Your former tag team partner and friend Brian Kendrick has found success in the WWE's cruiserweight revival. As a former cruiserweight champion, what are your thoughts on the current division and Kendrick's recent run with WWE?
"I only watch 205 Live whenever I'm at someone's place that has the network so it's pretty rare. One friend in Los Angeles has it but he is so busy all the time. He's a pretty big producer so whenever he has time I will hang out and maybe watch some wrestling. Other than that, I was just on the road and a buddy of mine, JT Dunn and I caught it. Other than that, it feels like a Divas revolution thing to me because the ropes are different color and they want it to be such a standout product so bad that they almost kind of overproduce it as they are known to do with everything they touch. Let's be honest, they always do that with any shows other than Raw, right?
"So, I'm watching it and I didn't watch SmackDown which is sad because I consider that my own stomping grounds. Well, it was Velocity but let's not be specific. The show started off with a big talking segment and I was pretty sure that is how SmackDown starts off now. So, it's like this show with characters that may be kind of familiar with, maybe not, but nowhere near the push or the draws of what you are going to get on SmackDown. So that's like the after party show but let's start this party off with a bang and let's have a talking segment. It was just really strange to me you know?
"I can't say I am a real fan of what I have seen on there because I guess it does seem to have a ton of preservatives and it just doesn't taste very good. I'm not saying that because I'm me and I've worked there and I didn't have the greatest of time when I was there. I think it's just because I feel as though I'm watching a video game and I don't really like video games unless I'm standing up and I have a pocket full of quarters and I'm actually at an arcade. So, to sit there and watch a video game when you don't have a controller in hand and can't do anything about it, it's kind of frustrating. Especially when a lot of it doesn't make sense to me. So, it kind of reiterates me and why I don't watch it.
"As far as Bryan's character, in the few times I've seen it I'm still trying to figure out if he is a psychedelic pirate or like an ice pirate? I don't know. Is that what people in Venice do? I've been to Venice a lot of times and I met a lot of weirdos but man I just don't know. I'm trying to think if I was walking down the street in Venice Beach, California and I saw this guy with sparkly cheetah pants and a jacket that looked like it was an excellent arts and crafts project walking down towards me, I don't know what I would think to myself. I guess it would be kind of scary if anything? His characters really scary just because he seems so angry. The verdict still out and I'm just trying to figure it out. I do like that he's using a different finisher. It's a submission finisher when applied right it would really hurt. I do like that a lot because he really whored out his sliced bread to where you knew everybody was going to kick out of it. I remember watching a match he had a while back with Silas Young, who is awesome and I love the guy, a real man's man. Brian hit him with the sliced bread and he kicked out. Then he hit him with this super sliced bread with both of them on the top rope, Silas kicked out again. Who's possibly going to believe Brian is still going to win this match? It's obvious he isn't going to win and of course, he didn't win the match. Where else can you go after that? People just aren't going to buy it anymore after that. I thought it was really refreshing to see him come up with a different finisher. I should probably take some note from that but I am pretty protective of my shooting star press. I should still take some note of that. It's good to have some variety and I do have some tricks up my pant legs, not my sleeves. Tricks are for kids, right?"
What Lucha Underground has done with the midseason break is unorthodox and something you don't really see in wrestling. From your perspective, what are some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages to taking that approach?
"It's definitely a ballsy the approach and I think Lucha Underground hasn't made any secret that they are risk-takers and trail blazers. It's unique to be a part of something like that and it's a trendsetting thing, to say the least. When you think about it, a lot of show posters for independent and even the big-league show's card posters as far as the card itself, with who's going to appear at the event this weekend, I believe a lot of the artwork and things of that nature are uniquely influenced by what Lucha Underground has brought to the table. Even from a design standpoint, they have been trailblazers and kind of revolutionize the approach towards marketing.
