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FULL TRANSCRIPT: SANTOS ESCOBAR DISCUSSES HIS BEST OF THREE FALLS BOUT AGAINST KUSHIDA ON WWE NXT TOMORROW, RAISING THE NXT CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE'S PROFILE OVER THE LAST YEAR, HIS LADDER MATCH AT TAKEOVER, WHY THE MOMENT WITH HIS SON MEANS THE WORLD, REGAINING HIS CONFIDENCE AFTER A KNEE INJURY EARLY IN HIS WWE RUN, LEARNING THE BUSINESS SIDE FROM SO MANY IN THE WWE PC, HIS CHEMISTRY WITH KUSHIDA, HOW HE HAS CHANGED OVER THE LAST YEAR, ACTING AND TONS MORE

By Mike Johnson on 2021-05-11 09:19:00

WWE NXT returns tonight to the USA Network, featuring a number of championship bouts, including a Best of Three Falls encounter pitting NXT Cruiserweight Champion KUSHIDA against former champion Santos Escobar.  Yesterday, Escobar sat down with PWInsider.com to discuss the match, his run this far in WWE, reflections on his Takeover: Stand and Deliver Ladder Match, overcoming adversity since signing with the company and much more.

Mike Johnson: It is Monday, May 10th, 2021, which means we're about 24 hours away from the return of WWE NXT on the USA network. Part of that big broadcast will feature a huge WWE NXT Cruiserweight Championship match. The current reigning and defending champion, KUSHIDA, will be going into a best of three falls encounter with the man who held that Cruiserweight championship for 321 days, our guest at this time, Santos Escobar.   It is good to sit down and talk to you again. How are you doing?

Santos Escobar: I'm very good, Mike. Thank you so much for the opportunity to spread the message and philosophy of the emperor of Lucha Libre.

Mike Johnson: Well, we're going to talk about Lucha Libre and a whole lot more today. I know we're going to talk about the KUSHIDA match, but I want to step back in time a little bit and talk about NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver, the amazing ladder match you had with Jordan Devlin. We talked to you earlier this year. You talked about how important it was to raise the profile of the cruiserweight championship and that, to me, was probably the biggest cruiserweight championship match in WWE history. Thoughts when you look back on such a milestone match in such a big ladder match on a big week like WrestleMania week and having a chance to really enshrine yourself, Jordan and the Cruiserweight title into WWE history?

Santos Escobar: You're right, Mike. I think one of the most important learnings that I've had from my dad and from all the legends that have been good enough to give me advice is you make the show, you make the title, you make the division. It's you, the talent, that gives pumps up whatever it is you're doing. You know what I mean? When I first became the NXT Cruiserweight Champion, my whole goal was to bring the division, the title, as I said in numerous promos, from the sideshow to the main show. Then we did the first cruiserweight title defends on NXT TakeOver 31, and then again on WrestleMania Week at NXT Stand and Deliver. To me, that was a very important milestone, not just for me in my personal career, but also for the division that I knew after that was going to be a complete different story for the division. The proof is a couple of weeks ago, main event, all cruiserweights on an NXT TV for the first time ever, I think. Now we have another good match tomorrow, title match, two out of three falls first time ever. I think my job here is done, but I can still be the champion for another 360 something days or whatever the title needs because I think I'm the best cruiserweight in the world and tomorrow, I'm going to prove it again.

Mike Johnson: Obviously, stepping into the best of three falls situation against KUSHIDA, coming from Mexico, from Lucha Libre, a best of three fall match is second nature to you. How differently do you approach them, actually to that compared to a traditional WWE one-on-one encounter where it's just one fall in terms of your preparation mentally, your cardio, and physically?   How different is it prepping knowing that you'll have probably a lot more time and you'll have a lot more that you'll have to put into this match, given that there's multiple falls?

Santos Escobar: Two out of three falls involves cardio mostly, but weight, wisdom, resources because you got to know when to use what. That is the difference between just the regular traditional one fall match because in one fall match, you just go and try to do your opponent or tap your opponents. In the two or three falls, you have to do it twice. I think KUSHIDA is in for a surprise because even though he made his debut in Mexico sometime ago, he's been working just one fall matches for most of his career. Whereas, me, I've done two or three falls for a number of years, so I'll be ready.

