They called him Vu, Deja Vu or even King Vu for awhile. His name was Richard Phillips and for being 6 ft 3 and over 300lbs, he was freakishly athletic. He was so agile and could glide around the ring like a cruiserweight, yet his lariat or “Stank-line” as he called it, was the best looking lariat this side of Stan Hansen. He had the look, the skill and the ability to be more than a local star and it’s unfortunate that his talent didn’t transcend the Midwest. But today, none of that matters. The man they called Vu, Richard Philips, is no longer with us and there’s a lot of people in the wrestling world hurting right now.
Sitting here, I can’t help but think of that smile. If you knew Richard, you know exactly what smile I’m talking about. While he was a ruthless monster in the ring, outside the ring, he was one of the kindest, sweetest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Richard Phillips was the guy fans loved to boo and fear when he was performing, but when he was leaving the building, those same fans were lining up to hug him or shake his hand and tell him how much they loved his match. He would make time for every single person that wanted to talk. He never took it for granted or blew anyone off. He was the definition of approachable.
Backstage at a wrestling show, it can be chaotic and tense. Everyone wants to put on the best show they possibly can and everyone is trying to move up in the world. While Richard was just as motivated as anyone else, he was also always laughing, having fun and enjoying every moment of the experience. His attitude was infectious. You couldn’t possibly be around Richard Phillips and be in a bad mood.
Richard Phillips, the man they called Vu, will be best known for his battles with Jon Moxley, BJ Whitmer, Aaron Williams, Jesse Emerson, Jake and Dave Crist and other staples of the Ohio independent wrestling scene. He’ll be remembered as a monster in the ring and a gentle giant outside of the ring. If you had the pleasure of seeing him work, you’ll know that he had the talent to do so much more in this business, but the stars just didn’t align. If you had the pleasure of knowing him personally, your life will have been impacted for the better.
I’ll never forget the time Vu talked me, the website guy, into getting into the ring for a pull-a-part brawl with Aaron Williams. Of course, he didn’t tell me ahead of time he was going to hit me in the face, but I remember after the show him telling the locker room to give me a round of applause for taking my first bump. What I didn’t realize at the time was that he was helping me earn respect from the guys. That’s just the kind of guy Richard Phillips was, always looking for ways to help people, always thinking of other people’s well being.
There are some people in this world that you’re instantly drawn to; big hearts, big smiles, infectious personalities that draw you in. That was Richard Phillips, the man they called Vu. He was a special man, a gentle giant, and the world was a better place for him being a part of it. Rest easy Vu. Until we meet again.