EXCLUSIVE: John Morrison Talks Bounty Hunting, WWE Burnout And The Lucha Revolution

Former WWE Superstar, John Morrison (aka Johnny Mundo), has blazed one hell of a wrestling trail [...]

Former WWE Superstar, John Morrison (aka Johnny Mundo), has blazed one hell of a wrestling trail since leaving the WWE in 2011. Not only has the Shaman of Sexy become a huge hit on the independent scene and the focal point of the cult favorite, Lucha Underground, but the former film major has also written and starred in his own action movie.

Morrison's new film, Boone: The Bounty Hunter , released on demand May 9th and DVD June 6th, is an action comedy that stars Johnny as a reality show bounty hunter trying to bring down a real drug lord.

I had a chance to talk with the Lucha Underground star about his new film, leaving the WWE behind for creative freedom and the state of the wrestling business.

I've heard you say in other interviews, Boone The Bounty Hunter was kind of a low budget film. When I think low budget, I dont think action movie would be the easiest to tackle. How hard was it doing a big action film on a smaller budget?

"It's super difficult. I think one of the reasons the action came out so well, though, was because you know, I've been rolling around the idea of making an action movie since I was a kid and specifically this type of movie, with a combo of parkour, pro wrestling moves and traditional stunt choreo, mixed with some MMA. I've been thinking about that concept for, man, like seven years. And then when we honed in on Boone: The Bounty Hunter in 2012, I started sequencing stuff at different parkour and gymnastics gyms in Los Angeles, so when it came time to shoot, I'd already worked on a ton of different sequences, entries, and exits, using parkour and pro wrestling moves, in addition to traditional-style choreo and then back out into a pro wrestling move and parkour. I had dozens of moves that I'd been working on with one of the other producers, Brady Romberg, who is a really successful stunt coordinator, stuntman and producer. So we had this encyclopedia, if you will, of previous stunts that we'd been working on that we just pulled out of our hat when we were shooting."

With Lucha Underground, Total Deletion and even Sough Paw Wrestling, really well done, pre-taped wrestling with more cinematic angles is en vogue. Is this the next renaissance, the next golden era of wrestling moving away from being just a live event?

"Well, a couple of thoughts on that. One, I don't think there's any replacement for live wrestling. That's what pro wrestling is. The energy that exists in building each performance in the ring and a live audience, to me, that is pro wrestling. What Lucha Underground did with the vignettes, shooting cinematically, started a trend, like you said, with the Total Deletion and WWE started doing some of the same type of stuff with upping the production value, upping the vignettes and traditionally WWE just did everything like sports interviews and no cuts live to tape and when Lucha Underground started doing that, it changed the game. In my opinion, that part of the pro wrestling show is great because it allows more layered storytelling and you can have more nuances with your acting and your characters and you can set the stage for your wrestling, which I believe is always going to have to take place in front of a live audience because that is what defines pro wrestling as an art form, in my opinion.

I do like the way the business is going. When you think about it, Lucha Underground has been a trendsetter in that regard. And it's cool because we work really hard on those minute or two minute segments that stitch the show together and as a consumer or as someone who is watching, it feels like it is more respectful of their time to do a really cool, powerful, tight minute or two minute vignette, as opposed to a slower, meandering, floating camera type of vignette that's less polished.

There are pros and cons to both but it's certainly more respectful of the consumer's time, the way that we generate that topic."

You recently named a few matches that Vince McMahon shot down and some of the creative speed bumps you felt there. What's your creative input in Lucha Underground?

"Well, one of the things about wrestling is there is always a collaboration. So, in Lucha Underground, I have the second talent attached to the show and I have a really good relationship with the creative team, the producers, the Rodriguez team and Mark Burnett's team and I feel like any ideas I have are heard and are discussed.

The difference between my position in Lucha Underground and WWE is I feel like I'm a really big part of the show with Lucha Underground, whereas with WWE, I was a big part of the show and I had a really successful run and I'm actually very happy with my career there but because of the size of WWE and the amount of wrestlers on the roster and the amount of content they had to see produced weekly, they didn't have time to follow a lot of individual wrestlers storylines through to fruition and they didn't have time to invest in a lot of outside-the-box creativity and it was just kind of stifling after a while.

You probably read the article where I was talking about the Port-a-Potty match, the Get Even match. Like, all the ideas for the parkour vignettes, we did one really cool backstage parkour sequence but then after that we didn't really have time to follow through with that and with Lucha Underground, I feel like it's the perfect storm for me. I've been interested in action movies and pro wrestling my whole life. And that's what Lucha gives me is the combo of both."

Has WWE asked you to return?

"I'm still on really good terms with the WWE. I left in late 2011, contingent on only taking a year off but I started liking having greater autonomy and having control of my own time and started working more in film and TV and really feel like I hadn't really had a chance to do a lot in wrestling before my run with WWE. But when I left, after I healed up, I was kind of beat up from a neck operation and an ankle injury, knee injury, during my run in 2011.

I started really enjoying independent wrestling and the community and the culture behind that and it felt like it opened my eyes to a different side of professional wrestling which I am really passionate about now. The independent wrestling shows on a grassroots level feel like it distils the essence of pro wrestling to it's most base form, which is why I said before, pro wrestling, the art form, is the energy that exists between the performers in the ring and the crowd. And when you're an independent wrestler, that's your job, to bring energy, to entertain people, to feed off the energy in the crowd.

With WWE, sometimes I was just moving through so many phases, so fast, that you don't have as much time to appreciate that and eventually, you kind of become a drone in some way where you're just like, you're only sleeping three or four hours a night and you're doing a show and then another show, you're tired. And so at the end of my run, I stopped appreciating how cool it was and with my time away ... Everyone only has a certain amount of time and my time away from WWE has really allowed me to appreciate that time.

One final question. I'm in my late 30s. Is there any chance I could start parkour today and not break my neck?

"Um, I believe so, yes. But I would train at a parkour gym with fibrous mats and stay away from the crazy stunts you see those kids on YouTube doing because that will mess you up quick."

I'll start with somersaults.

Well, technically, somersaults are parkour. Parkour is a pretty broad term.

You can find more about Johnny's film, Boone: The Bounty Hunter here.


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