Exclusive: Ricky Starks On Finding His Lane With The NWA

NWA Powerrr is a throwback in every sense of the word. The weekly studio show uses old school graphics and presentation while pushing personalities over athleticism. Top stars like Nick Aldis, James Storm, Colt Cabana, Ken Anderson, and Eli Drake have anchored the show with an old school mentality. And while the veterans continue to shine, perhaps no one has benefitted more from the NWA than Ricky Starks.

Starks was one of the first "unknowns" signed by the National Wrestling Alliance. While he built up a reputation on the Independent scene through AAW and worked dark matches for EVOLVE and ROH, Starks was rarely mentioned as being on the radar for top companies.

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So, Starks took it upon himself to create his own vignettes to show his personality and creativity.

"I found a guy in Austin to film, Travis Ward, and we collaborated as far as what I wanted them to be. For the most part, I produced everything and had 100% input. Travis filmed it and would say, 'This shot looks better this way.' For the most part, it was 100% from my brain and just an idea that I wrote down," Starks told Fightful when asked about the vignettes fans saw on social media. "To me, it's all about the intersection of art and cinematography with wrestling. I think about those things on a deeper level because that's what I'm into. I'm into certain angles and how my favorite directors shoot their movies. And I try to do that as well. It's a great creative outlet. I know myself better than anyone. The best way to articulate that is through visuals. Originally, I wanted it to be more of a look book, for people to atheistically look and be like, 'this is intriguing', and it's up for their interpretation. It really came from having these ideas of what I wanted to do and instead of holding off, (I wanted) to see where I could go with it."

Starks continued, "David Lagana saw one of my vignettes I created and messaged me. The purpose of those videos was to gain some interest. David Lagana hit me up after seeing it and wanted to bring me in for NWA 70. From there, I impressed in the ring and coupled with the creativity, that's how we became more in-depth as far as agreements go and what led me to NWA Powerrr. But it all started from those vignettes and trying to get myself out there."

In 2019, more attention is paid to in-ring athleticism than personality. But those who have been able to break that mold, such as Joey Janela and even The Young Bucks, have thrived. While Starks can hold his own in the ring, he knew he had to stand out in a different way.

"I don't feel like I can compete with the athletic style that the Indies are on right now. My body doesn't move like that. There are things that I'm limited in that doesn't allow me to take the same roads that were driven on by the previous Indie guys. To me, wrestling is about presentation, entertainment, and emotion. I have a pretty unique personality, I think. And I love to talk. My view on it was, 'let's bring the emotion in it.' I remember going to WWE to do extras work and they kept talking about 'emotion. We have someone that can do flips and this and that. But we need someone who can drive emotion.' I felt like that is my area. Through selling, through promos, I can really alter emotion. My goal was to make that happen. It was a long road traveled because I couldn't compete as far as atheticism but I saw that not a lot of people were doing promos or pulling emotion from the fans. I was hopeful that one day, that would show up for me. And that's why I wanted to do the videos because the fans don't get to see that. Most promotions don't even showcase that type of stuff. I didn't know NWA was going to be the 'promo promotion' but it worked in my favor that way," he said.

When Starks made his NWA Powerrr debut, some fans didn't know how to take him. He was labeled as a "Rock rip-off" with his look and his cadence and flamboyance seemed to confuse some fans. But as Starks told Fightful, he is simply allowed to be himself.

"If I had the sheet in front of me, it would say, 'be yourself,' that's it. When I have direction, it's easier for me, but it's hard because my personality is so polarizing. I have a sense of humor that is like, 'this guy is mean' or 'very funny.' It's hard to pinpoint that when you're speaking or having matches with a new audience," he said. "[Aron Stevens] and Trevor [Murdoch] were both hands on. I think they took a liking to me because I came with ideas. Usually, people in that position are apprehensive because it's like 'you guys are a name,' but to me, I'm like, 'this is my co-worker' so we need to collaborate on ideas. Mr. Anderson was there too and very helpful. I know people at the [WWE Performance Center] were able to see the promo and loved it as far as feedback goes. But for an immediate feedback, Stevens, Trevor, and Anderson were really helpful."

Starks will step into the ring with two veterans at NWA Into The Fire on Saturday, Dec. 14 when he challenges Colt Cabana for the NWA National Title in a triple threat match that also features Aron Stevens.

Fans can follow Ricky Starks on social media @starkmanjones.

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