LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — A driving, electronic beat shakes the woofers in the Davis Arena sound system, and a flock of pink flamingos dashes across an open plain on the video screens. We’re 1,082 miles from Miami Beach, but a pair of refugees from the days of Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas are already stirring the fans’ emotions. The curtain parts, and a pair of time travelers from the early 1980s emerge, dressed in fluorescent pinks and blues, sporting bleach blonde hair, mirrored shades, gold chains, and seriously bad attitudes.

Truth Magnum and Turbo Floyd strut down the ramp to ringside, oblivious to the boos and jeers of their detractors, of which they have many. They flex their muscles. They wave the plastic shell case containing The Best of the Outrunners: Volume 2 on video cassette in the faces of the haters. They take the ring and begin to spin wildly like a pair of tops, index fingers extended to remind everyone who is number one.

Well, at least in their own minds.

If this actually were Miami circa 1983, the boos would be much louder, deeper, and angrier. The jeers would be accompanied by flying cups of beer and trash hurled at the notorious duo in the center of the ring. But this is not 1983. This is Ohio Valley Wrestling at the Davis Arena in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s 2022, and there are just as many fans cheering for these unrepentant cheaters as there are cursing them. A few of fans even dropped a couple bucks at the gimmick tables to buy the paper dolls, printed replicas of Turbo and Truth mounted on sticks that spin just like their… can we really call them heroes?

The Outrunners have spent the last few years making OVW their playground. They are brash, big mouthed, obnoxious, and pretty darn underhanded. But they’re also seasoned veterans who have found their true groove after many years in the ring. They’re not as old as the personas they play in the ring make it appear, but they are part of a new crop of professional wrestlers making something old new again.

The man now called Truth Magnum was originally known to OVW fans as Shiloh Jonze, a native of the Pacific Northwest. Growing up in Seattle, his earliest wrestling memories go back to WrestleMania IV, when the WWF held a tournament won by Randy Savage for the vacated WWF World Heavyweight Championship.

Shiloh Jonze — the future Truth Magnum — in 2014. Photo by Pamela Barnett, https://www.instagram.com/wrestlingphotog/

At the age of 14, Shiloh started setting up the ring and chairs for a Tacoma, Washington, promotion called ICW. “I convinced my sister to start training with them,” he says. “She trained for about two months and quit, but I kept going to do set up. I rode the bus twice a week from Seattle to Tacoma. It was a long drive and a long walk from the bus stop to the arena.”

After four or five months, trainer Tim Flowers approached Shiloh. “Kid, is this really what do you want to do?”

Shiloh replied, “More than anything.” After getting some waivers signed, Flowers began to train the teenager at the age of 15.

“All through high school, I trained in the summer and winter,” says Truth, who played football in the fall and ran track in the spring. “I tried college, but I couldn’t escape the wrestling bug. I moved back to Seattle and trained with Buddy Wayne and Bryan Alvarez for about a year and a half.”

Back in the Midwest, Randall Floyd became a fan as a kid growing up in the 1990s. “The WCW/nWo era was where I started. I grew up with a heel Hulk Hogan and a heel Randy Savage, so that’s all I knew. Those were the characters I loved, and that’s who I ended up morphing into as a wrestler.”

Floyd started his training at a much younger age than Shiloh, somewhere around five or six. But, the wrestling training he received was not what he expected. “It was amateur wrestling. I thought I was signing up to hit kids with steel chairs.”

Despite his disappointment, Floyd fell in love with the sport. He attended the University of Indianapolis on a wrestling scholarship, and after finishing college, he traveled across country to San Diego, California, to try his hand at professional wrestling. Floyd knew about OVW, but he felt intimidated about going there. The WWE had left town already, but TNA Wrestling was using it as a training school at the time.

“I saw an ad online for a wrestling school in San Diego called So Cal Pro,” he says. “I called and left a message. They called me back the next day, and I set out for California the day after that.”

By the time Floyd moved West, Shiloh Jonze had moved East, arriving in Louisville in 2008. “Buddy Wayne was a student of Rip Rogers, who had trained all the WWE guys at OVW. Buddy pointed me in the direction of OVW. I moved here, and I’ve lived here ever since.”

Shiloh stepped away from wrestling in 2016. “Once I had my son, I took a break to finish my education,” he says. “I thought I was done wrestling, but then I was asked to come back and wrestle one more time at the Matt Cappotelli Memorial show. That was when I realized I still had a lot left in the tank.”

