Hacking into the mystery of Max Moon with the legendary Konnan
As many sports-entertainment fans came of age during the early 1990s, WWE began to prepare for the post-Hogan era by introducing a host of new faces into the squared circle spotlight. Max Moon, with his eye-catching bodysuit and impressive special-effects-charged entrance, was, perhaps, the persona most representative of the colorful period. Straight out of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, the spaceman who hailed from “Outer Space” burst onto television screens as the brainchild of Mexican wrestling legend Konnan.
WWE poured thousands of dollars into the creation of Max Moon — originally called The Comet Kid — but after the young rookie was plagued by backstage controversy, Tom Boric — aka Paul Diamond — assumed the costume. As Max Moon, Boric wrestled Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Championship on the debut episode of Raw while Konnan sat at home in Mexico. A short time later, Max Moon disappeared entirely.
What happened to one of the most highly anticipated and expensive personas in WWE history and why did the lucha icon abruptly leave the organization? For the first time in more than 20 years, WWE spoke with Konnan about Max Moon’s surprising fate. 3… 2… 1… Get ready for blast off.
WWECLASSICS.COM: How did you arrive at WWE?
KONNAN: I was in WCW at the time. I had wrestled in the Pat O’Connor Memorial Cup, which was a tag team tournament with different guys from around the world. Rick & Scott Steiner were in there. There were two Russian amateur wrestlers that had gone to the Olympics. I was there representing Mexico with Rey Mysterio, Sr., who was my teacher and Rey Mysterio’s uncle. Ole Anderson was the [producer] who had just been fired and Jim Ross was the interim guy. Jim Ross told me, “We want you to stay here. We’re thinking of putting you in a tag team with Brian Pillman.” I stayed there, but while I was working with them, Pat Patterson called me from WWE. I really didn’t want to go to WWE, because I had grown up in Miami, and all I ever grew up watching was NWA.
WWECLASSICS.COM: What changed your mind?
KONNAN: Pat Patterson called me on New Year’s Eve and told me to come there. He said, “It doesn’t hurt. We’ll pick you up in a limo.” Ole Anderson was rude and very rough to deal with. Pat just seemed very nice and I had never been in a limo. The same day I got to Stamford, Conn., Paul Bearer was also there waiting. I had an incredible conversation with Vince [McMahon]. He was very engaging and charming. He was awesome. I’ll never forget this. He was so sure of himself. He said, “It doesn’t matter if you sign with us now. Sooner or later, you will sign up with us.” That type of bravado and being so sure in the way he said it, that sold me.
WWECLASSICS.COM: Where did the idea for the Max Moon character come from?
KONNAN: Here I was a Hispanic bi-lingual wrestler in 1991 and back then they didn’t know how important the Latin demographic was. In no way did me being Hispanic ever come up. We were just shooting around ideas and I told him that when I was wrestling in Japan, I saw this Japanese anime cartoon robot on TV that shot confetti and fire. He asked if I knew anybody that could design it. By chance, I knew a guy in Los Angeles who was a designer. Vince is a merchandising genius and he loved it. I told him I wanted to fly into the ring.
WWECLASSICS.COM: What was your schedule like once WWE signed you to a contract?
KONNAN: I was working in Mexico at the time, so I had to pick up the outfit in Los Angeles, then fly from Los Angeles with four or five big boxes with the robot head, arms, legs and chest piece to wherever we were going. I specifically remember, one time, we had at a show at the Cape Cod Melody Tent. So I flew from Los Angeles to Boston, waited for the boxes, got a cab, put the boxes in the cab and then drove from Boston to Cape Cod and got all of the boxes unloaded. It was a pain.
WWECLASSICS.COM: What happened once you got to each arena with the costume?
KONNAN: Vince would come out to the ring with me and would watch me walk like a robot in the costume. He said, “I want you to dance.” And I thought, “This guy’s gotta be kidding me.” And he said, “I said dance!” So I danced in the outfit. Little did I know at the time, this was spurring a lot of jealousy with the other wrestlers, because Vince didn’t spend that much time doing anything like that with anybody. And he invested $13,000 in this outfit. That was a lot of money back then. The wheels had already begun turning in some wrestlers’ heads. That was part of the reason I got fired, but it was also my own undoing.
WWECLASSICS.COM: What were some of the other reasons why you left WWE?
KONNAN: Because I knew English, Vince assumed I knew how to wrestle American style. He put me in the ring with some American wrestlers, but I couldn’t have good matches, so he let me bring wrestlers from Mexico to wrestle with me. They were even going to call me Latin Fury. I didn’t care what they were going to call me. I just thought it was a really cool looking outfit. It was very futuristic. But what ended up happening was I started to get tired of lugging all these boxes to WWE events. At the same time, business was starting to pick up for me in Mexico.
WWECLASSICS.COM: You were a top star in Mexico while you were under contract with WWE?
KONNAN: Yes. I was also in a soap opera. Due to the popularity of that, my popularity was really big in Mexico. I just thought, “What do I care if I go to WWE or not? I’m making a lot of money here in Mexico.” It was a telenovela for kids called “El abuelo y yo” [“The Grandfather and I”]. Gael Garcia Bernal was in it as a little kid, and so was Diego Luna.
