Lucha Underground’s Johnny Mundo On SXSW, Predator Handshakes And Why The Other Wrestling Shows Suck

If you watch Lucha Underground — congratulations, you’re one of the cool kids — you know Johnny Mundo as the entitled rudo with too many abs who loves parkour and making people watch him work out. He’s been a fixture on the show since day one, and has had some of the best matches in company history against the likes of Prince Puma, King Cuerno and the better version of Alberto Del Rio.

If you don’t watch the show — seriously, still? What’s wrong with you? — you may know Johnny from his previous life as John Morrison, Tough Enough winner, three-time WWE Intercontinental Champion and five-time tag champ. He’s also played Hercules, feuded with a Jack Russell terrier and taught Chris Trew how to climb a wall like a squirrel. He’s a man of many talents.

Lucha Underground is headed to SXSW on Tuesday for their first-ever live show outside Boyle Heights, and we were lucky enough to sit down with JoMo — JoMu? — to talk cool handshakes, the value of wrestling shows making sense, and why the other shows suck.

I want to do the handshake with you, the this, and the this, and the this at some point in my life. I don’t know if I’ve earned that yet.

Maybe, maybe. Let’s see how this interview goes. [thinks about it] Boom, boom, boom …

It’s edited, so it’s three separate handshakes. When I meet wrestling fans now they’re like, “Dude, do the handshake with me.” It’s become a weird cultural thing.

I didn’t know that.

Yeah, you need to trademark it.

It’s kinda funny because we were messing around that day, trying to do the old school Predator handshake, the old Carl Weathers/Arnold Schwarzenegger and Skip, the guy who’s the director of the vignettes for Lucha Underground is a huge fan of ’80s action movies. A couple of people were like, “Guys, keep screwing around with that thing.” Not Skip, though. He was like, “No no no, do that, do that again and again, we’re gonna put it together and make it look awesome.”

It was beautiful. Like, it’s shockingly popular. I get stopped about it. I wrote about it in my column, I was like, “this is the best thing that happened all season,” is this ridiculous handshake.

Well, I’m glad that I’m a part of the best thing that happened all season. [laughter]

So, what’re you guys doing at South-By?

The first-ever show outside The Temple by Lucha Underground is Tuesday, March 15, at the Austin Music Hall. Preceding the show there’s gonna be a panel with Eric Van Wagenen, Dorian [Roldan Peña] and Rey Mysterio talking about some of the creative evolution of Lucha Underground production, and then we’re gonna blow the roof off Austin Music Hall.

I’m really excited that it’s here, too. For once I don’t have to travel for it.

Actually I’m a big fan of Austin, and it’s pretty cool that we get to do a show and go to SXSW. It’s awesome, yeah.

Do you get here pretty often?

For some reason I get here quite a bit, I’ve got cousins who live here, I’m through maybe once a year at least. When I was on the road with WWE it was all the time, two or three times a year, still quite a bit.

The first time I ever met you was at a Luchagors show in Cleveland.


Lita’s band.

Ooooh yeah.

You and Miz were there. And Jason Bane of Cleveland wrestling fame.

Who could forget Jason Bane?

Yeah, so what’s it like being on the show for a second season? I know when the first season ended there was a lot of speculation about whether or not it was coming back. And now you’re on a media tour for season two, and you guys are running SXSW, that’s a big deal, right?

And we’re starting season three.


Awesome to be back for season two. It happened at the right time, too. I think people were starting to get a little nervous about season two, and when they renewed it and started shooting it everyone’s like, “Whew, okay, we’re back.” And now season three, we’re rolling right into it. Everybody’s getting much better at their jobs, so to speak, the talent in front of the camera, the production team, Skip Films doing the vignettes, Quinn [Saunders] and Tom Rule in the production truck, the writers, everyone’s just kind of …

You know Seinfeld season one or The Simpsons season one, it’s a little rough, and then it starts to get polished and polished, and more polished, it feels to me like that’s what’s happening with Lucha. Season one, it was finding its identity, and it did a really good job of that quickly, and season two, it found it, and has it, and now’s starting to evolve into a more, in my opinion, a more polished, darker, and more multi-layered wrestling show. It’s really cool.

I know Dario Cueto just standing and talking about a red bull statue made two season of TV worth watching for me.

Yeah. The Dario Cueto stuff you mention with the red bull, that’s a great example of the type of thing that Lucha does that really sets it apart. Like, the red bull statue in another show could just be like some random prop, but because in Lucha it was established and it has meaning behind it, it’s just cool. It feels like instead of just watching casually, you need to pay attention to everything that happens in Lucha because everything pays off, everything’s woven back into the storyline at some point, like, the fabric of Lucha Underground is rich with easter eggs, and stories. [spooky voice] Mysteries! Provocative!

Do you think that’s important for wrestling?

Oh, absolutely, so important. First of all, I feel like Lucha Underground is respectful of people’s time.

[laughter] That’s beautiful.

I mean, three hours of a wrestling show?

It’s a lot.

Ain’t nobody got time for that! And that’s just one. If you’re watching Raw, Smackdown, NXT and a PPV that’s 10 hours of a week and most of it’s recap. Lucha Underground is one tight hour of polished TV — I actually wouldn’t mind if it went to an hour and a half or two because it would give us a little more time.

But the detail, the idea that everything that’s happening on the show is important … it’s cool, because it means like, hey, we’re expecting wrestling fans to not be stupid. We’re not treating wrestling fans like they don’t care, they don’t notice stuff, because they do. I mean, you do. You noticed the bull. I was a wrestling fan growing up and it would piss me off when like, something would happen, someone gets hurt and leaves and you’re like, “What happened to Lash Leroux?” “I don’t know!”

You a big Lash Leroux fan?

When I was a kid, yeah, for some reason. I loved the splits thing.

And the [sideburns taunt]

But then he just disappeared. That’s an example of a loose end that just kinda went away and then you slowly forget about it, and get distracted by the next thing. Lucha Underground, the writing team, Chris DeJoseph, Chris Roach, Matt Stolman have made a conscious effort to not leaving people hanging.

Is it better to be on a show where you feel confident about that stuff?

As opposed to being on a show that sucks?

For lack of a better word, yeah.

Just kidding. The other shows don’t suck, by any means. But yeah …

They don’t make sense most of the time.

… it’s better to be on a show that you believe in.

Do you see Lucha expanding any farther than South-By?

As far as touring and live events?

Because I mean the show is about a place more necessarily than wrestling promotion, right? It’s more about The Temple and everything, so leaving the Temple a lot takes the context …

It’s true. It’s a very funky … wrestling is a funky world. When TNA first started touring, it seemed like they lost some of their mystique and momentum. And as soon as you start doing live events that are not sold out, or like, it’s kinda crappy, and the audio’s weird … my buddies went to a TNA live event, and was like, “Man, it was really weird. Went in, I saw a bunch of the guys, not gonna name names but like, big stars, and there was not a very good curtain, and there was like four huge wrestling superstars sitting on the ground eating sandwiches. And just kinda like, you know, didn’t feel like they were the same guys from TV.”

That’s the last thing you want to see when you go to a wrestling show. People sitting on the ground eating sandwiches?

Right? No one wants to see Johnny Mundo sitting on the floor eating a sandwich. I mean, it happens, yeah!

Well, you did have a T-shirt that said you were eating people’s lunches.

Oh, there’s a whole story behind that one.

Editor’s Note: Via Reddit

okay… so… I took Tae Kwon Do for a few months as a kid & the instructor was this bad ass (he seemed bad ass, but then I was only 8) who would sit around after class and talk about his former tournament fights to the kids… his favorite way to say he was kicking ass was “Man, lemme tell you, I was EATING THIS GUYS LUNCH…”

“… so this was the semi final match, I slipped a round, got inside and BOOM! bam! bam! BOOM! I was EATING THIS DUDES LUNCH when out of now where he threw a hook kick! Bam! caught me in the temple, I was out… man… I would killed the guy in the finals too…”

most of his stories after class to small groups of children went something like that… that phrase made me laugh ever since-

WWE Merch people, & Stephanie all said the phrase was stupid and would never sell, they thought the moneys on the shirt were too weird- All that made me want the damn shirt made ever more so I insisted! … I love that shirt… but no one else did… Lol

But to get back to the point about touring, I don’t know. It depends how the show does on Tuesday, and I think you’re right, Lucha Underground is a TV show first and foremost, and it’s based around The Temple. So I think it is gonna grow and become bigger, but I think the best way for that to happen is for the content to start getting distributed more and more globally, and mainstream. And you know season two already has a deal where it’s gonna air in Canada, in the UK, Spain, Morocco, possibly? The more markets that see Lucha Underground, in my opinion, that’s how the product’s going to grow.

And it’s also cool because it’s episodic. The content of season one can be binge watched. And I think when that starts happening, maybe it’ll be easier and more fun for us to start doing more live events.