As each week passes, more and more former WWE Superstars are speaking out about their releases, and what's next for their careers. For Levis Valenzuela Jr., fka No Way Jose, he was "blindsided" by the news that he was going to be released.
"I woke up on Wednesday, and I get this text from TR, and they were like, 'Check the app,' they were very vague about it," Valenzuela stated on Inside The Ropes. "I popped the video open, and it was Vince [McMahon]. I was like oh s**t, it's about to get real, just because he has never appeared in that form. So, I'm looking at the video and the words are just like, you know, cutbacks - I forgot what they said, in terms of the talent, but I couldn't [motions him trying to connect the dots] understand how I was being utilized - are cuts going to be made because it wasn't clear that cuts were going to be made. So, I started texting people left and right [asking], 'Did you see this? What's going on?' Nobody knew. Then the first reports and stuff came out, and initially, when a report comes out, it's like ok, those are the cuts and that's it. But then, we're talking, and we're talking about how bummed out we are that those people got released, and then 10 minutes later, two or three more names get added - we were like oh s**t. Then 15 minutes later, two more names get added and we're like woah, they just keep going; it's continuous.
"When I was working out, Mark Carano sent me a message saying, 'Call me when you get a chance.' I was like oof, you know... I told a couple of people that Carano just hit me up, and they were like, 'Bro, we hope for the best.' So, I called him and [jokingly] said, 'You love me brother?' and he said 'Yes, but do you know why I'm calling?' and I said, 'Yes," but I was super cool about it. You could tell that it was tough for him to make all of those calls. I didn't see it coming, man. It blindsided the hell out of me. I was there Monday, and gone Wednesday morning, bro"
As of now, Valenzuela does not see himself portraying his former life of the party character anymore. Instead, he would like to take on a new approach.
"The world basically knows me as this [No Way Jose]," Valenzuela informed. "In a sense, that's me, but that's me turned up in a certain stage, you know, in a day. It's tough because now I have to either try to go back into that or try to come up with something completely different. As good as the character was for me, in terms of making a living, I don't want to continue that character. I just feel like it did what it did, and if people want to book me for that, or whatever, it's gonna be possibly going to be a one-off, because I have so much more to show."
During his time there, Valenzuela admits that many people thought that his gimmick was quite similar to Adam Roseand his Rosebuds. He made sure to clear the air about this said issue, by stating that he did not, in any way, try to copy Rose's former gimmick.
"It made me very apprehensive," Valenzuela noted. "First off, I wasn't trying to knock Adam Rose because I was a Rosebud. I think I put my information online on some talent thing on their website... It wasn't my ideal situation. I felt like with Adam and myself it was about the Rosebuds and the conga lines until he got rid of them, that's where the focus was. In NXT, I did my entrance on my own and I got the people up and stuff and we partied; that's what it was all about."
With how interconnected the pro wrestling industry is, Valenzuela, admitted that he wasn't the one who thought of his ring name and character development. In fact, he noted that he had a few well-known wrestlers help him find his image in the WWE.
"So, originally, it was supposed to be just Levis Valenzuela going out there and parting with the people -dancing," Valenzuela informed. "Then, when we would do the promo classes, I'd usually be expressive out of nowhere like either, 'Haha, chop, wow,' something like that. I think they were watching something in film one day, and I wasn't in the class, but I wrestled somebody in that class and Sami Callihan comes up to me - and he has a real raspy voice - and says, 'Dude, we were watching something, and what if you were to say like No Way Jose?' I was like, 'Oh, I could use that as a catchphrase or like in a promo.' He was so giddy about it, and man, they were laughing about that s**t.
"Then, [Matt] Bloom comes up to me and asks, 'What do you think about No Way Jose?' I was like, 'Yeah, that catchphrase is great!' He was like, 'No, as your name?' I was just like No Way Jose? C'mon bro. I didn't think people would take it seriously. On the grand scheme of things, I was like would they put a championship on somebody named No Way Jose? The answer, no way!"
Now that the dust has settled and he has time to think about his future, Valenzuela is hopeful that the higher up's in the WWE will take him back, someday.
"I want to come back and be somebody that they're like, 'Ok, we might've missed something with him. Let's bring him back and showcase that,'" Valenzuela mentioned. "Yeah, I was down, but I'm trying to push through as best as I can. I want to come back, and I want to be a bigger part of this company. That's ideally the goal and my mindset."
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.