Former WWE Tough Enough contestant, Lucha Underground Trios Champion and current Lucha Underground star "Son of Havoc" Matt Cross joined Wrestle Talk Radio Night. In a nearly 20-minute interview, he discussed the upcoming continuation of Season 3 of Lucha Underground, how the show is different from other wrestling shows and promotions, how the Son of Havoc character came about, how he got started in the wrestling industry, the allure of working independent wrestling and working for certain promotions, his matches with Cody Rhodes and more. You can download the full interview by clicking here, they sent us these highlights:
How did he get started in professional wrestling:
"I guess the brief story would be my buddies were very into wrestling that I'd met through punk rock and straight edge. I'd had an 11-year gymnastics background and watching wrestling with them I'd had this half-chip on my shoulder and was like 'I could do this' which took us to emulating our ECW favorites out in the backyard. They put us on the 'Best of Backyard Wrestling' videotapes and video game back in the day and then I decided I wanted to pursue professional wrestling seriously and look at it more as a job, and then career. So, I received formal training in Cleveland, OH under a guy named J.T. Lightning at the Cleveland All-Pro Wrestling School and then hit the indy scene in about 2001. Fast forward 16 years, and here I am."
His recent match with Cody Rhodes at New Generation Wrestling (NGW):
"Cody Rhodes is an amazing talent, as well as an amazing human. This is actually or second time tying up and our man chemistry is off the chart. The day I met him, which was the last time we wrestled, everything just clicked and it was a really nice match. Next Generation Wrestling- Tennessee has got a good thing going; I mean, people really came out, this last match in particular, there was a young man who drove all the way from Long Island, NY and that's got to be 10-12 hours at least just to make it happen and his parents helped him under the guise that he'll never again get a Christmas present. So, it was pretty memorable that people were traveling from other states and that really created this special atmosphere for it as well. Both matches were different and I loved both of them; just this really cool environment and everything we could have hoped for as wrestlers and fans, you know?
"That's the beauty of what we do: you can play a basketball game with no crowd and the results would still go into the record books, but I'm not sure you could really wrestle with no one there for it to be truly and genuinely pro wrestling. It's like if a tree falls in the woods thing, am I right? If no one was there to see a match, was it technically pro wrestling? That's the beauty, I love how it unfolds, in front of us, in real time, and all those intricacies and ad-libbed stuff that just unfolds before us, it's again part of the beauty. I just love working with Cody Rhodes; he's just really, really amazing and approachable and the definition of a professional. It's great to get in there and test my skills against one of the best. Dusty Rhodes was one of my favorite wrestlers growing up and we named our dog after him when I was a kid. It's just insane that you fast forward all these years and I think 'Man, I get to test my skills against this guy and do it in front of such a warm and welcoming crowd.' It's what it is all about."
Lucha Underground being on Netflix and the increased popularity if brings:
"Like you said, there has obviously been a jump. I know that has been the plan for a very long time, and they pursued it for years and for it to finally come through is great. It' just makes it more accessible; I mean, the show is awesome, it's just a matter of getting eyes on it and now, with Netflix, it just means that many more people have access to it. So, of course, there has been a jump in interest and feedback and all that kind of stuff. It has been exciting for the show in general.
How does Lucha Underground compare to other promotions, including the indies and WWE:
"Wrestling promotions, by in large, share more similarities than not, but what I think differentiates Lucha, in particular, is just this sense of community. And I've heard about stuff like that in other places, and at other times, but a lot of times it's lip service and this was, especially when it started, was a group of rebels and misfits; the guys who had been overlooked and the guys who had chips on their shoulders and all this kind of stuff coming together and being aware of the chance they are being given.
"These are the changes we all wanted to see as fans of this business for so long and to be directly related to that change and responsible for that change was, I don't want to call it a responsibility, but in a way, was an amazing opportunity so we were all just like 'Holy crap'. We'd been sold false alternatives for forever and every couple of years, something comes around that is the new, fresh thing that is what it is presented as but just turns out to be 'Diet WWE' or 'WWE Lite'. This (Lucha) is the first thing you can watch 4 minutes of it and be like 'Wait a minute, what am I watching. This is genuinely different.' So, that is really exciting to be a part of. I have been offered many wrestling contracts in the past and just didn't sign anything because I want to be out there and want to be doing it; I don't want to be tied down to anything and this was the first thing that I signed because I believed in it. I can be directly responsible for the change I want to see and won't be just another cog in the system but moving forward with something genuinely new. So, that feeling is pervasive within the locker room; it's very cohesive and a nice atmosphere to be in. I mean, I come back from a match and you've got Johnny Mundo there congratulating you by the door and I'm doing the same for him and we all feel this rush of change that we're creating and then with the momentum at our backs. It's just really exciting.
