Kalisto had been with WWE since 2013 and found moderate success during his time in the company, winning the NXT Tag Team Titles and the WWE United States Title.
In 2018, he formed a partnership with Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado with the trio becoming known as The Lucha House Party. In December 2019, Kalisto suffered a shoulder injury, and though he came back looking better than ever in August 2020, it was a tough start to the year for him.
“I think that we all need a break, getting a break from social media and the world, and think about yourself and finding out who you are. For me, it started in 2019, when I was in another place mentally because I had a lot of things that were annoying me. It started when my wife was diagnosed by the doctors with a Tumor in the brain, so I spent like one and a half to two months waiting on the result of the diagnosis where I was working on TV without knowing what was going to happen with my wife. I do what I do and I am good what I do in doing wrestling and showing that to the world, but I was not in a good place and I was blocking myself from improving. We got back the diagnosis and, thankfully, everything was fine; however, I got injured from my shoulder and I spent about 8 months out. From everything that happened, I got away and I told myself that I was going to improve. The ironic part was that I signed a new deal in 2019 and I got injured the Friday after signing. I also had a big fever which I believe was COVID. I went to the hospital and I got temperatures upwards of 105 degrees, but I did not know if it was or not. I spent like 7 days being extremely sick and I could not go anywhere during that time as it was when the COVID lockdown started and it got me hard," Kalisto recalled in an interview with Lucha Libre Online (translation via Luis Pulido).
Kalisto continued by saying, "I was not in a good place, but I focused on myself and changed my whole flow. I changed my body, my looks, and my promos, in which I got help from Hollywood writers to help me compose them, so I came back ready to go. I wanted to throw everything at the table because I wanted to come back better than ever because I was hungry for more. I had a vision of myself because I wanted to be better and I came back and it did not go that well."
After being split from the Lucha House Party in the 2020 WWE Draft, Kalisto wrestled just twice, both times in battle royal matches, before being released in April.
"A lot of things changed, but that’s the business for you and I understand, but I felt good because I did everything I could and I had time to get away and appreciate everything I did and now I cannot wait to see what else I can achieve outside of WWE. I would like to come back if they call me, but I am hungry on trying new projects, including LuchaEats, a collaboration with Candela Labs who are a CVD Company, and Lucha-University. Like I was saying, all of that happened and I feel good and I want more, but it was rough going," he said.
Reflecting on his time in WWE and his release, Kalisto had fond memories, including a story of how he inspired a little girl during his run.
"I got here with a lot of motivation, but I understand the nature of the business and how it is," admitted Kalisto. "I did not see it coming, but I felt that something was going to happened as I threw everything on the table. I wanted to improve on everything and I wanted my promos to hit home, so I practiced a ton because I was focused. It hit me hard because I worked, struggled, and even passed out on trying to be better, including staying up until 3-4 in the morning practicing and I was doing my best. When stuff like this happens in life I learned that it’s fine. I spent a little time because I wanted to work on myself and look at what I learned, which was a lot. I give thanks to WWE because it’s because of them that I got the chance to show the world my wrestling and everything I can do and I feel thankful for the opportunities they gave me. I wanted to go to the Red Carpets as a Latino, whether that be on the Grammys, Televisa, Telemundo, and many others with my wife because we are the Lucha-Family because that was my goal, even if I wasn’t on programming consistently."
Kalito continued by saying, "My goal was always to become a star outside the company by selling an image and that started when a fan approached, back when I was United States Champion in a Tour in Mexico, when a little girl had the entire Kalisto gear. I was shocked when she told me that 'I am not a fan of Wrestling, but I am a fan of your chant (Lucha Lucha).' I asked her why, and she told me that she was inspired by me doing the chant and how I worked my butt off every match. She told me 'When you come from underneath to win the match, that inspired me because I want to be a doctor.' That is what I work for, that is what I want my impact to be. It’s not just about wrestling, I want to show around the world that every person can put on a mask and say that they are hope, they are Lucha because you worked for it and you have earned it. When the little girl told me that, I wanted to go outside of the company and make a bigger impact, even if I was on regular programming like I was in 2016.”
Elsewhere during the interview, Kalisto revealed Vince McMahon's reaction to seeing his new look upon his return in 2020. You can find his full comments by clicking here.
He recently filed to trademark "Samuray del Sol" for merchandising purposes. Kalisto is scheduled to compete on July 31 on the same card as Andrade El Idolo vs. Alberto Del Rio.
If you use any of the quotes above, please credit the original source with a h/t to Fightful and Luis Pulido for the translation.