Love pro-wrestling? No? Okay, I don’t blame you. Most people don’t. I also know that you’re probably annoyed with your pro-wrestling fan friends who keep trying their best to convince you that it’s a legitimate art-form. So, I’m gonna do it again. WATCH LUCHA UNDERGROUND! It’s not just pro-wrestling, it’s pro-wrestling filmed in a TV series style. You have heroes, villains, Gods, hot babes and mythical Egyptian monkeys. Okay, maybe not that last one.
Johnny Randall Hennigan is an American professional wrestler and actor, better known by his ring names John Morrison or Johnny Nitro during his time with the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). He currently wrestles under his ring name Johnny Mundo for Lucha Underground, a professional wrestling franchise that features masked wrestlers.
Recently, we got a chance to have a chat with Johnny to find out about his wrestling journey thus far, his character Johnny Mundo, and an insight into Lucha Underground.
1) How has your Journey been like as a professional wrestler?
I travel around the world, I wear dazzling wrestling tights, some call me “The Shaman of Sexy,” “The Guru of Greatness” and a lot of other nicknames no where near as nice as those mentioned. So far, I have to say, it has been really cool! It’s the kind of stuff I dreamed of doing when I was a kid, wrestling with my friends. Now, to be able to do this, is a dream come true and I feel blessed.
2) Who were some of your wrestling heroes when you were younger?
I watched professional wrestling on TV so much when I was a little kid. I wanted to be either Hulk Hogan or Superman, then I realised Superman was fake, so I stuck with Hulk Hogan. As I got older, I became a huge fan of Shawn Michael and Roddy Piper. All of them felt like they were larger than life to me when I was a kid.
3) What type of training do you do to keep up with being in the ring all the time?
I believe in training in multiple disciplines. There is a place for every type of training as each of them strengthens your body in different ways. You train your body to move, run, jump, push, pull and twist, all the things the human body was meant to do. I believe that professional wrestlers are athletes, so why not train like one? I regularly incorporate functional and dynamic training into my workout routine.
I have a fitness program, Out of Your Mind Fitness, that gives a detailed explanation of all my beliefs on training. I use the program 5-6 days a week and I add some type of skill workout 3 days a week. Sometimes it could be boxing, and at other times, it might be Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). In addition to that, stretching, warming up appropriately, and knowing your limits are important aspects to remember when training. This prevents unwarranted injuries from happening while you train.
4) What is it like being part of Lucha Underground?
I was originally a filmmaker at the University of California at Davis as I always wanted to do action movies. Lucha Underground gave me the opportunity to be part of something different, it feels like an action movie fueled by the essence of Robert Rodriguez.
The in-ring psychology is faster and harder than anything I have experienced. It was definitely a challenge for me both physically and mentally. I had to constantly reinvent myself in the ring, and as a competitor, I want to make Johnny Mundo relevant and eventually take the championship title one day.
5) What difference do you see between John Morrison and Johnny Mundo?
First of, Mundo can speak Spanish. Outside of that, I feel as if Johnny Mundo has not changed much from John Morrison. But undoubtedly, I have evolved the character since my time here in Lucha Underground. I’ve been labeled as a “rudo” or bad guy, and it has been fun being called that. If I had to pick, I would say that Johnny Mundo is darker and more sinister than John Morrison ever was. Lucha Underground gives me the opportunity to go darker and have a deeper character than John Morrison could ever be. As everything continues and the show progresses, you are going to see the evolution of Johnny Mundo into a dark and villainous character.
6) How do you manage filming in both English and Spanish in Lucha Underground?
A lot of the luchadores speak broken English or hardly any at all. They have the task of acting in English. For me, it might be something different, but since I was born and raised in Los Angeles, took Spanish all through high school and spent the summer in Spain, I definitely have learnt Spanish over the years and I also happened to have a long-term relationship with a Mexican girl.
For me, there is less thought on the words so I can put more effort into the emotions. I communicate a lot of what I say with emotions and that’s what the audience wants. They want to feel something and I want to give them that.
7) What is it like facing off against the top talents from Lucha Underground?
It is a boiling pit of different psychologies and styles and it has really opened up the potential for many things to happen on the show. I have King Cuerno, Fenix, Prince Puma and Son of Havoc to test my skills against; the moves they use and the way they approach wrestling is fundamentally different.
One of my favourite matches in my entire career has to be the “All Night Long” match with Prince Puma. There was a story, there was action, there was a ton of high flying stuff and I pretty much put my everything into that match. I cannot say enough good things about that match, it was such an honor to be part of it.
8) What makes Lucha Underground different from other professional wrestling franchises?
The world of Lucha Underground feels dark, mysterious and sometimes even supernatural. The creators wanted the characters to be darker and more multi-layered than any other promotion. Character development complements, and at times, drive the action in the ring. Most wrestlers compete for pride, revenge or glory, but in Lucha Underground, the stakes are raised when our characters have extensive, well fleshed out backstories, some tracing back hundreds or even thousands of years!
9) What can we expect to see from Lucha Underground?
Lucha Underground is a television show that features wrestling and provides high octane sports entertainment unlike anything you have seen before. In that sense, it gives viewers a taste of exciting, high impact in-ring action mixed with elements of Mexican folk lore, crime dramas and hints of the occult and paranormal. Ringside commentators Matt Striker and Vampiro also gives fans insight into the history of lucha libre. They describe the origins of particular moves and the roots of long-standing feuds, making the whole package feel like a well put together television series that features wrestling with supernatural and occult elements. I mean our World Champion is a masked death god that murders characters in the storyline, who wouldn’t want to watch that?
Don’t forget to tune in to Lucha Underground every Monday, starting 25th April at 9PM only on KIX HD (Astro Channel 729).