After wrapping up a feud with Open Mic Eagle, Shiloh was feeling like he’d exhausted his current gimmick, at least at OVW. He left the company and went out on the road, working for a number of independents. He found himself working and traveling with another OVW refugee, Randall Floyd.

After a few years of training in California, Floyd finally moved to Louisville, eager to sit under the learning tree of Rip Rogers. “It was six straight years of calling 30-minute matches on the fly with Rip,” says Turbo. “It was sink or swim, and I had to learn to fight to swim.”

Floyd spent eight years wrestling as Randall Floyd, his amateur wrestling background forming a big part of his image. He even became a coach with the OVW beginner’s class. But after several years, Floyd felt the need to shake things up as well.

“My old gimmick worked for a second, then it didn’t. Then it worked, then it didn’t,” says Floyd. “It got to where I felt like I was spinning my wheels. I started bouncing some ideas off Al Snow about a new character, and I decided to take a break from OVW and try some new things on the independents.”

That new thing caught the eye of Shiloh Jonze. It was exactly the sort of new idea he was after. The two began collaborating, and new identities were forged. Shiloh Jones became Truth Magnum. Randall Floyd became Turbo Floyd. The Outrunners were born.

The Outrunners, Truth and Turbo, in early 2022. Photo by Pamela Barnett, https://www.instagram.com/wrestlingphotog/

And then came COVID-19.

“I’m not kidding you. It was on a Wednesday we made it official. We were a tag team. We were The Outrunners,” says Truth. “That Friday, they announced the lockdown for COVID.”

Like every other wrestling promotion, major and minor, OVW shut down and sent everyone home. The Outrunners would not debut in a ring for a long time, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t work to be done. In addition to staying in shape, the boys began shaping up their new image.

“The best thing about COVID was it gave us a chance to hone our characters,” says Truth. “We couldn’t wrestle, but we already knew how we wanted to wrestle. So we created a lot of character-driven stuff.”

The inspiration for The Outrunners came straight from the heroes of their childhood. “I tried to find a way to mesh my favorite wrestlers into one,” says Floyd. “I move like Randy Savage. We both sell like Curt Hennig. I try to have the intensity of Roddy Piper. And by default, I have the Hulk Hogan haircut. I wanted to take all these things I liked growing up and adapt it to today’s style of wrestling.”

“We wrestle in a style that’s reminiscent of that time period, but with a modern twist,” says Truth. “It just works, blending that old school style with a present day sensibilities. The ’80s were a time of excess, so it’s easy to be larger than life with these characters.”

The Outrunners are tied up against Level X (the masked Blanco Loco and Axton Ray). Photo by Pamela Barnett, https://www.instagram.com/wrestlingphotog/

Fans definitely got a taste of old school when The Outrunners worked a double dog collar match in August against the young babyface team, Level X. It was a blow off match to a long-running feud in which the two tag teams had stolen the show on many nights.

“I watched Piper versus Valentine before that match just to get some ideas,” said Turbo. “But it was a challenge because I’d never seen a double dog collar match before. We got to be creative and come up with some fun spots. I didn’t expect the chain to sting so much, but the crowd seemed to love it.”

As long-standing veterans in the OVW locker room, The Outrunners have embraced their role as mentors to younger talent like Level X. Truth Magnum is agenting all the dark matches and assisting with production backstage. “I love teaching and training,” he says. “And I really like working with the younger guys, helping them find their characters and teaching them how to do business in a TV environment.”

Even as he’s teaching it, Truth says they are both learning from a master instructor. “Al Snow is so good at teaching people how to work TV. Not just telling the story of a match, but telling a story over weeks or months and how that changes what you do in the ring. Al stresses treating everything as if it were real, because if you believe, the fans will believe. He’s been a huge part of my success.”

“Most of the guys we work with also attend the training school at OVW,” says Turbo. “They’re learning from Al Snow and Doug Basham how to work on the fly the same way we did with Rip. That’s been great for us because we can still feed off the crowd and call a lot of the action in the ring. It becomes more real, and that gets the crowd more invested.”

That ability to wing it, to follow the crowd and be spontaneous, not only sets The Outrunners apart but the entire OVW roster. It gives the entire production more flexibility, even during TV tapings.

