Tito Santana’s exclusive interview with HoustonWrestlingRadio.com
Houston Wrestling Radio conducted an interview with WWE Hall of Famer Tito Santana this week in order to promote his upcoming trip to Houston for the Clutch City Productions Sports and Celebrity Super Show convention happening on . Here are some of the highlights from the interview:
On how he got into wrestling:
I was a migrant worker in Texas and I grew up with not too much money. I happened to get a scholarship in football. And Tully Blanchard was a quarterback and he and Joe Blanchard started talking to me about professional wrestling. I wasn’t a wrestling fan myself. I didn’t become a fan until I got into it. I was more interested in playing professional football. Then Joe Blanchard started talking to be about the money that I could be making in professional wrestling. So for me it was money. I saw a better future for myself and hopefully for my family. And it turned out to be the best thing I ever did.
On working in Madison Square Garden and Houston Coliseum:
Well with Madison Square Garden, I got advice from different wrestlers who told me it’s probably the hardest place to get over. It was hard; you really had to earn the fans. My first time walking into Madison Square Garden, I was shocked at the amount of people. It was over 20,000 people. I had never wrestled in front of 20,000 people. Although, I had wrestled some big matches in Houston. To me, the biggest breaks and biggest notoriety in my early career came from Paul Boesch who gave me the opportunity to wrestle against Nick Bockwinkel for the world title. Houston to me was what made my name.
On who he would have wanted to feud with in the WWF:
I wish I would have had a feud against Mr. Wonderful. To me, Mr. Wonderful was the best heel that I had great chemistry with. He had great heat and he was a great performer. I wanted to have that opportunity. But he had a temper on him and he didn’t put up with the promoters and he would tell them off and that’s why I didn’t get that opportunity to feud with him. But to me, he was the ultimate heel.
If he preferred to be a singles or tag team competitor:
I preferred being a singles wrestler. I didn’t have to rely on anybody else but myself. I was very work-conscience, I always took a lot of pride in being a role model, I wanted to represent all the Hispanics all over the world. I saw a lot of tag teams where if one of the partners messed up, it would hurt the team. By me wrestling singles, I knew that the only person I had to worry about was myself. But when I got teamed up with Rick Martel and they made us into Strike Force, I was teamed up with another first-class guy who was very reliable and very talented. We had chemistry from day one and we got over real fast. And I wish it had lasted longer but it didn’t.
On the ethnic diversity in the WWF locker-room:
I think that anybody who has ever played in sports understands that when you’re in a team, everybody gets along. You’re a brother, you’re a teammate. And everybody is accepted no matter what nationality you are, what color you are. When the expansion of the WWF started taking place, Vince McMahon went and got the best Mexican he could find, he got the best black man, who was Junk Yard Dog, he went and got the best Canadian, the best Iranian. You name it, he had it. And there was no animosity, everybody was a pro. We were all working for one goal and that was to grow the sport. We took a lot of pride and there were so many great workers back then. We always went out there with the intent to steal the show. We worked hard.
On the current state of pro wrestling:
It’s changed forever. Vince McMahon will tell you that it’s a tv show. When I was wrestling, he would say it was a wrestling show. So there’s a big difference. Now it’s about entertainment. Back then you would see an hour show and it would be forty minutes of wrestling and twenty minutes of interviews. Now you see the opposite, you see twenty minutes of wrestling and forty minutes of talking. They have writers and the wrestlers are told what to say. We just spoke from the heart, it was something that we felt. If somebody tell me to say something, you know, I’m not an actor, so it would be hard to come across like something I really felt.
On there being a moment or accomplishment that he appreciates more now, than when it happened:
Well, when I got inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. When WWE first made contact and told me that they were going to induct me into the Hall of Fame, I had never really realized the importance that it meant to me and to the fans, to be acknowledged as one of the best in professional wrestling. I didn’t realize that until the night of the induction. When I saw all the people that were there from all over the world. It was very touching and it’s a moment that I realized was very important.
On being a middle school coach and teacher:
I got my degree from college, then I went on to play football for a couple years. Started out with the Chiefs then went to Canada. Then got into professional wrestling and did that for 17 years. I retired from the WWF and I was still pretty young and I had my degree. And it was my wife who steered me into becoming a teacher. When I was in high school I was actually a better basketball player than football player. The principal wanted me to coach wrestling but I knew professional wrestling, I didn’t know amateur wrestling. So a couple days later, he came up and said “how about basketball?” So I said yeah. I know basketball. I was a very good coach. I really could get the most out of the kids and the kids really enjoyed playing for me. It was my eighth grade gym coach who got me into sports. I never forgot and that coach made a big difference in my life. I could have gone south but the minuet I got involved with sports, my life changed, That’s why I decided to major in education. I know what he meant to me and I wanted touch students lives. And I know that I’ve made a difference in a lot of lives already. The kids know that I care about them. They know when you care. I try to steer them in the right direction and I know that I’ve made a difference throughout the years.
On his upcoming appearance for the Clutch City Productions Sports and Celebrity SuperShow in Houston on:
People are going to be able to interact with me there as much as they want. That’s why I still enjoy doing things like that. There’s going to be other big time wrestlers that are going to be there. It’s going to be a great opportunity for a lot of fans to come out and meet all these wrestlers but I hope they come to see me first and then go see the other guys. I do love talking to the fans and I can’t say how many times that fans have come up with stories that I had totally forgotten. But they remember. And to me, the fans made me. And it’s always so nice to see the joy that they have whenever they get the opportunity to talk to me. I truly care for the fans and I don’t blow them off. I talk to the fans and I enjoy hearing their stories and I’m so grateful for their support. The fans made Tito Santana.
The full episode with the entire interview can be heard on: