Moderator: Hi everybody. John’s in the house and ready to type. On to the first question…
El Giante: Do you have any background info on Essa Rios?
John Molinaro He started with the EMLL promotion in Mexico at the age of 18 as Mr Aguila. At the time he was considered the next Rey Misterio Jr. He worked in the WWF when they were producing their WWF Super Astros program for Univision in the States under the name Aguila. He lost his mask in Mexico and has been wrestling without it ever since. He’s a very good wrestler with some spectacular aerial moves but I think he lacks psychology.
Super Calo: Whatever happened to the Great Muta?
John Molinaro Muta is still wrestling in New Japan Pro Wrestling. He wrestles under his real name, Keji Mutoh. Occasionally he wrestles under the Great Muta gimmick. He wrestled Masa Chono last month at the Tokyo Dome under the Muta gimmick.
John Pollock: Where should people go to get tapes of wrestling overseas?
John Molinaro Go to www.highspots.com. They have an excellent variety of Japanese and Mexican wrestling tapes. And they’re very reasonable with their prices.
Rico Sauve: What do you make of Eddie Guerrero doing that stupid accent in the WWF? I think it is making him look so foolish. How about you?
John Molinaro I think it is terrible. It shows how wrestling promoters are still ignorant and rely on stereotypes to get angles and wrestlers over. It’s especially troubling because Guerrero is, pound for pound, one of the best wrestlers in the business. Having talked with him several times, I know he’s very proud of his Mexican heritage and I can imagine that he’s having difficulties with this whole thing. It’s real shame.
Akira: What’s the status of Ultimo Dragon? One minute I hear he won’t wrestle again. The next he is still in good enough shape to grapple. Please. I am a big fan and gotta know!
John Molinaro Ultimo Dragon is still on the sidelines. He is the promoter and owner of Toryumon, a small independent promotion in Japan that is a combination of Japanese and Mexican wrestling. He’s very busy with that and he’s also the promoter for Grupo Revolucion, a small indy group in Mexico. Ultimo still trains wrestlers. I’ve been told he was looking to make a comeback but due to his botched operation in the US, it isn’t likely he will return. He has talked about filing a lawsuit against WCW because it was their doctor who allegedly screwed up the operation.
Zippy The Hippy: Can a Mexican wrestler re-gain his mask after taking it off to wrestle elsewhere? Has this ever happened in the past?
John Molinaro That’s a good question. Technically speaking, no, it can’t happen. What wrestlers do, however, is once they lose their mask, they’ll appear weeks later under a new mask with a new gimmick. This is a major problem in Mexico as it undermines the meaning behind all mask vs mask matches.
Devin Cutting: Will we ever see the rebirth of Huricanrana?
John Molinaro Unfortunately, NO. For those of you who don’t know, I published a newsletter for two years called Huricanrana on Lucha libre. It was a pretty good newsletter that got some nice publicity on the net and it was through my work with the newsletter that Mike Tenay got me a job writing a Mexican news column for Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
Hardcore Alley: What do you think is going to happen to WCW’s luchadores now that WCW Saturday Night is a recap show?
John Molinaro I think the future of the Mexicans in WCW doesn’t look bright. Vince Russo has said in the past he has no interest in pushing international talent because they can’t cut interviews. With Saturday Night falling by the wayside, I don’t see them getting on TV, except to do jobs to higher profile wrestlers.
DTC: Eddie Guerrero verses Essa Rios at Backlash. Pick a winner.
John Molinaro I think Eddie will go over. He can’t afford to lose to Rios and I think the WWF want to make Eddie more strong for a strong push this summer.
KeithG: Does Psychosis still work for WCW?
John Molinaro Yes he does, but on a part time basis. He mostly wrestles in Tijuana, Mexico under the name Nicho. Right now he’s embroiled in a feud with Rey Misterio Sr, Rey Jr’s uncle, and next month he’ll be facing him at the world famous Tijuana Municipal Auditorium in a hair vs hair match
Al Weiser: What’s up with Mr. Pogo?
John Molinaro I haven’t heard anything about Mr Pogo lately.
Reckless Youth: It is good to see Vader being used properly in Japan. Tell me, why do you think the WWF held down the Rocky Mountain Monster considering that Vince favours “big guys”?
