Former WCW and WWF star Mr. Hughes’s full-time in-ring days are behind him, but he is still working to leave his mark on the next generation of wrestlers.
“She’s [Kiera Hogan] a real talented young lady,” Hughes said. “I remember when she came to me and she wanted to be a wrestler and I had to pull her aside because she was a smaller girl and I had explained to her, ‘Look, if you wanna make it, you’re gonna do the things that I teach you,’ and that’s how I do with all my students but her in particular, she was a good looking young lady and I wanted her to make it. I told her that, ‘The things that I show you, you’re gonna have to get balls and do what I show you.’”
Hughes noted that regardless of her stature, he trained Kiera just like he would anyone else.
“Most of the time she trained with guys and I would tell the guys, you know, ‘Don’t treat her like toilet paper. Treat her like you would another guy so she can get the feel of how it is in that ring. Don’t treat her like a girl. I mean don’t disrespect her, touching things you ain’t supposed to touch’ but, they helped her out in a way because they treated her like she was a normal person, you understand?” Hughes said. “Even though she was a smaller young lady, she was tough and I told her, ‘To make it in this profession, you gotta be tough,’ and I believe she took it to heart and she worked hard and like I did with all my students.”
Training goes beyond hitting the ropes. Hughes mentioned that he takes all of his students “on the road” to show them what the real world of professional wrestling is like.
“Once I train you, I take you on the road, I show you the ropes of professional wrestling, everything from wrestling to doing business with promoters because promoters will try to screw you out of your money and if you’re not aware of it, then you’ll fall for the okie doke,” Hughes said. “Well with [Kiera], I took her on the road, I showed her the ropes, I did everything I [could] to help her and the end result is she got a gig.”
That gig ended up being Impact Wrestling. Kiera joined the promotion in the summer of 2017 and went on to have high-profile feuds with the likes of Tessa Blanchard and Su Yung, while also collecting herself a pair of Knockouts Tag Team Titles.
Recently, Kiera Hogan announced her departure from Impact Wrestling, which Hughes says he respects.
“She’s been with Impact for a minute and sometimes when it’s time to move on, some people want to move on and that’s what she did,” Hughes said. “She had enough of that and now she’s hoping to get to the next level which is AEW or WWE or whatever else is floating out there, but she’s still young and she still has a lot of miles left in the game of professional wrestling so, the sky’s the limit for her man.”
Decades prior to training Kiera, Hughes was an active competitor inside the squared circle. Hughes has been away from WWE for a couple of decades now, but he says he looks back at his time in the federation fondly.
“I got a lot of fond memories from WWF man. You know, Vince [McMahon] took care of me. He liked what I did, he liked the character,” Hughes said. “Vince likes athletes and as a big guy, what I was doing, he loved it, he saw something in me and gave me an opportunity and so when he gave me the opportunity to fight The Undertaker. He lined up all the stars of WWF, from Bret Hart to Macho Man [Randy Savage] to [‘Hacksaw’ Jim] Duggan, all of ‘em and they all had to get my hand raised because I was working my way towards The Undertaker and so they had to show that to get to The Undertaker, you gotta show that you’re a bad S.O.B. So that’s what Vince was trying to do and he did a damn good job at it because when he gave me the opportunity to go out there and fight The Undertaker, I didn’t believe it.”
One of Hughes’s more memorable runs came as Chris Jericho’s bodyguard for a brief spell. Hughes noted he appreciated being paired with the likes of Jericho, Triple H and beyond because they were always over.
“Every time I went to WWF — I was there three different times and each time they brought me in, they had me with somebody over. Either it was Triple H, Y2J or taking The Undertaker’s urn, I was always with somebody that was over,” Hughes said. “Each time Vince [McMahon] brought me in, I was always with somebody who was a star there, and that was the good thing about it because at first, when Millenium Man hit, I had sent WWF a package of this new character called Millenium Man, and instead of them using the Millennium Man, they put me with [Chris] Jericho and called him Y2J, which I didn’t mind because I had a gig. I had a contract, I was gonna make a whole bunch of money and so I didn’t care, you understand? The whole objective was money, period.”
As mentioned, Hughes spends most of his wrestling hours training the next generation, but he still mixes it up in the ring on occasion. Hughes notes he’s still about entertaining the fans, but the bumps are catching up to him.
“Well my body’s talking to me now so, you know, to say I get in there, I don’t do much,” Hughes said. “But I entertain the people the way they should entertained. Body-wise, I’m almost 60 so I can feel my body, you know what I mean?”