Chavo Guerrero Talks Working With MJF On The Iron Claw, Young Rock Season Three, Dominik Mysterio’s WWE Push, More! – Exclusive
If you’re producing a multi-million dollar pro wrestling TV series or movie, there’s one man you need to call: Chavo Guerrero.
Ever since his Emmy Award-winning role as wrestling coordinator on the hit Netflix series "GLOW," Guerrero has become the go-to man for all things pro wrestling in Hollywood. Currently, Guerrero’s plate is full as he bounces between three big projects: "The Iron Claw," NBC’s "Young Rock," and Vice TV’s "Tales From The Territories." Two of those projects, "Young Rock" and "Tales From The Territories," are helmed by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions, proving that those WWE Attitude Era ties still bear fruit for Guerrero today.
Young Rock Season Three
Let’s start with "Young Rock," man. Season Three is out. I’m caught up. I watch every episode per usual. How was it actually having everybody being able to get together now? I know you guys were off in Australia, separated and working with different people, how was the vibe this time different?
So it’s funny, I haven’t seen any ‘Young Rock" at all because I’ve been traveling back and forth between Memphis and Baton Rouge filming "Young Rock" and "Iron Claw," so I haven’t even seen my "Territories" episodes besides the rough cuts, because I’ve just been really, man, I’ve been hustling right now. I don’t have a lot of time.
Yeah, dude. I know you’re super busy. I guess I was asking more just as far as this season with "Young Rock," how was it actually getting access to everybody? Again, you guys were all over the place, and I know that The Rock actually got to meet with a lot of the cast members for the first time.
Last year in Australia was different because we were all there. They couldn’t really fly people in and out, so we were all kind of stuck there for two, three, four, five months, depending on what you did. So it was a lot more of a family because their families weren’t there. It was just like, we hung out with each other. This year is more like a regular season. Everybody’s, they fly in, they work an episode, and they fly out. So it’s just like a regular season. It’s not as, I can’t say it’s not as fun. It’s very on-set, but extracurricular is very limited.
I’ve been really impressed with Uli [Latukefu], the guy who plays the eldest version of Rock.
That’s right, Uli playing, we call him Adult Dwayne. Man, he’s such a great guy, great actor, great athlete, man. This guy could be a pro wrestler. That’s how good he really is.
See, isn’t that WWE’s dream? They can take a second bite of the apple here. You got a young version of Rock, you’re molding him into Rock, Chavo.
Yeah. You guys haven’t even seen, we’re still filming the season and holy moly, this guy is, he’s so good. Really is.
What do you think about the Rock vs Roman Reigns stuff that possibly could happen at Mania? Would you like to see the "Young Rock" crew involved with that in any way? Maybe hype, maybe participation? You think there’s good crossover there?
What was really cool is us teasing that in Season Two. The internet went crazy. That was really cool. I would love to see that. And I would love to see "Young Rock" people involved, and me too. That’d be awesome.
Zac Efron: Pro Wrestler
You brought it up earlier. You’re buzzing around here, Baton Rouge, "The Iron Claw." Man, this film has some serious star power. This thing’s got some real buzz around it too right now. Talk to me a little bit about how you got involved in this movie, Chavo.
Yeah, so "Iron Claw" is… The cat’s out of the bag now. People know that he’s a part of it. After People Magazine posted a big picture of Zac and me and it, so it’s not a secret anymore. But what happened is that I got called from the director, Sean Durkin, who recruited me to make this movie with him. That’s how it happened. I just got a call from him, and actually I got a call from a funny mutual friend, Alison Brie, called me and said, "Hey Chavo, this director’s trying to get ahold of you. You may want to talk to him. He’s pretty good," so that’s kind of how it got started.
And so getting into this here, obviously Zac Efron has shared some photos or a photo from the filming. Are you already training Zac Efron and the other actors? Or what’s the process I guess, for you right now?
Yeah, we’re in the middle of filming right now, man. We train, we’ve done all that stuff, really, man. We’ve been working on it for quite a while. So we’re already knee deep into filming all this stuff. So we’re in the bigger things.
How is Zac Efron taking to pro wrestling? He’s a very pretty man. How is he doing with the rough and tumble pro wrestling stuff?
Zac is awesome. He’s a machine. You can tell. You look at his body, the guy doesn’t stop. He’s a machine. He’s going to really surprise a lot of people. I can’t talk too much about it, but he’s going to surprise a lot of people. He’s a guy that brings it every single time.
Do you think he would have interest in taking what he’s learned about professional wrestling to WWE or AEW at some point after the film?
You know what? I don’t know. He’d have to answer that one, to be honest. Acting and pro wrestling it’s a little… It’s the same and different in a lot of ways … Any project I do, you’re not just training somebody… I’m not training somebody to work at WrestleMania. I’m training them to look like they are working WrestleMania in the scene. But that being said, some people take to it very well. I’m keeping it vague in a sense. That’s a Zac Efron… He’d have to answer that for sure. But you know what, this is the thing: all pro wrestlers want to be either actors or musicians, or actors want to be wrestlers or sports guys. So it’s, we all want to do what we don’t have anything.