WWECLASSICS.COM: Who were some of the luchadors from Mexico that WWE brought in to work with you?
KONNAN: They brought in this guy called Rambo, who was Luis Mendieta or Pepe Mendieta and they called him The Mercenary. I wrestled him as Relamapago. They brought in Jerry Estrada, Art Barr and other guys I met through Art Barr.
WWECLASSICS.COM: Who were some of the wrestlers in WWE that took issue with you?
KONNAN: I had a problem with The Nasty Boys. I almost got into a fight with one of them. That got me into trouble with Pat Patterson. Here I was, this guy coming from Mexico who wasn’t on the road with them. I was a smaller guy getting all this attention from Vince. He invested all this money and time. Vince had told me, whenever I got to an arena, to have somebody else pay for the cab. One day, Arnold Skaaland, who was a WWE old-timer and was in the Marines, came out and I asked, “Who’s going to pay for this?” When I was in WCW, Scott Hall admitted to me that he and Shawn Michaels went to Vince and said, “Can you believe Konnan? He came in here all pretentious.” I was just young, happy, naïve and dumb. But they twisted it. Scott told me that later.
WWECLASSICS.COM: That’s why WWE let you go?
KONNAN: I didn’t even know that at the time. What I did know was I was tired of lugging all those boxes around. I would have stayed in WWE, but I was doing so well in Mexico. Wrestling was so hot in Mexico, because they had lifted this 30-year ban on wrestling on TV in Mexico City. I was able to capitalize on that wrestling boom. I was wrestling three times in one day on many weekends. The amount of work was incredible. It was like when Raw and Nitro were going head-to-head and there was work for everybody.
WWECLASSICS.COM: How many times did you actually appear as the Max Moon character on television?
KONNAN: To be honest with you, I don’t know which ones ever came out on TV. I was in Mexico and didn’t live in the United States or watch WWE on TV. I was busy doing my own thing. I do remember I wrestled Louie Spicolli, who specifically told me that Chief Jay Strongbow used to always say about me, “What is that? I don’t understand that style.” Back then, nobody had really seen lucha libre. Everybody was like, “What are we watching here?”
WWECLASSICS.COM: What do you think changed the perception of lucha libre in America?
KONNAN: When I first brought the Mexicans to WCW in 1996, Rey [Mysterio] came into the dressing room and everybody was making fun of him. They were saying, “Is there gonna be a midget division?” I told Rey, “I want you to represent Mexico and lucha libre, show what you got and close their mouths.” He was lucky, because his first match was against Dean Malenko. He was such a good professional. Everybody backstage went to watch on the monitor. First Hulk [Hogan], then “Macho” [Man Randy Savage], then everybody went there. In the four years I was in WCW, I only saw this happen twice. When Rey and Dean came backstage, everybody gave them a standing ovation. The only other time I saw that happen was when Eddie Guerrero wrestled Rey Mysterio in Las Vegas at Halloween Havoc. When those Mexicans came in and did all that wild [stuff], it was an exciting different style.
WWECLASSICS.COM: The Max Moon character was so colorful, it was very reminiscent of lucha libre. Was the character your way of introducing lucha to the United States?
KONNAN: The character, not so much. I just thought the robot was different and something that had never been seen before. The colorfulness was, of course, inspired by the Mexican culture. All I knew how to do in the ring was lucha libre. As presumptuous as this might sound, if I did not have success in Mexico and had stayed in WWE, Max Moon would have been a success.
WWECLASSICS.COM: So how did WWE decide to give the Max Moon character to Paul Diamond?
KONNAN: I heard from Tito Santana that one day, Paul Diamond went up to Vince and said, “I fit into that outfit.” Tito called me and asked me to send Paul Diamond the boots. I was like, “He can find his own boots.” Next thing I know, he was doing my gimmick, but part of my gimmick was I did lucha, which Paul Diamond didn’t. They gave the gimmick to him and Pat Patterson called to fire me.
WWECLASSICS.COM: What were your thoughts when you saw Paul Diamond as the Max Moon character on the historic first episode of Raw in New York City? Was there any jealousy on your part?
KONNAN: I never saw any of it. I was too busy making money in Mexico. I was like John Cena is now. It bothered me when I found out someone else was doing my gimmick, because it was my idea, but when he failed, I can’t tell you there wasn’t a part of me that was glad he did. But they had every right to fire me when I started missing TV tapings.
WWECLASSICS.COM: Have you spoken to Mr. McMahon since you left WWE?
KONNAN: I went to visit Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio and saw him backstage in San Diego in 2005. He came up to me and said, “Hey, how’s it going, Konnan?” He shook my hand and that was it. I couldn’t believe it. I thought he didn’t like me, because I never get mentioned in anything.
WWECLASSICS.COM: Is there any part of you that regrets the way you handled your time in WWE?
KONNAN: I would never had been as big as I was in Mexico, and who knows what I would have done in WWE. To tell you the truth, I really believe X-Pac took my place when I left. If I had stayed in WWE at that stage, I was so immature and easily influenced, it would not have been a good move. In a way, I’m glad I didn’t. That’s the truth.