From Havana to WWE

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August 26, 2006

As you probably know, his name is Armando Alejandro Estr-r-r-r-ada (note the rolling ‘r'). But what you may not know is that long before he arrived on RAW back in April, Estrada immigrated to the United States from Cuba at the ripe age of 13…no, 14…19? Maybe it was 13?

When WWE.com spoke to Estrada, he couldn't recall the exact age at which he came to America as a teen -- in true fashion of the shifty RAW Superstar. He did, however, say that his journey from Cuba to the United States to WWE was facilitated by a very powerful dictator.

"I grew up in Havana, pero, I'm not going to lie…I didn't come from the streets. My parents had a lot of -- como se dice -- ‘connections' to a man named Fidel Castro," said Estrada, dancing between English and Spanish idioms. "My family was very well connected to Uncle Fidel. It was pretty stringent to come into this country, pero, we had a few -- like I said -- connections, so it made getting over here a little bit easier."

Estrada explained that his parents' questionable connections allowed him to "live the good life" in Havana, though the same could not be said for all of the Estrada kin.

"My parents supported me," Estrada said, "I didn't come up from a broken home. On the other hand, my Uncle Manuel is still down in the cornfields in Cuba. But that's okay because I only care about myself, amigo…and Umaga, because he makes me money."

According to the Cuban Superstar, he brought the Samoan Bulldozer to RAW so that he could achieve stardom, but also to reap the financial benefits of managing such a dominant monster.

"As you can see," said a grinning Estrada, "I enjoy the finest clothes, I like the finest women, I make the finest decisions, and I drive the finest automobiles, amigo. I enjoy the finer things in life; fine wine, fine women, fine cigars, fine everything. Ha ha!" he added with his trademark chuckle.

Perhaps in support of his native countrymen, Estrada said that of those finer things he enjoys, the most treasured luxuries are his Cuban cigars.

"I had my first cigar when I graduated from middle school," Estrada remembered. "My first cigar, I would have to say, was on a warm summer night. She was blonde and -- oh, cigar, oh, I thought you meant chica. Amigo, the best cigar that's still on the market now is the Cohiba. The Cohibas are made from…I don't know what they're made from, but they taste good, okay."

Estrada told WWE.com that nothing compares to the sensation of enjoying a good Cohiba while knowing that he controls RAW's undefeated savage, Umaga.

"What do I like best about Cohibas?" posed Estrada. "Ah, the aroma. The coughing the next day. Smelling like an ash tray. The flavor of a cigar is what makes a real man," he said.

In a vein of nostalgia, Estrada reflected on the days before he first encountered Umaga, when he would watch WWE from his television set in Havana. In thinking back, Estrada said that the one thing he misses the most about his early days in Cuba is his beloved pet, Bessie.

"I had a cow," said Estrada. "It said ‘moo.' It mooed a lot. It's not here anymore because I killed it. I miss Bessie, but I got hungry. I like a lot of steak…carne asada. Ha ha! But that was then, and this is now, amigo. My name es Armando Alejandro Es -- eh, you know the rest -- and I'm going to take this Samoan bulldozer, Umaga, straight to the top of WWE!"

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