MJF Takes Hollywood
Well, there’s one wrestler who’s actually going to get to act in the movie that made a lot of noise. And of course, I’m talking about MJF. When did you find out MJF was going to be in this movie? Did you have a hand in helping him get cast in this one?
Well, I don’t really know on that one yet, to be honest. That’s got something between him. He keeps, I think, denying it even though he’s been announced. So I can’t really talk about that one until it actually happens.
What he said the other day was that he could confirm he is in the movie, but he can’t confirm what his role’s going to be. A lot of people seem to think he’s playing Lance Von Erich, and he wants to be playing pretty close to the vest on that one.
Right. And that’s, man, I would love to be able to talk about it, but when the movie comes out, I will definitely talk about. How’s that?
That’s fine. How is he fitting into the world of Hollywood? It’s got to be a little intimidating sharing screen with a guy like Zac Efron and the other stars of this film.
MJF is pretty good at everything he does, so he adapts pretty well. And even if he doesn’t know what’s going on, he would never let you know that he doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s pretty good at working everybody and anything he does. I’m a fan for sure. I’m a fan of him. And he’s a guy that, he knows how to get heat. He knows how to ruffle feathers, and man, I just think this guy’s just getting started. He’s young, he’s going to get better and better.
Do you think that he’s got that John Cena, The Rock potential that he seems to be saying he has these days?
I see him more as a Roddy Piper potential. You know how Roddy could just… He was really quick witted. He could really ruffle feathers. And I just saw an old interview of… Because "Territories" are, the Portland episode just aired. So people are posting a lot of old stuff of Roddy because he was all over that Portland episode. And I saw an interview he did, and it was in a Portland news show. Man, he was very straight to the point, antagonistic, keeping kayfabe, but also just was really, he just pushed the envelope better than anybody ever does. Anytime you see Cena or Rock, or Batista for the most part in interviews, they’re very PC in a sense. MJF is not. He’s more like a Roddy Piper. He ruffles feathers and gets people going. It’s cool to see. I love it.
It would be interesting to see a remake of "They Live" featuring MJF. I would buy a ticket for that.
Do you see that comparison between him and Roddy?
How can you not, man? It’s right there, it’s blatant, right?
It’s weird. Roddy was Roddy. He was a different cut from a different mold for sure. And there’s only one Roddy Piper. But if I was going to compare MJF to somebody, I would compare him to that as opposed to a John Cena or a Rock or Punk or somebody. He’s cut from his own little mold there.
Tales From The Territories
Well the other project, obviously, and I know you have many "Tales from the Territories" though, on Vice TV. Shades of "Dark Side of the Ring," but you guys obviously trying to bring a little more lightness to it. How have you felt about some of the final products? I don’t know. Again, have you watched any of this? It sounds like you’re too busy, right?
I’ve seen the rough cuts, for sure. And definitely when we created this thing, I did not want it "Dark Side of the Ring" at all. My whole thing when I started this was, hey, I get it, dark side of wrestling. I get that sells, but that’s only 5% of wrestling. 95% of wrestling is awesome. The stories that these guys have are just so unbelievable. Anytime I would tell people when I was a kid about these stories, about Andre the Giant or Roddy Piper or Ric Flair or so many others, they couldn’t believe it.
They were like, "That didn’t really happen," but that really happened. It was so much bigger and so larger than life that I said, "We got to get this on TV, we got to do this." And of course, thank god The Rock agreed. And we did get it out there, but I was very much, this is not "Dark Side of the Ring." This is the light side of the ring in a sense. I want people to get going with the episodes and not feel remorse or sadness … I want them to be like, "Holy moly, this is rock and roll and Hollywood and wrestling all combined. Wow, these incredible stories." That’s what I wanted. And for the most part, I think these guys are doing that.
Yeah, for sure. It’s been a fun watch. It’s just crazy because you look at "The Iron Claw," and I don’t know that that movie would exist unless, it was kind of the "Dark Side of the Ring," "The Last of the Von Erichs" episode that really brought the whole Von Erichs’ legacy to the surface that got everybody talking about the history there.
For sure. And the main two… Well for the most part, the main two families in Texas were the Guerreros and the Von Erichs. We had the Funks there of course, and the Blanchards and stuff. There’s other ones for sure. So not trying to take away from anybody else, but we were very entwined. The Guerreros were very entwined with the Von Erichs, and the Von Erichs were always entwined with the Guerreros. We worked for them, they worked for us. The kids were all about the same age, so we were really close to them. And to see that go down and unfold the way it did was really tough. My dad was there when David died, and he was in Japan, him and Brody and all the other wrestlers there. So it hit home a lot for sure because that was the first one of both families to pass.
