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Oscar Vasquez carries lucha libre heritage into NXT
It’s not easy for any one individual to stand out among NXT’s latest crop of recruits, a stellar lineup spanning a multitude of diverse but equally impressive pedigrees. Yet, conspicuous in all of the photos touting the WWE Performance Center newcomers is 6-foot-1, 210-pound Oscar Vasquez of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. You’ll recognize him as the NXT signee who wears a mask.
Far from an attempt at anonymity or subterfuge, the 15-year veteran of the Mexican and American independent wrestling scenes chooses to wear the mask to symbolize his lucha libre heritage. In this exclusive Q&A, Vasquez discusses his arrival at the Performance Center, his thoughts on lucha libre’s place in the WWE landscape, and his goals to become a champion in WWE.
WWE.COM: Congratulations on your signing. You’ve been at the WWE Performance Center for a few weeks so far. How’s it going?
OSCAR VASQUEZ: it’s been great. It’s been now two months, and it’s been a great experience. It’s what I always wanted to do.
WWE.COM: What was your entry into sports-entertainment?
VASQUEZ: I began watching when I was a little kid, six or seven years old. In Juárez there is a place called Gimnasio Municipal Josué Neri Santos, which is very well known for lucha libre. That’s where Eddie Guerrero and Hector Guerrero got started, where many stars from Mexico started. There used to be lucha libre every Thursday and Sunday, and my brother, who’s three years older than me, used to take me both of those days. Finally, when I was 13 or 14 years old, one day my brother came into the house and said “Let’s go train lucha libre,” and I was like, “I’m in!”
My main trainer ended up being Hector Rincon, who was Guerrero’s childhood friend from El Paso, Texas. He was trained at the same time as Eddie Guerrero; he got trained by Chavo Guerrero and Mr. Gory Guerrero. Hector and Eddie went to school together and were in the same class together.
WWE.COM: You’ve spent much of your career in Mexico. How would you describe lucha libre to those who aren’t familiar with it, and what aspects do you hope to carry with you in NXT?
VASQUEZ: Lucha libre involves a lot of highflying maneuvers. You see people flying from the top rope to the floor. I do a lot of highflying. I can do a backflip off the top rope, I can do a front flip. I can fly toward the outside of the ring. But in the meantime, I can also bring my opponents to the ground. I can adapt to any style, too. If my opponent is bigger than me, I will bring him down using backflips, front flips, whatever it takes.
WWE.COM: We’ve only seen you so far in photos wearing your mask. That’s the same mask you used when you competed under the name Magno, correct?
WWE.COM: Can you explain the significance?
VASQUEZ: The name Magno means something big, something magnificent. I don’t know how to say it in English, but it basically means something brilliant. This is the third mask design I’ve used. If you turn it sideways, there’s an “M” wrapped around the eye.
WWE.COM: Is it your intention to compete under a mask in NXT or WWE?
VASQUEZ: If it’s possible, I would like to, because I represent lucha libre, but I’m open to any decisions that WWE has.
WWE.COM: You’re part of the WWE Performance Center’s most international class to date. What does it mean to you to be part of this group?
VASQUEZ: It’s great to be part of it, especially because I believe this is the first time this type of class has been done here [at the Performance Center]. This class was scouted and there are people from all over the world — Serbia, Mexico, Germany, the U.S., Australia. It’s a pretty big thing. Obviously, I’m doing my 100%, because I always represent Mexico. I’m Mexican-American. I have dual citizenship but I was born and raised in Mexico. I’m proud to represent my country.
WWE.COM: Now that you’re training at the Performance Center, what challenges have you identified for yourself?
VASQUEZ: It hasn't been hard. I’m taking it day by day, because I know I’ve been doing lucha libre for 15 years. I can do American wrestling but I don’t know the names of the moves. I’m trying to adjust. I didn’t know what an arm drag is, because in Mexico we call it something else. I’m trying to adjust to that. I can do everything, but I don’t know the names yet. [Laughs]
WWE.COM: Have you had a chance yet to train under Norman Smiley, who has a similar background in lucha libre?
VASQUEZ: Yes! I’m in his class now. I only spent a week in the first class and they moved me up to the second class, which is with Mr. Norman Smiley.
WWE.COM: Did you ever watch him compete as Black Magic in Mexico?
VASQUEZ: Yes. I used to watch lucha libre and especially CMLL, which he was part of, every Friday. The thing is, I met him when I was 14, 15 years old, when I had my first matches. I just moved to Orlando completely with my family, and I’m looking for a photo I have with him. I’m going to bring him that for sure.
WWE.COM: Did you watch American wrestling growing up, too?
VASQUEZ: I watched a lot of WCW before, when it was still on, and then I watched some WWE. I used to watch Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio and stuff like that. For WWE, I watched The Hardy Boys, “Stone Cold,” The Rock, Mankind.
WWE.COM: You mentioned Guerrero vs. Mysterio. Back in the ‘90s, WCW had a huge influx of luchadors. Do you think it’s time for lucha libre to again have a larger influence on the product?
VASQUEZ: We can do it, if we want it enough. That’s what I like about this company, because WWE doesn’t close the doors to anyone. It leaves the door open to anyone that wants to work and really has that attitude to do the work, and if we all want, we can do that again. We can take it to that level again.
WWE.COM: Are you familiar with some of the other luchadors under contract, such as Kalisto and Sin Cara?
VASQUEZ: I’ve seen Kalisto here three or four times already and I met him before when he was here in NXT, before becoming a WWE Superstar. Sin Cara is my friend from Juarez also. He and I did a lot of tag matches, and for a time we wrestled against each other, one on one. I haven’t seen him yet since coming here.
WWE.COM: Who on the NXT roster would you want to wrestle first?
VASQUEZ: I would say anyone. I need to take down whoever I need to, so I can go to the next level. My main goal here is to become a WWE Superstar and become a champion or do the best of my career here.
WWE.COM: Any parting words for the NXT Universe as far as what they should expect from you?
VASQUEZ: Keep an eye out for me and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I’m going to bring my own style.