Nunzio enjoys 'greatest moment of his WWE career'
Nunzio was out.
He had just been caught with the Juvi Driver, and despite the roar to rise from the sold-out crowd in the Sports Palace of Rome, things looked terribly bleak. But rather than cover his opponent, Juventud chose to instead taunt the Italian fans who had been ceaselessly chanting Nunzio's name since the match began. It was a mistake the Cruiserweight Champion couldn't afford to make. When Juventud returned his attention to Nunzio, he was already stirring. So, the solo Mexicool member lifted Nunzio up for a second Juvi Driver. But this time, Nunzio was ready; he reversed the finisher into a backslide and sent the fans into a frenzy by gaining the three-count.
Just like that, Nunzio became the new Cruiserweight Champion. In doing so he shocked Juventud and exceeded even his own goals and expectations by winning back the title just a little more than a month after a sour defeat at No Mercy. And the victory couldn't have been any sweeter — winning in the country where they fill the stands to see him perform.
WWE.com caught up with Nunzio via satellite phone as he was on the bus and on the way to his first live event on this European tour as the new Cruiserweight Champion:
WWE.com: Congratulations, Nunzio. What was it like winning the Cruiserweight Championship in Italy?
Nunzio: Being in Italy — in front of my own home people — and having 10,000 fans cheer your name and wanting you to win the belt, it was totally off the wall. Those people just got behind me. It was so exciting. Where else would be a better place for Nunzio to win the Cruiserweight Championship than Italy? So, that is definitely a feather in my cap, and it's probably — as of now — the biggest thing that ever happened in my wrestling career. Just winning the championship in Italy is definitely the greatest moment of my WWE career.
WWE.com: What were the atmosphere and fan support like?
Nunzio: The fan support was unbelievable. There's nothing like having a packed arena chanting your name. That doesn't happen to me everywhere I go. Some guys, it happens to them everywhere they go, but for me, when I come to Italy, it's a different feeling for me. I look forward to it. The fans show so much appreciation toward me and want me to do well. In Italy, they want the Italians to win. The atmosphere was amazing.
The building was sold out, and one point after the match, I jumped into the crowd. I was in the people, they were all surrounding me, patting me on the shoulders and trying to get quick pictures with me, and they really took care of me. And I wanted to jump into the crowd to show them my appreciation. I went in the crowd because I didn't just want to go back to the dressing room. I wanted them to get a chance to connect with me and touch the belt if they wanted to. I wanted to give back, and the only way I could give back is to do stuff like that. Hopefully, that was the highlight for them, just like it was the highlight for me winning the Cruiserweight Championship in Italy.
WWE.com: What was the celebration like?
Nunzio: Well, this was a solo one-on-one match. There were no Mexicools at ringside and no Vito. So, after the match, Vito came running down the aisle. It happened so fast that at first, I actually thought it was a fan. He just dove on top of me, then picked me up on his shoulders and carried me around the ring to show how proud he was of me. The people were going ballistic. Then, I was about to go back to the dressing room, but I saw all the people reaching over the rail trying to see me and touch the belt, so, I said to myself, "What the hell? I'll go into the crowd."
These people support me — 10,000 fans chanting me name for the past 12 minutes — it was my way of giving back to them. So, I went in the crowd and celebrated with my fans.
WWE.com: Did you think you'd bounce back and regain the championship so soon?
Nunzio: No. I didn't expect to bounce back quite so soon. But I knew I wasn't going to give up no matter what. I'm resilient, and if I ever lose it again, there's nothing to say that I won't win it back again in the next two weeks. I held the championship for about two months the first time, and I only lost it a few weeks ago. Coming into Italy, all those people just fired me up. I felt unbeatable.
WWE.com: What are some highlights of your trip to Europe so far? Have you had time to do any traveling around, or has it been all work?
Nunzio: We had a chance to walk around, so we went to see the Coliseum. We got a chance to look at it, but there was an hour wait to get inside. That's it, really. We just arrived yesterday. I had a couple hours to walk around, but I also had to do a couple interviews. We did the show, we flew out this morning, and when we landed I had to go straight to a TV appearance. That took about an hour, and now I'm on the bus to the next event. But it's definitely been a great experience.
WWE.com: What do you expect from the show tonight — getting to come out as the Cruiserweight Champion? There may be some fans who haven't yet heard the news that you won the title on this European tour.
Nunzio: Well, I don't know if all the people tonight will know. But I'll tell you what: The Internet is strong because when I got off the last bus coming here, there were people congratulating me already on winning the championship. Now, that happened in Rome, Italy, so the only reason people would know that is from reading what you've put on WWE.com. But for the people who haven't looked on the Internet recently, it's going to be a great surprise for them when I come out with the championship, and I just can't wait to see the reaction and see how the people take to me. This event we're going to now is sold out as well, so I'm really looking forward to it. Whether they've heard the news or not, it's going to be a treat and it's certainly a treat for me.
WWE.com: We know a lot of fans have been paying tribute to Eddie Guerrero overseas, and we know it was difficult for many Superstars to board an International flight so soon after Eddie's death. What has that been like for you, and what has the mood be like on the trip and in the arenas?
Nunzio: Well, a lot of people were very upset from the news. But, you know, we had a meeting and discussed the travel situation, but we just had to go back to work and go on the road. We did what Eddie Guerrero probably wanted us to do. He wouldn't want everybody to not go to work and to just sit around. He would want everybody to move on with their lives but always keep Eddie Guerrero in your mind — you know, gone but not forgotten.
He'll never be forgotten in the WWE dressing room. There's so many stories and so many different times people bring up his name. As long as you keep bringing up his name and talking about him, he'll always be around in WWE.
The guys are serious when they say that they'll never forget him. He was a role model. He did some bad things in the past, but he's a role model because he didn't hide it. He came out and told everybody what he did because he wanted people to learn from his experiences. Unfortunately, even though he totally cleaned up his act for four years, the damage was already done to his body and it caught up with him. But everyone here has Eddie in the back of our minds, and we all have to go to work and do our thing, but he'll never be forgotten.
We had a 10-bell salute. We're going to do the same thing tonight. I'll tell you what: The people appreciate him so much. As soon as we walked in the building — the busses were pulling in yesterday — and fans in line were chanting, "Eddie, Eddie!" People were filing into the building before the show even started and there were "Eddie!" chants. As they were coming in, you'd here the "Eddie!" chants and as the arena go fuller, the chants got louder and louder. And by the time the bell rang, they were just off the hook so loud chanting his name. Eddie Guerrero will never be forgotten, no matter what country we travel to. He made an impact on so many peoples' lives. He entertained so many people. He was one of a kind, and he'll never be forgotten because there was only one Eddie Guerrero.