When the bell rings, Ron Killings answers.
This has always been the way. Killings, known to most pro-wrestling fans by the ring name R-Truth, first joined WWE in 1999 as K-Kwik, a rapping stooge who cheated out wins alongside D-Generation X wrestler Road Dogg.
In the two decades since, Truth has transitioned his character a thousand times. He’s been a ruthless criminal, a goofy prankster, and a scheming tag team specialist. Truth has held his fair share of gold—including the WWE United States Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship, and NWA World Heavyweight Championship—but perhaps no title has defined Truth’s career as much as the hotly minted WWE 24/7 Championship, which, as of press time, Truth has held 12 times.
“I’m reinventing myself,” Truth says. “I have so many millennials now that just know me as, ‘Oh, you were that dude back in the Attitude Era.’ I feel like this has reminded people that I’m not new to this, I’m true to this.”
The 24/7 Championship is the spiritual successor to the old WWF Hardcore Championship, which Truth actually won twice in 2002. Like the Hardcore title, the 24/7 title can be won anywhere at any time, often leading to hijinks that spill from WWE televison onto YouTube and Instagram. Truth is one of four champions to hold the title for more than a day, having won the strap by ruining a guy’s honeymoon, taking advantage of a sleeping competitor on an international flight, and impersonating a pregnant woman at an OB-GYN office.
At the time of our interview, Truth was the reigning 24/7 Champion, but he was bested days later by singing heel Elias on the August 12 edition of WWE Raw. No matter. By the time this article publishes, it’s possible Truth could’ve schemed his way to two or three more reigns.
“It’s been a hell of an experience,” Truth says. “I want to be excited and happy at the same time, but I’m paranoid as hell.”
Truth’s time as the flagbearer for the 24/7 Championship has allowed him to give the rub to WWE rising stars like Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander. It’s also given new life to guys like Drake Maverick and Jinder Mahal, who fans have forgotten about. All are bolstered by Truth’s electric charm.
In a lesser performer’s hands, the 24/7 Title could’ve faltered. It could’ve gone the way of the WWF Harcore Championship and a joke from the jump. But Truth’s career is based on answering the call. The writers lay ridiculous shit in front of him. For years, Truth’s character was seconded by an invisible boy named Little Jimmy, and he also grew a habit of getting match stipulations wrong.
“That’s part of R-Truth’s character,” he says. “I’m so accepted by the fans, that character can get away with pretty much anything. I got a lot of turns I can make.”
Most legends gain their exalted rank through iconic moments. Emotional feuds. Marquee title wins. While Truth has had his moments in the sun, he’s gained legendary status by doing the work. Twenty-two years of showing up and excelling at his job. He’s not the guy fans are going to flock to the merch table for, but when his music hits, they jump out of their chairs.
“I just liked entertaining people, man. I like the feeling it gives me,” Truth says. “I was performing when I was in middle school, being the class clown. I like laughter. I like humor. I like positive, good things, and entertainment is just positive.”
One of Truth’s biggest fans is WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, a notoriously fickle executive with a nasty sense of humor. But Truth’s lust for entertainment quickly won the boss over. When the two were touring Afghanistan and Kuwait as part of WWE’s Tribute to the Troops, Truth says, they hit it off. Together, they’ve built the R-Truth character as an extension of the fun-loving entertainer Vince saw on those tours.
“He’ll call me out on it,” Truth says. “If I do something that he thinks don’t have R-Truth in it, he’ll call me out and ask me what’s going on. He knows how entertaining I can be and I am.”
More and more, the fans are beginning to appreciate what McMahon sees in Truth. That recognition might not come until his retirement, but until then, R-Truth is out there stating his case with every new swerve thrown his way.
When asked how he wants to be remembered when the final bell of his career rings, Truth’s answer is simple.
“The greatest all-around entertainer in the world,” he says. “I can still go in the ring. I can go on the mic. And I can entertain. I am the best. Just to sum it up, period.”
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