The Von Erichs Reclaim The Spotlight
Is this a harder film for you to work on considering that you have real emotional ties compared to other kind of wrestling projects worked on in the past?
No, it’s actually, I’m really glad that I’m working on it, because the fact that I told Marshall and Ross, Kevin’s kids, I said, "Guys, I promise you that I will, at least my part, I will do it justice and I’ll make it like I was making it for my own family." Because we’re all family. If you grow up in the wrestling business, you’re part of this extended family, for sure. I’ve [been] to the Von Erichs’ ranch in Hawaii and jumped off their waterfall and all that stuff. And a lot of people have. They were very open and bringing me out there. So I told them right the start, "Guys, I will treat it like I’m making it about the Guerreros," so they were receptive to that and I love that.
For Ross and Marshall, they’re going to have a spotlight on them. This movie’s going to come out, a lot of people are going to be talking about the Von Erichs. It’s not like Ross and Marshall are rookies anymore. They’ve spent years in the business. Do you see this as a chance for them to maybe springboard into a WWE or an AEW or maybe even a New Japan Pro-Wrestling? I don’t know. What do you think?
Absolutely, those guys are super talented. First of all, great boys, or great guys. They really are. But they’re very talented. The Von Erichs, they are just ridiculous athletes, you know what I mean? So, these guys are super athletic as well. You see them in the ring, they can move, they go … They just need time in that ring and time battling the best, so just start battling the best. That’s how you get good. That’s how I got better, was being in the ring with guys like Eddie, and Malenko, and Finlay, and Regal, and Benoit, and every one of them was kicking my butt every time I was in there. And you just rise to the occasion, because when you’re like the big fish in the pond, well you are not going to get any better. But when you’re the smaller fish in the pond, you rise to your competition. And that’s what I believe they need. That’s it. That’s all they need.
What’s it like watching Dominik Mysterio right now, man? He was with his dad for I’d say two years, and finally in a bird being pushed out of the nest, he’s getting a chance here to really be on his own for the first time. How do you think he’s doing? What do you think of Dominik’s work right now?
He’s getting heat, man. He’s getting a lot of heat. It’s really cool. It’s inevitable that him and WWE would use the Eddie angle in a sense … the whole "I’m Your Papi" thing came out of that whole thing, that whole angle with him and Mysterio. So it was inevitable that was going to happen. And the kid’s a talented kid. And like I said, he just needs any time. That’s it. This business is such an art form. You cannot learn it in two years or four years or five years. And really, it takes a good eight to 10 years to really be, to know what you’re doing. It really does.
Fallout From AEW All Out
All right, last question here, I’m going to go a little off the beaten path. About half an hour ago, I just wrapped the latest AEW media call with Tony Khan, and I haven’t chatted with you, I don’t think we’ve chatted since All Out, and I know you obviously spent time in AEW, just what are your thoughts on the way that the CM Punk, Elite situation played out, and the fact that it looks like Punk may no longer be with the company?
Unfortunately, man, I was really excited to have Punk back in wrestling with AEW. I think he has something to give, a lot. And for that to happen… he’s an outspoken guy, a very volatile guy, and sometimes wears his heart on his sleeve too much in a sense.
So you start talking about the producers or the vice presidents, and they’re going to have to protect their role too. They’re going to have to not just let somebody just speak about them. How it went about, I just heard hearsay, I wasn’t there … And we just know that there was some kind of scuffle involved. I don’t know exactly what happened, who started it or whatever. But at the same time, I see both sides. I see Punk talking and saying what he feels and what he sees, and then I see the VPs, whether they’re having to, those guys have to stand their ground. What are they, executive vice presidents? … But they have to stand their ground. So I see both sides. I wish they could coexist, but I don’t know what’s going to happen.
Do you see Punk back in WWE?
I’d never say never, because there’s money to be made anywhere that… Especially WWE. Well, when Vince was there, he’d put his ego aside and make the money, and then fire you later, fire you afterwards. But it’s a tough one. I know that he wasn’t always in great standing there, but if they can make money, you can make money. And that’s just the way it goes. They’re going to put all beef aside. If you got Hogan that came back and nWo all came back, all those guys. So never say never in wrestling.
I think about Bruno Sammartino, Ultimate Warrior.
Yeah, Warrior, oh my god, Ultimate Warrior. Warrior did the Hall of Fame, and all the stuff that he went through and all the stuff that he talked. I remember Vince telling me what a horrible guy this guy was, what a horrible person he was. But at the same time, he put asses in the seats. And that’s Vince’s exact words to me. It all comes down to put the butts in the seats, and if you can do that, there’s a place with us.
All right. Hey Chavo, I want to thank you man so much for taking the time. You are super busy these days and I’m just so happy for you, man. You are the guy for wrestling in Hollywood now, man. That’s awesome.
Thanks, man. Yeah, man, a lot more projects coming up here, and hopefully they materialize, but I think you can see a little bit more of me in Hollywood and hopefully elsewhere.