Lucha Underground Exec talks leaving WWE, joining Lucha Underground and about Big Show
I recently spoke with Lucha Underground Co-Executive Producer Chris DeJoseph to discuss the return of Lucha Underground this Wednesday on the El Rey Network. DeJoseph worked on the WWE creative team from 2004 - 2010, and appeared on-camera for the company as Big Dick Johnson. In part two of the interview below, DeJoseph discussed leaving WWE, The Big Show being overexposed, how he became a part of Lucha Underground, how different working with Lucha Underground has been from WWE and more.
You can follow Lucha Underground on Twitter @LuchaElRey, and El Rey Network @Elreynetwork. DeJoseph is on Twitter @chrisdejoseph . Lucha Underground returns tonight on El Rey Network, you can check out an exclusive clip from the episode in the video above.
What made you eventually leave WWE?
It was kind of a mutual decision for me to leave. The last year and a half I was there I was extremely unhappy. After that long on the road I missed out on my family, friends, missed out on life. Failed relationships and things as a result, I wasn't happy. It wasn't fun anymore. Vince became more and more difficult to deal with. The last day I worked with Vince like all day, and I knew it was coming. I had been vocal about the fact I wanted to leave, I had told other writers and stuff. I told them I'm was gonna walk out of the stadium after WrestleMania 26. I was able to work something out and get a severance package, which really helped me to not be cut off completely. Michael and Brian Gewirtz had me in the office and let me know it was time to let me go. I think Brian thought I was going to punch him in the face, but I gave him a big hug. I'll never forget getting in my car that day and driving off was like the biggest weight being lifted off my shoulders. My favorite days at WWE were my first day and my last day.
Did you keep up with the product after you left?
No I really tuned out for the most part. At least for a year I didn't watch any. I moved to LA, and a guy I worked with would have pay-per-view parties and I'd go. It's never been exciting for me to watch anymore. At some point it's just not good. I do occasionally turn it on and see what's going on, then I see the Big Show and turn it off. I think he's a great talent and should be used as a special attraction, but I can't believe that guy is getting all that TV time over young talent. I should be excited to see him and his character is just killed.
How did Lucha Underground come about, and were you there for the beginning stages or were you approached later on?
I came out to LA and worked on reality shows. A contact from WWE that had been out doing some reality shows said Robert Rodriguez and Mark Burnett were doing some wrestling show and they're looking for people who have any experience and asked me to send my resume. I wasn't sure if I wanted to do any wrestling but I thought I'd give it a shot because it's in my wheelhouse and I had the chance to work with Mark Burnett. I sent my resume in, didn't hear back for a while. I had an interview to work on Survivor and a guy said I'd be great for the Lucha Underground wrestling show, and put me in touch with his brother Eric. A month or two later I went there for an interview and we talked about what I could bring to the table and the writing of the show. I got a phone call saying they weren't going to hire me as a writer but as the co-executive producer. We got together with people from El Ray and AAA and cranked out what this show was going to be and challenged each other to make the best show possible. So pretty much since the beginning, the planning part of this.
When did the novella storytelling idea come about?
That was always a part of it, there's always storytelling in wrestling. We really do the same stories as any wrestling promotion does. I don't approach my scripts any different than before I just think we do them better. The way it's shot may give you that novella feeling, multi-camera over one camera. I think we're just telling stories, I don't think it's novella. It's just bad-ass television.
How different is it working on this show than your previous experiences?
It's awesome. I'm having the time of my life. Lucha Underground made me love wrestling again. We're having so much fun and we're invested in it and everyone's awesome to work with and giving ideas. People trust me, they trust Eric, they trust the other guys doing the creative on the show. We trust the talent 110 percent. It's been a fun thing to start from scratch and see how it's grown. We're taking baby steps but we're trying to grow this thing and make a compelling TV show.
I know the company is trying to bring Lucha Underground to more TV platforms, how is that going?
I know they're trying. They put matches online. They're working hard to get this to more people. It takes time. We knew that there was a wrestling audience out there that likes wrestling and likes to talk about it and we're just trying to present the best show possible. In the meantime they're trying to get it on more platforms. They just announced that Charter Cable Systems has El Rey now, so they're getting there. It's going to take time.
Were there episodes pulled?
We knew at the end of December we were going to take a break and then come back in January. That was always the plan because the holidays are tough and nobody was going to watch the TV for that anyway.
What has the feedback been for you guys?
For me, I've seen tremendous feedback. It seems mostly positive. In a way I was surprised. I know wrestling fans can be picky, so it was a very nice response. But we're not going to accept, we're going to keep pushing and making a better show. We're only 8 episodes in, TNA's been at it for ten years and WWE forever. We're chipping away. We're going to do a lot of things right, we're going to make a lot of mistakes. We're not afraid to try stuff and be different.
Do you think the next set of tapings will look different than the first?
I think the look will stay the same. We're seeing what's working and what's not, and seeing what makes a better wrestling show. A lot of people that worked on this show hadn't worked a wrestling show ever. You've got camera people, producers, everything and we're just starting to hit a groove. I'm excited to get back. We're challenging ourselves to be better.
Have there been any updates on Alberto Del Rio signing?
I have heard certain updates, but I can't discuss that.
What can fans expect after the break, now that you're back?
You can expect new characters, rivalries. You'll learn more about the back stories and the things that are happening in the Temple. Hopefully there will be more cliffhangers and surprises and excitement. You can expect a lot of exciting wrestling. We're going to crown our first champion January 7th. It'll be a shift of what's happening on Lucha Underground.
Click here for part one of the interview, where DeJoseph talked about his time on the WWE creative team, becoming Big Dick Johnson, working for Vince McMahon and more.
You can follow Lucha Underground on Twitter @LuchaElRey, and El Rey Network @Elreynetwork. DeJoseph is on Twitter @chrisdejoseph . Lucha Underground returns this Wednesday on El Rey Network, you can check out an exclusive clip from the episode in the video above.