I had the chance to speak with Lil’ Cholo (Mr. Cisco on Lucha Underground) after night 2 of FCW’s Pow! Boom! Smack! shows where we talked about his start in wrestling, the evolution of SoCal wrestling, the greatness of Sara del Rey, Lucha Underground, pulling pranks, and much more. Click to read the interview.
Steve: I’m here with Lil’ Cholo after FCW’s Pow! Boom! Smack! night 2 [July 23, 2016]. First thing, I can’t believe, we’d never had an interview with you after 16 years of the site and you being around the whole time. Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get into wrestling?
Lil’ Cholo: Long story short, I liked this since I was a little kid. First thing I remember seeing was Wrestlemania 3. That kind of got me hooked on it. As I got older like junior high and stuff like that, it pretty much came down to doing stupid shit on the streets or get into wrestling. It was either follow my dreams or wind up dead somewhere.
Steve: You started WPW with Martin [Marin]?
Lil’ Cholo: Yes.
Steve: How did you find WPW?
Lil’ Cholo: It was actually through his son. Me and his son went to junior high school together. I saw him one day wearing a wrestling shirt. I asked him if he liked wrestling and he was like, “Yeah, my dad’s a wrestler.” I was like, “Get out of here.” He was like, “No, yeah, he is a wrestler.” I never paid any attention to it. Showed up at the [Anaheim] Marketplace one day and I saw “free wrestling” on the door. Went and sat down in the front row and was watching the show and his son came up to me. He was like, “Hey, what are you doing here?” I’m like, “What are you doing here?” He’s like, “My dad owns this place.” “Get out of here.” He introduced me to him and that was it.
Steve: When did you debut with WPW?
Lil’ Cholo: It was October of ’98.
Steve: So you were there when they had that big show with Santo?
Lil’ Cholo: Oh yeah.
Steve: Drew over a thousand people in the marketplace…
Lil’ Cholo: That was crazy, yeah.
Steve: Then wrestling for WPW, how did you first get into other promotions SoCal?
Lil’ Cholo: It just took a while. Pay your dues, man. Little by little I was branching out. One a promotion, two, there was a lot of lucha promotions that gave me a shot. Then I started going to Tijuana, Mexico and stuff like that. I did some independent shows for like AAA and CMLL. Then I would come back and little by little there was a buzz and I started going promotion to promotion.
Steve: I remember back then it seemed like the lucha and the American style wrestling was completely separate. There wasn’t a whole lot of crossover. You’d never see lucha guys on American shows and vice versa. I think Rev Pro was really the first ones to have that crossover. Then WPW started doing that a lot. Booking everyone. Anyone who’d show up I guess [laughs]. Rev Pro was the first one and WPW was really an innovator of that, too. Nobody else was really doing it at the time. At one point WPW started trying to get a little bit bigger name. They were doing the Best of the West tournaments and bringing in name guys. You were pretty much the face of the WPW at that point…
Lil’ Cholo: I guess you could say that. For a little while I was the only one that was branching out, doing GSCW, EPIC, other bigger promotions, American style wise. They gave me the opportunity.
Steve: I remember APW had this show, it wasn’t actually APW but was run out of their building, the Golden Gate Invitational where you, B-Boy, Super Dragon, and Rising Son were the SoCal guys invited up for that. I was invited up for the show and biggest thing I remember from that was you guys having, like you and B-Boy having great matches and Roland Alexander, raving to me about how great your matches were when I was talking with him, I was like “you don’t have to tell me.” I don’t remember, after that, did you start working APW a lot or…
Lil’ Cholo: Yeah, I started doing a lot more local APW shows, stuff like that. They gave me the opportunity, then branched out a little bit to SPW in Sacramento. Then little by little, more and more companies were opening up. SoCal, that opened up doors for me too.
Steve: Another thing I take away from that trip is you’re kind of a practical joker as far as … I remember the punishment that Rising Son took that weekend with prank calls all through the night, people banging on his doors.
Lil’ Cholo: [Laughs] Oh yeah with Tony Kozina.
Steve: Yeah, and having to stop Tony Kozina from fighting Rising Son when like Rising Son tried to get him back.
Lil’ Cholo: That was hilarious.
Steve: Is there any pranks that you can really remember that stand out, aside from ruining Rising Son’s weekend?
Lil’ Cholo: There’s been quite a few. A lot of dirty ones that I can’t really talk about. When it comes to pranks, I guess I’m pretty good at them. Let’s see, a specific one. Oh, there’s one from Texas. We were coming back from a tour in Texas. Shelly Martinez was on that tour with us, she was a witness to this. The referee, El Indio sat in the front seat. He knows not to fall asleep. He was supposed to keep the driver up and he fell asleep. We borrowed some of Shelly Martinez’s makeup. We painted him all up with her makeup. He was passed the hell out. We went to stop at a gas station, he woke up, didn’t realize he had makeup on. He walks in. He sees this hot chick in the gas station and he says “I’m going to hit on her.” He combs his hair, doesn’t realize he’s got makeup on. Lipstick, blush, everything. He goes up to the girl and he’s like, “Hey cutie, what’s going on?” She just laughs at him and runs away. He’s like, “what the hell happened?’ He goes in the bathroom and realizes he’s fucking dolled up. It was pretty funny, everybody was talking about it.
