Dave LeGreca and Tommy Dreamer welcomed former WWE manager and wrestler Armando Estrada onto the Busted Open podcast, where the three shared road stories and reflected on Estrada’s career. Estrada spoke about the promo he did at Unforgiven 2006 that got him backstage heat.
“As you know, there’s writers and things change very frequently, so the verbiage had changed several times prior to me going out. And by the time they gave me the 5th version, it was like I had less than 10 minutes to get all this verbiage down. And, needless to say, I had some memorized from here, here, some s–t I thought was terrible,” Estrada explained. “And I’m like, ‘I’m not saying that.’ So I went out and called what I felt was the best version of all those promos they gave me, but I think I went a little bit longer.
“As a result and afterward, ‘Freebird’ Michael Hayes pulled me aside and said, ‘You know, I know you had the audience with you, but the same things that got you to the dance will get you sent back to developmental.’
“And I didn’t understand that at the time, and I’m like, well I’m just going out here doing the best job that I can, like, why am I going to be punished for that? You know, I started to understand that later on in my career as to you can’t be the main event, you can’t cut the main event promo if you’re in the fourth or fifth match.”
The year 2006 was also the year Estrada made his WWE debut. He did so on the RAW after WrestleMania in his hometown of Chicago, getting the honor to cut a promo on Ric Flair. Estrada talked about how special of a debut that was for him.
“The Horzion, or the Allstate Arena as we know it today, that’s where I grew up going to the show, going to shows when I was a kid and whatnot,” Estrada said. “So I sat in that arena countless times on the other side of the barricade, and to debut not only at my hometown but on live RAW the day after WrestleMania, the most anticipated show of the year, completely cold, no vignettes, no nothing, no build-up. And then, on top of that, to come out and interrupt the greatest of all time, the Nature Boy Ric Flair, and to have roughly, I don’t know, eight-minute speaking segment with him was mind-blowing to put it lightly.
“I also had bronchitis and an ear infection that day, so my voice was completely shot by the time I walked out live, and I was so worried about the WWE Audio picking up what I was saying because I was used to the shi–y audio we had in developmental, which actually wasn’t even audio. Paul Heyman would give me a mic that wasn’t even live and would pretend to be talking into a nonworking microphone. So if you go back and watch, I was screaming at the top of my lungs in that microphone just to make sure the audio got me. I didn’t realize that WWE a multi-million production at that point.”
Estrada is best known to the manager for the late Umaga. He shared a story about Umaga hitting a fan with a chair, and the duo thinking that they would be fired for that incident on a tour.
“I do have another fan interaction which happened in Mexico. I don’t know, Tommy, if you were at this tour,” Estrada asked. “It was a SmackDown/ECW Tour and Mexico Tour shortly before the Battle of the Billionaires in 2007, and Umaga used to do this thing on his entrance where he would walk around the ring on house shows.
“And he would just snarl and look mean at the fans, and sometimes he would grab a chair and he would act as if he was going to smash the fan in the head with the chair. And I would come up from behind and grab the chair to stop him from assaulting the fan, and getting fired, and going to jail.
“Well one day in Mexico, we’re doing this little act, this pre-match act, and Umaga goes to swing the chair and the chair slips, and he hits the fan in the front row in the head. And instantly, we’re like, ‘Oh my God, we’re fired! We’re fired! We’re not going to WrestleMania, we’re not going home, we’re not collecting,’ and Umaga and I kind of look at each other like, ‘What are we going to do, man? We F’d up’, and I look at the fan and he jumps up and he’s like, ‘Yeah!’ And I was like, ‘Are you okay, amigo?’ I tell Jimmy Tillis, whoever was security at the time, and I’m like, ‘bring him some merchandise, just make sure they’re alright, no lawsuits.’ So that was a close call.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Busted Open with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.