I had the opportunity to speak to former TNA and Lucha Underground talent Shawn Hernandez recently about his time in TNA, leaving both companies, his run with TNA in the 2000s, LAX and much more. In the interview below, Hernandez opens up about his issues with TNA and them firing him without letting him know.
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You had a much publicized issue with Lucha Underground and TNA earlier this year. What is your relationship like with both of those companies?
"Due to legalities with myself and Lucha Underground, I can't comment on what transpired with that. Long story short, I'm going my way, they're going their way, life goes on."
I spoke to Lucha Underground Executive Producer Chris DeJoseph, and he had a lot of good things to say about you. Did you enjoy working there?
"It was a blast. Chris DeJoseph, I have the utmost respect for him. I think he's a fantastic writer. Those guys are geniuses. I never got the opportunity to wrestle much on television besides being a tag guy, they gave me a shot as a singles guy, and nobody's done that with no limitations. I became the most hated person in the building, it was awesome."
Are you open to working with either company in the future?
"Right now I'm doing movie and TV work. Since I was on TV I've dropped about 20 pounds. I just shot two movies. One was Pizza Joint. I'm getting paid okay and nobody hits me."
How did you get into acting?
"Luck. I started maybe in 2013. A fan was making an independent movie and called a friend of a friend and asked if they could get me. I said 'Hell yeah, I want to be in a movie.' It's called Pickaxe Murders 3. I'd never done acting before in my life. I had a few fight scenes and a cool choke scene at the end. It got my juices flowing and something I want to do more and more."
Are you looking to make that your primary career?
"Yes. You look like you're getting hit and nobody's really hitting. I love wrestling, and I've been doing it for 17 years. When you can get paid pretty decent and at the end of the day are unscathed, it's awesome."
Have you gotten any tips from other wrestlers who were acting?
"Not really. To be honest, TV and movie filming is booming here. Robert Rodriguez has his studio here. I just did a TV show called Urban Cowboys that's going to be on Fox. You'd think it'd be booming in LA or New York, but lately there's been a real need for big, Hispanic bald guys, so I'm good."
It seems like a lot of shows are moving away from sets and onto location like that. Did you see yourself getting into acting a long time ago or something you just decided?
"I thought I was going to be wrestling. I didn't really think about my future after that. Now I've got the acting bug and I can't get enough of it."
Who approached you with the opportunity to LAX?
"It was originally Konnan, Homicide and Apolo. I was wrestling in Texas and Mexico at the time. I don't want to speak out of context, but I think Apolo was having a tough time making flights from Puerto Rico to Orlando. I wrestled in NWA Wildside with Bill Behrens. Bill knew me and asked if I wanted to come in for a run. Not an appearance, a run. I told him I couldn't come in until February or March because I was doing a mask vs. career feud and Mexico is a big payoff. I showed up in March and we sat on the sidelines forever. Five months later they gave us the PPV match, and it took off from there."
It looked like you were being groomed for a big singles run there.
"It was talked about for a while. Dixie pushed me in the PPV in Atlanta at Bound for Glory 2006. I didn't pay it any mind. I was a part of the hottest tag group ever, do I want to risk being a singles guy? I was very, very happy. Whatever happened behind the scenes, whoever decided LAX wasn't fit for the program after Konnan left. They tried different ways to keep the group together. Shelly Martinez, Hector Guerrero, the higher ups still weren't into it. Then they just said we were going to break up and Hernandez World Elite Group and I'd try for a singles run."
Was it a surprise when Konnan parted ways with TNA?
"I just showed up and Homicide, who is like my brother, we showed up at TV and were informed that Konnan decided to leave the company and they'd try to make something work with us. That's how we learned LAX was doomed to fail after that."
Did you speak to Konnan after that?
"The reason LAX was so cool and innovative is because this man fought creative at nearly every taping. He said we weren't coming out of the curtain, storylines kept getting changed, and that happened at least four or five times before he got fed up and walked out."
Did you train at Shawn Michaels' school, Texas Wrestling Academy? Your wikipedia says that you were, but I also read that wasn't the case.
