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By Mike Johnson on 2020-10-26 09:28:00

With her podcast Chasing Glory making the leap to the WWE Network, longtime WWE personality Lilian Garcia sat down with this past Friday to discuss a myriad of topics about her time in and around World Wrestling Entertainment and beyond.  Transcript by Billy Krotchsen.

Mike Johnson: While we are getting closer to Halloween, we are also inching closer to this Monday, October 26th when the longtime, beloved WWE ring announcer and personality Lilian Garcia will see her long running Chasing Glory podcast leap from your ears to your streaming screens as it debuts on the free version of the WWE Network. We are here with Lilian and, madame - I hope you are doing well in these crazy times, but also exciting times for you. So how are you?

Lilian Garcia: Wow, amazing! What an introduction! Thank you!

Mike Johnson: You are very welcome. So you've been doing the podcast for quite a while, where you sit down with different WWE personalities and kinda go a little in depth about their backgrounds prior to arriving on WWE screens. Obviously, being brought into the WWE fold on the WWE Network is going to increase your audience exponentially. How did this all come about and how excited are you for this leap?

Lilian Garcia: I am extremely excited, first of all, I have to say that. You said it - it's going to be seen by more people and I'm just, I'm thrilled for that because the stories that are being shared on the podcast are so incredible and I really do feel that they need to be heard by as many people as possible because there's lessons. There's lesson in there that people can apply to their own lives and there's really in-depth stories of struggles that have, hey - people told me have saved their lives. So, just to let you know...yeah, I took a hiatus over the summer, because I started the podcast back in 2016 and this summer just seemed like the perfect time to take a pause, and I'm glad I did. I listened to my intuition, and I think that's a lesson too, is to listen to your intuition more in life. So my intuition was like, "Just pause girl, you gotta refresh yourself, you've gotta take care of your own mental health," and right when we were deciding to come back for the Fall, is when I got the email from the WWE saying, "Hey, you know how much we love your show and we would love to put it on the free version of the WWE Network," and it was incredible and I got on a phone call with them and it just instantly...I knew it was the right thing to do.

Mike Johnson: So for fans who have not heard the podcast but are going to watch it for the first time on the Network this Monday, what can they expect from the debut episode?

Lilian Garcia: Yeah so I, just so you know, so that people can be aware of what Chasing Glory is all about, I mean Chasing Glory is all about the chase for glory, it's all about the journey as we're all striving for something - what does that look like and the obstacles that we encounter along the way and the struggles, you know, whether it's...I'm the first one to share some of the struggles I've gone through my life, where I was bulimic for years and how I was able to overcome that, and where I was bullied for years and how that still sometimes affects me to this day and I talk openly about that, and so do the guests that come on the show, they really do talk about their lives, who were they as kids. I remember when Stone Cold Steve Austin talked about the fact that he was so shy as a kid that he couldn't even order from the Dairy Queen and that his sister had to place the order. To then see Stone Cold and see who Stone Cold has become, is incredible, and I said that to Steve, I was like, wow, there's a kid out there that is terrified, is so shy and is thinking to himself, "I can never become something," and you just showed them you can, or yes she can. That's what's so special about the show and this Monday I love the fact that we're kicking it all off with Braun Strowman and quite a story he shares.

Mike Johnson: Every episode is your baby, because you put your heart and soul into it and as an interviewer, I know how hard it is to make sure that you always try to ask the right questions and the right follow-ups. Is there a story that maybe you hold close to your heart from an episode? Maybe it was the most surprising thing, the biggest revelation that you were surprised somebody shared or a lesson that you took from one of your interview subjects?

