AUDIO NOTE: The audio from this interview was used directly from my video recording device. I accidentally plugged my microphone into the wrong outlet and the microphone did not pick up our voices directly. Mr. Hughes can be heard perfectly but me, not so much. I added chapters so viewers can know what Hughes is responding to.
After departing Kansas State University where he played on the school’s football team, Curtis Hughes decided to venture into pro wrestling. He has tallied up three decades in the business and is still competing at a select number of independent shows.
On top of having runs in WWF, WCW and ECW, Hughes is also known for his training of some of the business’ well-known talents of today. He was the head trainer at the WWA4 school in Georgia which he has since passed on to AR Fox. Hughes helped train the likes of Jonathan Gresham, Kiera Hogan, Moose and Dexter Lumis.
I had the chance to catch up with Mr. Hughes for an in-person conversation and he spoke about how he came into being the trainer at WWA4 and eventually handing over the school to AR Fox.
Well you know, I’m proud of all my students, and I’m proud that he’s [AR Fox] sticking with it and keeping things going at WWA4. But you know, myself, I pretty much gave him the school. The owner Frank [Aldrige] signed it over to me. At the time, I didn’t wanna [take the school]. It was behind the strip club so, it was a hard hustle to get people to come in but we had people coming in but, the owner had money in the bank to sustain it because we lost a lot of people coming through because of the fact that we was behind a strip club but when he signed it over to me, I said, ‘Well thanks, but I don’t want it’ and so I asked [AR Fox], I asked him if he wanted to take it over and the rest is history and I went on about my life but now I’m training again at another spot and because like I said, after the owner gave it to me, it just was a bad spot behind the strip club man and either you move which I didn’t have the finances to move, so I just passed it on over to him and took a break for a while and after COVID, then I got back into teaching again at another spot so, but you know, I’m proud of what Fox did as far as the wrestling business but other than that, that’s about all I can say about that.
After the most recent set of IMPACT Wrestling tapings in Nashville, former two-time Knockouts Tag Team Champion Kiera Hogan announced that she is departing the company. Kiera has been a part of IMPACT since 2017.
Hughes recalled Kiera’s early days in wrestling and how he wanted her fellow trainees to treat her as an equal in the ring. As far as her departure goes, he feels that it boils down to Kiera simply wanting to move on and see what else is out there for her.
Yeah, I mean she’s [Kiera Hogan] a real talented young lady and 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, and I told her that, ‘The things that I show you, you’re gonna have to get balls and do what I show you’ and 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? 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, 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. Well with her, 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 and you know, 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. She had enough of that and now she’s hoping to get to the next level which is AEW or WWF 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.
Curtis Hughes had three different stints in the WWF. He first began working with the company in 1993 and got involved in a storyline with The Undertaker that resulted in Hughes stealing The Undertaker’s urn. He had that exact urn sitting beside him during our interview.
Hughes felt that Vince McMahon took care of him during his WWF runs and put him in position to make a name for himself by having him in matches with some of the company’s top stars.
Yeah, 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. 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. and 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.
His future returns to WWF would see him paired with the likes of Triple H and Chris Jericho as their enforcer. Hughes did enjoy those roles because each time he returned; he was paired with one of WWF’s stars. His end goal was to always make as much money as he could.
Oh yeah, no doubt about it [that he enjoyed the enforcer roles]. 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. 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.
One day after we recorded this interview, Hughes had a match in West Virginia. He is in his late 50s and although he feels good, he stated that his body is beginning to let him know it’s time to slow down.
Well my body’s talking to me now so, you know, to say I get in there, I don’t do much but I entertain the people the way they should entertained, but body-wise, I’m almost 60 so I can feel my body, you know what I mean?
After spending over 30 years in pro wrestling, Hughes was asked if he’s satisfied with his career. He confidently said that he is and has no regrets. He went on to list off some of his accolades that came to mind and concluded with inviting all trainees and newer talents to come train with him.
Oh yeah, no doubt about it. I have no regrets man. I had a good run. I wrestled in front of sold-out crowds a lot of times, over 100,000 people in Tokyo Dome, I wrestled El Gigante, I’ve been all over this planet three times. Wrestling’s been good to me. I’ve trained good, talented individuals that are out there making a good living in professional wrestling and I’m satisfied man. God’s been good to me and I’ll tell you what, he’s been good to my students and blessing me and still blessing them too and so with that said, like I said folks, you wanna be a professional wrestler, learn from the best, I’m the trainer of champions. I’m Total Protection Mr. Hughes. I’ll teach you how to wrestle.
To watch the video version of this interview, head over to the player at the top of this article or watch via the Andrew Thompson Interviews YouTube channel.