I spoke with Lucha Underground's Chavo Guerrero recently to promote the second season of the show. During this second part of our interview, Chavo speaks about his relationship with WWE, his exit from TNA, Feast or Fired and much more.
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You mentioned TNA, how would you describe your time there?
"You come in, and you want to be a part and change things. I thought that roster was really good. AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Kazarian, Sting, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, Samoa Joe, these guys were so good. I thought we could compete with anybody. You quickly realize it's just not meant to do that. The way it's structured, it's never going to be that competition. It's going to be what it is, and more power to them. You quickly get a little disappointed and disgruntled. When I was still in WWE and Booker T was there (in TNA) kind of explained that to me, too. You want to change the wrestling world. I think we are here in LU."
What led to you leaving TNA?
"It was kind of mutual, I think I outpriced myself. They couldn't afford me, they had to keep other people on payroll. I think they didn't have anything for me creatively. When I first came in, straight from the bosses mouth was 'We're going into the Latino demographic, our viewership in that demographic is already up 3%.' They just got away from it. I'm thinking that's not really smart when that's 25 percent of the population and you're moving away from it. Whatever you see in wrestling, it's not the wrestlers, it's the writers. They're the ones coming in and being creative. Unless you're John Cena and you have some big say, you're at their mercy. You make do with what they give you. I've seen the Undertaker go in and lobby for something and have to fight, fight, fight. So if you've got him, The Undertaker, having to fight for things he believe in, sometimes he lost. You sometimes have better writers than other writers. I feel that maybe the writers in TNA are in the same boat as us like 'we're not going to change the world, but we have to keep our jobs.'
You were released in storyline through the Feast or Fired match. How did all of that play out and how did you feel about it?
"(laughs) You know what? It's the craziest thing. They didn't tell anybody. All of a sudden you're in a storyline and you get to work that day and you're in this match called a Feast of Fired Match. Four briefcases on poles, three have title matches, one has a pink slip. So we did it, and after that match a production guy came up to me like 'are you leaving?' and I ask what he's talking about, so there's obviously some inside scoop there. I start thinking that this can't be right. I ask 'is that the way you guys are letting me go?' I was pissed. It was very underhanded and coniving, and unprofessional. One of the most unprofessional things I've had happen in the wrestling business. After that happened I talked to my lawyer and he looked over the contract, and he said they can't do that. There's a clause in my contract that prohibited something like that. I went to them, and a good friend of mine was Bruce Prichard, who was in talent relations and had also been let go unprofessionally. I called him up and asked if they could do this, and he said no way. My lawyer CC'd his lawyer and CC'd everybody, and said 'you guys can't do that.' We came to a mutual understanding to part ways, because out relationship is a little burned and won't be the same, but I had some say-so in how it was done. Usually I don't. It left a really bad taste in my mouth. You treat a talent like that? I came in from a wrestling family and from WWE, I was on the booking committee helping out and all these different things, and you're doing that? I didn't want to work for them after that anyway. I'd probably never want to work for a company like that ever again. It's hard for me to say it in a PC way, because I don't want to sound like a disgruntled, guy. I just want to say it the way it is. It really was not professional. You see everybody that leaves, they start talking about how that happens. Christopher Daniels, he's lost two of those matches, and they were just thrown upon him too. He came back there two or three different times, and I'm like 'is this the way it is here?,' and he said 'Yeah, I didn't know.' Wait a minute, this is not real."
It happened to Daivari, too.
"Yeah, exactly! You don't have to kayfabe your wrestlers. It's the weirdest thing!"
Working your own boys seems like it's in bad taste.
"It's super bad taste. Now you have your other wrestlers see this and they're going to want to work for you based on how you treat them. You don't want to treat anybody like that."
What do you think TNA has to do to survive as a company?
"I like Dixie very much as a person, for sure. As a boss, I don't know how much she has hands on in that. There's a lot of people involved, and I don't know if she has complete say. It's not like Vince McMahon where he goes in and says ' this is what's going to happen.' At least it was like that when I was there. If he did say that, and someone made it happen, whoever made it happen was gone. I saw that. It's very confusing. As far as a person, I like her. She's very nice, I got a Christmas card from her this year. I wish nothing but good things for TNA, it's better for the wrestling world. It's better for the fan, the wrestlers, all around. I go back to the Monday Night Wars, and you had two big companies battling it out. Wrestling was never better because the competition, everybody won. Promoters made money, wrestlers made money, fans got great shows. I want TNA to succeed, it just baffles me sometimes. Like, do you guys want to make money?"
Do you think the company would be better off had Jeff Jarrett and Toby Keith bought the company as rumored?