John Molinaro I think he got the shaft because of politics at the time. Shawn Michaels at the time was the champion and he was actually scheduled to drop the belt to Vader at Survivor Series 96. Shawn nixed that and decided to drop it to Sid on the condition he would regain it back, which he did two months later at Royal Rumble. There were also complaints that Vader worked too stiff with the boys and a lot of guys didn’t like working with him.
Extreme Stud: Who do you think is the next breakout star in wrestling?
John Molinaro In terms of the Japanese scene, I really like CIMA, who is one of Ultimo Dragon’s proteges from Toryumon. He’s fantastic. The Dragon Kid in Mexico is the next Rey Misterio Jr as far as I’m concerned. I think if they can get a contract with ECW and get some exposure, it would only be a matter of time before the WWF or WCW would scoop them up.
FMWFan: What is the situation with “H”? Has he officially gone back to using the Hayabusa gimmick, or was that just a one-time deal? By the way, is there any chance of FMW being shown in the US or Canada?
John Molinaro As far as I know, that was only a one time deal. I haven’t heard anything about him going back full time to the Hayabusa gimmick. It might be a part time deal like Keiji Mutoh in New Japan who pulls out the Great Muta gimmick three times a year. There was talk of FMW of doing a PPV in the but that never materialized. I would look for ECW to get more involved with FMW over the future as they’ll want to replenish their depleted roster after WCW and the WWF have signed away their talent.
IE4: Why are there two refs in Mexican wrestling and what purpose do they serve?
John Molinaro Just because the action is so fast and it usually involves a six man match, the presence of two referees adds a little more credibility to the product.
The Champ: What’s up with Konnan?
John Molinaro Konnan was suspended after the fallout with the whole Radicals departure. He actually asked for his release and then backed out of it. As a form of punishment, they suspended him for a couple of months. I talked to Mike Tenay last week and he said Konnan should be back soon. Whether or not he’ll get pushed….
BMN: Will anyone ever care about titles anymore? Seriously? HHH is the only credible champ right now and he plays second fiddle to the McMahon family. Curious to hear your thoughts.
John Molinaro I think that titles are dead in wrestling. Consider the fact that the WWF world title changed hands more times last year than it did during the ’60s and ’70s. Titles don’t mean anything any more. It used to be that you had to be one of the top guys in the business to be world champ. Now, Vince McMahon is former world champ and his daughter is the women’s champ and his son has held titles. What’s next? Does Vince have any nephews he wants to put the title on? How about Linda?
Nova Viper : Do you think Curt Hennig could have been World Champion material, but was under booked? This assuming that he stayed healthy.
John Molinaro Perhaps. He was a former AWA champion, but I don’t think he would have been WWF champion because at the time Vince was making the transition from Hogan to the Ultimate Warrior. Henning was not a big guy and I don’t think he would have ever gotten the title. Same can be said for WCW. He didn’t have the political clout to pull it off.
Dan Sheridan: You seem to be one of the guys who takes work rate very seriously, so I was wondering, what do you think of the chair swinging spotty stuff that makes up most current wrestling? Personally I’m getting bored with this non-work. That’s why I haven’t liked the little ECW stuff that I’ve seen; its all table smashing and goofy spots.
John Molinaro I agree. It’s gotten very boring to me. Having seen New Jack take a million insane dives and bumps and Tommy Dreamer throw a million chair shots, I think that this stuff has slowly replaced actually in ring work, which is a shame. I think it has its place, but if it were used less, it would mean more. I remember when Jerry Lawler crotched Tommy Rich on the ring post during the height of their 1987 feud and it nearly caused a riot in Memphis. Today, such a move would barely register a response from the crowd.
DTC: When Rey and Konnan return to WCW, do you think they will reform The Filthy Animals with Kidman and Torrie?
John Molinaro I’d like to see that!! I don’t know though. I have a feeling that Konnan will likely be buried and forced to job to Vampiro, someone who he has legitimate heat with stemming from their days in Mexico. Rey will be booked in the cruiser weight division and I think they want to push Kidman as a solo star.
Extreme Stud: Do you think its in Lance Storm’s best interests to jump to WCW?
John Molinaro Yes and no. If he wants to make more money and be seen by a bigger audience than I think yes. The problem is if he does, within a week he’ll be jobbing to Lash Leroux. I happen to know that Lance wants to be a booker in the future and there’s no better person to learn that from than Paul Heyman. If Lance is thinking about his long term, I think the best thing for him is to stay in ECW.
