Ron Thomas (born May 10, 1958) is an American retired professional wrestler known by his ring name The Nighthawk. Thomas was a popular masked wrestler in the Southern independents and won championships in several promotions during the early 1990s.
In his career, Thomas wrestled for various wrestling promotions: Continental Championship Wrestling, Jim Crockett Promotions, Professional Championship Wrestling, and the Universal Wrestling Association. He was one of many wrestlers whose career was affected by the collapse of the NWA territory system and spent several years in retirement. Thomas returned to wrestling in 2002 and made appearances for AWA Superstars and the National Wrestling Alliance, in addition to a considerable number of independent wrestling promotions in Florida.
Prior to entering pro wrestling, Thomas was a sports writer and photographer for several professional wrestling magazines in the US and United Kingdom, most notably, as a contributing editor for Wrestling Eye and Wrestling Fury.
He grew up in Texas and became a fan of pro wrestling primarily through family members that exposed him to their favorites such as Lou Thesz, Chief Don Eagle and Fritz Von Erich. After learning freestyle wrestling and gymnastics in prep school, he went on to play other sports (two years of tennis at Gulf Coast Community College, a season of semi-pro baseball in Florida with the Panama City Flames, a season of semi-pro football with the Ocala Outlaws) including tennis, golf and kickboxing at a competitive level, earning honors in each.
Professional wrestling career
After working as a sports writer and photographer, he began covering pro wrestling for various magazines such as Wrestling Eye and Wrestling Fury (where he was a contributing editor), Official Wrestling Insider, TV Wrestling, Brute Force and others in the US and UK. WWE Hall of Fame broadcaster the late Gordon Solie had introduced the future Nighthawk to the backstage world of pro wrestling and was his point of contact for World Championship Wrestling (WCW), Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF) and Continental Championship Wrestling (CCW). It was while covering the sport that Steve Keirn, then of The Fabulous Ones tag team and currently head of WWE's developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling, suggested that he should begin training as a wrestler himself. At 6'3" and 235 pounds, Keirn felt he was wasting his size behind a camera. In 1988, he sought out training from Dean Malenko, The Man of 1,000 Holds and Pro Wrestling Illustrated's 1997 Wrestler of the Year.
From there, he moved to Panama City, Florida, and made his debut with Universal Wrestling Association as The Nighthawk. He lost his debut match on March 15, 1990, to The Spade, but spent the next year in UWA's training camp and appeared with WWE Hall of Famer Bullet Bob Armstrong, the "Exotic" Adrian Street and many others in the former Continental Championship Wrestling area of north Florida and south Alabama. The Nighthawk went on to great success as a rookie in the UWA, winning both the Junior Heavyweight Championship on August 2, 1990, and the UWA Tag Team titles on July 26, 1990, with The Eliminator. In late 1992, he worked in the Professional Championship Wrestling (PCW) promotion, run by the late WWE Hall of Famer Big John Studd and was the PCW Cruiserweight Champion.
The Nighthawk Returns
After spending several years in the fire service, The Nighthawk returned to pro wrestling with various promotions across the south, first in north Florida's World Independent Wrestling where he was half of the tag team champions, losing the belts to old rivals The SWAT Team (The Trooper and The Cobra) whom he had battled in the UWA. It was The Cobra that The Nighthawk defeated for the UWA Junior Heavyweight championship. The Nighthawk also lost a WIW Light-Heavyweight title bout to Johnny All-Star after their tag team dissolved.
IWA Worldwide and SCW Texas Champ
From WIW, he was tapped by the IWA Worldwide to be its first Heavyweight Champion and to defend that title anywhere in the US. This led to matches against Rebel Rob Lee, a graduate of Larry Sharpe's Monster Factory, in the Georgia Wrestling Alliance (GWA) and Awesome Pro Wrestling (APW). He also defended the IWA title against Drew "Blood" Bannen, a graduate of Exotic Adrian Street's wrestling school, in Universal Classic Championship Wrestling (UCCW). The Nighthawk also appeared in Southern Championship Wrestling (SCW) as its Texas Heavyweight Champion and made a notable defense against The Saint, a graduate of the legendary Hart Family "Dungeon" in Calgary.
The Nighthawk in the NWAA longtime goal for The Nighthawk was to appear in the National Wrestling Alliance where his heroes Jack Brisco and Dory Funk, Jr., had their legendary battles for the NWA World championship. Based the record he had built in the tri-states (Alabama-Florida-Georgia) area, The Nighthawk was invited to wrestle for NWA Championship Wrestling from Florida (NWA-CWFL), managed by Vanessa Harding (a long-time friend who had also managed him in SCW). While unsuccessful in his efforts to wrest the NWA South Atlantic title from champion Redd Alert, The Nighthawk became a popular star in the Orlando area and eventually defeated Bryan Fury to win the NWA Gulf Coast Heavyweight Championship. A previous version of this title had been held by Cowboy Bob Kelly, Ken Lucas and many other stars of the region in the 1970s. The Nighthawk made several successful defenses of the new NWA Gulf Coast title across the Florida Panhandle and into south Georgia for various promotions including NWA Spinebuster Championship Wrestling (NWA-SCW) where WWE Hall of Famer and former NWA World Champ Dory Funk, Jr, was still appearing. A notable title defense came when The Nighthawk defeated one of Funk's protégés Big Bank Barfield in a Texas Bullrope Match.
The Nighthawk in the AWA
In 2005, The Nighthawk was recruited by the Great American Wrestling Federation (GAWF) to make some NWA Gulf Coast title defenses. When GAWF joined the American Wrestling Association (AWA), this created an opportunity to chase another championship under another major sanctioning body. After a year of pursuit, The Nighthawk defeated Steve Dalton to win the AWA Coastal Heavyweight Championship. In 2006, The Nighthawk retired as the GAWF/AWA Coastal Heavyweight Champion. The Nighthawk is also a Life Member of the Cauliflower Alley Club and a state-licensed mixed martial arts trainer. In a recent interview with the Daytona Beach News-Journal, The Nighthawk recounts his early days in wrestling and outside the ring encounters with stars such as Scott Hall aka Razor Ramon of WWE.
- Finishing moves
- Texas cloverleaf
- Waco Suspension Bridge
Championships and accomplishments
- IWA Worldwide
- IWA Worldwide Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- National Wrestling Alliance
- NWA Gulf Coast Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- AWA Superstars
- AWA Coastal Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Great American Wrestling Federation
- GAWF Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Professional Championship Wrestling
- PCW Light Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Southern Championship Wrestling
- SCW Texas Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Universal Wrestling Association
- UWA Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- UWA Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with The Eliminator
- World Independent Wrestling
- WIW Tag Team Championship (2 times) - with Johnny All-Star and Rough Rider
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