"As far as to take a break between the momentum building for season three, it's ballsy and it is a risk. Do you lose that momentum and have people say they are so excited but now they can't remember what happened? I think it's quite the opposite. I think in wrestling with the current climate with the constant overfeeding, it becomes a binge type situation. I think it's good to be able to pull that back and make people wait. This way there's that hunger that continues to build back up because you know the product will deliver. You figure these guys didn't take a break to come back with a dud so they're either going to come back and jump the shark or give you something to remember. So, the excitement kind of organically starts to mature in its own right as opposed to having the same ice cream fed to you every week and you know what you're going to get. I get very oversaturated on a lot of the wrestling that's out there now and that's why I don't watch any of it. I can turn away and come back and still see the same things. I think it helps continue to separate it from the rest of the herd and say that we aren't really part of the cattle. We are something completely different and it forces you to watch.
We're big fans of your character in Lucha Underground and the influence is clear, but how did The Rabbit Tribe character and storyline come about from a development process?
"You'll love this. Kung fu is a real deep love of mine and at the time I was studying a lot of Kung Fu. I haven't studied as much lately but I do study on my own instead of being in an organized class which can become heavy during shooting a season. I actually appeared at the end of season two on a test run kind of as just me. I had this weird mindset where I wanted to try to use some of this Kung Fu in my matches and see if it really works. It tended to make my character more serious. I had this match with Davari on the final taping of season two but thankfully didn't air because it was really a stinker. Fast forward to the pre-production of season three and I'm kind of down on things because I'm thinking like man, I really want to come back as something really fresh, something that connects with who I am as a person, and something I can show up as and haves people say, 'Oh my God, I didn't know that was him,' and be different and exciting. I was approached with this idea of this rabbit character idea and I thought I love Battle Beasts but I don't know if this is quite what we were thinking here. So I envisioned like Warriors of Virtue were bad ass rabbits and nobody is going to be laughing at us. Automatically I'm thinking we've got a Puma, we got a moth, we got people from the dead, this is before the snake people so we didn't quite have them yet, we did have a Dragon, guys from space, and just this huge spectrum of characters in Lucha Underground. Then you think of adding this kind of furry, friendly character in a rabbit with a Trix are for kids type of thing. I just didn't want it to turn into this thing and on a defense, my mind went to Battle Beasts/Warriors of Virtue. Then it turned out that was not the approach either so that was strike two for yours truly. One of my current members was an experiment for the Battle Beasts but the general feedback was you guys look like scuba divers and we can't tell who's who. Then it was okay, let's throw the drawing board out, smash it up, take it out to the field like the nerd dude from Office Space because it is obviously not working. Chris DeJoseph, who is this kind of like, I don't like to use the term genius because it so whored out term, but he just has this direct cleverness that when he spits something out you think, "Man why didn't I see that!" It's just like a fat-free type of creativity. He has a really efficient mindset that gets right to the punch line or the joke or the real crux of the matter. So he goes, "No, no we're thinking Alice in Wonderland" and the second he said Alice, he didn't have to finish the Wonderland part because everything clicked and my mind went through the looking glass so to speak. So I thought in my head, you want to go here okay let's talk because this is exactly up my alley. He must have been looking through my window, he might've been he's a pervert but aren't we all?
"So then my immediate response to that I was thinking more Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury, codpieces and Elvis. I remember responding with I think a page of eight to 12 different attachments of just codpieces and close ups of codpieces and I was like, this has to be a part of it because this is where my character's power will emanate from. Truth is all of us as individuals harness our power from our crotch area. I know it sounds funny but there's a reason we call them our private parts and there's a lot of vulnerability right there at the epicenter of our existence. It doesn't matter for male or female or both combined, you have that region where there's a lot of vulnerability and there's a lot of power and we really harness so much power in the crotch area. That kind of became a seed itself and it started to become its own thing. It was almost as we started to finish each other's sentences after that. We really wanted each character to be unique and you would see this guy in a match and you would know it's that guy, not as though it's the red one of the blue one. I think we did a really good job with that as far as making sure each individual has their own personality and flavor to add to the group because I wouldn't want to do any of that stuff with those guys. It's a more at home and also allows me to really feed off the creativity which I had never been allowed to do in a wrestling circle. We are very stoked for the rest of season three."