“The first time I wrestled Cash Flo at OVW, we were told backstage we had eight minutes,” says Floyd. “When I hit the ring, the ref told us we had 15. Instead of, ‘What do we do for those extra minutes?’ we both said, ‘Great! Now we can have some fun!’ It’s probably one of my most memorable matches.”

These days the fan reaction to The Outrunners varies by who else is in the ring. Pit them against Level X or Luscious Lawrence or Kal Herro, the crowd splits down the middle, with higher pitched voices jeering and lower pitched voices cheering. Pit them against a heat magnet like Jack Vaughn, and everyone comes around to their side.

Yet no matter how many people cheer or boo, The Outrunners remain true to themselves. There’s nothing babyface about anything they do. They think nothing of using foreign objects (including their own Best of The Outrunners video cassette), distracting the ref, using the ropes, sticking a thumb in someone’s eye, running their mouths, or yelling back at the little kids in the front row. During the recent Nightmare Cup, when tag team partners were being drawn at random, Truth took advantage of a distracted official to make sure he and Turbo would be paired up.

The crowd loved it.

“I love the reactions we get,” says Truth. “I think it’s because we believe so much in what we’re doing in the moment. That’s contagious. It’s something you can feel as a fan. I feel it as a performer, and we feed off each other.”

The boys still get opportunities to work solo, often with their partner at ringside. In September fans got to see Truth Magnum work Jack Vaughn one night while Turbo Floyd took on Cash Flo. The following week, they switched dance partners. Truth wrestled Cash, and Turbo wrestled Jack. All four matches are worth looking up on FITE along with their recent feud with Level X.

Turbo of The Outrunners takes a chop from Cash Flo. Photo by Pamela Barnett, https://www.instagram.com/wrestlingphotog/

The Outrunners continue to evolve week to week. Truth and Turbo are continually trying new things in the ring to see what sort of reaction they get. “If something works, we keep it. If it doesn’t, we’ll try something else,” says Floyd. “We’ve become goofier and sillier over time, and that feeds into who we really are. We definitely enjoy laughing at ourselves. It seems to be working. Our fans are sharing things on Twitter, and other promotions are now reaching out to us.”

One of the biggest opportunities so far was the chance to work a dark match for AEW in Cincinnati against The Butcher and The Blade. Having worked as an extra for WWE a few times, Turbo Floyd found AEW to be a much friendlier, more welcoming space. “In WWE the tension is really high. You stay in your corner. You go get something eat when told, and then you go right back to your corner. You’re straight as an arrow because you want to impress Vince (McMahon) and Triple H. AEW was a completely different experience, much more laid back. There were a lot of OVW guys, which helps you break the ice. The majority of my friend either have jobs or were backstage that same night, including my training partner Brian Pillman, Jr. It makes you feel more comfortable when you know people.”

“It was definitely the biggest crowd I ever wrestled for,” says Truth. “What was really amazing was the reaction we got from that crowd. We were just up the road in Cincinnati, and a lot of the fans recognized us as The Outrunners.”

Truth and Turbo are both hopeful that they’ll have more opportunities like AEW. “I would love to wrestle FTR,” says Truth. “Seeing their success has really inspired us. We’ve modeled a lot of what we do after them. There’s also a team on the West Coast, The Midnight Heat, I’d love to wrestle. They’re really on the rise, and I hope our paths cross.”

Turbo has his list of dream opponents, too, but he’s not hopeful he’ll work many of them. “They’re either too old or dead!” he quips. “We would love to wrestle FTR, and I’d love to wrestle The Briscoes again. We had a great match against them earlier this year where we had the crowd in the palm of our hands. It was mostly due to them because they’re so over.”

There’s no question FTR versus The Outrunners would be a must-see match. Both teams have a decidedly old school feel to them, which seems to be a trend across the business. “The Veteran” Jack Vaughn has definitely tapped into that vibe with his in-ring work and his “anti-indie wrestler” TikTok. Thunderkitty claims to be 100 years young and that she wrestled the likes of Mae Young and Elvira Snodgrass in their prime.

A lot of success in pro wrestling and beyond is about timing. For Truth Magnum and Turbo Floyd, they found the perfect time to become retro heels. They’re having the most fun they’ve ever had in a wrestling ring, and love them or hate them, most fans will grudgingly admit they bring the fun any time they hit the ring.