"It's not just another show. A lot of times, wrestling can become- and we all do this, likely, every weekend, 52-weekends a year for god knows how many years and thousands of matches, but these are always the highlights of our calendar and I feel like we are creating some type of legacy and change. I mean, the wrestling industry as a whole, is changing and I think we're a part if not largely responsible for it."
His experience and thoughts on Lucha using intergender matches:
"I think it was a little less new for us as the wrestlers. I think I've been told, subsequently, that me and Sexy Star are the first match of the first episode and it was the first televised intergender match maybe ever, or something like that. I didn't approach it what that kind of historical significance in mind; to me, it's just an intergender match, which on the independent level, isn't that uncommon. I mean, the caliber of the women now-a-days is incredible and they want to mix it up with the dudes, so why not? So, after it aired and the feedback we were getting, I didn't realize that there were certain universes that this didn't exist and then different thought pieces on it, with everyone weighing in- I was kind of unaware of it all. But, it's not as strange to us.
"I had a match with a young lady, Seleziya Sparx, a Canadian, that I really, really enjoyed for AIW in Cleveland, OH several year ago and it was intergender match, but obviously you have to look at them through a different lens; you plan them with certain things in mind or it takes a very nuanced approach but it's not that different for us. And, because it has been happening, it's nice for a mainstream product to address that. I'm pretty sure that Dana White, from UFC, back in the day was more or less on the record as saying that there would never be women fighting, that people didn't want to see it; it was barbaric and now, obviously, that's not the case. Now, women are draws and people are tuning in just to see them. So, they had to change with the times and I think that just speaks to Lucha Underground at large, that we are much more in tune with society in general and trends, what is going on."
How did the Son of Havoc character come about:
"It was their (Lucha's) idea. I was told roughly 3-4 hours before the first episode, so I learned the name, outfit and everything; if you go back and watch the first episode, I'd been presented with all that mere hours before but I'm grateful. At that point, I'd been in the wrestling business for 13-14 years so it was something I could adapt to and I just felt so ready, for lack of a better term. I mean, I'd been given all these half-starts and seeming opportunities before this and I was just ready to make whatever work, because I do believe in myself. And then when they gave it to me, I thought 'Well, at least the outfit is all-black, I can work with this.'
"I mean, they could have called me Octopus Man and given me the sillies outfit of all time and I still think it would have worked. You could even see it in the trajectory of my character, from where it started to where it is now, it is a night and day difference and where it is was not the plan for it; it was a very real and very organic unfolding of the story arc that changed with the times. So, it is a testament to them too to have the balls, for lack of a better term, to change their ideas with what people want to see and what's best for the product and just because they came up with something doesn't mean that they're not willing to address the fact that perhaps it's not the best thing ever and they have the flexibility, which is an amazing environment to work in. You don't heard about that in other places."
What does the future hold for Son of Havoc/Matt Cross:
"I can say that with the remainder of Season 3, starting up this week, two of my favorite matches that I've had in Lucha Underground are yet to come. So, when people tell me they are really excited, I'm like 'No, No, No. You don't even know.' Like, I'm excited; we don't get to see these things beforehand or anything like that. When it airs will be the first time I see it so I'm just going off feel and memory but two of my favorite matches I've had there yet are still to come in this season. I'll be tuning in, with everyone else, just kind of waiting to see those. They put out another minute trailer the other night and just watching that, I was getting goosebumps just getting so excited because it had some clips from these matches. So yeah, a lot of crazy things that you've come to expect by this point; more of the same and we're not coming off the gas at all. Just full speed ahead, Lucha Underground style.
"And then, Matt Cross is just out there, traveling the world doing it. I was looking at my June schedule the other day and it was like scaring me. I think I leave for LA June 6th and then I'm back home July 2nd and that's all from just traveling from one show to the next; doing a couple of weeks in Australia with Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore in between there and it's just really, really insane. I have some debuts coming up in Louisiana and Oklahoma and I've already been to eight countries so far this year; Holland last month made it 25 countries I've wrestled in now. I'd like to wrestling in every state and my goal was to hit 25 countries, which is what I said when the eliminated me from Tough Enough and I've nailed that one so now I'm aiming for 30."
You can see Son of Havoc and the other starts of Lucha Underground for the continuation of Season 3 starting tonight, May 31st at 8:00 pm ET/PT on the El Rey Network; check your local cable listings for channel availability and timing. You can also catch previous seasons of Lucha Underground streaming on Netflix; go to netflix.com to see the show from the beginning.