By Anish Vishwakoti, Prowrestling.net Staffer, (@AVX_9001)
At the Season 4 tapings of Lucha Underground in Los Angeles, I had the chance to interview some of the company’s wrestlers and personalities, including the voice of Lucha Underground Matt Striker. We talk about how Lucha Libre gave Striker hope of becoming a wrestler, and how he thinks LU will be woven into the history of Los Angeles. He also gives his unique insight into Vampiro, The Temple, and more.
Anish: Alright ladies and gentlemen, I’m here at Lucha Underground and in my opinion, the best commentary duo on the air right now is Matt Striker and Vampiro. So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Matt Striker.
Matt Striker: Thank you, I know you really wanted Vampiro but you got me instead so you set the bar pretty low (laughs).
Anish: No no, we appreciate anything that any of you guys can do and to have you do what you do for wrestling and for Lucha Underground. So my first question to you is, you’ve been with Lucha Underground from the start, from Episode 1 all the way to now, Season 4. What first drew you to Lucha Underground?
Matt Striker: I was always taught to take every opportunity that you get. I received a phone call on a Thursday night and was asked, “Hey would you be interested in this?” And before I could say yes, Friday morning I was on a flight from JFK New York all the way out here to LAX I saw some old friends that I knew from my time in WWE. They explained to me the concept, I’ve always been a big fan of Lucha Libre and I thought let’s bring Lucha Libre to mainstream America. So anything I could do to be a part of it I was excited.
Anish: You just talked about being a fan of Lucha Libre for a long time, how did Lucha Libre influence you when you were growing up?
Matt Striker: That’s a great question. When I wanted to get into wrestling, I looked around and everyone around me was six foot nine and 330 pounds, but when I watched Lucha Libre, I was able to relate more to the athletes. ‘Cause they were normal sized human beings, doing extraordinary things. So Lucha Libre inspired a young kid in New York, to say “I can do this.” But say if I had looked at a Hulk Hogan or a Big Boss Man, maybe I would’ve been discouraged.
Anish: Because that’s not you, and you found something that was you in Lucha Libre?
Matt Striker: Yeah, I think it’s important that people see in all forms of entertainment and pop culture, you really need to have characters that normal people can relate to.
Anish: Yeah, that makes sense.
Matt Striker: There needs to be that connection, otherwise there won’t be an emotional investment.
Anish: Speaking of characters that people can relate to, you of course were ‘The Professor’ in WWE for a while, so I just want to get it out the way because I know people are going to be thinking this. Is there ever a chance that we will see The Professor come back in Lucha Underground?
Matt Striker: Never say never.
Anish: Never say never, okay. So what is it about The Temple and the fans, the believers, that make this place special? I know it’s a different location for Season 4, and we call this the ‘Ice Temple’ right?
Matt Striker: Right!
Anish: So what is it about the fans, that makes these Temples so special?
Matt Striker: I think it’s the location as well as the fans. Like any story, it’s gonna be your setting, it’s gonna be your characters. The temple has become a character in and of itself. We’ve speculated as to the special Aztec powers that may lie in the walls of the temple… but the believers, the fans that are here at all the live shows as well as around the world; they are the pulse. They make us go, anyone that’s ever run a few miles, they feel their heartbeat going faster, those are the believers. The heartbeat of what we do! As they go, we go. I think they’re a great barometer to the energy that the fighters are putting in every night.
Anish: And quick question, what’s your favorite chant that the believers do here?
Matt Striker: Oh (laughs), I like one word, that I had to ask what it meant in Spanish. I asked the uh, there’s an older lady that does some stuff her, and I said “Excuse me, what does Culero mean?” And she went to slap me in the face, so that’s my first favorite one.
Anish: (Laughs) Oh, wow, okay, I love that chant as well.
Matt Striker: The other is the song that they sing; “Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Lucha…Lucha!”
Anish: Ah yeah that’s the Lucha anthem.
Matt Striker: Because, it’s everyone in unison. I look around the crowd, it’s children, it’s adults, it’s men, it’s women. It’s people of varying race, creed, sexuality, but they’re all joined in song.
Anish: Which is Lucha.
Matt Striker: I think that embodies what we’re doing here.
Anish: So you’ve had a lot of great commentary moments, and one of my personal favorites is you calling the Trios Title victory of Angelico, Son of Havoc, and Ivelisse. What was your personal favorite moment in the temple, that you’ve called?
Matt Striker: Ah-hah. I guess the next one, I have to keep that enthusiasm. But there have been a lot of emotional moments. I think The Mack’s story, I connect with on a personal level. I do recall, there was a moment I got legitimately choked up because I was so invested in the athlete and the story.
Anish: And that’s the thing, we get people of all sorts wrestling and watching here at Lucha Underground. That’s what wrestling’s all about. So just a quick question about sports in general, what’s your favorite sports team?
Matt Striker: I’m a huge baseball fan, I grew up a St. Louis Cardinals fan, but I do have to say with the moves the Angels made this year. I’m picking up a lot of those guys in fantasy baseball.
Anish: Alright, and who do you want to see that’s not in Lucha Underground come here for you to call their matches.
Matt Striker: Oh, (laughs), that’s a loaded question…
Anish: It is.
Matt Striker: So many guys are constantly under contract and things like that. There’s a lot of new, fresh young stars. There’s actually a guy out of New York called Mike Orlando that I don’t think a lot of people have heard of. I think he’s a guy that people should see, off the top of my head.
Anish: That’s awesome, and where do you see Lucha Underground in ten years? Right now, it’s only the beginnings in Los Angeles, it’s only Season 4 and only right now are mainstream media outlets trying to cover Lucha Underground. So, what do you think it’ll be like in ten years? Will Lucha Underground be up there with WWE? Will it be up there with New Japan and Ring of Honor?
Matt Striker: Well, my grandmother used to say if you want to hear God laugh, you tell him your plans. Nobody knows the future, but what I do feel believe and I’m comfortable in saying is that I do think that Lucha Underground will be woven into the fabric of Los Angeles sports and wrestling. We’re gonna see it as time moves on, we’ll look back, hindsight’s always twenty-twenty. Now we’ll say, I can see the influence of Lucha Underground there, oh I can see Vampiro’s fingerprints on something like that.
Anish: I see.
Matt Striker: So I think it’s gonna create a foundation for things to come.
Anish: And how’s it like working for Vampiro? Because he’s a legend of this business, and we didn’t really know what he could do commentary wise until he came on Lucha Underground. You two have been such a perfect pairing, so what’s it been like working with Vampiro?
Matt Striker: I think the moment that I realized that he’s insane. People may laugh at me, but I do believe there is a lot of supernatural, spiritual things happening on Earth.
Anish: Especially in this temple.
Matt Striker: I don’t think we’re the only people here, so I do think that Vampiro has some cosmic space dust, along with some other things floating around through his blood. He’s a unique individual to say the least.
Anish: Alright, and just one last question, what do you think’s going to go down tonight on Lucha Underground? Just any guesses at all?
Matt Striker: My favorite approach to coming to work, is I don’t wanna know anything until it happens. So your guess is as good as mine, and we all have to tune in to watch!
Anish: And finally, can you tell people where they can watch Lucha Underground?
Matt Striker: Yes of course, you can watch it on the El Rey Network, you can catch Lucha Underground on Netflix, and also if you are on the interwebs, I’m sure there’s plenty of places you can steal it, but you didn’t hear that from me.