“Yeah, I’ve just been working on The Iron Claw,” Hawx starts off almost nonchalantly. This is the biopic of the Von Erich family dynasty, starring Zac Efron as Kevin Von Erich, and Jeremy Allen White of the FX series The Bear as Kerry Von Erich.
As Hawx spoke to SlamWrestling.net on one of his rare days off, you can hear the pride in his voice. “These guys are picking it up really well. They’re really passionate about wrestling,” he said. “To see some very high-level actors at the highest level be so excited and so passionate about performing as wrestlers and getting the craft right. These guys come in and they work so hard, and they’re so humble and hungry wanting to learn as much as they can about wrestling, that really fires you up even more.”
As for the performers in the biopic, Hawx (Oren Hawxhurst) couldn’t share a lot of details on that project but had high praise for White’s training as Kerry Von Erich. “Phenomenal; [A] super athlete, man, super athlete. So, if you wanna compare athletic skills like the way they talk about Kerry being an athlete, you know that’s really how Jeremy is.”
Hawx has certainly been busy in wrestling and in Hollywood in the last couple of years as a fight coordinator. He shared details about his work on the Starz! drama series Heels. Season two has wrapped and a release date has yet to be announced by the premiere channel, despite reports from other sources saying it was early October.
Hawx was instrumental in getting the stars of the show prepped for season one, along with his son, P.J. Hawx, and the wrestlers of his WildKat Sports wrestling production. As for the difference between the two seasons, Hawx offered this perspective. “Season one was a great drama and storytelling, and then they have that in season two as well, but season two has just so much more intense action.”
“We really ramped it up because they wanted to make it about the wrestling.” Hawx continued. “So we had half the time to produce them as well. Those guys worked so hard in there, and you gotta think to be trying to learn wrestling, and your dialogue and everything that comes along with it, plus keep up your appearances and this and that… it is so hard [with]these guys’ schedule so tight and they have to have that quick turnaround because it’s television. You only have so long to shoot each episode so it’s not like a film.”
To give some scope in the training and preparation between seasons of Heels, Hawx said they prepped for ten months before shooting began. “It was six months this year,” he said. “Half the time, twice the action.”
So, who’ve been the standouts on picking up and continuing with the wrestling moves on Heels?
“Allen [Maldonado], who plays Rooster, and Alexander [Ludwig]; those two, they’re super athletic, and they pick things up very quickly, and they all have good attitudes. You get to test them a little bit, and because they’re athletic they may be able to do a little more with some of the other guys.”
On the subject of doing more, Hawx has also been busy himself with portraying a certain Texas Rattlesnake on the NBC series, Young Rock. As for the prep work Hawx did in taking on the role of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin for the comedy docuseries, it all happened fast. “They actually called my agent and had me audition for it,” Hawx said. “I had to beat out, I couldn’t tell you how many people. It was a short time, too. The audition came right around the corner, so I didn’t even know what was coming and it had a deadline on it, so I didn’t have any time to prep.”
“During that time, it was still COVID, so you don’t go in with the casting directors anymore. Everything’s on Zoom,” he said. “I try as often as possible to be honest. For me, I just want to do a good job at anything I do, right? I always want to perform at my highest level. So, once I know I have that, I have expectations of myself to live up to. Any chance I get I walk around and talk to myself all the time. I watch videos, I do match study. Just… there’s a lot that goes on, I don’t just take it for granted, because I know how great of an opportunity it is and I appreciate that opportunity and I work my ass off to get to this level, so I have always had ambitions of going higher and higher.”
One has to imagine that would be nerve-wracking to be doing a role from someone in the WWE Attitude Era, but not for Hawx. “I got a lot of praise, which is cool. Still getting a lot of praise,” he began, “you always want to do well, and like I said, you have such high expectations of yourself, you never know how well you’re doing, you know? So it’s nice when those guys that you respect come up to you and respect you and tell you how well you’re doing and how you make them feel portraying who you’re portraying, that’s… that’s one of those feelings like that’s why we do it, and not everybody can get that all the time.”
The same is true for those actors on Young Rock who are portraying wrestlers of yesteryear, like The Iron Sheik. “The coolest thing about all these actors is like what I said about Zac [Efron] and those other cats you’re performing with,” Hawx explained. “These high-level actors that are very passionate about what they do, and they want to portray those characters the best they can because you know they’re playing real-life characters. This isn’t the character they made up. I think they really do their best to portray those characters and I think they do amazing jobs. I think the Young Rock cast is very well. Like, you mentioned the guy who plays The Iron Sheik (Brett Azar), right? [He] does an amazing job.”
Having been on both sets of Heels and Young Rock, Hawx has a unique perspective on the appeal of both shows to wrestling fans and television audiences. “They’re two different styles of shows, so they go for different audiences, even though they’re both wrestling attached,” Hawx said. “It’s crazy because I go from one show that’s a drama that gets really deep and rugged, and then I go straight into the family comedy show.”
