a big believer in selling a product in Wrestling. To each his own, everyone has their own opinions. When I started out, I was one of those flippy guys who trained, but was not fundamentally sound, but can do some cool stuff, and I wanted to advance my career and started to look at things and asked myself what it was I was missing, what it was I needed to improve, so not only work on my Wrestling but my body as well. Randy Orton has a point because I had to see guys go out there for 20 minutes and just do gymnastics and then they hug after. It's like, there's no storytelling. I want them to go out there and I want to see why you are mad at this guy; not every match has to be that because I love the English style and I love the Lucha style Wrestling, but there's a place and time for everything. I think the gymnastics part of it is somewhat overdone. I felt that way with Death Match Wrestling as well. Remember a few years ago, about 7-8 years ago DeathMatches had really peaked with XPW, CZW, so DeathMatches were really hot, they were just doing some really stupid stuff, but they were drawing big crowds. Now days they are doing even stupider stuff, but only drawing like 200-300 people and are killing themselves in front of like 300 people."
Tell us about your debut in Philly on June 10th.
"Yeah, we have a huge show in Philly on June 10th, taking a huge risk going out of our area to put on a show. We have put a show on before in San Diego, border towns of Mexico and Mississippi, some of those shows were bought shows or co-promoted, but we have never broken out and performed our own shows, so I figure, if you are going to go out and market it in the area, we need to do it in an area with a lot of history and the majority of my Wrestling history, a lot has happened in Philadelphia. Me and Matt Hardy sold out The Arena in a Cage Match in 2013 because The Arena was closed for a few years, so I figured that if we were going to branch out we were going to do it in Philadelphia."
You have some big names booked for the show.
"Scott Hall, Blue Meanie and all the Wild Kat guys like J Spade, Matt Lancie, Danny Flamingo, so many guys, ZZ from Tough Enough is out training with us now at WildKat, so he's part of the Mobilehome Mob. We have a lot of really good talented guys that haven't been part of the East Coast Market. Some of the guys have Wrestled for MCW the night before our show on June 9th, so we have a good relationship with them. I want them to gain that experience working on the East Coast and I want the fans of the East Coast to see how talented the guys down South are. They are used to seeing some of the same ol' thing, month after month, year after year. So it's all about expanding. If you are not going to take a risk, you'll never expand, right?"
Make sure to check back later this week for the second and final part of the interview, where Hawx talks working with WWE, his fight scene with The Rock in The Fate of the Furious, interacting with The Rock off-camera and more. You can purchase tickets for this Saturday's big Wild Kat Wrestling event at WildKatWrestling.com.