Matt Striker Returns To Busted Open
What is it like to be a part of this new promotion, Lucha Underground?
To be a part of something new is like anything in any walk of life; you get a new girl, you get a new toy, you get a new phone. It is all very cool and it makes you feel like you’re a part of something. I feel like that’s human nature. Just look at the success on Facebook and Twitter, “Oh, look at me. Like me. Follow me.” You’re a part of something with Lucha Underground but it’s real, it’s not a fad.
Are you getting the same reaction we are getting about the promotion? A positive reaction and that people are kind of pumped up about it?
Yeah, absolutely thank god. The reviews have been great and I have been noticing when people stop you on the street--when you’re not on National TV for a while it kind of dies down. I have been noticing more and more people are stopping me on streets and it is not your prototypical wrestling fan. It’s really from all walks of life. So it really shows how far this reaches and to bring Lucha Libre to the US is a big deal.
Does it help that Lucha Underground is an hour and leaves the audience wanting more?
In any entertainment field; the cardinal rule is to leave them wanting more. I guess the normal way our brains go will
be to hold us up to other shows in our genre. Lucha Underground is apples and oranges. It is really different. You get the same fans and you’ll get different fans too. I think leaving people wanting more is a general good rule of thumb in any business.
Are you enjoying being on the Play-By-Play part of things?
In other places, those roles were really defined. Like anything else in Lucha Underground, the direction is to be yourselves and just allow what happens organically to happen organically. And I think it took Vampiro and I literally 5 minutes of sitting together to realize how this is going to go. He is the veteran. He has been around for 818 years because he is a vampire and they don’t die. I got my snarky, witty banter or my observations. If there was a couch and beer or whatever you are into, that is what we would be doing. We would be sitting and watching wrestling and making comments to each other.
Do you have the freedom now to throw out certain things to a different type of audience?
Commentary in any regards, independent of where or which umbrella I was working, I had the freedom to say anything I wanted. It was up to the editors on the tape of the show if they wanted to keep it in or what we call “bladed” the comments that were there. On a live show, that is a different story. You have to be careful with the things you say live. Yeah freedom is freedom; you just have to think about that from an editing standpoint.
How much does Mark Burnett play a role in Lucha Underground?
Being around someone successful and productive can only rub off on people positively. Everything Mark Burnett has done has been really good. You see how good things are done and go, "Oh!" It's nice to be around successful, passionate, creative, kind people.
What is it like being in the same temple in the same building?
Well, it’s not the same building or same faces because everything is still so new. Sure, we voiced this and the door is open. If you’re not under contract or not working somewhere; if you’re a college football kid or whatever you are--you can come down and you can speak to one of the producers. You can really fill out a thing and the next day, they can get you in the ring and that’s the truth. There is nothing familiar, stale, or old about it.
It’s got to be exciting to work on the character development side and not just behind the scenes.
I learned two important lessons: one from JR (JimRoss) and the other from Jerry Lawler. As far as character development stuff, Lawler's thing was, don't try to learn too much about the backstory of a guy, because you have to tell that story in 30 seconds and you can't do that. Let the wrestler tell the stories to the fan, and you can embellish. Let the wrestlers tell the story. You can take a guy like John Morrison and cut his hair and make him fat but the wrestling is what holds up. And to compliment that, the vignettes, they're changing story telling in the wrestling genre. They’re little movies. There's character depth there. You don't need someone there to tell you. You see it. I was told by JR; kid you look at the monitor and call wrestling. And that's what I do now. The stories will tell itself. You don't need someone telling you that Dick Murdoch is a badass. You don’t need a commentator to tell you that.
Do you think now more than ever, especially in the last 10 years that you guys can make a connection with wrestling fan?
A 100 million, trillion percent because there is a new wrestling fan out there now that probably doesn’t know who Nikita Kolov is. The idea with Lucha Underground is to bring Lucha Libre to the States. We almost have this brand new thing even though it’s been around forever. We got this new phone, it’s not an iPhone and it’s not an android but it is still a phone. “Here hold on to this for a second and check this out,” and the people who are checking it out for a second aren’t putting it down. That is a sign that you are putting out a good product. We are not reinventing the wheel; it’s Lucha but it is just different enough for someone to go, ahh.
What is the difference between a ‘spot fest’ and great ‘story telling‘?
Anyone; Lucha Underground, Ring of Honor, or the lowest of the low, an indie show in Arkansas (I'm never going to get booked in Arkansas now), they are busting their asses. People don't understand. It takes one wet spot or a guy out of place and that's 6-8 weeks that you are out and you're lucky if you get that. What about the guys who break their necks? So the people who are saying, it's just ‘spots‘, we don't want ya. The old term was smart mark, but I don't think mark is a negative term. If you're there to be negative and poo-poo everything, go watch MMA, watch a guy choke someone out, wear your Tap-Out Shirt and think you’re cool at the gym. It is all about good versus bad and I want to beat you. In Lucha Underground stuff is good versus bad but it doesn’t mean I have to dislike you because you’re bad.
Pro Wrestling lacks the cool factor as of late. There is demographic that doesn’t watch wrestling because it’s not cool. After watching 3 episodes of Lucha Underground, it seems cool.
We're not telling you that Lucha Underground is cool. We put it out there and let you decide. The problem in wrestling is; you have people who are out of touch with Pop Culture telling you what is supposed to be cooI and I hate to keep going back to WWE but I always use Randy Orton for an example. I don't care what storyline you place on Randy Orton, or if Kofi Kingston painted his race car pink: Randy Orton is cool. If I saw him in the street, I would not want to fight him. His moves are cool and everything about him is cool. There are some people who try too hard like, “hey put this hat on and you will be building to a career” and that’s the angle (of trying to be cool and getting over).
Talk about the presentation of Lucha Underground on TV.
In my observation it’s the wonderful marriage between Hollywood and wrestling. That is the Mark Burnett influence, Mark as the director, Barry the sound guy, Eric the producer, and Chris the producer. Those are the people are calling the shots that you like. They don’t have a store on Pro Wrestling T’s and those people don’t have a Twitter thing or road diaries. They’re the real stars that are putting this together. A high five has to go to the camera crew, the production team, and the sound guys who are all coming together to produce a real quality product.
Do you think Lucha Underground can build a loyal following?
It almost has a rebel feel to it in Lucha Underground. I do believe in this day and age so many kids are off the grid to what’s popular. It is almost if the counter-culture is now the dominate culture because kids are now ok to go off by themselves and go find things. Lucha Underground is something everyone will find on their own and join together. It’s going to be one of those things that’s going to be cool and it’s getting to be cult.
Who should we keep an eye out for?
Drago. I dig this guy a lot, I like everything about him. He doesn’t remind me much of anyone in particular but at the same time he reminds me of a lot of a bunch of guys all at once. I like Fenix. We saw him last week and we are going to see him a lot more. Obviously I don’t want to be a perv but Ivlesse is like the hottest thing in the world and so is Katrina. There are new people coming. Do you remember when we were in the Monday Night Wars and the stuff you always wanted to see like who was going to show up or in ECW when Pauly would black out the lights and everyone knew someone new was coming out? It’s going to be like that.