Audio: Johnny Mundo talks Lucha Underground/WWE similarities and differences
From Donald Wood:
Johnny Mundo Interview Transcript
Ring Rust Radio: Ultima Lucha Dos begins Wednesday, July 6 and runs through July 20. You and Worldwide Underground will defend the Trios Championships against Fenix, Drago and Aerostar. How are you preparing differently for this bout and what should fans expect from the title match?
Johnny Mundo: From World Wide Underground, the fans should expect much of the same from us. The three of us won the Trios Championships after I destroyed Fenix. The Dragon Slayer, the Star Destroyer, Jack Evans in my opinion is the best wrestler to come out of AAA ever. PJ Black, known as Justin Gabriel from his time in WWE, rich wrestling tradition, cut his teeth in South Africa then moved to the United States and is a worldwide star. Then of course me, the mayor of Slam Town, Johnny Mundo. The three of us together I think more than match up against any other team on the Lucha Underground roster. We have the high flying covered, the hard hitting covered, and the brains AKA me. How we are preparing for this match? We are just going to go in and do what we do.
Ring Rust Radio: As one of the top stars with the company since its inception, what has the pressure been like on you to help take Lucha Underground to the next level and how much pride do you take in being a cornerstone of the brand?
Johnny Mundo: As far as being the guy and really the first guy with the reputation to sign on to be a part of Lucha Underground, I take a great deal of pride in it. This is the first wrestling promotion that has come around since I can remember since ECW that has really been different. It’s developed a counter culture and a cult following and Lucha Underground has done that. I take a lot of pride being a part of that. As far as the pressure goes to carry the ball and keep performing at such a high level, yes I do feel it. That pressure is a good thing and I think everybody feels it unilaterally. What we have is a roster full of motivated and talented wrestlers with a chip on their shoulder to prove we have something no other wrestling promotion has right now. We are all hungry, motivated, young and talented. Most wrestling promotions are missing one of those things. When you look at Lucha Underground, that’s what makes us so interesting. It’s defining its identity with each episode. With each episode, everyone on the roster is reinventing themselves and trying new things. Sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing at it, but that’s what makes us so interesting. Another reason is if you haven’t checked us out already, Ultima Lucha Dos is the best time to really see what this show is all about.
Ring Rust Radio: Last year’s Ultima Lucha was easily one of the best wrestling events of 2015, and fans are obviously extremely excited about Ultima Lucha Dos and hoping that it’s going to top the original. Having been part of both, how do you feel Ultima Lucha Dos is going to stack up, and how excited are you for the fans to see it?
Johnny Mundo: I am ridiculously excited for Ultima Lucha Dos. I think this Ultima Lucha Dos will by far surpass the original. I think anytime you have an event for the first time ever, like a Super Bowl or WrestleMania or UFC, as the years go by everything becomes more polished with promotion and bigger stars. Ultima Lucha Dos brings you Rey Mysterio Jr., Prince Puma, Johnny Mundo, PJ Black, Jack Evans, Fenix, Pentagon, all these stars that you have heard of and now you have seen them develop over the course of two seasons of Lucha Underground. The production of the show has become more polished and everyone is more invested in these characters now for Ultima Lucha Dos then they were at Ultima Lucha Uno. I expect it to exceed fans expectations and be better, badder, faster, stronger and more exciting than Ultima Lucha Uno.
Ring Rust Radio: We have spoken to many Lucha Underground stars about the differences between Lucha and the WWE. From your perspective, what are some of the biggest differences and similarities between the brands?
Johnny Mundo: Similarities wise its pro wrestling, its lucha libre, it’s entertainment and that’s the bottom line. The whole point of it is to entertain. You’re telling a story in the ring, you’re wrestling; that’s the biggest similarity. At the end of the day, the reason I am doing it is I grew up watching pro wrestling and fell in love with it as a kid. Hopefully when people watch Lucha Underground and WWE, Ring of Honor, New Japan, AAA and any other promotion out there, they fall in love with pro wrestling. Pro wrestling as it affects pop culture is bigger than any one promotion. I love it. I love being able to perform in the ring in front of people and that’s the greatest feeling in the world. So that’s a universal similarity between every promotion. As far as differences, Lucha Underground and the way it is filmed with its TV episodic format, allows it to have deeper, multilayered, darker and almost supernatural type characters woven into the fabric of the storylines. The storylines of Lucha Underground are more complex and always follow through to fruition which is different because a lot of time with WWE and the size of the organization, characters sometimes are simpler and storylines are dropped. With a one hour show, Lucha Underground is more respectful of the time of the people watching. We don’t have a three-hour Raw to fill every week. We have one hour of wrestling and what you get is fast paced, hard hitting, acrobatic action interspersed with the stories we are telling backstage and the vignettes backstage. The vignettes are really polished and tightly cut that flesh out the characters and move the story forward week to week. I feel like it’s the best wrestling show on TV right now. If you compare it to an episode of Raw you will agree with me. If not, tweet me and we will argue about it.
Ring Rust Radio: One of the big differences for you and your character in Season 2 in comparison to Season 1 has been the addition of Taya as your partner. What are your thoughts on her as a competitor, and why do you feel like the two of you have been able to mesh so well so quickly?
Johnny Mundo: Taya and I had a lot of chemistry from the day she arrived at Lucha Underground. If you look at her as a singles competitor, she is the most talented female on the Lucha Underground roster. Her background in AAA, she was the first ever foreign woman’s champion in Mexico City and the AAA promotion. She is also the longest reigning Women’s Champion in AAA history. She moved to Mexico, didn’t speak Spanish, learned to speak fluid Spanish, then went on to become the champion of Mexico and is now the Women’s champion longer than any wrestler in that promotion. That’s the kind of ambition, talent and passion that she has for this business and she has brought it to Lucha Underground. When you watch her wrestler, you can feel her passion. You can feel the passion of the performers in the ring and she has that, as do I. The roster of Lucha Underground from top to bottom has passion, but I feel like the chemistry Taya and I have combined with her talent and capabilities she has to tell stories in the ring are why she has set herself apart as the top female performer in Lucha Underground and why we are working so well together as well.