Ring Rust Radio recently spoke to Lucha Underground talent Ivelisse Velez for a new interview. You can check out submitted highlights below, or the full podcast at this link, and above.
Ring Rust Radio: As one of the top stars on the Lucha Underground roster, regardless of gender, you have built a hardcore following amongst wrestling fans. How did you originally decide to sign with Lucha and how has your life changed since making the jump?
Ivelisse: It all started when Konan brought Lucha Underground to my attention. After that I was contacted by Eric Van Wagenen who was the producer of Tough Enough. That pretty much solidified to me that this was legit and I wanted to look into it. It made me feel pretty comfortable having familiar faces asking me to come give Lucha Underground a shot especially since I had a pretty good experience working with Eric at Tough Enough. So I took the leap of faith and so far it’s been one of the best things that ever happened to me. Not just on a professional level, but also a personal level because I have been treated very well while being here.
Ring Rust Radio: This season on Lucha Underground you've joined forces with Sami Callihan aka Jeremiah, and while the two of you haven't had an official match together yet, there's definite chemistry and your characters seem to mesh really well together already. What is it that allows the two of you to work so well together and what can Lucha fans expect out of the pairing moving forward?
Ivelisse: I think the fact that ever since he came into the picture it truly was fun to work with him. He is very talented and has a lot of character. It transcended pretty quickly into our characters, and I’m not necessarily 100 percent ecstatic about having to fulfill a girlfriend role per se, but nonetheless it was very easy and fun to work with them. I think the reason our characters mesh pretty easily together is because he has a very intense persona and mine is pretty intense as well. I think that we clicked pretty quickly between us especially in the acting parts between us and the scenes. There are moments that the film crew was even like, “Whoa, that felt so real and that was really intense.” I think also because we have been through similar trajectories coming from the Indies and having some experience with WWE that helped us click as well. I think all of those elements together helped us click on a personal level and a character level.
Ring Rust Radio: Lucha Underground is our most anticipated show each week. As somebody who is actually part of the product and a major reason the show has been so successful, what do you think makes Lucha Underground such a special company?
Ivelisse: The fact that they are not afraid at all to be different and unique. They are not afraid at all to do things differently and to try out things to see how they work instead of a sticking to the set formula on how to do things in wrestling. More importantly, I think they really show their appreciation for the work that the talent does. From the crew that puts everything together to the roster, there is a very big appreciation from everyone involved. I think it makes it that much more special of a product.
Ring Rust Radio: For some “highly-respected” pundits, the intergender matches for Lucha Underground detract from the product. What do you say to those who question letting you square off against male competitors, and in the same vein, what advice would you offer to younger female wrestlers who have to hear the same criticism?
Ivelisse: The thing is they are two completely different things. WWE is a completely different product than Lucha Underground even though they are based on sports entertainment. WWE is using wrestling as a form of entertainment, but through the realistic aspect of wrestling. That is what they’ve done for a very long time. I prefer to bring as much realism to my wrestling performance as much as possible. With Lucha Underground, they’re doing something completely and entirely different. They are wrestling to entertain, but they’re doing it from a completely different aspect. They are doing it from more of a theatrical matter. Like when you watch movies, you see women fighting men all the time. Whether it’s superheroes or really skilled female fighters, it’s completely acceptable and it’s something that has been going on for very long time. It’s two completely different ways of going about the entertainment you are watching. Neither is wrong because they’re both entertainment they are just two different ways of entertaining. For those people that love the theatrical sense of wrestling will gravitate towards Lucha Underground feel which has the superhero feel and movie like feel to it. The ones who still feel like the realistic part of wrestling is what they prefer would be hesitant towards changing to Lucha Underground. It’s good and the fact that Lucha Underground is given a different aspect on how to watch the product of wrestling and how it’s presented. My advice to younger aspiring female wrestlers who will face these problems in the future is have a good understanding of what wrestling is and have a neutral perspective and learn how to adapt to the audience. That’s what it really comes down to.