Lilian Garcia: Well, you said it - every episode is my baby. I also know that the guests are entrusting me, they're going to get very vulnerable and they're willing to do it because they know that I'm there - no judgement whatsoever, we all go through stuff, so there's no judgement, there's no exploiting, I'm not looking for clickbaits, I am looking for what can be shared here that can then impact somebody's life out there and we can literally save their life, right? So, when Paige came to me, and this was - I've already done three episodes on her because her chase for glory just continues to evolve, but the very first time I had her on, it was after she had left and she'd come back to the WWE and it was after her scandal that had come out and she'd been asked by everybody to be on their show and when I asked her she goes, "Yes, I've turned everyone else down but I want to do yours because I trust you," and she came on the show and poured her heart out. And the next day the hundreds and thousands of messages and love that she was receiving from people that appreciated her being so vulnerable, and how, I mean she really...she cried on the show, she just shared everything about what she's gone through. She didn't have to, but because she did, there were so many people that listened to the episode and started realizing a) stop judging, stop judging others, we're all going through something, b) people are starting to feel like, "Oh, I'm not alone anymore, other people go through stuff" and c) I would say the lessons that we can all share with one another. So I really appreciate that she trusted me so much, but that isn't just her, you said it - every episode there's something that's shared and so many times people are like, "Wow, I've never shared this before but here you go," and that's special. 

Mike Johnson: So WWE fans first met you as a ring announcer but when I think about you for the WWE time capsule, your rendition of "America The Beautiful" or your version obviously of our national anthem here in the United States, specifically in a post-9/11 world, will always stick with me as one of those indelible WWE momentS. What's it like knowing that that performance and your rendition of the song is going to be the bar that anyone else who ever comes to WWE is measured by? How do you wrap your head around that?

Lilian Garcia: Well it's very special that I got the opportunity to sing the National Anthem that night after 9/11. I will never forget that moment. It was a 'gulp' moment when Vince asked me if I would be OK in doing it and I also knew that I was just going to be the vehicle to try to get people together but it wasn't about me, I was just the vehicle for that and Paul Heyman saw me right beforehand and he looked and he saw how nervous I was, you know, I was going to sing acapella in the middle of the ring, and he just looked at me and he said, "You know you got this, it's OK and years of you doing this have prepared you for this moment, and look, if you break down afterwards, you break down afterwards, it's OK, whatever you're feeling, go out there and do," and that's what I did. I just put my heart and soul into trying to connect everybody in that moment and to watch it back every year I tear up, I receive letters all the time from people saying that as well and then to be able to go on and do it at four Wrestlemanias because this Wrestlemania I did it virtually from the living room on The Bump, I kicked off Wrestlemania in a different way which was really wild, but to be able to do that and be able to perform it in Iraq and then live in the arena before we went on the air - I've performed it so many times throughout my career there in WWE, and then go on and perform it for like the New York Jets thirteen times, Miami Dolphins, and other games. That song is so special to me, especially as an Army brat. My dad was a lieutenant colonel, my dad fought in Vietnam, I saw the PTSD that he suffered, and he still suffered all the way to when he passed away in 2016, so yeah, I don't like to compare it to who else is going to try and do it. I think everyone's got their own flair but that was me and why it meant a lot to me and still does.

Mike Johnson: So when you came to WWE you got to interact a lot with someone I always call the patron saint of ring announcing Howard Finkel, who we lost earlier this year. What are your favorite memories of Howard? He was such a great, warm individual.

Lilian Garcia: Giving. I mean that's the bottom line, Howard was a very giving man and Howard - when I came in and found out at 3:30 in the afternoon my very first day on the job that I was going to be replacing Howard, I looked at him and was like, "Wait what? I can't do this, I can't replace you, and I don't even know what I'm doing," nobody had trained me at all, and he looked at me and said, "Yes you can and you will and I'm here for you," and he helped me. He helped me so much that that's just the type of person Howard was. He could have been very bitter that I was taking his job but instead he's like, "Hey it's not your fault, if it wouldn't have been you it would have been someone else that they were going to hire, but I'm here to help you," and we formed quite the bond throughout the years, and I did speak to him not too long before he had passed, and I knew he'd been struggling and I remember crying on the phone and telling him how much I loved him. So when I heard the news earlier this year, God it was just...I remember I was walking down the street and got a text with the news and uh...there I was in the middle of the street balling my eyes out, and it still makes me choke up, because he really was a special man.

Mike Johnson: He was and the fact that he was willing to mentor you and pass the baton on says a lot about him because like you said, he could have been bitter or upset about that but he chose not to be, he chose to be positive about it and there's a lesson to be learned just from that story right there.

Lilian Garcia: Absolutely.

