Prior to wrestling, you served your country as part of the US Navy. Was there any decision to want to further pursue the military in the event that wrestling didn’t work out?
“No, absolutely not. I went in either at 17 or 18 years old, really to stay off the streets of Miami. I had really gotten into a lot of trouble, and I was basically told to go by a judge. So when I got in there, I was actually like a Republican. I was a big fan of Regan, I believed in the American propaganda, the American ideology. I never questioned anything my country told me. I went in there really blind. When I got in there I started to find out the true politics. Who really ran the country?
I will give you an example. I went to the Iran/Iraq war and I remember being out there, and there was a ship that wasn’t too far away from us (that) had gotten blown up by mistake by an Iraqi plane, which is ironic because the same country we sided with, Iraq, we went to war with 20 years later, for 8 years, for the flimsiest reasons. I started to question, what am I doing out here? When I started to investigate, you know, actually, in the Iran/Iraq war, (we were there) to make sure that the Strait of Hormuz, which is a very narrow channel where a lot of oil (that) came from the Arab states, travels to get to the United States. I didn’t join the service to be protecting big oil companies’ interest. I just began to become very disillusioned with it. Even though I was given the choice to go there or spend time in jail, I was very patriotic and I left there very disillusioned at the way our country had lied to so many of its citizens. There was just no way I could be there anymore.”
During your time in WCW, outside of the success of the nWo, was there a faction that you felt you were a part of that was underrated?
“I think the one that comes to mind is the Filthy Animals. Imagine this in the same faction: you had Torrie Wilson, Billy Kidman, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Disco Inferno, Konnan, and then for a while there we had Juventud (Guerrera). So there is a lot of talent right there, and they just didn’t do anything with us. The problem with WCW was, and we all know and it’s been well documented, and I know this is going to sound redundant, but you had an owner that was a mark for the stars and the stars dictated what they wanted, and they made sure that none of us got through. So none of us did. A lot of these guys there had to go to WWE. I give Vince credit for that. Chris Jericho and Rey and (Chris) Benoit and Eddie had to leave WCW to become stars, (which) would never have happened had they stayed.
The funny thing about that group was, I’ll tell you how it was formed: I had actually gone to Vince Russo, who had just taken over and I said, ‘Look, they’ve been burying us since before you got here, and I don’t know if you have any plans to do anything with us, but let me get a bunch of my friends, put us together and let us have fun, and if you want to bury us then at least we’ll be together and we’ll get buried together.’ So I basically got a bunch of my friends, which were the people I just named. Torrie was actually going out with Billy, so we just brought her into the fold. That’s basically how the group came about. We did some angle where we buried Ric Flair in the desert, somewhere in Vegas I believe, and nothing ever happened after that. We just knew they weren’t going to do anything but at least we were having fun being together.”
Your brief time in ECW allowed for an opportunity to compete under Paul Heyman. Describe the experience & AAA’S relationship with ECW at the time.
“What had happened was I had known Paul E from WCW, like in 1990 I was actually there for a little while, and he was a commentator there at the time. We got along and when I saw him in Singapore at some indy show that we were on, he told me, ‘Listen, I’m starting a company and you know I’m bringing in Public Enemy and these guys, and that guy, and I’ve heard a lot about Rey Mysterio.’ Look how on point Paul E was back then. He goes, ‘I’ve heard a lot about Rey Mysterio, Psychosis, Love Machine and Eddie Guerrero. What can you tell me about them?’ I just put them all over. He said, ‘Alright, let me bring in Rey Mysterio and Psychosis first.’ And then I said ‘With all due respect to the rest of your roster, they are going to blow away anything else you are going to do that night’. They went in and they killed it. Paul E is not the best at calling back, but he called immediately, you could tell he was still in the venue and he goes, ‘Oh my God, you got to bring these guys back, and when can you come in?’ Then we brought other stars in and I’m sure we would have done more of a talent exchange if WCW hadn’t called us.”
Discuss your time in WCW working with Kevin Sullivan as part of the Dungeon of Doom.
“It was excellent because Kevin was the one that had originally called me. Woman (Nancy Sullivan) was working at the time, which you remember was his wife at the time. I think that she was the one that told him, ‘Look, this Konnan, I believe you can do something with him especially since you don’t have any Latinos’. He called me, and when I got there he really helped me out a lot. I was actually going to do a program with Hogan at one point, for Mexico and the United States. I think what happened, and I’m not sure, I have asked him about this, this is what I really think happened: I got there and they really had big plans for me, but I don’t think they realized I didn’t know how to wrestle the American style, which, Paul E made that same mistake. When I went in there, he put me in there with some American guy and we had some terrible match and I told Paul E, I don’t know how to wrestle American style. They think just because you speak English, that you could also wrestle the style, and I think the same thing happened with Kevin. So I had to be deprogrammed. I had to learn how to wrestle American style. By the time I learned, I think my stock fell in their eyes. But Kevin was always like a mentor to me there.”
