Kalisto on his WWE release, Rey Mysterio mask vs. mask match, Lucha House Party

Kaliso (aka Samuray Del Sol) is a professional wrestler and entrepreneur. He joins Chris Van Vliet from his home in Orlando, FL to talk about his 8-year career in WWE and being released in April of this year, what his plans are next, the businesses that he has started, his love of horror movies, the storyline he pitched for a mask vs. mask match with Rey Mysterio, the meaning behind his luchador mask, why his wife “Lady Lucha” wears a mask, how he transformed his body and got into incredible shape and much more!

On what his new name is:

“Samuray Del Sol, that’s the name that I started with. I actually started with Samurai first, the I had to spell it differently, with a Y, just to be different. I started as Samuray Del Sol in Chicago, that’s where I adopted the name. Then everything else is history.”

On how Brodie Lee helped him through tough times:

“That’s really hard. I’m going to talk about the time that I got injured. I got injured back in 2019. That was a life changing experience for me. Two months before, I was in a bad place. You know, when things don’t go the right way, the way you had planned, you let it get into your head. I was in my own head, I was going through so much stress. Two months before I got injured I reached out to my good friend who has now passed, Brodie Lee. Just before this interview, I was looking at the last text messages he sent me. It was the usual ‘Hey, how are you? How is the family?’ First of all he was like ‘Who is this? New number.’ I was like ‘It’s Mani bro, Kalisto.’ He was then like ‘Oh hey bro what’s up.’ I looked at my response, and I responded to him ‘Trying to reach God.’ Why did I text that? Man I was in a bad place. His response was ‘Oh how’s that going?’ I’m like oh good old Brodie [laughs]. He was so great man. The last thing he told me was ‘I miss the boys.’ I just get chills thinking about it. I reached out and he listened. I’ve been through so much.”

On getting injured and very ill:

“After that, two months later in December 2019 I got hurt at The Staples Center. It was the last week in December. I signed on the Friday [my new contract] and I got hurt on the Sunday. When I got hurt, I got super sick. When I got home, I went to the hospital and I told my wife that I’m not feeling good. Throughout the whole flight it was the worst. I was super sick. This was my breaking point that helped me be awake. Once I got back to Orlando, they tell me I have a 105 fever. They ask me ‘Do you feel sick?’ I say ‘No it’s just my shoulder. I’m in a lot of pain. I keep shaking’ They say I have a torn shoulder. I could have surgery but I am trying to avoid it. I say ‘Just give me anything I am in pain.’ So they give me Percoset, and I feel like a zombie. So I was going through hell that night, I was falling out of love of wrestling. I was listening to Buddy Murphy’s interview with you, we have a lot of similarities but different paths. I have a lot of respect for Murphy. I couldn’t go to the hospital, I couldn’t go to therapy, I was stuck at home. I am assuming I had COVID, no one knew what it was and I had it bad. On top of that I had a rotator cuff tear. I was going through a lot.”

On how he has inspired fans:

“On top of that, the media. I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I can’t hate social media, because that’s where all my fans are. Those people rely on me, but the other fans ruin it for me. The thing with me, I was in a fast spot. I feel throughout my whole life and my whole career, I felt under utilized and under valued. That’s why I believed in myself. I am a human being, I can go off track. But it takes long for you to get back on track. You work so hard for what you love and you see no change. As one of the few Latinos in sports entertainment, my major goal is to be a symbol outside of wrestling. Not just in Lucha Libre. There always one fan in Mexico that dressed like me. She would say ‘I am not a fan of Lucha Libre, but I love it when you scream “Lucha” Why is that? Every time you scream and you fight that struggle when you are down. That made me want to be a doctor.’ I just wanted to cry, I was like please wear this US Title, you inspire me! It’s more than just wrestling. My mask means more than that, it’s a symbol that no matter what you do, you can be a superhero. You can be a symbol of hope, you just need that motivation.”

Credit: Instagram

On mental health struggles:

“Me being injured, I thought about so much. When I was driving and I was in a bad place, I thought about driving off tracks sometimes. Because no matter what I did, I couldn’t do anything to make people happy. Then I realized I was not happy. I had to change and stop thinking about what people think about me. I had to think about myself, and I have never done that. I’ve always been nice, always done everything right. I worked so hard, Vince even said I am a hard worker. We always had a good relationship, I just wished we talked more. We just never got that chance, that’s one of my biggest regrets.