Mike Johnson: You had a special moment at Stand and Deliver with your son. You still have the tweet up on your Twitter. Given that you've come from a family where there's been many generations of professional wrestlers and many family members who have been in Lucha Libre and in professional wrestling, how important was that moment with your son at Stand and Deliver?

Santos Escobar: That particular night was a night of emotions, not just because I became the undisputed NXT cruiserweight champion, but because right after that, my son was there for me. We have to remember that Lucha Libra is a family tradition and, to me, it was very important to introduce my son to the WWE universe. That was the perfect moment for it because down the line, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 years from now when he finally decides to take on the family business, he's going to have all this iconic moments there for him.

Mike Johnson: WWE NXT is now on Tuesday nights. How does the change in the day change the energy in the locker room, change the energy for the performers in NXT? How different does it feel compared to when it was Wednesday nights?

Santos Escobar: I just feel like it comes faster because I usually prepare Monday, Tuesday with my cardio sessions and all my preparation for the show, but now I just feel like after Sunday, I got to be ready because it's almost there. That's for me and I feel it's for everyone else, but one of the things that we are taught on the PC on NXT is that you have to stay ready and so in that sense, I think we're ready for that, but I do feel like it comes faster.

Mike Johnson: With KUSHIDA, obviously we've got quite a unique rivalry that has built up in recent weeks. Thoughts on him as a performer and your chemistry inside the ring thus far?

Santos Escobar: Enormous chemistry. I think that's one of the things that you pursue when having a feud with someone because let's not forget, you still have to perform and provide for an entertaining match. Kushida, in my eyes, is one of the best cruiserweights in the world, not just NXT.  For me to have this opportunity to chop it up with him, I feel honored. I'm happy because of this opportunity and of course, I'm even happier to defeat him.

Mike Johnson: Last time we spoke... I double checked my old notes. There was one thing I didn't get a chance to ask you about and I want to ask you now. You had the chance to do some acting in some feature films in Mexico. Obviously, we've got WWE Studios and they're always working on different projects for different staers  Would that be something you'd want to do? Would you like to take Santos Escobar into the acting realm and perhaps do some WWE Studios work?

Santos Escobar: Yeah, absolutely, Mike. I think my parents did an amazing job and my mom especially because they prepared me for anything that might come down my path. I became a performing artist early in my life. I started studying for acting, singing, dancing. I always complemented that with my Lucha Libre training. I didn't put two and two together until I was later on in my career when opportunities to participate in telanovelas, commercials and the movies, that's when I realized, oh, they did an amazing job because they did prepare me for anything. Now that I'm in WWE, I would just love to perform at my fullest. That would be, of course, what I'm doing right now in the ring as a superstar, what I do on the mic every time I just cut a promo and of course, the cherry on top would be just to have movies or anything that WWE Studios might need me for.

Mike Johnson: You've got the WWE Elite action figure, the first Santos Escobar figure, hitting the shelves relatively soon. How excited were you about finally getting a WWE action figure?
 
Santos Escobar: I was just ecstatic about it and my son even more so because it's victories in my career. Come to WWE, become a NXT Superstar, get some gold, the NXT championship, then be part of the pay-per-views, done. Then start merchandising, the t-shirts, the arm bands, the trading cards, and now the action figure. I think that the hard work is paying off.

Mike Johnson: Of course, you can get that action figure from our good friends at RingsideCollectibles.com. When you do, you tell them that Santos Escobar sent them your way.  With Legado Del Fantasma, obviously you've built a great relationship with Joaquin Phoenix and Raul Mendoza. Last time we spoke as January.  I was wondering, how has that relationship changed over the last year or so given the close quarters of the pandemic and working in the Capitol Wrestling Center, how has the relationship with Legado del Fantasma evolved given the very intimate situation that everyone works in these days?

Santos Escobar: It's phenomenal. I think, and this is important, that we started as co-workers, then we became a faction and we became friends. I can tell you right now that we became brothers and that is something you can tell by the way we carry ourselves while cutting a promo, while going through a six man tag. We are connected and I love that because that's when all the victories and all those satisfactions come, when you have great chemistry with the people you're in the ring with.