Triple K: What do you think is going to happen with Chris Jericho? Is he going to stay in the ‘main event’ rotation or get pushed down to mid-carder status again? I think they rushed him into being a face too early. He’s far more entertaining as heel.
John Molinaro I think he’s better as a heel, too. I think he’s been elevated to the upper tier with that win over HHH. Once this program between the Rock and HHH plays out, I think he’ll be the next one in line to go for the title.
Cherry Garcia: John, what was the greatest match you ever saw live?
John Molinaro The Michinoku Pro six-man tag match from Barely Legal, ECW’s first PPV. It was incredible. I was sitting front row at that show in the ECW arena and the crowd gave them a standing ovation when it was over. It was 20 minutes of fast, Japanese wrestling. But the best match ever I saw in person would be Rey Misterio Jr vs Juventud Guerrera from ECW arena in March of 96. It was a two out of three falls match and it was incredible. One of the best Lucha Libre matches ever.
John Pollock: What did you think of the “When Worlds Collide” Pay-Per View?
John Molinaro By far, the best PPV ever!!! Anybody who doubts that the Lucha style can’t get over should watch this tape. From top to bottom it was the best PPV ever. I think it went a long way in opening a lot of people’s eyes to the style of Mexican wrestling. It also showed people who Love Machine Art Barr was. Before this event, US promoters denied Art’s success. They didn’t believe it. His performance in that show was what proved all the critics wrong. His tag match with Eddie Guerrero vs Octagon and El Hijo del Santo was the bets tag match I’ve ever seen. It’s so much better than any match in the past five years in either the WWF or WCW.
Justin Heisler: Is it true that David Arquette is the WCW champion and if so, what do you think is the reasoning behind this?
John Molinaro From what I’ve heard about it, I think we’ll find out tonight on Thunder if he really is the champ. f he is the champ, I think it’s the lamest angle ever. As far as what they were thinking, I can’t answer that. My opinion is that they must have been smoking dope when they came up with that idea. Its the only rational explanation.
Android 01: Do you think the WWF can sell an Ironman Match to today’s fans? If so, which wrestlers would be the best to face off?
John Molinaro It would be tough but I think it can be done. It would be tough because today’s fan is weened on 5 minute Raw matches with run is and chair shots. If it’s promoted right and you have the right guys in there, I think it can be done. As far as who to put in there, I would say Benoit, Guerrero, or Jericho could pull it off with some level of credibility.
BMN: Good to see you reference the Rich/Idol-Lawler feud, that rocked! Don’t you think it would be in WCW’s best interest to take a couple of PPVs off? There are too many anyway, but in this case, it would give them a chance to really make one event seem special and maybe even someone would pay for it.
John Molinaro I agree. I think there are far too many PPVs as it is. I remember when there were 5 PPVs a year and they meant something. Today, PPVs are put together with an assembly line like mentality. Cards are thrown together without rhyme or reason and they have no meaning to them. I think they should cut their PPV schedule in half so the PPVs would mean something. As far as the Idol Rich vs Lawler feud, I think that was one of the best feuds I ever saw. Its nice to know I’m not the only one who remembers it.
Joe Broni: Do you think the WWF is going to have problems fitting all their talent into their shows now that Austin and Undertaker are returning relatively soon? It seems that Tazz, the Radicals and even longer-serving WWF guys like Val Venis and D’Lo Brown get hardly any TV time as it is.
John Molinaro I think you raise a good point. There are so many spots as it is, and with the return of Austin and Taker, those spots are going to dry up even more. I don’t know what the solution is. Its hard because everybody wants to be kept in the spotlight and Vince can’t keep everybody happy. I think there will be a fallout and guys will leave to work somewhere else.
Reckless: What is your response to critics who claim that all Slam! writers are Bret Hart marks and because of the pages association with him refuse to criticize him?
John Molinaro I think that’s an unfair criticism. If you take a look back, you’ll notice we’ve been very critical of him in the past. Speaking for myself, I can tell you I don’t even really like Bret. Bret has no say over our site and exercises no power over us. We’re not swayed by him in any way. We respect what he’s done in the business and some of us like his style but I don’t think you can misinterpret that for being one of his paid shills.
Hardcore Alley: Who are your favorite & least favorite luchadores?
