For most of his career, he was known as ‘The Hands of Stone’ and wrestled for various territories and promotions in Georgia, Tennessee, Puerto Rico and Canada. He was even a former NWA world heavyweight champion defeating ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair. After nearly 30 years in the wrestling business, Ronnie Garvin was looking to slow down a bit. Garvin thought, what better place to do that than go to the World Wrestling Federation.
In 1989, Ronnie Garvin was tired of traveling to Puerto Rico where he was in a violent feud with Carlos Colon over the World Wrestling Council Universal title. He decided to reach out to his good friend and mentor Pat Patterson and get a feel if the WWF and Vince McMahon would be interested in him. With Patterson’s blessing, the WWF hired Garvin who didn’t exactly fit the bill of what a WWF superstar was. Garvin knew that and was upfront with McMahon from the beginning…telling him that he couldn’t sing or dance and wouldn’t either.
Despite that, Vince hired him anyway due to Pat Patterson’s reference. His nickname was changed from the Hands of Stone to ‘Rugged’ Ronnie Garvin. A change that Garvin did not mind at all. According to Garvin, he made the most money in the two years he wrestled with the WWF, than any other promotion he ever worked for.
Because of that, Garvin wanted to make sure he was used and became very vocal of the things he wanted to do in the company. For his first major WWF feud, he chose Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine. Garvin was a longtime admirer of Greg’s father Johnny Valentine and wanted to work with his son. He also realized that Greg had a very similar style to his and thought it would work well.
After a bit of working with Valentine across the country, Garvin started feeling burnt out. He approached Vince with the idea of a retirement angle. The loser of a match with Valentine would be forced to retire from the WWF. Garvin lost the match and was “forced” to retire. After his retirement, Garvin came up with the idea to become a referee. Not just any kind of referee, but the type that would get physical against any wrestler who got in his face or did something he didn’t like.
According to Garvin, the original idea was very similar to how the company presented Stone Cold Steve Austin….but as a WWF official. For reasons he never knew, the WWF watered down the vision Garvin had for his new gimmick. After a bit as a referee, the gimmick was dropped and Garvin sat on the sidelines for a while. Garvin would eventually return as a ring announcer at SummerSlam ’89 and reignite his feud with Valentine by poking fun of Valentine during the introductions. That would lead Valentine to demand that President Jack Tunney reinstate Garvin as a wrestler.
After his feud with Valentine culminated, Garvin was used sporadically against various opponents. He was scheduled to begin a feud with ‘The Model’ Rick artel….but by November of 1990….Garvin wanted out of the company. Despite, the good money and the easier schedule for him…Garvin wanted to leave because he was an avid hunter and it was hunting season by that time. Garvin was gone from the WWF in 1990. While he never had a memorable run in the company…Garvin did things his way the majority of his time there.