"You could say anything. Who knows? It just baffles me. If I was in charge, I'd have done things way different. And maybe it wouldn't have succeeded either, but just that roster, how could you not compete? Just let these guys go. Then these wrestlers need incredible story lines, but they have great matches."
You see the who's who of wrestling outside the WWE the last few years, Jay Lethal, AJ Styles, all from that X-Division.
"To me it's sad, man. I wanted them to do well. If they're not making the money, nobody's making the money they could have made. And the product, I feel the fans deserve much more."
You've wrestled everywhere. What's your favorite run in the business?
"Definitely right now. Not saying that because that's where I'm at, I'm having more fun doing this right now. Right before I was in TNA, I did Ring Ka King in India, a Jeff Jarrett-TNA production. It was fun, it made me like wrestling again. It was a great crew and everyone wanted to work hard. This reminds me of that even more, it's so good. We try to make the locker room and the fans awesome. We call the fans 'the believers.' They believe in this product that's just awesome, man. I've been having so much fun working on it. It's not work if it's fun they say, but we work our butts off. I'm there sometimes for twelve straight hours, and there are sometimes I'm in a control room with headsets on dressed for my match and as I'm calling the match talking to the director I'm stretching for the match. I take the headset off, run and do my match, and run back to the production office all sweaty and add again. It's work, but it's so fun, I love doing that. I'm proud of the product we put out there, there's nothing like this. Watch their shows, and watch theirs, and tell us which one you like better. That's how confident we are in our product. We don't sit there and talk for 20 minutes before we have a match, we have an hour to kick butt and go."
I might listen to Dario Cueto talk for 20 minutes, though.
"Right? He's awesome. But really, watch theirs and watch ours. Back to your question, I'm having the most fun of my career now."
Speaking of fun, you had those great Los Guerreros vignettes in WWE with Eddie. How much of that was input from you?
"That was all our idea. Anything that really happened in WWE was my idea going to Vince, him liking it, and him getting behind it. Turning on Rey, the Los Guerreros vignettes, a lot of things behind CM Punk, a lot of that was my ideas. Here's the story behind it. Me and Eddie were in catering and pulled them aside and said we had an idea. We were already a team, and it was awesome, another one of my favorite runs were with Eddie. We told Vince we had this idea that we wanted to lie, cheat, steal. He said that it was good and he loved it. At the end of the day, Bruce Prichard came up to us and said we were filming vignettes the next day. I was like really? Awesome. We're thinking backstage vignettes. No. I get a call that they rented out a house in Beverly Hills. Catering and everything that we needed to shoot these vignettes. We were wowed. We knew we had to knock it out of the park. They had some things written for us, and we put our own Guerrero spin on it. We didn't know what was going to happen. We walked out one week and they booed us and it was great. That same show, we were shown stealing a baby bottle from a woman. The next week, nothing changed, same entrance, same music and everybody cheered. Me and Eddie stopped in the entrance way and looked at each other and said 'Ah crap, we're babyfaces.' That was absolutely not what we intended. We asked Triple H why we're babyfaces, and he said we were too entertaining. That's kind of what happened. That's what a good TV show does. You like things, you see where it goes, but sometimes you don't see things, and you follow that path. Some TV shows try to buck it, and it goes wrong. In Lucha Underground, we have a lot of the season written, but depending on how the characters go and how the crowd responds, we change acts. Pentagon, we knew he was a great talent, but he had never been on this type of TV program, and he took off. Son of Havoc, he was getting booed and booed, nothing changed and they started to cheer him. He was their favorite. Then he goes in with Ivelisse and Angelico. We had an idea, but you see where it goes and you write for that. In wrestling people get hurt, people get signed, or don't want to re-sign and you have to call audibles. That's why I think our writers are some of the best, because they can call audibles."
Also check out Chavo's ProWrestlingTees page. What other projects do you have going on?
"I'm really starting to get into acting. I became a member of Stunts Unlimited that does a lot of stunt work in Hollywood. I did a pilot with John Singleton called Snowfall. I'm expressing my acting ability and creative ability. You're starting to see that Hollywood is realizing wrestlers can do it all. Acting, improv, comedy. You see the success The Rock and John Cena are having, people are seeing these guys are talented. Guys like Jackie Chan and Chuck Norris were huge fans of ours because we do this every night, different every night. Hollywood is starting to see the characters that I've played, a villain, a babyface, a white guy, a guy who rides around a stick horse, these guys gotta have it. Follow me on Twitter at MexWarrior, or Instagram at ChavoGuerreroJr and you'll see all of my projects. I have a couple of reality shows in the works. Thanks for all the fans who support wrestling and my family. Viva La Raza."
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