Jesse Ventura is long retired from any sort of in-ring action, but there’s one individual who he’s happy to say was his favorite to compete against. Ventura joined Chris Jericho on the latest “Talk Is Jericho” podcast, and “The Body” received an opportunity to talk about his body of work in the ring. During the conversation, Jericho asked Ventura about his favorite opponent that he’s ever competed in the ring with and there was one “chico” who stood out to him. Ventura mentioned how he was finally able to make a convention appearance following COVID-19 and ran into a wrestler he has a storied history with in the ring and behind the commentary booth.
“Without naming a single match, I’ll simply say Tito Santana was the most favorite person I enjoyed wrestling out of anyone in the business,” Ventura said. “I don’t know if you know this, but Tito has written a book … He gave me a copy, and the reason I’m so touched by the book and him, is because the title of his book is, ‘Don’t Call Me Chico.’”
While many wrestling fans might recognize the term, in this case it has nothing to do with Razor Ramon. In fact, during his time as a commentator, the heelish Ventura would often refer to the babyface Santana as “chico,” which means “boy” in Spanish.
“At that time I had switched to the broadcasting, so I wasn’t seeing the boys except at television tapings,” Ventura said. “The wrestlers, they didn’t see TV cause they’re on the road. They’re either traveling or wrestling. Tito is showing up to all these venues and the fans are calling him ‘chico.’ It even got to the point that they’re holding signs that say ‘chico.’ Now Merced [Santana’s real name] is caught, because he’s a babyface, and he’s trying to figure this out, so he goes over and it first happens at an airport.” According to Ventura, Santana was waiting for his luggage when a group of fans started calling him “chico.”
“They’re all yelling ‘chico,’ and they all come running over. Merced goes, ‘Well, you guys know my name’s Tito.’ And they go, ‘Oh, yeah we know that.’ ‘Well then, why are you calling me ‘chico?” They wouldn’t tell him.”
The snowball effect continued, getting worse and worse for Santana. Finally, at a taping, he autographed a “chico” sign for a fan who finally revealed to him that Ventura was behind the moniker.
“Tito comes to me at TV, and we both laugh like hell over it,” Ventura said. “In his book, he took an entire paragraph: I want you people to know, there is not one racist bone in Jesse Ventura’s body. He said Jesse Ventura was so over as a heel he would make you money by being derogatory towards you. He said ‘The more he insulted me, the better it was for me.’ He finished it by saying ‘Jesse Ventura was a total credit towards the wrestling business.’ He said, ‘Jesse Ventura made me a ton of money,’ and he said, ‘and he was great at doing it.’ Chris, I laid in bed at that hotel, and it brought tears to my eyes, because no one in the wrestling business has said that about me.”
Ventura echoed the same sentiments about Santana back on the original version of the “Steve Austin Show,” saying that Santana’s timing was phenomenal. Ventura begins a new commentary venture on Substack after his show “The World According To Jesse” ended due to the sanctioning of RT America, a Russian-based television network.
If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit “Talk Is Jericho” with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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