You debuted in Lucha Underground during the third season as the leader of The Rabbit Tribe. What was the signing process like for you and who came up with the idea for your unique stable of characters?
"I guess I should say it involved gluten-free pancakes, that was part of the courtship. Season one was airing when I moved back to Austin, where I am from, and I was running a wrestling school there. So, sitting there thinking this is interesting, Robert Rodriguez had created this world and I don't think they shoot here but it would make sense if they did. It turned out they shot in Los Angeles at Boyle Heights. It's shot in a real warehouse in the working-class Mexican/American neighborhood and it's awesome there. So, I thought wow that's really neat. I didn't pay a lot of attention to the product since I was a trying to focus on my training at the time, but a lot of my friends worked there and I was really happy to see them get TV time. So, I made the decision to move back to Los Angeles for acting purposes. Why else would anyone move back to LA right? I get this really great job at Burlington Coat Factory. So, I moved back to Los Angeles and a friend of mine who works as Bale asked if I had any interest in talking to the guys at Lucha. I said yea of course, I am here in LA and that's where they shoot.
"So, he put us in touch initially with DeJoseph and DJ and I spoke we just kind of like the rap of each other's thing as far as what we didn't want to be. Like we didn't want to do this, I'm not into the head dropping, and I don't want to show up as I am the toughest guy in the yard character. It's so cliché and boring. So, it was more so just this is what I don't like about wrestling and he agreed with me and told me what he likes and then I agreed with him and we had so much in common. Then I was set to start in season two but hurt my knee really bad. That's where PJ Black came in and really did much better in the spot than I would have at the time. PJs awesome and I don't know anybody that can maneuver or make moves look as effortlessly as he does. He is so fluid and he really is a big guy and I don't think people understand how big he is as far as strength and being a really thick guy. He is a crazy son of a b---h and I love that guy. He came in and took that position that initially was thought of for me. So, I had hurt my knee and I was kind of in this depressed wrestling mindset that happens more often than I would like to admit. Coming to my rescue when I was really starting to spiral, I was asked if I wanted to come on board as a producer.
"I started hearing those bells and realizing class is out, what a breather, I got a second chance, and I thought this is amazing opportunity to come in and flex some completely different muscles. I no idea what I was doing. I came in knowing what I didn't like about producers that I worked with in the past. As far as doing it myself, I'm not saying it's an office position but when I'm not in the ring there's a good chance I have a headset on and I'm helping to direct some action. It's all in the performers and I'm not going to take any credit for that stuff. I do tend to throw some ideas in the mix here and there and a lot of them tend to get used and that's neat. It's neat to be in a situation where you have collaboration and you can speak an idea no matter how absurd it might be, and you're not going to get a drum roll of eye rolls like who hired this idiot? You're not getting a condescending remark or a response; you're not going to be insulted as a human being. That is a really nice thing about our environment from a backstage standpoint. It's just different and it really is enjoyable to go to work to see what kind of amazing stuff you can create with an amazing cast of performers, the makeup crew, the ring crew, the designers, and it really is just amazing. We have this kind of universe being created and it's so neat to really be a part of that. To say hey you know you could just run off and join the Golden State Warriors or you can really try to go to an expansion team and see what kind of success you can organically create together and that's way more rewarding and refreshing especially as a performer. You're always looking for ways to reinvent yourself so you don't grow stale, it's anything but that. I'm very excited to be a part of it and to see who else can get killed. That's really the whole thing it's like who can die and who can we kill? I might die. C could die and there could be some type of psychedelic orgy where I come back to life with the amulet. Let's just throw it at the wall and see what will stick and slide down."