Mike Johnson: Obviously you do a lot of ring announcing - you've done a lot of ring announcing for WWE and outside of it for Professional Fighters League. How different is it to do it outside of the auspices of WWE? Is there a different sort of flavor or is there a different sort of approach to doing that sort of unique work where you are sort of the ringmaster in the eyes of the fans outside of the WWE bubble?

Lilian Garcia: Yeah when I got asked to joined the Professional Fighters League last year and do it in MMA in the cage and it was pretty exciting because I was the first female and the first Latina to ever be an in-cage announcer in combat sports, so I knew I was going to be making history, and then I was like, oh my God, I feel like it's the same scenario where I'm being thrown in! But I was like look, if I did it in WWE I can do it here and I couldn't believe how different it was, it's different, it's a different style, it's different what you have to say. I never used a cue card in the WWE, not even my Day 1, which I almost didn't make it because of that because I, oooh I was so scared - no cue cards, no nothing. Now you have cue cards in MMA but that's because you're giving so much more information and the information is constantly changing as well. It's a very intense moment - you know these guys are in there and they are fighting for a million dollars and there's a lot on the line, and the last thing I want to do is mess up their intro, you know? Just like at WWE - I was the hardest on myself whenever I would mess up, I was the hardest on myself, and then I learned the lesson - all you can do is life is do your best, period. That's all you can do - what happens after that, learn from it and move on and so, that's what I've done even with the PFL. It's been cool because it's been a new challenge and just got announced that I'll be back next year in the cage for them as well.

Mike Johnson: Well I know we're starting to run out of time but before we go I will hit you with one more question. As one interviewer to another, I know I always have my checklist of, oh in a perfect world I'd love to sit down with this person and pick their brain. Is there someone from the WWE bubble that you would love to get on your show? Maybe even someone from behind the scenes because you think they're so interesting or you think man, if I can just tap into that I know there's a unique conversation? Who's the dream 'get' for you?

Lilian Garcia: You know? I'd like to get her on..and I love all my guests because I always learn something from every single one of my guests, it's not like I like to put one over the other, I never like to measure who, you know, was the best guest for me or anything like that. Every individual story is that - it's individual but someone I didn't really get to work with a lot and just, what a powerhouse when she came in was Ronda Rousey. I'd love to sit down with Ronda and I do hear that she's got quite a story and I would love to get that story and know what she experienced in WWE versus the MMA world. 

Mike Johnson: Well perhaps it will happen but the new journey for Chasing Glory will start this Monday at 10 AM Eastern on demand and on the free version of the WWE Network. For more on Chasing Glory, there's the Chasing Glory app. You can find it on all podcast platforms, including Apple, Spotify, Pandora, iheartradio and all those other wonderful things that we use for our phone, even though we hardly use the phone as a phone anymore, it's just our supercomputer.

Lilian Garcia: Right? [laughs]

Mike Johnson: So I want to thank you for sitting down with us and if you've got any final words for everybody about checking out Chasing Glory this Monday with Braun Strowman and beyond every Monday after that and checking out older episodes and so on and so forth, or their support for you over the years I'd love to give you that forum to kinda close this out.  

Lilian Garcia: I appreciate that. Yeah I do want to thank everybody who has been a part of this ride since it started in 2016 and just want to say thank you to even the new people that are going to be taking a part in listening to this and just taking a chance. And I'll say this - just really buckle up because you know, the slogan for the whole show is "Real, Raw and Inspiring." It does get real, it does, and we do go to some places that I wouldn't even expect to go but it ends up being so inspiring and that's why even when they came to me to ask me about putting it on the Network, I said, "I still want to be on Mondays." I think there's something special about starting out the week with Monday Motivation and they were all about it so to gear you up for Monday Night Raw you can check out the show first thing in the morning and go from there and just hey, spread it to your friends, let people know about it so that more and more lives can be changed.

Mike Johnson: All right everybody, this Monday morning the 26th, as you're getting over your Hell In a Cell hangover - 10 AM Eastern streaming on the WWE Network - Chasing Glory with our guest Lilian Garcia. Lilian, thank you so much for your time. We look forward to seeing Chasing Glory and seeing where your journey takes you in 2020. Stay safe, stay healthy and thank you.

Lilian Garcia: Thank you very much. You are very special, thanks.

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