“I can go back to tell you, working on both shows are a challenge because you have to be in different moods,” Hawx continued. “You gotta perform a certain way in each one. It’s a cool opportunity, though because I don’t want to be stuck in one genre. I don’t want to always be the thug or the bad guy, I want to branch out and chase as much as I can and push myself as far as I can.”
If that wasn’t enough, Hawx is also celebrating another milestone with his WildKat Sports promotion. Originally founded in June 2011 with Orlando Jordan, the Louisiana promotion will be celebrating its 11th anniversary in November, as well as assisting the National Wrestling Alliance with the upcoming Hard Times 3 pay-per-view.
Hawx is proud of the promotion’s growth over those 11 years. “When we first built the company, we were drawing 250 to 300 people our first show, which are decent crowds for an indie show,” he said. “And we quickly grew from there to 700 to 1,000. And then we stayed at 1,000 for a while, and then finally [on our] eight-year anniversary, we did 2,400 people at The Pontchartrain Center.”
There’s a bit of nostalgia for the 41-year-old Hawx as he reminisced on being in the same building his promotion was in where he would watch pro wrestling. “That was crazy because I had first seen my wrestling match when I was 10 years old in The Pontchartrain Center right after it first opened,” Hawx recalled. “And those shows were run by Buck Robley; they had Terry Funk and Paul Orndorff and all these cats on it. So, for me to go promote the building that I first seen my first wrestling show in and draw 2,400 people in it was crazy.”
WildKat was getting attention, especially after his son PJ Hawx did a diving crossbody from the second-floor balcony of the Esplanade Mall in Kenner, Louisiana, in February 2020. “I mean ESPN had us on every freaking show they had for a week straight and everything was getting thrown at us at that time.”
Then, COVID happened.
“That killed all the momentum we spent years building,” Hawx said. “When you’re trying to grow, it’s always a challenge and it’s always a new challenge. The bigger you get, the more challenges you run into, and then you throw in the pressures of what the economy’s in now and COVID and all that other stuff, it’s just… it’s a rollercoaster, right?”
Of course, this isn’t the first time WildKat has been involved with the NWA. “Well, originally you know when WildKat first started, we were in the NWA,” Hawx said. “We were more doing it for the insurance back then because that’s what everybody was doing because when we were just started … when you just start running a promotion, it costs a lot of money to promote wrestling shows in Louisiana. We have athletic commissions that just absolutely drown us, you know? So, it’s difficult to promote here.”
But despite those issues, WildKat Sport was starting to catch on with those individuals in the industry. Hawx named people like Booker T and Stevie Ray, as well as Scott Hall, Bob Holly, and Stevie Richards. “They wanted to come here because of the atmosphere of what Wildkat was providing,” Hawx said. “We have very passionate fans. Our fans show in big numbers; they’re very loud, they like to have a good time and it just provides a really good work environment so when people see that they feel that energy, man.”
While NWA will have its PPV at the Frederick J Sigur Civic Center in Chalmette, Louisiana, on November 12, and the following day is the Revolution Rumble as part of NWA’s PowerrrTrip TV tapings. Hawx he laid out his involvement. “I wouldn’t say I’m officially in that backstage role, because I don’t have time myself to commit to that anymore. But I help out as much as I can. I am the promoter of Wildkat [Sports] wrestling, but I have several guys that’ll help me too, like J. Spade and obviously PJ, and Sammy Kiss,” he said. “We all work together as a team to promote. So those guys will all be involved as well. You know, it’s not just an NWA show and not just a WildKat show. We’re literally merging together and working together and some things, in some ways… it’s taking some pressure off of me and in some ways taking some pressure off of them.”
With all this going around, how does Hawx balance promoting and being in wrestling shows, training actors, and starring in TV shows? “I love what I do and it’s not easy,” he said. “You’ve got to stay in shape, you’ve got to try and get your rest which was very difficult, you’re never on the same schedule. I’m bouncing around from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to Memphis to California.”
Having said that, Hawx wouldn’t trade it. “I’m so pumped the way things are and how hard I’ve worked to get to this point and do these things that I love with my son and people that worked hard alongside me and that fires me up every freaking day.”
NWA Hard Times 3 takes place on Saturday, November 12, 2022, at the Frederick J. Sigur Civic Center in Chalmette, Louisiana. It is available through Fite TV. Feature bouts include: a Three-Way Match for the NWA World title with Trevor Murdoch (c) vs. Matt Cardona vs. Tyrus; a Three-Way Match for the NWA Women’s World title with Kamille (c) vs. KiLynn King vs. Chelsea Green; NWA National Championship with Cyon (c) vs. Dak Draper and more.
TOP PHOTO: Luke Hawx ready for action. Photo courtesy NWA