Former six-time WWE and WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chavo Guerrero was on a recent episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily to chat about his work on the hit NBC series Young Rock. Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman asked Guerrero how he got involved in the project with his long-time friend Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson”
“Number one show on TV right now, which is cool. It was actually brought to my attention today,” Guerrero admitted. “Number one show on NBC and they’re like, ‘No, number one show on TV.’ So I was like, ‘awesome, cool.’ [It started] with Dwayne Johnson but also with Brian Gewirtz, who was the head writer for WWE for many many years [and] is now an executive producer for Seven Bucks Productions. So that’s kind of where it started.
“To be honest, I sold a show to Seven Bucks, and then I collaborated with them to pitch it around to different networks. We started doing that together, and then the pandemic hit and everything kind of shut down. So then we were kind of sitting there, and everything was shut down and Hollywood was shut down, which is weird.
“Whenever anything is kind of going on, if it’s a recession or whatever, it never really affects me too much because of wrestling and Hollywood. Entertainment is always going, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen everything shut down. I mean literally all income shutdown period. You weren’t doing any signings. You weren’t doing any events. You weren’t doing any any shows, nothing.”
Guerrero’s official role on the Young Rock is wrestling coordinator, the same role that he won several Emmys for when he worked on GLOW. He revealed a phone call he had with the show’s executive producer Brian Gewirtz about how he got the job.
“I kind of was just sitting there for about five – six months,” Guerrero recalled. “And then I got a call from Brian and said, ‘Hey, we have this show called Young Rock. We can’t film. We’re ready to go. It’s all green lit, but we can’t film in Los Angeles because of everything going on. Everything’s shut down. So we’re going to Australia to film. Do you know any wrestling coordinators in that area?’ And I’m like, ‘First of all, a wrestling trainer and wrestling coordinator for TV are two completely separate things. That’s like apples and oranges. I know one person, me.’ And they go, ‘Oh, would you want to go?’ And I said, ‘Well, absolutely,’ and they go, ‘Oh, we weren’t sure if you’d want to do this.’ And I said, ‘Absolutely, 100%.’ The only real problem was getting into Australia because right now, everything’s shut down.
“You have to have special permission from the Australian government and you have to be an essential worker to be able to travel over there. They submit me, and it was like, ‘We want you really bad, but it’s up to them, to the Australian government.’ And we were lucky enough to get that okay. We went in there. I quarantined for two weeks, and then we got to work on this project. It was great.”
Guerrero then talked about how hands on Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson is on the show.
“He’s very very involved. It’s not like he just put his name on it and then said, okay, I’ll see you in two months,” Guerrero revealed. “No, he is super involved in Zoom meetings, and he’s got final say in everything. He was not in Australia though because of the fact that he can’t quarantine for two weeks. He’s got too much going on, and when you say quarantine, I was in a hotel room for two weeks. The police escorted me in.
“They close the door, and then two weeks later, they opened the door. That’s some serious stuff. He filmed all of his stuff in Atlanta. After we filmed the first episode or two, our executive producer [Nahnatchka Khan], and the creator also, she flew back to Atlanta and did his stuff with Dwyane. He was never actually on set but Zoom meetings and that stuff all the time.
“That’s kind of how everybody collaborated with him. Any question I had I would just tell Brian. Brian would text him right away. We would find out Rocky wants to do — I still call him Rocky — Rocky wants to do this. Rocky wants to do that. So I’m like, okay great. Let’s get it done.”
Young Rock begins in 2032 with Johnson running for president. The series is him looking back at his surreal life, and Guerrero explained how, except for the running for president part, he relates so much to the stories told in Young Rock.
“For me, I’m always passionate about the projects I do anyways, but this hit home so much because if you’ve seen the show, that is my life,” Guerrero pointed out. “That is exactly how I grew up, except for the running for president part, but that’s exactly how I grew up. My uncles were Roddy Piper, not The Wild Samoans but it was other wrestlers, Andre the Giant.
“I remember meeting Andre at seven years old. He was a family friend. Different stories with my dad, and my grandfather, my uncles and Andre so it’s my life, and after seeing that first episode, I was like, this is my life and not only that, it’s my friend’s project. It’s my friend’s life. It’s Dwayne’s life. I was super passionate about this and really put extra extra extra attention to it.”
Scott Fishman recently spoke with Joseph Lee Anderson on The Wrestling Inc. Daily where he talked about the pressure of portraying The Rock’s father as well as his experience working with Guerrero. Hausman asked Guerrero if there was any pressure on him to make sure the actors properly portrayed his friends.
“I don’t really look at it as pressure because it’s something I’ve done my entire life,” Guerrero noted. “Wrestling I’ve done my entire life and after doing my first couple shows, you’re like, wait a minute, because the first couple shows, you don’t really know what you know. You kind of get into like, ‘okay,’ and then you’re just testing the waters.
“Then all of sudden, you’re like, ‘wait a minute, I do know some of this stuff.’ Some people are like, ‘How do you know that Chavo?’ I don’t know. I just know it. I grew up [as a] third generation professional wrestler. It’s in our family for 85 plus years. So we’ve seen wrestling evolve, and we’ve evolved with that. So the pressure really wasn’t there.
“I would tell some of the other actors and say, ‘Okay, this is how he would act. This is how he’d do it.’ Now, that’s their portrayal of the roles. I’m not on camera, at least not yet, doing that with them. So that’s really them. I can give them advice all they want, but that’s their idea of how they want to play that role, and of course, Dwayne’s right there, he’s got a lot of insight and is steering these guys in the right direction.”
Guerrero also spoke on the family atmosphere on the set of Young Rock. He noted the bond he shared with the cast right away after coming out of quarantine.
“Yeah, big Matt (Matthew Willig) and I didn’t know Matt, and I didn’t know John [Tui] and Fasi (Fasitua Amosa), who played The Wild Samoans or Kevin [Makely], who plays Macho Man, who’s coming up pretty soon, or Brett (Azar), who plays Iron Sheik or Nate [Jackson] who played Junkyard Dog. I never met them before, but literally, the first day out of quarantine, I met these guys, and it was like a family right from the start. I mean right from the start,” Guerrero admitted. “We all hit it off, and everybody is so cool. Everybody really just wants this show to succeed and wants their peers to succeed.
“So everybody’s in each other’s corners. It’s really really cool. It was like one big happy family. We were all staying at the same hotel. We’d all text each other and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to go be barbecuing on the roof at 4:00.’ Okay, great. I’m off set at 2:00, and everybody would bring meat and bring whatever we had over and all just barbecue and hang out, drink some beers. It was a really really cool environment.”
Young Rock airs every Tuesday night at 8/7c on NBC. You can follow Chavo on Twitter @MexWarrior. The full audio and video from Chavo’s interview can be found via the embedded players below: