Lucha Underground’s Johnny Mundo recently took some time to participate in an exclusive interview with PWMania.com. The former John Morrison reveals his thoughts on Tough Enough, personal training style and the differences between Johnny Mundo and John Morrison. He opens up about his experiences with the WWE and its lasting impression and what he has gained with this new opportunity with Lucha Underground. Check out the complete interview below:
As a past Tough Enough contestant, what are your thoughts on it? The process and does it set aspiring professional wrestlers up for success?
The best way to describe Tough Enough is to just call it an opportunity. In my opinion its best opportunity any aspiring wrestler could possibly have. It’s a chance to learn from the best in the business and meet people who have achieved things in the business that usually take a long time and a lot of work to just be in the same room with. I think that it imitates what it’s like to be on the road and that you’re on Tough Enough and your walking on eggshells constantly everything you do in the ring, out of the ring affects who they select to win that show. I always thought it was a really cool show and I think it’s cool that they are bringing it back and its one of my favorite shows to watch. It’s always a little nostalgic watching that thing and me with Madcap Kelly up there with Al Snow and, Ivory and Bill (DeMott) was one of the most high pressured but also fun times of my life on Tough Enough.
The only thing I think is a shame is I know they are looking for specifically aspiring wrestlers without a lot of experience and I can see how if you’ve been training for a couple of years and you apply for Tough Enough and you don’t make it that it could be disheartening all I can say is that sucks. For me I was lucky enough to apply for Tough Enough before I could really start training and its one way to get your foot in the door as a pro wrestler but it’s not the only way. I don’t know who they’ve selected and I haven’t been following it yet, but I will say that it’s still a TV show. If they pick 13 contestants who have all paid their dues and are veterans of pro wrestling and the show is about learning to take bumps and you don’t have much of a show. At the end of the day, every television show is a product. Of course, they are going to pick people with good looks and they are probably going to want people that who might even be dramatic or overly dramatic. There are people that are picked for a reason on that show. That’s part of what TV is. If there is no conflict, there’s no drama and at the end of the day you can’t look at Tough Enough and say that these are the 13 most prepared people in the world to have a career as a professional wrestler, that’s not what the show is. The show is people training to be a pro wrestler who are going to be interesting to watch learning. Just because you’re on the show Tough Enough doesn’t mean you have more potential than anyone else in the world, it just means you got a lucky opportunity and if you work hard you can make the most of it and probably have a career as a pro wrestler if you follow up and work hard continually.
Discuss your training style, methods and how it stands apart for simply going to the gym and doing weights and cardiovascular?
I have a fitness program called Out of Your Mind Fitness that is a very detailed explanation of all my beliefs on training and all that. I believe in training in multiple different disciplines by that I mean there is a place for old school bodybuilding for new school bodybuilding for heavy weight training and then training outside the box.
The gist of functional training is to train your body to move, run, jump, push, pull, twist, all those things the human body was meant to do, I’m a big believer of that because it’s the most time efficient way to train and you get a good aesthetic look and athletic physique as a by-products of functional training. You have to use your core for most of the exercises especially if you’re doing dynamic exercises where you need to recruit multiple muscle groups and the reason I believe in that is pro wrestlers are athletes so why not train like an athlete train your body to move and on top of that and I feel you look the best. I do out of your mind fitness workouts 5-6 days a week depending on the travel and then on top of that I usually do some type of skill workout 3 days a week. And by skill workout, I mean I’ll train boxing or part core or MMA, one 3-4 days a week about an hour of that, the out of your mind fitness work out and then wrestling whatever shows I’m wrestling.
Prior to competing as Johnny Nitro you were Johnny Blaze as Eric Bischoff’s assistant and apprentice. How was that experience and working with Eric Bischoff?
I loved working with Eric. He was great to work with. I think it was great for me to be paired with him early on in my career. I learned a lot from him and I’d love the chance to work with him again because I feel like the way I see entertainment in general is similar to the way he looks at it. Basically, the idea of entertainment is that it’s entertainment. Wrestling is a form of entertainment and hybrid forms of entertainment are sometimes the way to keep things fresh and constantly reinventing yourself which is necessary in entertainment because people don’t always necessarily know what they want. The hardest thing to figure out is what people want. Then when you figure that out, giving them what they want is what will get you over, make you a successful pro wrestler, sports entertainer whatever you want to call it. Constantly reinventing yourself to stay relevant is something that I think Eric Bischoff did really well. It was really cool for me to be paired up with him.
Describe your tag team runs with both The Miz and Joey Mercury. What were you able to leave each experience with? Was one team more cohesive than the other?
MNM, I think the most cohesive team that I was ever a part of. We, Mercury, Melina and I came up with the MNM gimmick in OVW and worked a lot in OVW going around as MNM and then came up on the road as MNM and we travelled together, hung out together and we were a slick machine, we had everything down and we knew where everyone was supposed to be at all times and I loved that experience because I was new to the business and I was learning a lot from Joey constantly.
With Miz, I feel like the chemistry we had was awesome because we were two different people with different personalities working together. We were a cohesive unit but our chemistry was instead of MNM we were kind of all the same type person. Miz and I were distinctly different but with similarities he had and still does have the loud, abrasive type of energy which I can get at times but usually especially with Miz and Morrison I can get more of a laid back sardonic, sarcastic voice and when you put those two energies together I felt like was fun in the ring. It was fun on The Dirtsheet and it was a fun challenge constantly to be thinking in character constantly. I felt like instead of learning as I did in MNM, in the ring especially I felt like now I had more experience personally and had a lot of fun putting matches together and thinking about the ring psychology in the latter tag team. We were both hovering around with not much to do and when they put us together it suddenly felt like we had a place in the card and I think we had a lot of similar ways of looking at things. We decided to do The Dirtsheet almost immediately and then we talked about it for a few months and decided on a name and what it would be and I definitely think that sometimes out of necessity comes the most successful endeavors.
After holding the tag team, ECW and Intercontinental titles, was more planned for you during your time with the WWE? Why or why not?
More is planned for everyone. Often, time and place and circumstance do not equal plans.
After leaving the WWE, you traveled the independent circuit. How did you find the experience working with others you may otherwise not be familiar with?
That’s one of my favorite things about working the independent circuit. Wrestling for me is always an awesome challenge because you have the opportunity to constantly create something new your canvas is always the ring and there are similarities to every match that you have and what you do. But the canvas in independent wrestling is vastly different from show to show and what you are working is vastly different. On the weekend of June 6/7th, I was in Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada) wrestling in the Maritimes two great matches Markus Burke and one against Titus. This weekend I’m going to Mexico to wrestle Rey Mysterio and Mistico and the styles couldn’t be more different. I’m imagining the crowds are going to be completely different and I like that. It’s cool, it’s never boring. Sometimes with the WWE you can get a little bit stale. Your travelling is usually with the same group and your generally working with the same person and the same type of match and it’s the same environment backstage. So professionally to go and get back out there I have control of my destiny and I have control of where I want to work, who I want to work with. There’s a lot more freedom for sure in my hands now on the independent scene and working with Lucha Underground.
Lucha Underground has proved a new beginning for you. How have you found working with the El Rey Network?
I’ve been completely blown away by the professionalism, by the people and the talent of those on the roster on Lucha Underground. Being on the El Rey Network, being one of the companies that puts the vignettes together from Skip Chasen who is putting the backstage vignettes together to the other people the Lucha Underground people specifically that set up this interview. I’ve could talk about Lucha Underground for hours and hours and how great it is. The quick bullet points are that the vignettes, I love and I’ve been doing a bunch of movies since I left the WWE and loved where we were shooting the vignettes in the style of the gritty action film where we are doing coverage and I like that we are doing the vignettes in English and Spanish. I know it gets more views in Spanish than it does in English which is interesting and challenging.
The in-ring psychology is faster paced and harder hitting then the WWE for example. I like that it definitely been a challenge for me physically and mentally because it allows me to reinvent myself and make Johnny Mundo relevant and a competitor in the style of Lucha Underground which I believe is a combination of Lucha, American pro wrestling and also Japanese and European pro wrestling. Everything is combined in Lucha and it’s cool to revitalize my career and make me think about pro wrestling and it’s made me excited about pro wrestling again and I’m super excited for season 2 and can’t wait to come back.
What differences would you see between the John Morrison character and Johnny Mundo?
Mundo can speak Spanish, that’s one. There’s a meme somewhere out there of Captain Picard hitting himself in the forehead saying ah, damn it. That time where a wrestler changes his name but not his gimmick. As Johnny Mundo I feel like I haven’t changed a ton from the babyface John Morrison gimmick that I started Lucha Underground with but I’ve just evolved to where we are now on TV, I am now a rudo which in English means bad guy and it’s been fun let’s put it this way Johnny Mundo now is darker and more sinister than John Morrison ever was.
What is exciting to me is Lucha Underground feels like the opportunity to go even darker and have a deeper character than I had with WWE. It is there in front of me and I’m looking forward to doing it. To taking Johnny Mundo places athletically, emotionally, creatively that I never went with Johnny Nitro or John Morrison. I think people that have been watching it have been giving it good reviews and feedback on the character choices and as everything continues with Lucha Underground you are going to see Johnny Mundo slowly evolve into a very dark and villainous character.
Prior to competing against Prince Puma in a 60 minute Iron Man Match, Mundo was asked what do you anticipate happening and what fans should anticipate happening in this match?
I’m glad you brought that up. The match on June 17th against Prince Puma the ‘All night long’ match most falls within an hour I think will be one of the best matches of my career. I can’t wait to show it on TV and hear what people think about it. I think in this match we will have absolutely everything. There is the story, there is the hardcore stuff there is tons of high flying stuff. There is pretty much everything is in this match and how I felt afterwards I was so blown up but like I said it was one of the best matches of my career and I can’t wait to see it on TV and I think anyone that is a fan of wrestling should tune in and watch Lucha Underground on Wednesday and watch that match or watch it on Youtube or something later at least.
What do you foresee for Johnny Mundo & Lucha Underground heading into the next season and beyond?
I think the bar was set very high for season one. Knowing that the El Rey Network and the El Rey people and the Lucha Underground people are behind the scenes. They are going to raise the bar. Production wise and the roster especially and is very competitive in a good way. Everyone is very supportive but constantly trying to outdo each other and themselves. For season two, I would expect to see a slick, entertaining, hard hitting, dark wrestling show. Johnny Mundo is walking down a path of destruction and at the end of that path, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I literally don’t know. I’m looking forward to finding out. The cool thing about wrestling is its inventing itself as it goes along. So I’m along for the ride, just with everyone else.
Was there anything you’d like to promote, share or make fans aware of about Johnny Mundo?
Follow me on twitter on @TheRealMorrison and I now have an Instagram @JohnHennigan. I just finished my last day of pick up, as I mentioned for a movie, I wrote produced and starred in called Boone the Bounty Hunter. When is it going to be finished? I don’t know but just make sure to check that out and if you want any more information about working out go to http://outofyourmindfitness.com/ order out of your mind fitness it is an awesome program, I’ve gotten nothing but really good feedback on it. There are 6 DVD’s, the books, a training log or you could go to the apple store or itunes store and download the phone app.