In professional wrestling, it’s hard to sustain a lengthy career at the top of your game. While it’s not unheard of – many wrestlers have had very long careers at a top-level – the average career is much shorter for those who enter this field. Whether it be injuries, inability to reinvent, or just the audience’s tastes, many wrestlers have found fleeting glimpses of glory before becoming nostalgia acts. But for Ron Killings – better known in the WWE Universe as R-Truth – his 23-year career has seen him constantly evolve and adapt to whatever situation he is put in, good or bad, and turn it into gold. At 48 years old, the South Carolina native is still one of the most popular WWE Superstars on the roster and continues to put smiles on millions of faces around the world.
Ron Killings started his career path originally intending to pursue his dream of making it as a hip-hop artist, but in doing so, turned to a life of crime (dealing drugs) to finance his career path. After 13-months in prison for his crimes, he happened upon Jackie Crockett, an employee of WCW, who convinced him to consider becoming a pro wrestler. Growing up in the Carolinas, Killings was a big fan of Ric Flair, and after considering it for a few years, went to North Carolina’s Pro Wrestling Federation (PWF) to begin training in 1997, where he spent several years as a manager. During several events, he caught the eye of NWA veteran “Raging Bull” Manny Fernandez, who took Killings under his wing and trained him further in the industry. Killings, under the name K-Krush, began working for Atlanta, Georgia’s NWA Wildside. Killings took to the sport with ease and soon he became the NWA Wildside Television Champion. It wasn’t long after his debut as a wrestler that WWE first came calling, and in 1999, he was signed to a WWE developmental deal and assigned to Memphis Championship Wrestling (MCW).
K-Krush became a top star in MCW, capturing the MCW Southern Heavyweight Championship on two occasions, and soon began working dark matches for the WWE for tapings for Sunday Night Heat and Jakked, before finally making his WWE TV debut in November of 2000. Now renamed to K-Kwik, he was partnered with “Road Dogg” Jesse James, after the latter had gone solo following the disbanding of D-Generation X. He soon became a top prospect for the WWE, with his mix of charismatic freestyling and obvious athleticism, but when Road Dogg was suspended and ultimately released in January of 2001, K-Kwik’s time became borrowed. He was moved into WWE’s Hardcore division, but despite winning the WWE Hardcore championship twice, he was ultimately released that fall.
He initially returned to the indies, competing from Xtreme Pro Wrestling (XPW) in 2002 as K-Malik Shabazz, but in June he signed on with Total Nonstop Action (TNA), a new promotion based out of Nashville started up by Jerry & Jeff Jarrett following the demise of WCW and ECW. Jeff Jarrett helped Killings create his new persona in TNA, Ron “The Truth” Killings, who became a tough-talking street prophet who talked of the hardships of being an African-American in the United States and sought to undermine the patriarchy. It was in TNA that he was finally given a free rein, both on the mic and in the ring, which saw him make history on August 7, 2002. That night he defeated Ken Shamrock to become the new NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion, becoming the first African-American to win the title in the belt’s then-54 year history. He would go on to hold the NWA World title for 105-days, defending it against the likes of Monty Brown, Jerry Lynn, Low-Ki, Curt Hennig and Scott Hall, as well as against Hernandez at the NWA’s 54th Anniversary Show.
In 2003, he would reunite with his former WWE ally Road Dogg, now known as BG James, and alongside Konnan, the trio would form the stable known as 3Live Kru. That November, they would capture the NWA World Tag Team titles, defending it with Freebird Rules that any two of the three could defend the titles. During his time with 3Live Kru, James and Konnan became huge backers of Killings’ attempts to reclaim the NWA World’s Heavyweight title, and the gamble proved a success when Killings defeated Jeff Jarrett to win his second World title in May of 2004.
In 2005, 3Live Kru disbanded, but despite a return to singles action, Killings’ role in TNA got less and less. During the summer of 2007, he began working on his release from the company, intending to head to Mexico to work for AAA Lucha Libre, but TNA refused. It wouldn’t be until December of that year that TNA would finally grant him his release from the company. Killings had made his AAA debut the previous year, making his AAA debut at Rey de Reyes that March, where he competed for Team TNA in a cross-promotion match-up. Later that year, he joined La Legión Extranjera, Konnan’s heel stable that seemed more like a mercenary unit of rotating foreigners such as Sabu, AJ Styles, X-Pac, Rikishi, Abyss, Kenzo Suzuki, and others, joining notable AAA stars like Chessman, Silver King, and Psicosis (under the alias Nicho el Millonario). Upon his release from TNA in December of 2007, he continued to work with AAA until the spring of 2008.
