El Patron had worked for various independent promotions in Mexico prior to joining the WWE for the first time in 2009. Working for the top wrestling promotion was an eye-opening experience for him, as he enjoyed the perks of being part of a big-name company. He described the difference in pay he enjoyed when he first came to WWE.
"Well, of course, the first WrestleMania I was in I was like, damn, this is cool. I was always making good money in Mexico after my run in Japan, and MMA companies, but when I started in Mexico I was making $80; that was my salary because my dad didn't want to put everything on a silver plate for me, he wanted me to work for my stuff," he said. "I'm the one going to the promoters and negotiating. My dad never went there and made it easy for me, so in the beginning I was making $80, so driving in a bus for 10 hours to go to Monterrey, and 10 hours back, and then I earned my airplane tickets and I earned more money, so I was doing good. I was also doing good in Japan, but nothing compared to that WrestleMania check."
After leaving the WWE in 2014, El Patron returned to the company at 2015's Hell In A Cell pay-per-view and immediately won the United States Championship. He said he was approached to make a comeback because the top officials in the WWE, including chairman Vince McMahon himself, believed the company was lacking true heel superstars.
"To be honest it's because, and this came from Triple H himself and Johnny Ace; apparently Vince [McMahon] was mad after a TV taping because he didn't feel that the heels were being real heels. You know nowadays heels want to be cheered and be cooled, but in those days when a heel was a badass and ass-kicker, those days are gone," he said. "Nowadays, everyone wants to be cheered and wants thousands of followers on social media. They are afraid of heat that the business can give them, so McMahon wasn't happy, and believe it or not Triple H agreed to it, so he said, let's do it. He mentioned how i was doing great things on the independent circuit and Lucha Underground and how I was in phenomenal shape. After a while of negotiations, I ended up going back."
By that time, El Patron had been doing well for himself on the independent circuit. He said he had to make sure the situation was right for him to return, and he appreciated the WWE giving him another opportunity.
"They called me a night before Hell in a Cell; they called me for weeks on it, I said that they needed to pay me, and that I was doing fantastic on the independent circuit. For someone like me, who has a name in Mexico, and for the name that the WWE gave me, no matter what, WWE made me. They gave me a name and gave me an opportunity," he said. "The haters were say that I talk crap about WWE; yeah, I talk crap about the things I don't like, but I also put the mover on things that are real. The reality is that they made me and they made me go from a national icon to an international icon, and because of that I did fantastic when I was not in the company. Long story short, they asked me if I can come back to the company the next night, I said I could, and I ended up signing a contract at 2-3 in the morning; sending everything via fax, and the next day I was there for my big comeback."
But it wasn't long until El Patron grew unhappy with his gimmick. Zeb Colter (Dutch Mantel) became his manager and they worked a gimmick where they started a new country called "MexAmerica." El Patron said it wasn't something he enjoyed.
"They tried something with that 'Mex-America' gimmick that just didn't work," he said. "They didn't know what I was trying to do. Not even Dutch, not even me, and of course the audience knew what was going on."
El Patron was then added to The League Of Nations stable that included Sheamus, Rusev, and King Barrett. El Patron revealed that none of those superstars wanted to be in a stable together, and this was the final straw that led him to leave the WWE for the second time.
"WrestleMania was around the corner, and they said that we have these guys [Barrett, Rusev, Sheamus, Del Rio] and were like, let's put them together and do something. None of us wanted to work as a team, or be on a team. Everybody was just not happy by doing that, and we talked to the boss and ended up splitting," he said. "You know, because they showed me the way, they opened my eyes and I was just being home one day per week, I asked myself if it was really worth it, and I said that I didn't think so. I remembered when I was free and enjoying my family and my time, I said to myself that I was going to leave. I talked to WWE and they were like, no, just hold on, we are going to bring you back to the Champion Del Rio, the badass Del Rio, but that didn't happen."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Keeping It 100 with Konnan with a H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Keeping It 100 with Konnan
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.