Former WWE creative writer Dan Madigan joined the We Want Lucha podcast from the hosts of Inside The Ropes to discuss his tenure with the sports-entertainment organization in 2004. Highlights from the interview are as follows:
Chris Benoit’s title reign and if he saw his run as a mid-card champion: “I’ve never heard that term but it really sums up what happened, mid card champion. I don’t think he ever really believed how good a wrestler he was, there was an insecurity there. But in terms of wrestling ability, he was hard to match. But then when it comes to cutting a promo and working on the mic, he’s not as honed as some of the other guys. I think that may have weighed on his head a little. I think he was just a wrestler at heart. I used to work with him on cutting promos. Some guys, cutting promos, it’s just a gift, it comes naturally to them. Sometimes it’s even better to have even better mic skills than wrestling skills. He had trouble with it, but he worked at it. I would say to him “Chris maybe it’s better to say too little than too much. Think about what you’re gonna say and lets make it shorter” He didn’t have the charisma that Shawn Michael did, but who does. Chris got the championship as a reward for years of hard work, but that term, you’re right, mid card champion, he almost got lost in the shuffle. He was almost just like someone holding the belt till the next guy.”
His biggest disappointment during his time in WWE: “I really wanted to create a high octane Cruiserweight division and build it around Ultimo Dragon, and bring in guys he’d worked with in Mexico and Japan like Super Crazy, Juventud, Psychosis. I realised writing my book, that there’s a huge latino community in the US and I wanted to bring a strong lucha libre style to the WWE to bridge the cultural gap. But it didn’t happen. That’s one of the first big fights I had with Vince. The concept of the masked wrestler is lost on the WWE, they don’t really understand it, they don’t appreciate it, unlike Mexico where that’s the focal point. I think in America, it’s a whole different ballgame, the psychology is different. I lost that fight a couple of times in the room. At one point, we lost Ultimo he went back to Japan, and we just had Rey, Vince goes “We have one masked wrestler in the ring, any more of them on the roster and it’ll confuse the fans” I said to him”Vince there’s 10,000 wrestlers in Mexico in masks, no-one’s confused” I looked around the room and I wasn’t gonna win that fight. That was the biggest disappointment, that they wouldn’t let lucha libre be a featured style on the show.”
Alberto Del Rio’s decision to remove his mask upon debuting in WWE: “He took the mask off which was a smart move, a very smart move. If you’re gonna come up from Mexico with a famous gimmick, take the mask off, find a different gimmick don’t lose the reputation, that’s the awful thing. It’s like Ultimo Dragon, he never got the push he deserved because they never knew what to do with him. At one point a few years ago, WWE wanted him to come back but wanted him to take his mask off. It seems like people don’t get how important the mask is in Mexico, it’s like the essence of the wrestler. Mistico, I think Sin Cara now, he made a big splash, now they don’t know what to do with him. Think of merchandising with a masked wrestler, it could be huge. But they don’t understand the lucha libre mentality.”
Ultimo Dragon is the subject of a new graphic novel project involving Madigan, which he discusses in the interview. To listen to it, click here.
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