Darius Lockhart is starting a revolution. Ever since he first began training to be a wrestler in 2012 under the tutelage of George South and WWE Superstar Cedric Alexander, Lockhart has been on the fast track to inciting a movement towards change in the wrestling community. In that regard, it seems all too appropriate to see that his gimmick takes inspiration from Civil Rights leaders who themselves paved the way to change history. Lockhart is looking to etch his name into the wrestling history books and did just that on August 20th at PWX Eye of the Beholder when The Revolutionary defeated Elijah Evans IV to win the PWX iTV Championship. The CWF regular captured his first championship in his career that night. We spoke with Lockhart about several different topics, among them being his first title win.
First things first, congratulations on becoming the PWX iTV Champion.
Thank you. Thank you very much. I’m really excited about it. I hope to keep making [this title] mean something.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but is this the first title you’ve won in your career so far?
My very first championship I’ve ever won in my career, yes sir.
Is this your greatest accomplishment in your career so far?
I think this is, by far, my greatest accomplishment in terms of the moment and the ceiling. I would definitely put this above as my greatest accomplishment yet, so far.
Do you have any new goals now that you’re champion?
Oh, now that I’m champion…oh, man. My new goals are to definitely elevate the prestige of the PWX iTV Championship. I just want to elevate the title and I want to make it the best in the southeast. I want people to come far and wide to challenge for this thing. I want everyone to know that this is the…I don’t wanna say the “workhorse title,” but I want people to realize that this isn’t a title to be looked over. I also want people to realize that Darius Lockhart is the person who elevated it.
To elevate the title, is there anyplace you’d want to defend it, or anyone you’d want to defend it against?
I’m trying to get everywhere and anywhere who’d have me. I’d love to take this back over to England. I spent some time there last year. I’m open to all challengers. Every weekend, I’m gonna try and put this belt on the line and try to make it mean something and let people know that PWX is the place to be and the PWX iTV Title is the title to have. I’m not even picky. Just bring them all on. It’s the people’s championship, so we’re gonna try to do it for them.
I also want to congratulate you on recently graduating from the University of North Carolina. How’d you find a way to balance out your wrestling career with your school studies these last few years?
It wasn’t always easy. My school work came first and foremost, so I had to keep that in mind. During the week, I would make sure that I knocked everything out of the way–often, I would have to take work with me on the road–but I never took my eyes off of what the true goal was, which was to graduate on time. I often had to remember that the sooner I graduate, the more I can focus on wrestling and I can give [wrestling] more time and effort than I already was. ‘Cause believe me, if I wasn’t in class or I wasn’t doing homework, I was trying to focus on wrestling. So I knew that once I was done and got my degree, I could focus on my career goal outside of wrestling, but I can also focus more on my passion and my craft. So, it was kind of like the cheese at the end of the maze for a mouse. I can get through this maze called college and I can pre-tape this journey, but at the end of the day, wrestling is that piece of cheese at the end so, once I accomplish [graduating], I can get to it. With that motivation in mind, it was so much easier to get through it. A lot of late nights working hard. A lot of countless hours writing papers, but it was all worth it in the end. It was all about the motivation and the drive, for sure.
What did you get your degree in, by the way?
I am a Communications major and an African Diaspora minor.
Over the last year, you’ve gone through a big character change. You’ve taken on the persona of The Revolutionary, you’re gowning out an afro, and your presence evokes a strong Black Panther imagery. Some of your signature moves are named after key members of the Black Panther Party (i.e. Huey Knee Newton, the Assata Driver). What inspired you to take on the gimmick?
As an African Diaspora Studies minor, the legacy of my people is always on my mind, I suppose. I was always thinking about it and with all of the recent events happening over the past few years with a lot of the racial issues in this country coming to the forefront, it’s been probably more prevalent than ever. It put me in a different space, mentally, along with, of course, the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Philando Castile. It was just always on my mind. So when I took the time to go over to England and take some time for myself, I was in a weird place with personal issues and just going overseas, I just kind of wanted to reinvent myself. And I remember hearing from older wrestlers and interviews that I had studied over the years, I learned that you want to take something that’s apart of you and amplify it by 10. With The Rock, it was his arrogance or his confidence. With Stone Cold, it was his nonchalant attitude. So with me, I was like “Why don’t I take something I care about in wrestling and amplify it by 10? Why don’t I take the pride of my people and amplify that by 10 and make it apart of me?” It’s something that resonates with a lot of people and I feel like, we don’t really have…I mean, more than ever right now, there are more African Americans that are wrestling than there’s probably ever been, but I feel like still, we only get so many black superheroes. There’s a limit. So if I could be the person that I needed when I was younger, if I can be that for somebody else, and let them know that they can be proud of their blackness and only be who they are, then by far, I decided that would be the right path for me to take. So that was basically my thought process with that decision. It’s the part of me that I will not ignore and cannot ignore, so I might as well use it to set boundaries and let people know what I’m about.
