Best of the Super Hooligans: El Desperado (2/2)

El Desperado talks the rest of his BoSJ campaign, and more besides

As this year’s Best of the Super Jr. approaches its conclusion, El Desperado is still alive with just two matches to go. In the second part of this interview, the ever opinionated rudo discusses the second half of his schedule, the Nippon Budokan final on December 11 and more. 

Watch Best of the Super Jr. 27 LIVE and on demand with NJPW World! December 6 and 11 with LIVE English commentary!

Interview conducted before November 29

Only me and DOUKI can show you lucha libre outside of Fantasticamania

–To finish talking about your Best of the Super Jr. campaign, on November 29 you faced DOUKI in Korakuen (watch on NJPW World!)

Desperado: In the space of one year here, he’s had his first title match (for the NEVER 6-Man titles, October 23, watch on NJPW World!), which speaks to what he can do, and his potential. But when you consider he spent nine years in Mexico, and one year in Japan, I still think he’s a little awkward.

–A little awkward?

Desperado: He can do some incredible things, but when it comes to matching them with his opponents’ pace and rhythm it’s still a square peg in a round hole. If he can figure out how to get his techniques in sync with what the other guy in the ring is doing, he’ll be unstoppable, but he isn’t quite there yet.

–But you do rate his technique.

Desperado: Oh yeah. there isn’t anybody in this company better than him when it comes to lucha libre.

–On the one hand the story of this match was two teammates facing off, on the other, fans were looking at it as a lucha libre exhibition of sorts.

Desperado: Well, I don’t do well with expectations. When people predict, or want one thing, I want to do exactly the opposite. If I’m asked to do something, I’ll tell that person to piss off. But only me and DOUKI can show you a proper lucha libre style match outside of Fantasticamania.

Making a guy as stubborn as Hiromu tap shows you how badass Ishimori is.

–On December 2 in Osaka, you face and Taiji Ishimori.

Desperado: There isn’t a wrestler around that doesn’t have their eye on the singles champion, but I actually don’t have that much to go on with him.

–It’s your first singles match. 

Desperado: If you told me that we had wrestled before, I wouldn’t have remembered it. When we had that match in the Junior heavyweight tag league, with Gedo, Kanemaru and myself in there, he wasn’t going out of his way to stand out by doing anything even worse than what we were doing. But his speed, his instincts, his reflexes were something else. 

–He beat Hiromu Takahashi for the title on August 29 at Jingu Stadium, of course.

Desperado: Well, making a guy as stubborn as Hiromu tap, clean I mean, heheh. That shows you how badass Ishimori is. Not even Okada could make him tap to that Money Clip.

–You’re right, that match was a referee stoppage. What’s the key for that match to you?

Desperado: I probably have the weight advantage on him. I think my only chance is to get as big as I can before that match, heh.

–You think this’ll be a tough one.

Desperado: He’s pretty flawless. And that chop, jeez. You see effort in everything he does. His body, that takes dedication. His speed, that takes dedication. Being able to tap Hiromu, that takes dedication. I really think SHO and Wato could learn something from him. Well, SHO matches him body wise, at least. Wato, though. Wato gets me mad just thinking about him. 

It’s really hard to judge Eagles

–On December 5 in Kagoshima, you meet Robbie Eagles.

Desperado: Ah, that’s a tough one to read. I know he likes (manga) Kinnikuman. That’s about it. 

–You’ve wrestled before in the past…

Desperado: Hmm. Just a little in tag matches. So I really don’t have enough to go on for this one. But anyone who can tap out Jyushin Thunder Liger in his debut has to be impressive. And that 450 to the leg! What the hell!

–It’s a tough move.

Desperado: First instinct to counter the 450 is to get your knees up, but that ends up hurting your knees anyway. He’s a tough one. I just haven’t been in with him enough to really put my finger on how good he is.


He’s a great wrestler but he falls into the ‘whatever’ category

–Your last group match is in Fukuoka December 6 against BUSHI.

Desperado: The last couple of months, when most of the junior division wasn’t around, it was BUSHI, myself, ‘Nobu and Hiromu carrying the entire division. We were so intent not to give in to the other three. I think this will be pretty hard fought. 

–BUSHI is always seen as the tactician in tag team matches. Your thoughts on that?

Desperado: That sounds like a very nice way of saying he doesn’t stand out at all. He doesn’t stand out as a singles guy, doesn’t stand out in tags, so people say ‘oh, he must be working hard behind the scenes.’ You look at his career and what he’s done. If he’s seriously thinking of himself as a behind the scenes guy, he should quit wrestling.

–Harsh as ever.

Desperado: Look, if you asked me whether I liked or hated him, I don’t do either. He’s firmly in the ‘whatever’ category. I just don’t care about him. I know I said we were intent not to give into one another, but that was purely because there were only four of us representing the division. Any other situation and I wouldn’t give a s**t. 

–Why is that, do you think?

Desperado: Look, I don’t think everybody in this business should just be running their mouths off about everything under the sun, but there’s no end of situations where you’d expect him to say something, but, no. About all you ever here from him is ‘I want a title shot’ and that’s about it. 

–But from an in-ring perspective?

Desperado: He has a lot of tools, a lot of moves at his disposal. That dropkick of his just shoots right through your chest, knocks the wind right out of you. To me, as someone who doesn’t fly much, I’m jealous of the things he can do. 

–So you do respect him on a technical level.

Desperado: He’s very good at using his opponents’ strength against them. You can find yourself going at him and then find out you’re the one taking a bump. I said before the SHO match that I expected it to be a lot of work to me, and with BUSHI, it’s the same deal, but a different way; he does all he can to keep his energy expenditure low and make you do the work. In that sense, as much as I hate to say it, he’s a great wrestler. 


If I beat Ishimori in the Budokan, the Tokyo Dome is the only stage that can top that for a challenge

–So of course the top two wrestlers in the league will face off in the final in Nippon Budokan on December 11. Is there an opponent you’d especially like to face?

Desperado: First of all, for a junior heavyweight to have a match in the Nippon Budokan, that isn’t something that comes along every day. I really want to be in that building. You know I’ve wrestled on dirt floors, in rings with dogs pissing on the floor outside. I think of myself as someone that would put in the same match regardless of where it was, but the Budokan is special.

–It’s a special place for you?

Desperado: I mean, there’s so much history there. That place was built for judo way back for the ’64 Olympics, and there’s a chance for me to be there with one other guy and the referee, just the three of us. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t give me goosebumps. 

–And who do you want to be in that main event?

Desperado: Well, I think the obvious choice is Ishimori. And then there’s the guy fired up to get revenge on him, Hiromu. You know, it’s better to have the protagonist type fire up all the fans by saying ‘I’ll be there in that main event!’, and I’m the type to cool them down rather than fire them up, heheh. But I want to be in that spot, and I’m willing to do all that it takes to be there. So I will say that. 

–That’s quite a pragmatic take, but in an ideal world, who would it be?

Desperado: Hm. I’d like Hiromu, but Ishimori would be ideal. That way I beat him in the Budokan and the only next step would be to challenge for the IWGP heavyweight Championship in the Tokyo Dome. Awww, ain’t this tournament just a dream come true?