John Molinaro My favourite Lucha guys of all time: Love Machine Art Barr, even though technically he isn’t Mexican. I also love Rey Misterio Jr, Psicosis, Super Crazzy, Juventud Guerrera, La Parka, Eddie Guerrero, El Hijo del Santo, Octagon and Jerry Estrada. My least favourites: El Dandy, Villano 5, Pierroth Jr, Rayo de Jalisco Jr, Los Hermanos Dinamitas and I really hate Cien Caras. I think he’s really useless.
Peter White: What are your thoughts towards the Rock? I’m finding him to be pretty boring nowadays. What do you think?
John Molinaro I think the Rock is totally overrated. I have little use for him. He ‘s a good talker and has incredible charisma and personality. But as far as in ring talent, I think he’s average. He’s nothing special. I also think he’s a little disturbed because whenever he does a serious interview, he keeps referring to himself in the third person. Get a life, guy!
Melissa Karcz: What do you think of the WWF’s willingness to push the Radicals (especially Chris Benoit) so soon after their arrival?
John Molinaro I think it’s good. The Radicals are all great wrestlers and I think they deserve the push, especially after being kept down in WCW for so long. I’m sure that there are some guys in the WWF who have been there longer might be upset, but I can’t think you can overlook the talent of guys like Benoit, Eddie, and Dean. Give them the push
Reckless: What do you think of the WWF’s decision to move Chyna from an active wrestler position in to more of a valet position?
John Molinaro I think it’s a wise move. I really dislike Chyna and was very upset when she was wrestling in the ring. She’s not a wrestler and I think by having her go against guys like Jericho, and winning, I think it undermines the entire product. I think there is a place for her as a manager an she’ll do well in that spot
Lucha Crazy: Didn’t the WWF used to run some Mexican league or something. I remember reading something about a weekly show they ran? What was it and were there any stars on it that a North American fan would know? Is it still on?
John Molinaro The WWF used to run a program called Super Astros on Univision which is a Spanish-language network in the US. It was a weekly, half hour show that featured stars from Mexico as well as some WWF guys. They used to run the matches at the Tuesday TV tapings and that’s where Esse Rios and some other Mexicans were in the WWF. The show was canceled, I believe last year, after the WWF deemed it no longer a priority
Derek Elliott: who do u believe should be WWF Champ?
John Molinaro If we’re going based on talent, I think Benoit should be the WWF champ. He is clearly the best worker in North America today. I think he has the right stuff to carry a promotion. Jericho is another guy who should be world champ. He has a wealth of international experience, can work a variety of styles, and is very over with the crowd.
Hardcore Alley: Do you think Val Venis will wrestle again in Mexico?
John Molinaro No I don’t think so. For those of you who don’t know, Val used to wrestle in Mexico’s EMLL promotion as the masked Steele. He is a former CMLL world champion and had a great feud with Rayo de Jalisco Jr. He is engaged or married to a Mexican woman.
DTC: Do you like the new WCW?
John Molinaro I certainly liked the first Nitro and Thunder. I think it’s too early to tell whether WCW can turn it around. We need to reserve judgement and let them run a little with the new group of bookers for a while before passing judgement. My inclination is that Russo and Eric will screw things up even more, but we have to give them an opportunity to see what they can do.
Wayne Stillman: What do you think is the best finishing move out there? Which one does the most ‘damage’? Which one looks the best? worst?
John Molinaro I’m such a huge mark for Rey Misterio Jr and I love his springboard huracanrana. I think it’s such a beautiful, looking move. It’s like ballet when he pulls that move off. The Lucha Libre style involves such athleticism and are so beautiful that a lot of my favorite moves are from the Mexicans. I think the worst looking move is the top rope DDT by the Artists. That thing just looks pathetic.
Ryan Ryder: I never seen nothing great about Jericho, for him to get the push he is getting. He will never be as big as a face as the Rock or Austin. What is you opinion?
John Molinaro I love Jericho. I’ve followed his career from his days in EMLL in Mexico, from his days in WAR in Japan, and I can tell you is one of the most versatile wrestler around. He can work any style. His matches sin Mexico and Japan with the Ultimo Dragon were among the best I’ve ever seen. His match against Chris Benoit at New Japan’s 1995 Super J Cup tournament was awesome and was the match that really made WCW take notice in him.
Extreme Stud: In your opinion, who is the most underrated/underused wrestler in the big three?
John Molinaro La Parka. I know most fans unfamiliar with Mexican wrestling think he’s a joke, but in Mexico he’s a legend. He is so charismatic that he reminds me a lot of Dusty Rhodes. Having seen a lot of his stuff from mexico, I can tell you that he controls any crowd he appears before. He has them in the palm of his hand and he’s also one of the top draws in Mexico over the past four years.