Mike Johnson:  How do you think you've changed over the last year? Obviously, WWE put a lot of trust in you with the Cruiserweight championship, and they've put a lot of trust in you in having you in major matches. This Tuesday, you're going to be in another major match with KUSHIDA tomorrow.  Obviously, you've wrestled all over the world, but how has that trust that they've given you and that pressure that they put on you, how has that helped you? How has that changed you over the last year?

Santos Escobar: I've changed a lot. The reason being is you remember that when I got here, I got hurt. The first thing that happened was that I had surgery on my knee and that, I have to admit, kind of shattered my confidence a little bit. I think an important moment came when I was medically cleared and they told me, "We believe in you. We believe in you, but we're going to put pressure on you so bring it." That just made me realize that this is an opportunity that I want to take advantage of it. Last year to now, I've changed a lot. I've had people teaching me the WWE business life, Terry Taylor, Shawn Michaels, Finlay, Triple H, Mr. Regal, and Steve Corino. Everyone in there helps you and gives you advice, and all we have to do is reach out and grab it and apply it. I think I've been doing so. I feel like a completely different performer than what I was a year ago.

Mike Johnson: When you start to come back from that knee surgery, how hard is it to overcome the mental aspect of the doubts you have in yourself. You're worried about getting hurt again. You're worried about your confidence. How hard was it to overcome that on a personal level?

Santos Escobar:   It was terrible. Terrible, Mike, because every time you go out there for the first time in a new company, you will find yourself in a different ring, different ropes, different lighting, different styles, different product in and of itself. Now, add that you just had a surgery and you're recovering and you don't know if you're 100% ready, you don't know if you're ready to bump, ready to jump, you don't know if you look good. On my very first match, which was Raul Mendoza and myself versus the guys from NXT UK, the tag team titles... There's two guys that currently are the NXT UK tag team champions. I had a match, everything was good, and then I came back and I wasn't sure that I had performed properly. Norman Smiley was there in charge of the show. He pulled me over because he told me, "You're looking very good. You have presence. You field the ring. You're doing good." That just built my confidence and from then on, I just kept coming back harder, better, faster, little by little, but slowly but surely.

Mike Johnson: What can fans expect from the match with KUSHIDA tomorrow night? Why should they make sure that they're watching NXT this Tuesday at 8:00 PM on the USA Network?

Santos Escobar: Well, they've got to watch because this is the first time ever two out of three match with two international superstars, such as the NXT Cruiserweight champion, KUSHIDA and former and next NXT Cruiserweight champion, Santos Escobar. It's going to be a banger, five-star match, match of the year candidate of course. Of course, don't forget, we also have Latinas in the house, Raquel Gonzales versus Mercedes Martinez for the NXT Women's Championship. We also have NXT champion Karrion Kross and so on, all the NXT superstars, but mostly two out three falls tomorrow night, be there.

Mike Johnson:All right, everybody. Want to let everybody know that you can follow our guest, Santos Escobar, on Twitter at EscobarWWE, and want to let everybody know you can check out an NXT every week, Tuesday nights on the USA Network. Of course, it'll pop up on peacock and the WWE Network shortly thereafter. Sir, always a pleasure talking to you. Wish you and your family nothing but the best and we look forward to talking to you down the line. We really appreciate it and we're looking forward to the match with KUSHIDA tomorrow night on USA Network, so thanks so much for the time.

Santos Escobar: Thank you so much, Mike. Hopefully, you'll be interviewing my son soon.

Mike Johnson: I look forward to it and I will say I knew your dad when. Everyone stayed tuned for that in about 10-12 years.   We want to thank everybody for their support at PWInsiderElite.com. Check out NXT on Tuesdays. Until next time, I'm Mike Johnson. Santos, thank you so much for being so giving with your time today.

Santos Escobar: Thank you so much, Mike.

If you enjoy PWInsider.com you can check out the AD-FREE PWInsider Elite section, which features exclusive audio updates, news, our critically acclaimed podcasts, interviews and more by clicking here!

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