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The Shadow Pope
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Recently, #OP staff caught up with former World Champion Randall Knox, who wrestled in the NFW, the EPW, and the FWO under the name 'Impulse' several years back. Having left the sport completely following the EPW's folding, he has not been heard from in well over a year. Until now.

We found him in a place familiar to those who enjoyed his past promos: TC's Pub, located in The Bronx, New York City. His girlfriend - fiance now, we're told - is still spending her days managing the bar and her nights tending it. Knox appears to be at ease; even relaxed, away from the daily grind of professional wrestling.


You may have pulled off the best disappearing act in professional wrestling history. One day, you were slated to wrestle for the EPW World Championship; the next, you had completely vanished from everyone's radar. What happened?

*Laughs* What happened? The roster was thinning by the day. The Garden was sold out for Wrestleverse, but Dan Ryan felt like he couldn't present a complete event with just three matches booked, so things were unceremoniously shut down. On one hand, I was sorry to see the place go: it was one of the last places in the world that was solely about the wrestling and not the controversy.

I'm sure there's plenty of other companies.

There are, but I have no interest. I've talked to a few company representatives here and there, but there was nothing that interested me about any of it. Either they wanted me to walk in and be the rallying point against some kind of heel group, or they wanted me to be 'the heel' who denigrates the garbage wrestling heroes as talentless hacks. First of all, I don't need to be part of a company to criticize garbage wrestling, and second - the fact that I had people telling me how they would market me tells me they have no idea what the fans actually liked about me to begin with.

So are you saying you're finished with professional wrestling?

Never say never. I can't say that for sure because I don't know the future, but at the moment there's no company out there that I'd want to sign my name on. If I was going to wrestle again, I'd want to build something from the ground up, or give my support to a smaller company like the... what was it, Red Crown?

He called over to the bar, where Rosalyn Callasantos, formerly known as Calico Rose, was working on some books. Hey Cally, he said, what was the name of that promotion we went to see in Chicago?

Red Line Wrestling, said Cally.


There we go, Red Line Wrestling. Somewhere like that, that could actually benefit from established names coming in, I'd love to support them. Other than that, nothing really holds my interest.

Why not? Aside from the way EPW closed, what reduced your interest in the sport?

I don't think we need to get into the New Frontier again: that was well documented.

Fair enough. What would've kept you involved in the NFW?

I'll say it from now until the day I die: from the moment I started working for the New Frontier until the moment Eddie decided to put the entire Windham Clan over the entirety of the regular roster, it was probably the best professional experience I've had in my entire career. I wasn't entirely surprised by the fact that we were all fed to the Windhams to make them look good: Eddie has known Troy for probably twenty five years now, and they've always looked out for each other. But if we can pretend that Troy never showed up, the story would've gone much differently.

Can you elaborate?

Sure. None of this was discussed with, or signed off on by the office, but this was all discussed at length by the people involved. If we turn the clock back, Castor Strife had taken the TV Title from me when I hurt my neck, and then I came back in with the hopes at picking up where I left off. Sean Stevens was the hand - picked 'Pure Wrestling Champion' and I would've had a series of matches with him that would've been a mini passing the torch kind of moment. From there, I would've moved into a series with Joe the Plumber, where I would've been the one to give him his first loss in a non-title situation, and then we would've been booked for a title match. Ideally I would've taken the belt from him at about the same time that Jack Bryant was coming into his own and he would've taken the TV Title from Castor Strife in a way that put Jack over as the man but not taking any heat from Castor. We'd build toward Castor and my second bout - this time for the World Title, and he'd have taken it from me. That would put me all the way back down to the bottom of the rankings, and I'd work my way back up to a rematch with Castor that would've headlined Futureshock.

He shrugged at this point.

The real tragedy to me is that this all could've happened concurrently with the Windham Clan coming in and wreaking havoc, but instead of trusting the homegrown talent that had been selling out shows all over the country, Eddie decided he needed to bring in a bunch of guys whose prime was long past - or who were never going to have a prime - and pay them top dollar for what was essentially an unnecessary spike that... never spiked.

Attendance and buyrates didn't go up during the Windham Clan/Hellfire Club angles?

At first they did. You get an invasion type thing going into an established company, of course people take notice. But as time went on and it was clear that the Windham Clan - specifically, JJ DeVille - would never have to pay off the debts he worked up as a heel, the fans started to fall away. Just like it's no fun to watch a show where the good guys always win, it's no fun to watch a show where the bad guys always win. That's really where we'd come to, too - there was never a single instant of setback that the Windham Clan or the Hellfire Club suffered in the time I was in the New Frontier, that wasn't either immediately negated, like Bryant taking the TV Title off JJ DeVille only for him to get jumped by Troy and the rest of the Windhams and a miraculously recovered JJ, or that wasn't facilitated by another member of their group directly - like when Troy Windham and Mike Randalls faced off with each other, a good decade after either of them were relevant to the sport - and JJ cost Troy the match.

To be fair, Troy and Randalls were both icons in the sport.

Wrong.

What?