Within TNA, you were part of 3 Live Cru & LAX. How was one experience different from and/or similar to the other?
“Well, they were two different groups. Ron Killings, Road Dogg and I did the same story I did with the Filthy Animals. We went to Jeff Jarrett and said, ‘You’re not doing anything with us so put us together’. We hung out outside of wrestling, so we were friends and so basically, we did a lot of funny skits because we had one black guy from the hood, we had one Latino and we had a redneck. It was funny because we went one time into the hood where Ronny is from and Brian James dressed up as a pimp and he was walking through the hood of Nashville, Tennessee dressed up as a pimp with a big multi-colored rainbow afro and they were loving it. Then we did this thing where Road Dogg brought us back to his neck of the woods in a trailer, but a double-wide trailer, and then I brought them to a Mexican restaurant. So that was funnier, it was more on the comedic side.
Then LAX (Latin American Xchange) was the extreme opposite. I was a radical Latino who hated anything that wasn’t Latin. It was reverse discrimination, and for some reason, it hit a pulse. Some people loved it, and some people really hated it. But that group was very near and dear to my heart. I was kind of the author of the whole idea, and I brought it to Dutch (Mantel) and he liked it, he was a booker at that time and he convinced Jeff Jarrett, and we were on it immediately. It touched on really strong political viewpoints, and we one time hung Uncle Sam in effigy and we burned it up.
Another time, I tasered Spike Dudley and I said, ‘I’m just like the cops. I shoot first, ask questions later’. Which is very prevalent now, ten years later. We had Orlando Police Department call up actually call up Dixie and say, ‘You know, we don’t like Konnan going out there and making light of us. We go out there and put our lives on the line,’ and all this other bullshit. I was just basically touching on a lot of sensitive issues that in wrestling, they don’t usually touch on. I wanted people to think, you know what I’m saying? That’s why I liked LAX a lot. I think when I left it kind of lost the heart of the group. Dixie allowed us the creative freedom because her dad liked it, and he’s the guy that owns the company. So he actually came up to me, and he’s some white guy from Texas, at a pay per view and he goes, ‘Man, you guys are my favorite act on the show’. So maybe he was thinking, ‘Wow, this guy isn’t just going out and cutting a wrestling promo about bullshit, he’s going out there and he’s talking about sensitive issues which people don’t usually talk about on a wrestling show.”
After leaving TNA, you returned to AAA in Mexico. Explain your time there, your role and was there ever an option to transition there sooner?
“There was an option, I just felt that in WCW I was held back, and I wanted to prove myself in TNA, and in TNA, in the beginning, I was held back without a doubt, but then when LAX exploded they couldn’t do anything but go with it because we were selling more t-shirts than anybody. So now they are making money off of us and see us in a different light, and I had complete creative control to do whatever I wanted, I will give them credit for that. I left because they wouldn’t pay me, due to racism, and I wasn’t going to put up with either one.
So I got to Mexico and I was really in a lot of pain from being in the business so long. When the company started, the owner, whose name is Antonio Pena, I used to book everything with him. I used to write shows with him, everything. So I said, can I take a stab at this? I’ve been here since day one back in the day with Pena, and they gave me a stab and I’ve been there ever since. So what I do backstage is help with the finishes, I help put together matches. It is just what a booker and a writer would do, and I produce vignettes, I am having a great time. Our ratings are actually up so we are doing really well. I remember when WWE was there about five years ago, they were doing four times the numbers we were doing. It took us three years but we surpassed them in the ratings. That’s something that I’ve always been proud of.”
The unfortunate death & passing of Perry Aguayo Jr affected the Mexican wrestling community. For those in North America unaware of his loss to the industry, could you speak of his significance?
“He was that charismatic bad guy that everybody loved. It was like when Ric Flair was a heel, you know what I am saying? And everybody loved him. He was oozing with charisma. He was a tremendous worker, and he was loved by everybody in the dressing room. There wasn’t a lot of guys his age that would help some of the younger guys. They were more like, learn for yourself. That’s how I learned, learn for yourself. He was there to help anybody and he loved the industry. His dad was my biggest rival in Mexico, so I’ve known Perrito since was twelve years old. We were very close, he was probably my best friend in the dressing room. The main thing for me at the time of the incident was, I was trying to wake him up. I thought he had been knocked out, so I’m trying to wake him up.”
I recently spoke to Matt Striker and he credited you with a lot of success in today’s Luchadores with an heir of legend about you along with Blue Demon & Mil Muertos. What are your thoughts on his comments?
“I am very flattered. You know Matt Striker is a student of the game. He respects the business so much. He has a very high work ethic and so I respect him a lot and that coming from him. Thank you very much man, I appreciate it. I have nothing but respect for Matt anyway.”