You mentioned that there’s only so many African Americans in wrestling today. In your case, that puts you in a unique position as a role model to young African American fans who can look up to you. Knowing you have that sort of responsibility on your shoulders, does that make you more conscious or cautious as to what you do/say in the ring?
Oh, 100%, and that goes for in and out of the ring. I feel like right now, there’s kind of a social divide with people, so I try to hold myself accountable these days and hold myself to a higher standard. I try to listen to others’s experiences. Right now more than ever, I’m getting particular about what I say, what I do, I try to listen to others speak. I try to approach this as a kind of…I don’t wanna be a voice for the voiceless, I just wanna pass the microphone. I kind of go in with that mentality, so I try to be meticulous with it, but I try to still stay authentic, so you’re still gonna get the real me in there. You’re gonna get someone who’s nuanced and careful with their decisions. I understand the platform and the opportunities that are in front of me to touch others, and so I take that with a lot of pride and a lot of weight, but I take that as something I’m willing to take on because it’s something that I care about. I try to be very careful about what I do, but it’s all about paying attention.
You also mentioned earlier that your gimmick as The Revolutionary is basically you 10x. A lot of times, that makes for the best gimmicks in wrestling, but some argue that it runs a risk of displaying stereotypes. Do you think stereotypes in wrestling is an issue, or it’s all okay for the sake of entertainment?
I’ll say that stereotypes are kind of an issue in wrestling, for sure. It’s definitely something embedded within the culture really deeply. I feel like there has been so many times where it has been problematic and often used in a negative connotation, but I feel like as long as it’s authentic and it’s you, then that’s something you kind of have to adjust with. You never wanna put the ability to represent people in jeopardy. You don’t wanna put them in a negative light, but you still have to be authentic to yourself so if that’s you, then by all means, be yourself. Just try and be authentic. Try to stay away from the actual legit stereotypes if it’s not you. A lot of times we’re asked to turn something in that isn’t ourselves, but I feel like that isn’t always to our benefit.
Alternatively, do you think that incorporating racism into storylines (i.e. the Triple H/Booker T angle from 2002) is a problem as well, or is it all, again, for the sake of entertainment?
Well, I’m not sure about that storyline specifically. I won’t touch on anything in particular and I don’t wanna be specific or anything, but in terms of the general overall theme of racism, I feel like there isn’t really a place for that in wrestling. Yes, my act is race related, but I try to use it as a way to bring awareness about an issue and bring people together. There’s no picking out a specific type of person that can be a Revolutionary. Anyone can be a Revolutionary. It’s all about the discourse that this can create. That’s what I’m all about. The discourse that can be eye-opening to some of the issues that are here in America. I feel like a lot of the racism [in wrestling]…there probably isn’t a place for it at all. I know I’m uncomfortable anytime I see a wrestler of African American descent being hung up by a noose outside the ring. It’s always kind of tasteless to me. So I feel like there isn’t a place in wrestling for blatant racism. Definitely not, in my opinion.
I know you said you don’t want to mention specific people/situations, but you’ve actually seen an African American hung by a noose in a wrestling ring?
Yeah, I’ve seen it before. I don’t think the act was intentionally racist. I don’t think it was “Hey, we have this black guy and we’re gonna hang him,” but I think it was along with The Outlaw gimmick that people do. You know, they’d take a noose and hang someone and not think about the situation at hand. That this is an African American and the situation that it represents. So, I think people need to be more careful with things like that, especially if you’re going to use that in front of a southern audience like I’ve seen before. I’ve seen it go over and it entirely kills a crowd, so you have to pick your spots with things like that and be careful. I try to stay away from angles like that, period.
When a booker does pitch a racist or race-related angle to you, how do you respond to it? Do you flat out turn it down, or do you try to make sense out of it?
Well, I’m a professional, first and foremost, so usually when things hit that line, I’m quick to say no, but I would do it in a way that they understand why I’m uncomfortable with the situation. I’ve seen that happen too many times, but I will be more vocal at that point. ‘Cause really, I’m one of those “I show up. How can I help you? How can I make your show better? What do you need me to do?” people. If the angle is something I’m uncomfortable with or something I think is problematic, I’m gonna speak my mind and I’m gonna say it professionally like “Hey, I’m uncomfortable with this. I think there’s another way we can take this. How can we take this and move this here to the left a little bit and adjust it so that we can be somewhere in the middle so that we don’t step on any toes or do something that’s unnecessary?” So, whenever that happens, that’s how I try to handle myself. Luckily, it hasn’t happened that many times.
Since you wrestle primarily in the south with a gimmick like that, have you ever gotten any backlash for portraying a character like that?
Not to my face. Not vocally. I’m sure there are many opportunities that I probably missed out on because of who I am or what I represent, but I knew that was going to happen going in. That’s just the repercussions that I’m willing to take. That’s how strong I believe in this. Luckily, everything to my face and everything I’ve seen has been very receptive. Audience members of all races and all backgrounds can appreciate my work. I come in and there’s fists of every shade and every color in the air and, personally, that’s what it’s all about to me. I love seeing that so if I can be a hero to my own people and a hero to everyone else, then we can all come together. Luckily, I haven’t run into many negative things. I hear a lot of feedback from people of all different races.
The reason I ask is because I cover CWF Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on our website and the first match that I ever covered saw you take on Cain Justice. Justice worked as a heel and you as a face, but every time you put up your fist, you got booed, or at least got a mixed reaction. Justice was the one getting cheered by everyone. With that said, have you ever had an instance where an audience caught one look at your image and felt uncomfortable, or anything like that?
Well, going back to Cain Justice, that was more of a contextual thing. I hadn’t been in CWF in a while and in my last run for CWF, I was a heel. Before I even started doing this gimmick, I was an arrogant heel, so I was cocky. So, when I came back, they just didn’t know how to react to me; they already knew they hated me from the last time I was there. [CWF] wanted me to be cheered, and the audience was fighting it. And Cain Justice is the hometown guy so they’re gonna be solid behind everything he does. So, to add a little context to that, that was a little bit of a mixed reaction, of course. But in terms of making people uncomfortable, I’ve definitely seen it. I’ve noticed it, but it’s usually more like they take what they’re given and decide whether they’re gonna cheer or not. I’m still getting cheers regardless outside of those members. Usually, I don’t get too many bad vibes from audiences. I think they just know how to react appropriately if they’re not digging something and that’s okay, because they spent their money so they’re fine to act how they want at a wrestling show.
Speaking of CWF, it’s there where you started tagging with Caprice Coleman from Ring of Honor as The Vanguard. Your two gimmicks compliment each other really well, so I was just wondering if you had a hand in bringing him back to CWF by any chance.
Oh, 100%. It was a thing where Caprice and The Rebellion had wrapped up in Ring of Honor and he reached out to me. He was like “Hey man, I think there’s something we can do here.” I was like “Yeah, let’s do it. I’m down for it.” We’ve known each other for years. He was around when I first started training and he’s always been someone in my corner. He’s always been a mentor to me and kind of an advocate for Darius Lockhart. We went and decided we were gonna tag up. We got interest from Brad [Stutts]…and it was just kind of the perfect storm. There was an open tag spot on the roster. We were a hot new tag team, Brad cleared both our work. He reached out to me, asked Caprice if we could do it, Caprice was more than happy to oblige, and we just made that happen. So it was just a perfect storm, perfect timing, and everything.
Between the #1 Contender’s Gauntlet match and your CWF Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship match against The Dawsons, was that a one time thing between you two, or is there more to come?
Oh, you’re definitely be seeing more of The Vanguard coming up. That was our first time wrestling together and there’s obviously a natural chemistry that we wouldn’t wanna waste. We were very happy tagging with each other. We had a lot of fun in there. We trained together most of the time on a weekly basis. So you’ll definitely be seeing more of The Vanguard. There’s more to come. Hopefully, you’ll be seeing some gold around our waste very soon. Preferably, from The Dawsons themselves.
Now that you’ve joined the tag team division, do you have a preference between working tag matches and working solo matches?