Provisionally, wrong, at least. Mike Randalls is an icon in this sport. Mike Randalls is one of the untouchable legends. But he's also not the guy you can build a company around. He's great when he comes in as a hired gun to go after the rascally heel, or when he comes in to build up - and then feed himself to - the underdog babyface. Put a World Title around his waist and send him to the ring for six months to status - quo defend it? That would be the most boring, mind - numbing wrestling promotion of all time. To his credit, Randalls knows this, and from what I've seen, has never gone into a company with the intention of being the spotlight guy.

Troy, on the other hand... look at his track record. Look at his history, look at his path through the sport. Any company that's put their eggs in the Troy Windham basket has folded shortly thereafter, and it's because Troy doesn't understand the fundamental truth behind this sport: the heels need to get their comeuppance. I'm not even talking about winning the match or winning the blowoff - if the heel doesn't show his ass, the fans get bored and move on. You look at the UWA from back in the day that prided itself on the 'Show Troy the Money' catchphrase: it folded shortly thereafter. The CSWA put the World Title on Troy in the late nineties, and it folded. They tried it again in the mid aught's, with Troy building himself as 'Mister CSWA' - and nobody bought it. The company folded again.

Like Randalls, I shouldn't blame Troy. If Eddie wanted to pay him six to seven figures to lend his name to the New Frontier and not have to put anyone over, take the money and run. If he's able to work that into a situation where he can essentially transfer his main event spot to JJ without either of them having to earn it, so much the better for them.

He shook his head at the thought.

I'm just really disappointed in the way that the office thought that little of me, of Bryant, of Castor - that, even when Castor and I were mixing it up over the NFW World Title, we were considered secondary to whatever JJ DeVille was doing; despite the fact that he's never drawn a dime.

So you put the responsibility for NFW's current inaction...

It's too easy to say it's Troy's fault, or it's JJ's fault. It's certainly not Jack Harmen's fault. He's doing the best he can as the World Champion of a company that times its shows by volcanic eruptions. And I can't honestly say I blame JJ: I certainly did back in the day, when I taped my pipebomb promo airing my grievances with the company. But he's only guilty of taking the money he was offered for never having to do the honors.

No, the blame lies on the office. They had a ton of talent that was homegrown, or close enough to count, and totally dedicated to the company, and they systematically made it clear that our dedication to the company was not appreciated and would not be reciprocated. Me, Castor, Bryant, Nova, Joe... we were there to be fed to the owners' friends.

I will say this for Eddie Mayfield, though - he had class enough, when it was clear that the Impulse/NFW marriage was going to come to an end - to let me come to the arena and drop the title to Jack Harmen in a match that put him, Bryant, and myself all over huge; I wasn't buried or disrespected, and the match came off in such a way that the focus was on the World Title and not what the Hellfire Club was doing, which was the status quo at the time. And if you look at how much activity has been there since, who's missing? I'm not there. Bryant's not there. Joe isn't there. Nova isn't there. Castor has been trying to retire for well over a year. The NFW front office prioritized their friends over the athletes that were legitimately best for business, and they've been paying for it ever since.

So what's life been like for Randall Knox after wrestling? What have you been doing?

Seriously, life's been great. I've been promoting live events: concerts, fundraisers, and so forth, in the New York area. My partner and I have recently expanded operations to Philadelphia and some of the major cities in New Jersey. Cally and I have bought into this place, and we're now minority partners. I've seriously rediscovered the joys of my life in the past year. Cally and I are essentially doing the same thing we were doing as part of the wrestling business, only it never ends with me having to go forty minutes in the ring every night and get the hell beat out of myself.

Does this new career provide you with the money you need to keep living your life?

Knox laughed again.

See, you're making a mistake that so many young wrestlers make. I technically don't ever have to work again a day in my life. When I graduated college and moved back home to New York, my old roommate and I rented a two bedroom in Washington Heights. When I started wrestling full time for the New Frontier, I lived in the same apartment. When I won the New Frontier TV Title - and when I won the World Title - I lived in the same place. Cally and I still live there.

I was on the road three hundred days a year; why did I need a big house that I'd never see and barely afford? When I went almost two hours in the battle royal at Wrestlestock, my payoff covered rent for three years - and it was on the low end for the event. I'd have to say, that's my advice to any young wrestler that might check this thing out. Live below your means, you never know when it's gonna come to an end.

Any other words of advice?

Yes. If you don't want to do something, don't do it. Listen to the crowd, sure - listen to the office, sure - but if something's gonna compromise your integrity or your dignity, it's not worth doing. The fans are smart; they can tell when someone's genuine, and they'll always gravitate to that.

Final thoughts?

I want to thank Castor for giving me the chance to talk to everyone again: we deserved our blowoff match. I also want to thank the fans for not letting me be forgotten, it means more than you can imagine.

Am I finished in the sport? It's hard to say. I'm only twenty nine years old, and I've stayed in ring shape over the course of the past year, and could go out and have the match of the year tomorrow, at least physically.

What would need to happen for you to do so?

I... Y'know, I don't know. I'm fortunate enough to not need the money. I'd be happy to wrestle an isolated date anywhere, because that doesn't require ingratiating myself into a company's narrative and I could be myself. Besides that, all I've ever asked for is a microphone to talk to the fans, and an opponent who wants to steal the show every night. A responsibly - run promotion would take care of the rest.

Thank you for your time, Mr. Knox. Best of luck in the future.
 

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