You’ve seen Rick Knox as a ref on many wrestling shows; Lucha Underground, TNA, PWG and even on Smackdown as Christian’s lawyer. Here are some words from the man himself.
For the people out there who don’t know who you are, could you describe yourself?
I’m just a dedicated referee, who, at the end of the day, wants to be able to say I worked my hardest and did my best to make whatever wrestling show I’m on, that much better and believable. I do have a day job; I am a kitchen designer believe it or not! I have been married for almost 15 years, but have no kids.
How did you start out in wrestling and how did you become a referee?
I was a big fan going back to my early teens. When I was in my 20s, I read a newspaper article on a local wrestling school, The School of Hard Knocks in San Bernardino, California and their home promotion, the EWF (Empire Wrestling Federation). The school was run by two former wrestlers, Billy Anderson and Jesse Hernandez. I started attending their shows in 1995 or so. I never knew independent wrestling existed at all, much less that close to home! I started going and hanging out at the school and shows. I took pictures, helped with programs and flyers, things like that. I had the itch to get in the ring but knew I could not bump with the frequency the students and wrestlers did, so I started refereeing “practice matches” after classes. The wrestlers told Bill and Jesse I was good enough for shows and they should start booking me. So, soon I was working all the EWF shows as their main referee.
You’ve been a ref for many promotions, including Lucha Underground, TNA and PWG to name a few. Any matches stick out that you’ve been involved in?
There are many that stand out…. It’s hard to pinpoint just a couple, but the NWA title switches between Adam Pearce and Colt Cabana were pretty special… The very first time New Japan’s IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title was defended on US soil in a singles match was big (HEAT vs. Daniel Bryan). The Lucha Underground title match between Cage and Prince Puma (which aired on the latest edition of LU) is pretty good…
In PWG, you’ve been known to double as a commentator as well as a ref, do you enjoy it?
Yes I do enjoy doing commentary; it’s a lot of fun but very exhausting. It takes a whole different energy level to keep the excitement going and intensity level up. It is a lot harder than it appears. Massive props to all the commentators who do their job well. It’s a lot of work. Excalibur makes it easy though, because our on-camera chemistry is how we talk to each other in real life.
You’re not afraid to participate in the ring, as people who have seen you in PWG can attest to. Why did you and is it something you’d do again?
It’s funny, EVERY time I have been involved, it was never my idea! I enjoy the spots, they’re fun and the crowd pops huge for it but I would never go up to a wrestler and ASK to be injected into their match. They always come and ASK me if I would be willing to do this or that. Depending on who is asking, I usually do whatever they ask. I trust guys like the Young Bucks, Adam Pearce and Roderick Strong with my life. I can’t say that about every wrestler I work with!
Out of the places you’ve been a ref; are there any differences as to the way they do things?
Oh yeah, there can be able differences. For example, at UPW (Ultimate Pro Wrestling, former WWE developmental territory) we would get chastised, even fired, if the matches went over their time limits. At PWG, we really don’t have tomes to stock to and even Super Dragon has thanked me for giving them leeway and not counting them out, etc.
Drake Younger has gone from wrestler to ref in NXT, how is it seeing someone you’ve refereed go on to become to be a ref themselves?
With Drake, it was just so surreal. He was actually very concerned, thinking he took some sort of opportunity from me, I reassured him that WWE hired him for his heart and passion and he deserved every single bit of success he is getting. It makes me feel good that he cites me as one of his main inspirations as a referee.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to become a ref?
Advice for aspiring referees, take it seriously but not too seriously. Treat it like a real sporting event but learn to have fun with the wrestlers. Your job is to help get the wrestlers over, not yourself. Fans are paying to see them not you and don’t ever forget that. Also, something I’ve been telling people lately, learn to be ambidextrous and count with both arms. I recently suffered a broken hand during a match and basically could not count with my right hand. I was so sloppy with my left; it was so very awkward that I had to keep using my broken hand.
Can we expect to see you being a ref for years to come?
For years to come? Wow, here’s the deal, I’ve been doing this a long time, almost 20 years. My style has always been very physical and high impact. After these last couple injuries (broken arm in September, broken hand in December) and the workload, I was gearing up for a final run so to speak. But then something called Lucha Underground came along and I couldn’t say no. I mean, it’s everything I wanted in a wrestling promotion, international TV, local tapings, little or no travelling, top notch talent and production. It was kind of re-inspiring if you will!
Is there anything else you’d like to add or plug?
Nothing else to plug really, watch Lucha Underground and help us continue to be able to entertain the world! Thank you.
Thank you to Rick, who is in the middle of shooting the latest set of Lucha Underground tapings, to take time out to answer these questions.