Before he became a ring announcer and manager, Ricardo Rodriguez was an aspiring wrestler like so many others. He talked about his wrestling beginnings when he joined VOC Nation.
“I started backyard wrestling here in LA right after high school? I found these guys here who had a ring and they had backyard wrestling shows, and I joined them. We were imitating exactly what we saw at the time on Impact, move for move. They had a boxing ring but we didn’t know any difference. Boxing rings are very different than wrestling rings; boxing rings are very stiff. They don’t have any spring in them. We learned how to bump, how to roll, all that stuff in a boxing ring,” Rodriguez said before discussing how he got noticed by WWE.
“One thing that I noticed ? and obviously this is just an opinion ? but it seemed like if you had a big online following, a social media following, you had an upper hand as far as getting noticed. Everything now is social media? It was all because of Zack Ryder. Zack Ryder was the whole reason why they were so into social media. I’m sure it would have happened eventually, but it was because of Zack Ryder and what he did online. He got himself over.”
Everyone in the wrestling industry who has achieved some level of success has their own idea of what it takes to reach that success. Rodriguez was asked what it took for him to be successful in wrestling, and he pointed to making connections.
“I used to work in the adult industry behind the scenes. I had to deal with a lot of people; you have to learn to be social to deal with clients, to call [other companies], whatever, so you learn to socialize. That helped out with wrestling because you socialize,” said Rodriguez. “Once I got out there, I got to meet promoters, meet other wrestlers, meet different people, and you have to network. So, that helped out. It was all just the confidence. It’s all the idea of faking it until you’re make it, and that’s what I did when I got signed with the WWE.”
As the manager and ring announcer of Alberto Del Rio, Rodriguez got to introduce his client at WrestleMania 27. Del Rio came up short in a World Heavyweight Title match vs. Edge at the event, but Rodriguez recalled how special that experience was.
“My first WrestleMania was very special at the Georgia Dome. One year prior, we were in Arizona for WrestleMania and I worked two shows for Dragon Gate USA. A year later, I was in WrestleMania and in one of the main events,” stated Rodriguez. “So that was always pretty cool, and I got to be with Edge.
“What got me into American pro wrestling was the TLC match at WrestleMania 17 with the Hardy Boys, the Dudleys, and Edge and Christian. That’s what got me into American pro wrestling, so to have my first WrestleMania moment with Edge and Christian was amazing.”
Even though he wasn’t a competitor, Rodriguez nearly stole the show at TLC in 2011. During a triple threat Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match for the WWE Championship, Del Rio was wrestling CM Punk and The Miz. At one point, Rodriguez climbed a ladder, to which Miz and Punk tipped the ladder over. It sent Rodriguez through a table set up on the floor, and many call that the highlight of the event. Rodriguez recalled taking that bump at TLC.
“They had a camera up on top that had the downward view. It turns out I missed the first table and all my weight came down on the second table, but my knee clipped the first table. I remember that night, I was rooming with Mason Ryan. He kept telling me that I was moaning in pain because my knee was swollen. I couldn’t walk straight for a good two weeks, but looking back, it was fun. I think that was the highest reacted bump out of the whole show,” said Rodriguez.
While managers were commonplace during the 80s and 90s, they started to fade out afterwards. More so male managers have been few and far between over the last decade, which makes Rodriguez stand out. He talked about his somewhat unique position and why being male allowed WWE to do more with him than they could with female managers.
“At the time, the other managers for the most part were female, and for the most part, the women are never going to get hit by the men, especially in WWE. On the independents, it’s different. The other top heel was Vickie [Guerrero] at the time, and she would never get [hit] by one of the males. So I was that guy that would get punched and kicked, so it was kind of cool. I got to take some pretty good finishers from people that I grew up watching,” stated Rodriguez who then talked about taking the 619 from Rey Mysterio.
“I grew up in Lucha Libre and I knew who Rey was my entire life. To have our first feud with Rey was awesome. To take the 619 almost every night was awesome. I’ve taken one from [others] before, but they pull back. Rey doesn’t pull back, he just swings his legs. Another thing that Rey has that nobody else has are knee braces, and those things hurt! I took it face first and his knee brace caught me right in the face.”
After the end of his partnership with Del Rio, Rodriguez managed some others, did some Spanish commentary, and even wrestled a few matches. However, he was released by WWE in 2014 and has mainly worked on the indies since then.
He talked about his relationship with WWE and if he’d ever consider working for them again.
“I didn’t leave on good terms because I was very angry and bitter when I went and asked for my release. I wasn’t happy being there, and I know I said a lot I shouldn’t have; I regret how I said things. I don’t necessarily take back much of what I said because a lot of people that left after I did said a lot of the same things,” admitted Rodriguez. “But I regret how I said things. I should have taken a different approach? I was angry, I was upset, I had a substance abuse problem, there’s a whole lot of things that went into it. If the opportunity presents itself [to work behind the scenes], I would jump on it immediately.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit VOC Nation with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.