Right now, I definitely have a preference for singles matches. It’s just, you know, kind of what I wanted to come up doing. I have a love and admiration for tag team wrestling that I really can’t even explain to you, but I definitely have more of a preference for singles wrestling right now, especially now that I’m so young. I’m only about 3-4 years in, so I’m still learning who I am as a performer and solo work always helps me get a better grasp on that. So when I get with Caprice or someone to tag, it’s easier to mesh together.
Is one easier to plan out than the other?
Oh, you know, you can never plan what you do out there, man. Everybody’s gotta plan to get punched in the mouth, right? Is it easier to go out strategizing solo work, especially when you only have to worry about one other person in that ring. So I would definitely say it’s easier to strategize for solo. Tag teams, there’s people all over the place, you’ve got trust your partner out there, and hope he has your back.
With that said, do you prefer to wrestle on the fly in the ring, or are there times you feel like you have to plan things out backstage prior to the match?
Well, going into matches, I watch a lot of tapes of my opponents. So I’m already always scouting them out trying to strategize how to take those guys down anyway. So I’m always thinking that way ahead of time. It’s very rare where I’m just in the ring like “Hey…” I’m just gonna come up with an idea of how to take this guy down. I’m a strategical person so I like to plan ahead.
Back in the day, you were trained by WWE Superstar Cedric Alexander. What were those training sessions like? Did he teach you anything about in-ring character?
Oh yeah, 100%. He was always super intense with us. Originally, my first and foremost trainer is George South. He trained me and Cedric, but eventually, Cedric kind of took me under his wing in a big brother role. Whether it was in a car trip or in the ring or during one of our weekly practices, he would always pull me aside and give me little pieces of advice. Like “Hey, when do you wanna do this? It’ll be more explosive. When you do a corner dropkick, does it make this more impactful? Here’s how you get the audience behind you. You wanna reach out; body language.” Body language was a big thing between me and Cedric. He would always tell me about it, whether it was about the audience or the people you’re in the ring with. Essentially, with stuff like that, he’s always worked with me.
Since Cedric Alexander is in WWE now, is that someplace you’d like to be now in the near future, or are you comfortable just building yourself up on the indies for the time being?
I think I’m comfortable with building myself on the indies for the time being. I feel like if I’m sitting there just waiting, waiting, waiting on that call, it’ll be a little more grueling on your mindset. I always say a comparison’s a thief of joy, so I’m never just going to keep grasping and wanting it. If it’s going to be down the line, I would love to be there, but I’m not really focused on that right now. If they come calling, we’ll definitely cross that bridge when we get there, but right now, I’m focused on being the best wrestler that I can be so that if that call does come, I can make WWE the best place it can be with my presence.
If you did get that call, but they tell you that you can’t be The Revolutionary–perhaps because it can cause too much controversy for their PG product–will you still be willing to go to WWE, or would you only want to go if you could be your Revolutionary gimmick?
Well, I think that’s a mistake a lot of people make. I remember awhile ago, I heard Sami Zayn saying “As a wrestler, you never want to be married to an idea of yourself.” That’s how you get pigeonholed and don’t move forward. If you’re married to an idea of yourself and who you want to be, then you miss out on a lot of opportunities. I’m sure that The New Day never imagined they would be The New Day. You know what I’m saying? I don’t think Big E was 13-years old dreaming about coming to the ring on a unicorn. You have to be willing to adapt and change. So, I’m more than willing to do that as a wrestler. That’s just what you have to be. I’m still going to be. I’m still going to be Darius Lockhart. People are still going to know what I’m going to be about and I’m still going to be in a place where people can see me do my thing and hopefully be inspired by that. So I don’t have a problem stepping aside and not being The Revolutionary. It’s just apart of wrestling. It’s what you have to do. You have to adapt, so I have no issue with that.
Before we end this interview, is there anything you’d like to promote that’s coming up? Appearances, matches, etc?
For sure. I’m going to be taking this belt wherever I go. Please pay attention to my Twitter feed @DLockPro. I’ll be tweeting there where I’m going to be defending this championship. Might have a few pop-up appearances. Might make a surprise appearance. For confirmed dates, I got PWX September 16th. I’m probably going to be at Battle Pro October 14th. A lot of few and far days between. A lot of times, I’m just jumping in cars and trying to find new places to defend this new thing. We’re going to be working on that, first and foremost, so please pay attention to my Twitter and I will definitely be putting out dates constantly.