On his biggest regret in WWE:

“My biggest regret is not pitching my idea to Vince. Pretty much the whole world knew except for Vince. [I wanted to do] a mask vs. mask match against Rey [Mysterio]. I had Rey’s blessing, Dominik’s blessing, everyone. They all loved it. I showed it to Paul Heyman too. Paul said ‘This is genius, do it.’ I was like let’s do this! It’s just such a good story, it’s my biggest regret not talking to Vince about it. Right before I was going to, I got released.”

Chris asks if Samuray was prepared to wrestle without a mask:

“I was prepared for anything, I had such a great story that nobody would have expected. So for Paul Heyman to say that’s genius, I got something. The writers, everyone loved it. I even showed it to Daniel Bryan and Edge, they loved it. But it’s my own fault. I should have gone [to Vince].”

On if not pitching the match was his biggest regret:

“I believe so. It was such a good story. Not only that, I chose to better myself and to be different. I had a Hollywood acting coach help me with my promos. On top of that, coming back in the best shape of my life. I laid everything down and let my actions speak, words are useless. But it takes so much, I am human. When you work so hard and you see everything around you, you ask yourself why? Maybe I’m not working hard enough, so I work harder, and I get wiser. It’s still not enough. That was my whole career and my whole life. I have always been under utilized, but then I hear I had a great show. OK then put me in the main event. It’s just I am a human being, it’s hard. But at the same time I look at what I have been through. When I started, I had no friends and no connections in wrestling. I knew nobody. Everything on my own, I went out there and got it. I went out on the red carpets, the Latino game shows, the Latino publicity. Nobody else has done that. Then again, I’m the one trying to make a difference. I’m just saying that even being in GQ Mexico is a big deal. It doesn’t hit me until now. Look at what I have accomplished. Now I don’t know.”

On if he knew he was going to be released:

“Deep down I did. I wanted to lay everything down on the table and say ‘Here it is. I am giving you my best. You take it or you don’t.’ They didn’t and I feel good.”

Credit: Instagram

On how he got into incredible shape:

“So coming back that was my major goal. I got hurt in 2019 and I got COVID, I was out for about 8 months. I did my own therapy, my own fitness and workouts. I started going to the Performance Center here and there. My main focus was when I come back, all eyes are on me. Not only are they going to see my new look, they are going to see my new body. that is exactly what happened. When I went to talk to Vince, I decided to show up at The Amway Center. I had a shirt on that said ‘impossible.’ I wondered if he got it. So the shirt was covered so he didn’t know I was ripped. We [Lucha House Party] did a segment and I go back and they are in a meeting. I think it was Shane, Vince. I kid you not, I turn around and say hey ‘Hey Vince how are you doing?’ He goes ‘Goddammit pal! You’re f*cking ripped!’ Man that was awesome. I looked at myself and said ‘This is my I don’t give a f*ck body, thank you boss.'”

On his mask design:

“Each spike represents the style I have developed throughout the years. [There is] Lucha Libre, Japanese and American. The American style goes down the middle because WWE has their own style. I was blessed that I went to NXT first. I learned a lot and it made me wiser as a wrestler. These are they styles I have developed. The design of the wing is the type of high flyer I am. The tail at the back represents my journey. Every color has meaning too. It could be for cancer, diabetes, autism, anything. So to me, the mask means a lot. If you are going to wear a mask, I suggest you take your time and you pick every symbol that you feel strongly about. The wings, the type of spikes, why are you going to do that?”

On why his wife started wearing a Lucha mask:

“She started wearing a mask when we started doing all of the red carpets. Even on the Latino Family Feud, which was my family vs. Rey Mysterio’s family. But my wife wanted to wear a mask to support me. Her first time wearing a mask was in 2011 in Mexico. This was before WWE. We were at the Expo-Lucha. All of the big shows are there. [the show time] From 8-until midnight. My wife was like ‘It’s a long day what am I going to do?’ I said ‘I will make you a mask and you are going to come out with me.’ There was like 10,000 people. She was so nervous! But it was a fun experience for her. She did it a couple of times in Mexico and that was it. She also wears a mask because she wants to be a symbol for women empowerment, which is great. Even though the mask has my eyes, which is unique to my mask. The eyes mean everything to me, it will be on everything. So that’s why I told my wife ‘it can mean women empowerment. Your mask will represent women empowerment and mine will represent hope.’ We can all be a part of that and part of the Lucha family. So that’s what we did, everyone knew us. My major goal was to be a start outside of WWE. Now WWE is great, they are doing their job on booking me and getting me out there. But my wife, she is the one helping me and letting me know when the Latin Grammys are coming up. My wife helped me, so did the media. There were not a lot of Latin people that understand how we work. It was difficult at first but we made it work. We went out there and people knew us, even though they are not WWE fans. WE are just trying to be a voice for everybody.”

