I recently interviewed Johnny Mundo, f.k.a. John Morrison. During the interview, Mundo discussed Lucha Underground, Rey Mysterio joining the promotion, Lucha Underground running live events and more. Below is the entire interview, which you can listen to in the video above.
How would you describe Lucha Underground to someone who has never watched it?
"I would say a collision of American wrestling, MMA, lucha libre and parkour wrapped in the gritty action film polish of a Robert Rodriguez movie."
What convinced you to sign on?
"I'd worked with Chris DeJoseph and Chris Roach in WWE. I knew Eric Van Wagenen from the appearance I did on Tough Enough in 2010 with Stone Cold Steve Austin. They told me the plan, and I was told it was going to be a co-pro between Mark Burnett and Robert Rodriguez. It was going to be ten minutes from my house, so I was like 'yep, sign me up!.'"
Was the Johnny Mundo name something you came up with?
"There were a few names thrown around. One of them was Johnny World. I though World would be hard to chant, so we switched to Johnny Mundo."
What was your reaction when you learned about Rey Mysterio's signing?
"I was stoked. He came by to check out the Temple. Rey is one of my favorite people in the business. He's undeniably one of the most talented wrestlers in the history of wrestling. As far as bringing Lucha to America, it started in WCW with Konnan and ECW with Rey, Juvi, Psychosis, and then WWE. I debuted on Smackdown against Rey and Eddie Guerrero in 2005. Hearing that we were going to get him for LU season 2, I was stoked."
Alberto Del Rio departed Lucha Underground, were you surprised to see him leave?
"Yeah. He left not too long after season 1 and I was surprised. Sad, too, because I liked Alberto and we had really great matches. I'm also happy for him because he had a great opportunity and he took advantage of it."
Having worked with WWE and Lucha Underground, what are some of the major differences between the two?
"The creative autonomy in Lucha Underground is more that I felt in WWE. There is more willingness from the creative and production team to listen to input from the wrestlers in Lucha Underground. I feel like the handcuffs are off, so to speak. The ability to do and try new things is there. The locker room is competitive and supportive in a good way. Everyone is trying to outdo each other and themselves. It's a cool environment to be in."
You were with WWE when Shane McMahon left, who recently returned. How were you told about his departure?
"He just left and then a few days later somebody said 'Shane left.' (laughs) It wasn't a huge deal. He was never a huge part of the show where he was on every episode of Raw. I like him as a person, and I think he's got a good energy. He obviously never had to wrestle, but he wanted to because he was a fan of the business, and I respect that. I think it's cool to have Shane back, and a little weird that he's going to wrestle Undertaker at WrestleMania (laughs). If I was a part of the roster, I'd be a little upset about that."
What were some of the differences you saw between Shane and Stephanie?
"Aside from the boobs, both had great minds for the business. I enjoyed working with both of them, but Stephanie is probably more of a type A personality and started wrapping her head around the business side of the company and the creative side of the company and really improved herself from when she appeared on camera as a character until now. Shane's the same way, except he seemed like he was more about the fun."
Do you think [the recent Lucha Underground live event at SxSW] is the first step of doing more live events this year, or did the opportunity just come up?
"I think right now an opportunity and a litmus test to see how things go outside the temple. As far as more live events this year, possibly. We're also starting season 3 a week after the event, so there's not going to be time for live events outside the Temple for a couple of months."
Do you see Lucha Underground moving more towards the traditional format of having live events and PPVs?
"I don't know. Anything I say now would be speculation. One thing I really like about Lucha is it breaks traditions. It's established it's own identity and a world where the character can be darker, multilayered, even supernatural at times. It has the creative integrity to stick with that and that vignettes are filmed the way TV shows and movies are filmed. As far as taking that and doing PPVs, I don't know. I'm sure it would be awesome, but Ultima Lucha is like a PPV, it's just on TV, and that's cool too."
What do you know about the third season? Do you see any changes being made? I think they're going to film at the same Temple.
"Yeah, same location. I think for season 1 & 2, everyone involved got better at their jobs. The talent knows how to wrestle for TV versus wrestling at live events. Mark Burnett's production crew, season 1 was the first time they filmed wrestling, and now everyone has two seasons of experience. I expect the machine to be more well oiled, the product to be more polished. I don't think there's going to be big changes like traveling of PPV for season 3, I think the world is going to continue to grow and get more dark. Stories are going to continue to develop, characters continue to be developed. People who watch LU now will see stories and characters evolved and becomes darker things, different things, more positive things."
Anything else you'd like to let fans know?
"Don't forget to check out Lucha Underground Wednesday nights on El Rey at 8 PM EST. To get more information on me, check out @TheRealMorrison on Twitter."