Wednesday, August 7, 2013
A Rowdy Farewell: A Fan's Tribute To Rowdy Ricky Knight
To every American wrestling fan, whatever they're a die-hard or a casual fan, they don't know who this man is. To all who have lived in England, there is one name who has built a dynasty in professional wrestling and one name only. That name is “Rowdy" Ricky Knight, the man who has been the patriarch and co-architect of the Knight Dynasty, featuring his wife Sweet Saraya Knight, a former SHIMMER Champion; his sons Roy and Zak Knight; and his daughter Paige, a star on the rise in professional wrestling In baseball, the New York Yankees are more than champions, they were a dynasty; a franchise that has many names like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. In hockey, the Montreal Canadiens were the greatest dynasty of all time as well as the New York Islanders, and the Edmonton Oilers. In basketball, the Boston Celtics dominated the sport, winning 17 NBA Championships. But in wrestling, the Knights are a dynasty in this business and one of the most recognizable families in professional wrestling. They are not some pushovers either, as they are completely badasses in the ring and a tight-knit family outside it.
On October 4th, the Rowdy One will officially end a 25+ year career that was memorable. “Well I think they will remember I was part of a great tag team the Superflys with Jimmy Ocean, we dominated the tag division for over ten years. I think and hope they remember me as an entertainer and head of the biggest European wrestling family."
The event for the World Association of Wrestling, billed as “A Rowdy Farewell," will be nothing sorry of bittersweet for UK fans, but it should be a great tribute to the man who helped built the foundation for the UK wrestling scene. “They will expect it to be the best show ever and its going to plan to meet that expectation," Knight said about the event.
Since 1985, Knight has been a fixture in British wrestling, and has helped others get starts in wrestling; like his wife Saraya Knight; his sons Roy and Zak; and his daughter Brittani, now known as Paige in the WWE. Every member of the Knight dynasty has excelled in the ring and in life. The promos they delivered, the style of aggression they all bring in the ring, Ricky Knight taught them.
But in the beginning, he took a rough and tough route to become a wrestler.
“I was working as a Bouncer on a night club, one night some wrestlers came in after a show, i got talking to one of them and he ask if I would consider becoming a wrestler, the wrestler was Jimmy Ocean, four weeks later he became my trainer and mentor," Knight has said.
With “Gentleman" Jimmy Ocean working with him in the ring, his early work in the ring was an experience. “I was quite lucky because Jimmy my trainer was already an established star and he would not let me debut until I was ready in his mind, I did the local circuit for a while then I got some good gigs and Jimmy and I became the Superflys tag team, within a year we were main eventing." The Superflys, according to Saraya were “notoriously badass, hard trainers, great wrestlers, they can whip any crowd in a frenzy and they have got me out of quite a few scrapes. I owe them my foundation in the wrestling business, my character would never have developed like it has without their tuition." And of course there was great chemistry between these brutal men. “Jimmy is like a brother to me and I love him like a brother he was an amazing wrestler up there with all the great lightweights of the UK. As a tag team we clicked and went on an amazing ride 10 years on and off as champions, working with some amazing people," Knight said of “Gentleman" Jimmy.
A memorable match in Ricky's mind comes in the late 1980s while partnering with Jimmy Ocean. “My favourite match; Colston Hall, Bristol 1989; Jimmy ocean and I won the British tag titles against King Ben and Kid McCoy in a match lasting 49 minutes."
In addition to learning from Ocean, Knight has not only trained his wife Saraya, his sons Roy and Zak, and his daughter Brittani. “First of all they learned etiquette, then I specialized in teaching British style as to me its still the best," he said. “They learned to work the crowd, too many modern stars are selfish and do their stuff whether the crowd wants it not. then they learned to work on emotion draw the fans in, make them care an art which is going out the modern era in my opinion."
Along with Saraya, he is the architect of the Knight Dynasty in England. It is one of the most recognizable names in wrestling right there with the Von Erichs and the Anoai clan and of course the Guerrero family. “Its a great feeling to build that sort of legacy and remember my grandsons RJ and PJ are going through our academy so there is many more Knights coming through. I also like to think WAW Will always be a legacy long after I have gone." The same with Saraya as well. “I love that my family are all in the same business, we travel together and room together, its great to have the very people you love most in the world and trust by your side in business and in private, We are a very close family and I feel we are all specialists in different styles of wrestling. I am very proud of my children and what they have accomplished so far, I know the Knight name will continue and a legacy will be left," she said.
A favorite rivalry of Ricky's is one between father and son, like in most promotions. “My favourite rivalry has been my son. Roy, Zebra Kid we took each other to the limit for two years, across many feds, ending in a brutal cage match."
in 1993, Knight started the World Association of Wrestling, which showcases not only the best talent in England, but also the world. “Wrestling is my life in and out of the ring, i tell my students, wrestling is not a hobby, its a way of life. It takes hard work and dedication but its worth it as that 20 minutes in the ring or a WAW Show coming together is the biggest buzz going," he says. And although he will be still teaching newcomers as well as promoting, the academy will still be intact. “I will still have my academy and gym in Norwich and will still promote, I am retiring from in ring only."
When it comes to the world of wrestling these days, the man is all honesty. "I think wrestling is a great industry to be in, most problems created are not by wrestling itself but by massive egos and people who think that know but in reality know sweet FA."
The Knights' documentary, "Fighting With My Family," has gotten critical acclaim and earned every moment of it. "To be honest, it was more about my childrens journey to WWE, it was also about my family and our life in and out of wrestling but predominantly it was Saraya-Jades and Zaks story, I think people would need to see it really, its still on youtube I think, I would not like to give to much away just in case people are still viewing it, watch it and write to me on your thoughts about it," Saraya said. "The documentary was hard work cameras around us for a long time, see us at our best and worst, but it ended up a huge success and just won a TV award."
In October of this year, Ricky Knight will be hanging up the boots, but will still be promoting shows in England. When it comes to work in the US Independent scene, he says; "Jimmy and I Had the opportunity to wrestle in the states as the Superflys on a few occasions but had a very young family at the time, was very busy here and the money offered was not enough to tempt us to be honest. We were wrestling here 300 plus times a year at the time. Would have loved to hit either of the big two but it never happened, Shame as I think we would have stormed the place." When the time comes, there are many plans for his future. When asked what the future holds for him, he says, "I retire from in ring in October, then its concentrating on making my academy and WAW recognized worldwide and start on my book."
To this day, Ricky Knight will always be “The Rowdy One," whether the fans like it or not; and he can still promote the best wrestling shows in England, but when he ritires, he knows he has accomplished everything he has done in his entire career. To his loyal fans who supported him and the Knight family for such a long time, he says this; “To all my fans I am retiring from in ring only, the Knightmare is not over yet."
Special thanks to Ricky Knight for his time for his interviews, as well as Saraya Knight for helping me out in the process. To learn more about Ricky Knight, follow him on Twitter @RickyKnightWAW.
You can follow me on Twitter @matthewhollie