On where the Lucha chant started:

“The Lucha chant started in 2010 in Miami WrestleMania. I started it in 2010 and I brought it to WWE. I started using the Lucha Lucha chant when I was feuding with El Generico. He was using his ‘Ole’ chant and I thought that really connected with people. How can I connect with the people. Oh ‘Lu-cha Lu-cha.’ I brought it to WWE and the rest is history. They still play it on RAW so it’s pretty cool.”

On how the theme song came to be:

“I’ll tell you how it happened. We were in NXT and we were trying to figure out a theme song. me and Sin Cara were just thinking what is our entrance music going to be? All of a sudden it just happened. I’m like oh that’s my voice from a promo. I could have recorded it if you told me. I’m like cool I’ll go with it. My old theme was more rock like, but they made it more kid friendly. I don’t mind that, the kids are my friends.”

On his favorite WWE moment:

“Man it’s hard to say. My favorite moment throughout my whole career in WWE was that one minute where I had the faceoff with Rey at the Royal Rumble. I never stepped in the ring with Rey. My whole life and my whole career I have been compared to Rey Mysterio, which is great, it’s awesome. But I am my own person. I want to create my own legacy.”

On a possible WWE return:

“I’m not going to hold my breath. I’m just going to focus on me. I am going to focus on my mental state, which is very important. I’m going to try and fix myself first. I’m trying to see what I can do. I like challenging myself a lot. I have never boxed before, but I want to box. The reason I became a wrestler was because of my grandma. My grandfather wanted me to be a boxer. Not only that, all the [boxing] pay per views, my dad would bring home a box of oysters. We would sit there, hammer open the oysters, watch the pay per view and that was our night. This was as kids, which was pretty cool. I’m still going to wrestle here and there. If the time is right, here and there, I am going to give it a shot.”

On being on Family Feud:

“So going back to me representing Latinos outside of WWE, Family Feud was amazing. I got in contact with my family and Rey got in contact with his in Mexico. They were in awe, they were so excited. That was the first time I faced Rey Mysterio in anything. I was blessed to be on that gameshow. It was fun, it took about 8 hours but it was fun.”

On John Cena’s Luchador persona “Juan Cena”:

“It was cool and it was interesting. Me, Lince and Metalik got together and were like ‘Yeah he [John] has a mask, he is Juan Cena.’ Lince, I and Metalik went to talk to him and he was like ‘what do you think?’ We were like ‘it’s cool.’ So he went ‘OK, I will bring it next week.’ He brought it and he was like ‘Si cabrones [yeah f*ckers]. Lu-cha Lu-cha.’ I’m like alright this is so dope man. I love the fact that John never says no. He will sit down if you have a question, he is always willing to give you time. It’s a whole different world to how it was when I first got there. I was feuding with Alberto Del Rio when I first got there. I was picking John’s brain a lot. He gave me such great advice on how to hear the crowd, how to control the crowd, so many good techniques and advice. He is a great person to talk to, he is so cool. I wish I could have talked to him more.”

On winning the United States title:

“It didn’t hit me until I got in the back. 2 weeks before that, Sin Cara got hurt. We were supposed to be in a tag team feud with The New Day. Sin Cara did a dive onto Big E and he hurt his shoulder. I’m like oh great, what’s going to happen now? The following week I went to Vince’s office to the first time, I’m like f*ck it. I had a great conversation with him. I called him boss or ‘hey sir.’ He’s like ‘You have a lot of potential, you’re going to go far.’ I was going to talk to him next week but they [writers] were like you are in a program with John Cena. I’m like OK cool. Then you are in a match with Del Rio for the title. I’m thinking how is he going to win? But the professional that I am, you throw something at me, I will put on a show. When that [the title win] happened, they told me the finish right before I went out there. Del Rio helped me so much. We went at it, and when I won, I’m in the back and I start tearing up. I’m in the back and it started hitting me when Del Rio in front of Vince and me said ‘You see this kid. This kid is ready. You need to do something with him.'”

On what he is grateful for:

“My fans, my family and WWE.”

Samuray Del Sol can be found on Twitter here and Instagram here.

Featured image: WWE

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