When it comes to longevity in professional wrestling, you often look to those who’s influence refuses to wane. Who’s presence looms large years after they’ve departed in-ring competition. The icons, the hall of famers, the multiple-time WrestleMania main eventers and the trailblazers who set the territories alight. You don’t often think of a 53 time WWE 24/7 Champion. Yet R-Truth remains timeless in an industry evolving at a rapid pace.
The former United States and Tag Team champion was handed the unenviable task of making his grand return to WWE television, following a lengthy absence, on the same night Randy Orton and a certain CM Punk walked the aisle once again.
Two months removed from that fateful night in Chicago, and Truth is, somehow, arguably just as prominent a fixture on WWE television as either of his fellow returnees from that historic November evening.
The 52-year-old has not only revived the Awesome Truth with The Miz after 12 years apart, but he’s also breathed new life into the Judgement Day with a series of skits and moments that have had a 100% hit rate over the last few weeks.
R-Truth: The Biggest Comeback of 2023?
Both online and inside every arena he’s stepped foot in since November, the two-time NWA World Champion has been generating some of the most passionate reactions of his career. Which covers a monumental amount of ground.
It takes a rareified level of talent to not only remain relevant so long into a career, but to do so as a primarily comedic act. An Orton or a Punk return draws record breaking numbers on social media because of the depth of their work over the last two decades. It’s world title reigns and WrestleMania moments and generation defining promos. With R-Truth it’s having imaginary friends, mistakenly climbing a ladder during a Royal Rumble match and wearing a series of disguises in a desperate bid to regain and retain the most worthless championship belt in WWE.
Now, Truth is bringing his own brand of ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ to a stable of goths. And it’s the best thing on WWE television at a time when the product is the strongest it’s been since the Attitude Era.
But how does R-Truth maintain his longevity? How does he warrant so much TV time when the WWE roster depth is thicker than a space shuttle door?
I spoke to the man himself, exclusively for SPORF, recently to find out.
R-Truth: Living, Laughing and Loving For 25 Years
“It’s the combination of a lot of things, man” Truth begins, as he explains how he has kept WWE fans invested in his character across multiple eras.
“Generations have grown up with me. A lot of people, within the company as well, have investment in me. I’ve always taken advantage of time. Any time I’ve had to be on TV, any time I’ve been asked to do something, gimme the ball coach, I’ll run with it. Me being gone for a while, coming back, I think it was the right time. All the things I’ve done, all the success I’ve had has been to do with being in the right place at the right time. Being given the right person to work with, delivering in the right way. Just always taking advantage of time.”
Truth’s adaptability to every situation he is presented with is also a skill that he isn’t looking to safeguard either. A long term veteran, the Judgement Day’s newest member is finding himself giving advice to future generations of WWE Superstars, who would give anything for the sort of staying power Ron Killings has earned across one of the most unique careers the business has ever seen.
And considering that career began not long out of jail, with a meeting at a halfway house with Jackie Crockett of the National Wrestling Alliance, it’s advice that should be rigorously adhered to when it is bestowed upon someone.
A Stone Cold Lesson
“Each one teach one. That’s what Jack Crockett wanted me to do. I got into this business by meeting Jack Crockett at a halfway house. How many people who meet you at a halfway house are gonna believe what you say? C’mon. He said ‘each one teach one’, always give back to somebody else. So any advice, anything I can give to somebody, there are superstars, males and females, come to me in NXT, come to me up here, I love giving back to them. I wan’t everybody to win.”
When it comes to advice, Truth was quick to point out a couple of legendary names in particular who gave him the pearls of wisdom that helped elevate him to a quarter century long run that is showing no signs of slowing down. Even in his fifties.
“Stone Cold Steve Austin, a long time ago, and Ricky Morton too, told me ‘learn how to work the stick’. And I been working the stick ever since. That’ll keep you in business for years. Austin taught me that.”
From a Halfway House to Madison Square Garden
It was this learning of the stick that saw R-Truth catapulted into the main event picture in 2011. While the WWE Title evaded him, Truth still managed to keep himself involved in John Cena’s business for much of the year. Including standing on the opposite side of the ring from the one-time Doctor of Thuganomics when he teamed with The Rock upon The Great One’s return match at Survivor Series at Madison Square Garden.
For someone who bounced in and out of correctional facilities for drug dealing from an early age, to main event at the world’s most famous arena against two of the greatest of all time was not a moment who’s enormity was lost on R-Truth.
“Oh man, me and Miz was cooking. Awesome Truth was cooking at that time. There’s a picture Miz has of me and him. We’re in the ring with Cena and The Rock. Me and Miz are looking at each other and we had a connection of ‘Damn, we made it’. That was sold out, Madison Square Garden. C’mon, you don’t get no higher than that.
“Miz and me was doing a live event one night. We were walking out of MSG and they got the picture on the wall. That was the first time we’d seen it. And we had the exact same feeling in that moment as the night it happened. To be in the ring with those guys. The Rock, my childhood hero John Cena. Blessings don’t get bigger than that.”
Give R-Truth The WrestleMania Main Event tbh
Tearing it up with The People’s Champion was not a new experience for R-Truth, however. The pair also worked together during Truth’s first run with WWE back in the Attitude Era.
“I worked with The Rock back in the Attitude Era too. The Rock’s always been a funny guy. Very funny, quick witted. He’s cool and very, very unselfish. I’ve taken that into my own career, you have to. People can judge how you are as a human by that. People can tell if you’re selfish or unselfish and The Rock is definitely one of the most unselfish people I’ve ever met.”
Learning from the best, becoming one of the best and shaping the best for the future is a testament to the immense talent and knowledge R-Truth possesses. It is 25 years worth of craft honing. And it has made him a vitally important part of modern day WWE.
For all his slapstick, R-Truth may be the best business man in WWE today. Landing himself a gig with one of the company’s hottest acts right around WrestleMania season. If you see the former 53-time 24/7 champ in a marquee position in Philadelphia at the beginning of April, I guarantee you won’t see any disapproving faces.
Royal Rumble 2024 is the 37th annual Royal Rumble Premium Live Event and will emanate from St. Petersburg, Florida on Jan. 27. Tune in on the WWE Network or TNT Sports Box Office.
Featured Image Credit: WWE