It seems to be that WWE and NXT are night and day when it comes to how they run their promotions creatively. For Levis Valenzuela Jr., fka No Way Jose, he stated during his interview with Inside The Ropes, that it was easier to pitch an idea on NXT then on the main roster.
“There would be a couple of people when you go in that you could talk to,” Valenzuela informed. “I built up a good relationship with the head writer, so I was comfortable enough to go in there and talk to him. I wish I had that confidence once I moved up [to the main roster]. I don’t know why it disappeared. I have no damn clue why I wasn’t as confident. But there [NXT], I was able to talk to the writer or to Triple H, and then you know, when Shawn Michaels came in it was like alright cool. I was able to talk to all these people and try to figure out things that maybe I should show. [They] always, always had great things to say back to me.
“I think there was a difference because over there, I felt like with Triple H and then Shawn Michaels, that’s who you were dealing with, but once you moved up, there are so many hoops you have to go through. I mean, there are a lot of writers and a lot of producers. At the end of the day, you have to get it cleared through one man. It was my fault for not creating a relationship that everybody tells you to create with the boss [Vince McMahon]. It’s super easy to do, it’s just you get in your own head – that’s what messes you up – and that’s what happened to me, I just got in my own head way too much.”
During NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, Valenzuela recalls the exact moment when Vince McMahon informed him that he was going to move on up to the main roster that Monday on RAW. Valenzuela was speechless when he heard the news from the Chairman himself.
“It was actually kind of weird because I don’t know if it happened to anyone else,” Valenzuela began. “I know with me, I wasn’t on the NXT TakeOver, but I was there because we did the loop beforehand. We’re watching, and the main event is going on, and it just finished up. Vince was actually there, and he’s leaving. When he’s leaving, he took two steps, he turns back around and leans into me and says, ‘See you on Monday.’ I was like, ‘Excuse me?'”
Valenzuela admits that it was hard to build up a relationship with McMahon while on the main roster. He stated that he let the rumors get to him of how wrestlers and talent were treated by McMahon over the years, and that is why he didn’t try to go out of his way to establish a relationship with him.
“I just think it’s like the whole aspect of all the stories [I heard] got to my head,” Valenzuela stated. “Like, all the stories you hear about how this happened, or that happened, or how someone reacted this way or got fired because of this. You know, I just let that all get to my head. At that time I was like I’m happy to be here. I’m happy that I busted my ass to get here, and now I’m here. I just didn’t see myself on the same level as other people.”
When Valenzuela did muster up the courage to pitch story ideas to McMahon and the creative team, he found himself receiving no feedback, whatsoever. He did reveal one creative pitch he had, where he wanted to be Elias’ groupie. Though it seemed like everyone was on board with the idea, it never happened.
“One of the first things I pitched was actually with Elias, my first year, I kept pitching to try to walk with Elias, like be a groupie, and go out there and try to play the guitar, one week go out with the conga drums, have everybody in the conga line do something different in order to keep interrupting him, piss him off, maybe we can build something there, and then he turns on me. It was very intricate, I had six to seven weeks planned of this damn thing. And then, no, that didn’t happen. At one point, I had a prominent athlete ready to go for WrestleMania, I reached out, and I was like, look, bro, he was on board, and that didn’t happen, which bummed me out because I thought that was a sure thing.
“I did 13 pitches by Wednesday, so we got home Tuesday, and on Wednesday I sent in 13 pitches, and I didn’t even get a reply back. So when I’m fighting that damn hard, it’s kind of demoralizing when you’re like, I’m working hard to try to be something else, I’m talking to people, trying to be something else, trying to be more.”
When concluding his thoughts about his time in the WWE, Valenzuela noted that a conversation he had with John Cena opened up his eyes, as to whether what he was doing was the right thing with his No Way Jose gimmick. He admits that what Cena told him was right, which made him question everything he thought he knew.
“I remember talking to [John] Cena, and one of the questions he asked, which made me start thinking about was, ‘Why do you dance?’ Something so simple,” Valenzuela said. “When I tell you that I couldn’t answer him I was like wow, I had to kind of rethink this. It was so simple that it went right past me. I think I gave him an answer and he said, ‘I don’t see it.’ It was because I hadn’t shown it. He was 100 percent right.”
You can view Valenzuela’s full interview above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Inside The Ropes with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.