Steve: I still to this day feel bad for Rising Son from that trip, just because he had a terrible match the next day. He was up all night.
Lil’ Cholo: I remember I wrestled Sara del Rey. I think that was her second or third match she had had.
Steve: I remember on that show how good she was. Like wow, she’s awesome.
Lil’ Cholo: Look where she’s at now, you know.
Steve: You got into Lucha Underground which is a huge thing.
Lil’ Cholo: Huge thing for me, it’s an honor to be there.
Steve: Did you have a lot of input when you got into Lucha Underground as to your character or its development?
Lil’ Cholo: Yeah. They kind of knew, had an idea of what I was, what my persona was. They gave me the freedom to run with it. They changed my name, which is okay. They let me be who I am. It was pretty cool. They kind of give me liberties to do pretty much whatever I wanted, with their guidance. This has been great. It’s been such an opportunity. Such a blessing. I couldn’t thank them enough for being there.
Steve: I think it’s one of those things. It’s like sort of like ECW. Maybe not on as big a scale yet but it’s one of those things. People are starting to copy it already. You’re seeing like TNA doing their stuff, WWE starting to be influenced by it.
Lil’ Cholo: It’s funny because I have friends at WWE. I have friends at TNA. Talking to them, the first thing that comes out of their mouth is, “You guys are killing it.” They watch our product. They’re the ones watching us. Their office people, everybody. The world has their eyes on us right now. We have such a cool following right now.
Steve: I could tell you, me personally, I had stopped watching wrestling pretty much. I’d turn it on here and there. I came across Lucha Underground. I didn’t know anything about it. I wasn’t keeping up with what was going on. I saw you, Ricky Reyes, and B-Boy, and I said, what’s up with these guys on TV. I saw you guys in a match and I was blown away by the show. How much different it was then everything else. That got me back into wrestling. It was something so new and fresh. It was an amazing, amazing thing.
Lil’ Cholo: That’s good to hear.
Steve: Now here at FCW, you and B-Boy wrestled a few months ago and during the match fans started chanting “SoCal legends.” How did you feel when you heard that?
Lil’ Cholo: It’s dope. I never would have thought that the fans would chant that to me. I’ve heard so much stuff chanted at me. To hear that, it’s an honor. I feel really privileged to have the fans chant that. It means a lot. It does, it really does. It’s just cool.
Steve: You’re part of a small group of guys that have been around for…
Lil’ Cholo: It’s going to be eighteen years in October.
Steve: Yeah. All these years. You were one of the first guys I heard about in the lucha scene. I started going to Indy shows outside of San Diego. People were like, you’ve got to check out Lil’ Cholo at WPW. I don’t think I saw you at a WPW show first. Maybe it was and UPW lite show if I remember. In that time you’ve been one of the backbones of the scene here both in and out of lucha.
Lil’ Cholo: I am just trying to help out SoCal, to keep it going. Just to help the new guys … keep on paving the road I guess you could say, for the new guys to have some place to wrestle. It’s going to sound weird, I don’t want to be like Mil Mascaras wrestling when I am 75 years old. I want to make it to a good age and still be able to do this because I love it. I want to do it to where I still can. I have so much respect for it that I don’t want to end up one of those guys.
Steve: You’ve seen the evolution of SoCal wrestling. From when nobody was working for other promotions. From basically schools running promotions to stuff like MPW, APW LA, PWG, just these all-star promotions. Right now it seems like there’s some really strong promotions… we would’ve been killing for stuff like this ten, fifteen years ago with FCW, PCW, PWG still going strong. How do you see it progressing beyond this?
Lil’ Cholo: I think it’s healthy right now. It’s just like humans you know?. It’s healthy now, it could be sick for a little while, it gets better, and then it goes down. I think as long as everybody can get along and everybody helps out one another, we’ve got to try to avoid having any shady people in this business. I think it could last for a long time.
Steve: Do you see yourself as trainer eventually? Where do you see yourself when you are done wrestling?
Lil’ Cholo: I would love to be a trainer somewhere, or helping out backstage. I want to be involved with the business as much as possible. I want to give back as much as it’s given me. For as long as I can be in it, that would be great.
Steve: Do you have any goals that you haven’t fulfilled yet that you still need to meet?
Lil’ Cholo: Ultimately, I’ve completed my goals in wrestling. My biggest goal or my dream was wrestling Rey Misterio Jr., and with Lucha Underground, it happened. That was my ultimate dream. Anything now that happens is just a bonus for me.
Steve: I know you got to get going, your ride is giving us dirty looks [laughs]. Is there anything you want to plug before we go?
Lil’ Cholo: Catch me on Instagram Lil’Cholo01, Twitter, same thing.
Steve: Thank you.
Lil’ Cholo: Thank you, man.
Great piece, Steve! This is what I hope for when I log onto SCU. Interviews with guys who have been around for some time and have worked all over the place. My only complaint? I remember when Lil Cholo started, so every time you stress he has 18 years in I feel old!
Thanks Ben. We were rushed for time so there was a bunch of stuff I’d have liked to have gotten to but didn’t have the time.