This week I managed to sit and talk with the head honcho of Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA) Cody Hawk. HWA has been the training ground for so many WWE stars including the likes of current WWE favourite Eugene. We sat down and talked about the days when HWA was a developmental, UK wrestler Nigel McGuinness and HWA’s recent involvement with Tough Enough...
How did you get started in the wrestling business?
I used to be married, and my ex-wife's brother in law, was a referee for the HWA. He brought me to the wrestling school, and I was hooked.
What has been the highlight of your wrestling career?
I have been very fortunate in the wrestling business. I am not sure I can pick out one lone highlight. It has all been a highlight for me. I have wrestled in front of 23,000 fans, that was cool. I have been able to be in a ring and work with great talent. A lot of the top guys now were here at the HWA for a while Benoit, Guerrero, Malenko, Val Venis, D-Lo, too many to list. I got to help to be a part of the Pillman shows. I even met my girlfriend in the wrestling business.
What made you decide to take over HWA?
I have been with the company for about 8 years, I have seen it go through good times and bad. Most of the time when it was bad, people would disappear, go to work for the competition, or quit all together. I always stuck it out. Then came the contract days, when HWA was under developmental from WWE. We were flooded with big name talent. We got 35 new guys in one week’s time. We got all the WCW talent that didn't get fired, or pulled up to RAW. That was really hard, a lot of guys lost there spot, but I hung in there. Then after the contract left us, most people thought that the HWA was going to fail, but myself, and a few other long term guys pulled together, and kept thing going. Les Thatcher, was the man who ran the company before. He is getting older, just recently re-married, and needed a change in life. So I asked if I could take it over and he said yes. I helped build it, and I will continue to build it.
Has this affected your wrestling career in anyway?
Yes, I used to work 175 shows a year, for a good bit of money. Now I have 135 HWA shows a year to run, plus three nights a week at the training school. I have no free time at all.
You have had a lot of success from your promotion of wrestlers going on to WWE, what makes you so successful compared to other Indy promotions?
Luck, and right place right time.
One of the most notable guys at the moment to come through your ranks is Nick Dinsmore (aka Eugene). What are your thoughts on him and how he is doing in the WWE?
Nick is an acquaintance of mine, and I like his gimmick. He did his time at OVW, and worked for us a lot to gain experience.
What other stars have been your notable exports to WWE, WCW and TNA?
Rosey, Jamal, Jamie Noble, Shannon Moore, Sharkboy, Garrison Cade, Renee Dupree, really too many to list.
From your current roster is there anyone we should be looking out for who you think could be the next WWE star?
Maybe, the wrestling business is a very tough one to go all the way. I have some great guys, and girls. Hopefully some of them will be able to go on to the big time, (WWE, ROH, NWA TNA).
Speaking of being the next star I see one of your stars did well for himself in the Tough Enough try outs screened on Smackdown (21/10/04).
Yes actually two of my people made the top 50. One got a developmental, and the other is an alternate for the Tough Enough show.
What do you think of the whole Tough Enough concept? Do you think it helps the business?
I think it sucks, and I definitely think it is bad for the business. One of those guys is going to win a million dollar contract. There are thousands of workers out there, who would deserve that more than some guy who wins a contest.
Now from a UK standpoint I see one of our guys is doing well for himself in HWA at the moment that being Nigel McGuinness. What are your thoughts on him?
Nigel is a personal friend, and one of my best friends in the business. I love his style, and the way he works. I think I have wrestled him more than any other wrestler in my career.
In the UK at the moment it has become the fashion for promotions to get in as many US stars as possible for shows. If you could send anyone of your guys to tour the UK who would it be?
Myself, I have never been across the pond, and I would love to have such a great opportunity.
Also as we import so many US stars would you take any more UK guys on your books at HWA?
Yes, the way the HWA works best is with a revolving door of talent. We just had two excellent workers from Australia here. They did three months with us.
This year in the UK we have seen the launch of a Wrestling Channel on TV which is all day non stop wrestling from promotions across the globe. Do you think there would ever be any chance that we could see HWA on it in the near future?
If I knew the right road to take to get my show on in the UK, I would do it as soon as possible.
For those UK wrestling fans that haven’t seen one your shows yet which tape would you recommend them buying from your online store to start them off?
Any of the Big shows form this year, Mayhem, Unbreakable, Overload, 3Stages of Hell, or any four episode TV from this year.
So finally what does the future hold for HWA? Any big events planned?
Hopefully the future hold lots of great thing for the HWA. We have a big show on Saturday, with Harley Race, Ricky the Dragon Steamboat, and Les Thatcher. We also have our big year end show on December 29th, which will feature a two ring 80 man battle royal, and a two ring 5 on 5 war games match.
Thanks for your time Cody
Thanks so much, Cody Hawk.
To find out more about HWA see: HWAOnline.com