Interviewing WWE Inc.’s very talented and extremely funny Ron (R-Truth) Killings is, quite frankly, unlike anything a journalist can prepare for.
I now know this as fact.
You see, I spent the better part of three days preparing to chat with the man ahead of WWE’s appearance next week, March 2, in Cornwall as part of the Road to WrestleMania tour.
Also keep in mind, I’ve been on the phone with, or in the presence of, the likes of Mick Foley, Jeff Hardy, Sean (X-Pac) Waltman, Billy Gunn, Ric Flair and countless other characters over the years.
Much as I did for those interviews, I produced a long list of questions, researched the man and sat, tape recorder in hand, awaiting his call.
When it came, we chatted about everything from his children to Ron Simmons to his pick in the WrestleMania main event between The Rock and John Cena.
Like I said, I was prepared.
I was not, however, prepared for Little Jimmy to enter the equation.
Little Jimmy is R-Truth’s invisible arch-rival and his greatest confidant.
Truth, pun intended, be told, it wasn’t until I finished the interview and listened to the tape that I came to fully appreciate what had happened. Or how amazingly awesome the interview was.
Consider: my opening question addressed where R-Truth, who recently turned 40, is at this point in his long career. Is he at peace?
“I’ve got more control, and I know who this character is, you know,” he offered, before completely turning me on my ear with this: “And by the way, Little Jimmy told me to tell you what’s up.”
I returned Little Jimmy’s greeting, at this point thinking Killings was merely referencing Jimmy to get a chuckle out of me.
Killings, a former musician, turned to pro wrestling in the mid-1990s at the behest of Jackie Crockett of the National Wrestling Alliance.
He joined WWE Inc. in 1999, and by 2000 was working alongside Road Dogg Jesse James where he blended his two loves, music and wrestling.
He later worked singles before being released in 2002.
For the next six years, he worked for other promotions, including becoming NWA World Heavyweight Champion in WWE-rival promotion Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling, before re-signing with WWE Inc. in 2008, where he unveiled his R-Truth gimmick.
Since returning, he’s been both a babyface and a heel, and has become as famous for his pranks and sense of humour — not to mention Little Jimmy — as he has for his work in the ring.
Asked about his comedic side, which has been very prominent of late, Killings says he’s just being himself.
“It comes natural for me,” he said. “I’ve always been like that, man. It’s just now it’s been released.”
R-Truth is as popular now among the WWE Universe as ever. The fans, he says, simply “want to be entertained.” If you’ve caught any of his pearls of late, it’s safe to say he has been delivering.
R-Truth has been so good of late, in fact, that he has worked his way to the top of the roster, getting main-event exposure.
I asked him how one maintains that spot amid a roster full of hungry and talented superstars.
“It comes with still having that hunger, that dedication,” he said.
“Once you get to the top, you don’t stop there. It’s about maintaining and still being eager. I don’t think you ever stop learning in this business.”
Through it all, though, Killings admits he’s still having fun.
“Oh, man I’m having a ball,” he said. “Like you said, it’s pretty much the pinnacle of my career. They’ve given me the ball and I’m running and I’m trying to make a touchdown each and every time I get it.”
Speaking of touchdowns, Killings will be hoping to score a few more en route to securing a spot in WrestleMania 28, which takes place on April 1 in Florida. WrestleMania is not only the biggest event of the year for fans, but it’s a huge payday for WWE superstars who get booked in matches at the big show.
I asked Killings at what point in the year that superstars begin to look ahead on the calendar to WrestleMania.
“I think that never stops man,” he said. “From last year’s WrestleMania, it starts from that day there. Everybody is gunning and putting their best foot forward to try to make that card. That’s the Super Bowl of wrestling. I think that starts the day the last one ended.”
Asked whether superstars have a little more spring in their steps in the weeks leading to WrestleMania, R-Truth was quick to answer.
“If you don’t, you better get some,” he deadpanned.
Before I could ask him about this year’s main event, he interrupts me.
“Excuse me, Little Jimmy told me to ask you how your day was going? He keeps bothering me with these questions.”
I laugh. I tell R-Truth to tell Little Jimmy that I’m having a fantastic day, in large part due to this interview.
Like that, I’m back to asking the questions.
I ask Killings which camp he is in for WrestleMania, Camp Rock or Camp Cena?