In the summer of 2008, he returned to WWE, re-debuting that August on SmackDown as R-Truth, which played more into his TNA character than his previous K-Kwik character in the WWE Universe. While he was initially a straight-ahead wrestler, it didn’t take long for his charisma to appeal to WWE owner Vince McMahon in another light, that of a comedic wrestler, which has been a huge part of R-Truth’s success ever since. In June of 2009, he debuted a new character, Cousin Ricky (complete with false teeth), but the character was shortlived (although it’s made repeat appearances since).
In 2010, he was drafted to Raw, where he saw his first major success in the singles division in WWE, defeating The Miz to win the vacant WWE United States Championship. But only three weeks later, he dropped the title back to Miz and was once again returned to his comedic ways. He soon turned heel in a program against John Cena, where he first debuted the concept of “Little Jimmy”. Initially, Little Jimmy was what he called Cena’s child fanbase (“I see Little Jimmies everywhere!”), but after one segment where he seemingly was talking to an imaginary child, the sidekick took on a life of its own. ““Little Jimmy was an accident, dog,” he told Edge & Christian on their podcast in 2019. “How bout this like, that thing about me smoking and all that? Vince caught me smoking, right? And so I guess to rib me or to get back at me, he had me smoke a cigarette on TV. And it got me over more, ’cause people was like, ‘Oh s**t, he’s cool! He’s smoking a cigarette right now!’ Like, ‘I see you, you’re smoking it! He’s blowing smoke!’ Like in the moment I came out, Vince was like, ‘Okay, they’re cheering for it. I want you to come out and s**t on the people and call them all ‘Little Jimmys,’ all John Cena fans.’ I did that, and I just happened to turn to the side, and bend down and said, ‘Aw, Little Jimmy, all the Little Jimmys out there wanna be like you.’ And from that point on, everybody pointed and said, ‘He’s talking to Little Jimmy!’ I was just talking to my damn self, but if Little Jimmy’s there, then he’s right there, yeah! That’s who I was talking to! And dog, it just blew up from there like, I turn my head to the side, everybody says I’m talking to Little Jimmy’ … Organic, everything in my career has happened because of organic [developments], that’s it.”
Soon after Little Jimmy’s run, R-Truth aligned with his former rival, The Miz, to form The Awesome Truth, after both voiced their displeasure to the WWE Universe with how the WWE was using them both. The team was shortlived though, as R-Truth would end up saving John Cena from an attack from Miz and once again, Truth was a fan favorite once again. In 2012, he would form a new tag team, this time alongside Kofi Kingston, and in April they would defeat The Colons (Epico & Primo) to become the new WWE Tag Team Champions. In 2013, he would switch partners again, this time teaming with Xavier Woods, who Truth had briefly teamed with in TNA (when Woods was known as Consequences Creed), but that was also shortlived.
In 2015, R-Truth began another memorable comedic run, this time with a seeming forgetfulness that left him one pay-per-view behind in his preparation – for example, at Royal Rumble 2016, he entered the ring with a ladder, thinking he was entering a Money In The Bank ladder match. Soon after the Rumble, Goldust began to court R-Truth to form a new tag team and after weeks of Truth misunderstanding Goldust’s intent, the unit finally became the comedic duo known as The Golden Truth. The union of Goldust and R-Truth brought out some of the pair’s best comedy work in years. The tag team lasted for almost exactly a year before dissolving in May of 2017.
Following a return from surgery in early 2018, he formed a new alliance, this time with SmackDown Women’s Champion Carmella, with the two becoming famous for their spontaneous dance breaks, during interviews, promos, and even during matches. He returned to singles action in early 2019, when he was attacked by Nia Jax prior to the 2019 Royal Rumble, with Jax taking his spot in the match. As compensation for his loss, he faced WWE US Champion Shinsuke Nakamura for the title, and shockingly won by a roll-up, for his second singles title during his WWE career.
In May of 2019, the WWE introduced the 24/7 Championship, a spiritual successor to the WWE Hardcore title, that could be defended and/or captured anywhere, any place, and any time. Since then, R-Truth has been the titles only saving grace, with one comedic spot after another, as he went en route to 37 reigns as 24/7 Champion (which he still currently holds). In the middle of July, R-Truth also debuted a new game show, entitled The R-Truth Game Show, on the WWE Network.
At 48 years old, R-Truth is still one of the most athletic members of the WWE roster, and with his overwhelming charisma and willingness to perform comedy spots has endured himself as one of Vince McMahon’s favorite and most adaptable performers.
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