Nearly a year after his departure from the WWE, former tag team champion Curt Hawkins has embraced the weekend warrior mentality. Wrestling every weekend around the United States, Hawkins continues living his childhood dream of being a wrestler while helping the future of the industry.
Hawkins, who partnered with his friend and fellow wrestler Pat Buck to start the Create-A-Pro Wrestling Academy in Hicksville, NY, now trains the next generation of grapplers, something that Hawkins does not see as work.
“It’s awesome, it’s not work, I love wrestling and I’m very passionate about it,” said Hawkins. “I’m going to be talking about it and watching it anyway, so I might as well be helping others and making money. It’s a great marriage, I guess. Being a coach is really rewarding.”
Although the former “Edgehead” does not view training and coaching as work, there are still elements of a job present.
“I knew I wanted my own school and I knew I wanted to be coach. But you don’t really think about some of the things that come with that,” said Hawkins. “One thing we do is ring rentals for shows where they use our brand new ring from HighSpots, it’s a good investment for live events. But we have to figure out how to get it there, rent a U-Haul, obviously I can’t trust the students to drive it, so I do it, it’s not a lot of fun.”
While many aspiring wrestlers elect to take the traditional route of wrestling school to get into the business, several wrestlers and aspiring wrestlers are hopeful of getting on WWE’s reality series Tough Enough. The show will be comprised of 15 competitors who will battle it out to see who will win a WWE contract.
But in Hawkins’ mind, breaking into the business via Tough Enough is a recipe for disaster, despite the content of the actual show being entertaining.
“It’s a good TV show and that’s it, there’s never a payoff,” said Hawkins. “Wrestling is an incredibly difficult art form to learn, you can’t learn it in three months. So WWE takes these people who never trained before, throw them into a situation where they become big stars, they are on TV every week, people are invested in them and know their whole back story, know everything about them, and are on TV every week for three months and then they win, and guess what, they still don’t know how to wrestle.”
Instead of WWE electing to go with a slew of individuals with limited to no wrestling experience, Hawkins believes that the company should pluck the contestants who have been trained and do have experience. The Glen Cove, New York, native thinks it’s a better alternative to taking just anybody with a good look or any other non-wrestling qualifications.
“It would be so much better if they took trained guys and polished them for three months,” said Hawkins. “You can’t take Joe Schmo CrossFit Guy, which is what this series is gonna be and be like ‘this is how you wrestle.’ It’s far for more difficult than that, it takes years and years to even be passable, much less be in WWE and be on RAW.”
Despite the actual winners from the show’s history not amounting to much, there have been several cases of contestants from the show having successful careers in WWE. But there is a reason for that. As Hawkins explains, anybody who has been successful from that show has done so by leaving the public eye and honing their craft for prolonged period of time.
“They go to developmental and they’re gone for two years and people forget about them. Even people who are great like John Morrison, but that was 03 and MNM wasn’t until 05 and he floundered with the general manager gimmick, so it took two years, there’s my point right there,” Hawkins explains. “Ryback, same thing. There’s not one example, you could say Maven but the guy literally threw an odd dropkick for weeks, they had to hide it. There’s no success story, whatsoever.”
It’s a good TV show and that’s all it’s going to be.”
On a lighter note, one of Hawkins’ best friends, former WWE developmental standout Kevin Matthews, who famously accused former head trainer Bill DeMott of being a lackluster trainer who injures and bullies talent in a reckless environment was set to make a Tough Enough video as a joke.
The premise would have been to allude to DeMott no longer being with the company and Matthews having a renewed interest in WWE.
“I told [Kevin Matthews] to do it, just because he hates Bill [DeMott} so much, I thought it’d be funny just to say ‘Oh, Bill DeMott, oh he’s fired?’ justto be tongue in cheek and an a**hole. I thought he was going to do it but he didn’t.”
Regardless of what WWE is doing, Hawkins is enjoying being an active independent wrestler with no contractual obligations.
“I’m in no rush to sign a contract with anybody, it’s no concern to be on TV because I’m still successful doing what I’m doing, I take it as I go,” said Hawkins. “As long as I’m wrestling, I’m happy. I didn’t fall in love with WWE, I fell in love with pro wrestling and it comes in all shapes and sizes.”
For full audio of the interview, in which Hawkins also analyzes the New York Mets season thus far, Heath Slater’s haircut and more, you can listen to the interview at this link.
[Images by Mark Suleymanov]