“Ah man, that’s like asking do I like driving cars or SUVs? It’s going to be unbelievable,” he said. “Both of those guys bringing the ruckus, man. Cena, he is the G.I. Joe of the company right now. He’s the G.I. Joe of the industry right now. He is THE man. Rock was THE man. I take nothing away from Rock, — both of them are hungry — but I think Cena’s got a bit bigger appetite than Rock does. It’s going to be great to see both of those guys square off in the ring.
I followed that up by suggesting to him that as odd as it might seem, Cena, a multiple-time world champion and the company’s most popular superstar for the last half dozen years, seems to have something to prove in this match.
“Being that you said that, he does have something to prove,” Killings said. “I think a lot of it is to prove it to himself. It gets no bigger than The Rock … for John Cena to go up against his icon, I think within himself he’s got something to prove. And I think he’ll do that. When it’s time for him to eat, he eats his lunch.”
WrestleMania is also the site of the annual WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony each year. One of this year’s entrants — Ron Simmons — has special meaning for Killings.
“Man, I felt so appreciative and so honoured for Simmons to be inducted,” he said. “That’s like a dream come true for myself. It was emotional for me. I applaud him all the way. He’s well deserving of it. He’s a guy you want to try to walk in his footsteps. When you think of Afro Americans, that’s the first name that comes to mind. He’s a man’s man.”
Before leaving the subject of WrestleMania, I ask Killings about the other main event announced this week, The Undertaker, who has never lost in 19 tries at WrestleMania, versus Triple H, now the chief executive officer of WWE Inc., inside Hell in a Cell.
That match will be special, Killings admits, as the combatants are guys he’s learned a lot from in his career.
“I’m showing my age now, but seeing those guys and working with them back then until now, now you’re talking about working with experience and knowledge and icons … you’re talking about getting the best of the best from the best,” he waxes. “Just by being around those guys, you learn by watching them, you learn by listening to them, you learn by watching their mannerisms, their emotions. Just by being in their presence, you learn, man. I’ve been blessed to be around those guys for as long as I have. I take whatever I can get from them and absorb it.”
Don’t, however, expect that match, to be about the wrestling. It will be a fight.
“I don’t see nothing PG about that match,” R-Truth said, before Little Jimmy resurfaces.
“Little Jimmy’s shaking his head like he agree with me.
“I think it’s going to be a doozy,” R-Truth adds, as though he’d never left. “Both of those guys have something to prove.”
When he’s not in the ring, Killings leads a simple life.
“Really man, right now, Little Jimmy has got a lot of my attention,” he says, again eliciting a laugh from this reporter.
He then turns as serious as he would get on this day.
“Also man, my kids,” he said. Not too long ago, I left my daughter at her school and parent career day. She’s four. Man that’s the youngest group of kids I’ve been in front of. Since she could walk and talk and chew and eat food, she’s been seeing her dad do what he does. I explained it to her and talked to her. I just try to be the best I can be for my kids and anybody’s kids who watch me,” he said, trailing off and again referencing Little Jimmy.
For his part, Little Jimmy has big plans for Cornwall next week.
“Little Jimmy say he gonna bring the ruckus, man,” R-Truth says.
Again I laugh, professing to Killings that I love Little Jimmy.
“Little Jimmy say he love you too man,” he said.
Killings is looking forward to setting foot in Canada, a country where he says he feels welcome.
“The times I’ve been there, I’ve got nothing but love from Canada,” he said. “They’re part of the universe too, man. Can’t leave Canada out.”
Cornwall fans can count their lucky stars that R-Truth and Little Jimmy are even making this trip.
During a match on Raw earlier this month, Killings missed a senton bomb to the outside of the ring and landed violently on the floor after his former tag-team partner The Miz was caught out of position.
Killings avoided serious injury, but was helped to the backstage area by WWE officials.
The seriousness of what could have happened is not lost on Killings, but injuries are part of the game, he says.
“You know, what we do is not there to be attempted to do at home,” he said. “We are professionals, but we run week by week, day by day, month after month, year by year, and we can’t do it precisely every night. There are things that happen. You’re going to get injured.
“We’re not delivering mail for a living. Things happen. When things do happen, you just hope that your body can hold out and recuperate.
“For me, I’m pretty much like I say — I’m the suntanned Superman. It’s kind of hard to hurt me. I take a licking and keep on ticking,” he said.
I summoned Killings for a brief second, asking him if a situation such as that requires a conversation with The Miz following the match or does something as scary as that go without saying?
I got Killings for a split second. “It’s pretty much water under
the bridge man,” he said. Then a long came you know who.
“Little Jimmy told me to let bygones be bygones. Things happen. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Things happen.”
Ah, Little Jimmy.
Wise beyond his years.