"I came up and Houston. Rudy Gonzalez was the last trainer for Shawn Michaels, and I actually got trained by Tug Taylor. Rudy Boy went to NWA Wildside to take a group of guys in a van, and we'd all carpool and try to make a name for themselves. I guess that's where the misconception came from."
You've worked a little bit of everywhere. Is that something you wanted, or would you have rather stayed with one brand?
"By far it was getting a little bit of culture at each place I've wrestled at. I've done six tours of Japan. It's been phenomenal. You experience different styles of wrestling, different stories, different advice. I remember doing a tour with Jason and Leatherface from AAA in South Korea. Being on the road with those guys is awesome."
You also played some Arena Football. How was that?
"I participated (laughs). I was on the team. To actually play, I would say no. I went to a small division II school, Texas A&I, and what I learned trying to play pro football was playing for a small school, every chance you get, the guys from these big schools get five or six chances before they're taken out of the game. No matter how good you are in practice, the guy who went to Nebraska or Ohio State is going to get the first 6 or 7 chances before I get on the field. I was on the team for three years, playing time was very scarce."
Do you think that's a mentality that should have been different?
"Now if you have any talent, you'll be on the field. There's so much scouting and video. In the early 90s, it was a different time back then."
Is it true you learned about your release from TNA in 2014 from the internet?
"Yes. I was on the payroll, but I wasn't being used. They had already let Chavo go. I'd been with the company for about 7 or 8 years. They were still paying me, there's no call, there's no email, no bird with a note tied to its leg, no smoke signal. Why should I call you? As my contract ended, it was all over the internet. TNA unfollowed me on Twitter, I was like 'what the hell?'
Did they do that the day you were released? How does that make you feel?
"Yeah. With any social media, someone you're friends with that unfollows you, what would you think? You're been somewhere 8-9 years, that's almost like family. If you're sending stuff to websites, can you copy and paste, and maybe email it to me too?"
So you weren't notified in any way?
"When I came back to TNA this year, that was the first contact I'd had with them since then, since December of 2013."
I remember you being around in the early days of TNA as the Elite Guard. How were you approached to do that spot?
"I was dealing with NWA Wildside, Texas indies, Mexico, sporadically in All-Japan. I'd get paid good money in Japan, okay money in Mexico, then I'd come back to Texas, and make 100 bucks. You're trying to find a mentor to find out what you're doing wrong to make more money. Bill Behrens was the only person straight with me and to say do this, this and this, and I'd be on TV. I went there every other weekend for a year straight at NWA Wildside, and that's like a 12 hour drive. My biggest payoff was 30 bucks, not to put Bill on blast (laughs). Basically TNA wanted to do a doppelganger version of 3 Live Kru for Jeff Jarrett. It was more like Keystone Cops. We were glorified jobbers, but it was a chance to be on TV."
I don't think that was ever explained on TV that was the case, but it makes sense that you all had a black guy, a white guy and a Mexican. How did you get involved with WWE to work enhancement matches?
"WWE had to rely on local promoters for enhancement matches, and one of the local promoters would pick out the guys. It's kind of funny, because he picked me and Necro Butcher. We started wrestling together in the late 90s. We showed up and I was lucky enough to get picked to work with Crash Holly."
Have you ever had talks with WWE
Why is that?
"I wanted to travel and wrestle. I'm a history buff and the road took me there. I've never had any interest in going there, and they've never had any interest in having me?
What else is going on with you these days?
"Movie and tv stuff. My children are big baskebtall players. My daughter, who's in the 7th grade, made team yesterday. My son is in 8th grade and has his red belt in tae kwon do. Two weeks ago I made him a bet and he said he could do more pushups than me. I had to use jedi mind trick and tell him he was getting tired (laughs). The little brat did 100 in a row. He tells me that I have a 6 pack, but he has an 8 pack (laughs).
Would you ever want your children in wrestling?
"No way. My oldest daughter is 23, and I trained her in 2010 to be a powerlifter. They get in the ring with me before shows sometimes, so they know how to perform moves pretty safe. i let her have a match with me in 2012, when a guy didnt show up and she had to wrestle. it was a cool kind of experience for her, in her one and only match."
Where can the fans follow you on social media?
"Follow me on Twitter at SuperMexCTM!"