Super Duper Crazy: Do they transfer the gimmicks or names in Mexican wrestling? If memory serves me right, I have seen younger wrestlers carrying on the personas of older wrestlers.
John Molinaro There are a lot of second generation and third generation stars in Mexico. Rey Misterio Jr’s uncle Rey Sr helped train him and guys like Konnan and Psicosis. El Hido Del Santo (The Son of the Saint) is the son of El Santo (The Saint) the most famous wrestler ever in Mexico. Eddie Guerrero’s father Gory was also one of the early stars in Mexico in the ’40s and ’50s. So it’s not uncommon to see a young star carrying on the mask and gimmick of their father.
Extreme Stud: do you think it was a smart idea to tease a Jericho world title reign and then have him job to Triple H the same night?
John Molinaro No I don’t. I was totally blown away by that! I think it would have made more sense to have Jericho go over HHH in the six-man again to really ignite their upcoming program. If they were so gung ho about putting HHH over, why not have him pin Bradshaw.That way HHH is kept strong and Jericho doesn’t have to job.
Mike Hunt: With your connections with Mike Tenay, do you think it’s likely that you may someday work for a major wrestling promotion, such as WCW or ECW?
John Molinaro I don’t think so. I’m not really interested in working for WCW or any promotion for that matter. When you work for one of the companies, you’re abilities as a journalist are undermined and you quickly become a paid mouth piece with no objectivity. I like the fact that I operate out of the sphere of influence from the Big three and can essentially do the type of stories I want to do.
Al Snow’s Head: Besides yourself, who do you think is/was the best writer to work with Slam Wrestling?
John Molinaro I think they’re all good. I have a great deal of respect for John Powell and the work he does because he and I share the same views and he conducts himself very professionally. I think he’s a credit to the site. Same for Greg Oliver. I like that he’s always coming up with Canadian content and looks at stuff from a historical view. I think Hardcore Chris Gramlich and Alex Ristic are also valuable members of the Slam staff.
Art Barr is NOT Roseanne’s ex Husband!: What do you think the ramifications of would be if Hulk Hogan returned to the WWF? Or even Ric Flair?
John Molinaro I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen. I think if it ever did happen, the entire wrestling landscape would change dramatically. I think Flair and Hogan would be used in major programs with guys like Rock, Jericho and Austin and would put them over to establish them as the new major stars. I’m sure most people can’t see it happening, but the one thing I’ve learned covering pro wrestling is never say never. I never thought Ric Flair would have went to the WWF in 1991. He did. I never thought Dusty Rhodes or Harley Race would have went to the WWF. They did. Anything can happen. I don’t even rule out Bret Hart going back to the WWF at some point.
Extreme Stud: What do you think of Sting coming down from the rafters last week?
John Molinaro I think it’s in poor taste. I know that people make the argument that if Bret Hart didn’t have a problem with it, than nobody else should. I don’t buy that. I mean what’s Bret supposed to say when they approach him in the building and they already have the stunt set up? They didn’t give him much choice and I think in light of the anniversary of Owen’s death fast approaching, I think they should have exercised some class and better judgement and nixed that idea.
Elian Gonzalez: Would a Mexican crowd pop for Mae Young’s breasts?
John Molinaro No, I don’t think they would. I know this is going to piss of US and Canadian fans, but Mexican fans are different in that they appreciate actual wrestling, not theatrics. Stuff that you see on WCW Nitro and on RAW would never fly in Mexico because the fans are accustomed to seeing quality wrestling. That’s what the 80 year+ tradition of Lucha Libre is predicated on, athletic wrestling.
Netcop is a Gay: Have you heard anything more from the Dynamite Kid?
John Molinaro No. Thankfully that entire issue has been dead for some time. He didn’t like the fact I gave his autobiography a little less that a positive review and decided to pull out of scheduled interview with us. He then badmouthed us on his site and we responded by answering some of his allegations and statements. The whole thing was blown way our of proportion and thankfully is a dead issue.
Moderator: Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. John’s got some more things to do, and has to call it quits. He lasted almost as long as John Powell & Greg Oliver!
John Molinaro I want to thank everybody for participating in the chat and for all your questions. It was a lot of fun and I hope I was able to provide a little more information for you all about Japan and Mexico. Hope we can do this again sometime.