Gringo Loco talks about his tenure in the wrestling business:
“I’ve been in 16 years, and it’s finally coming to a point where everyone is starting to recognize that I’ve been around a long time, and appreciating the work that I’m putting in in the ring. I’ve been lucha libre from day one; I’ve done the American stuff, but I’ve always loved lucha libre and I’ve tried to stay true to it all of these years.”
How did he find lucha libre?
“I was doing gymnastics at one of the tumbling places, and we were doing moves that we see on TV on the blue tumbling floor. One day a guy came in—he was an actual wrestler—and he said ‘how long have you been working?’ We said we didn’t know what he was talking about, we worked at [regular places] like a Jimmy John’s. We didn’t know what he was saying, but he said ‘you guys are really good, you should come to this gym where I train.’ Long story short, it ended up being a lucha libre gym, and since that day I’ve never left lucha libre, and that was 16 years ago.
One of my first actual memories of this crazy world of lucha libre wrestling is I was down in Mexico City for my first actual show if you can believe this, was Mistico versus Black Warrior, mask versus mask in a packed Arena Mexico. That was my first real lucha libre show that I’ve ever been to, and I could not believe the atmosphere. If you look on the tape, there’s video somewhere, if you look up at the ramp where it curves, there’s a young Base God Gringo Loco. I’m getting chills thinking about it because that was Mistico in his heyday. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; I was like ‘is this like this every Friday?’ And I was like ‘well I think this is what I want to do.’”
Do other luchadors influence his style at all?
“Definitely not tecnicó stuff; I study all of the basework by Averno, Mephisto, Euforia and Ultimo Guerrero. I’m constantly looking at their technique, and how to get better at making everything so fluid. I’m constantly watching those guys.
When it’s done correctly, it’s like a very beautiful dance. The top guys in the world are in CMLL—we were talking about this the other day—Cirque de Soleil is the top of the circus world, and CMLL is the top of the lucha world in both in both tecnico and rudo.”
Gringo Loco on the origins of his name, comparisons to Art Barr:
“I came in with the Escobedo brothers, Rudy and Martin; they’re known within the lucha libre world, but they’re kind of old school now. I just showed up to that gym and I started training my ass off. They gave me—my original name was Tyme Paige, which was really bad—it has no meaning, it didn’t make any sense.
One day the flyer came out and it said ’Tyme Paige Gringo Loco’ on it and I was like ‘what the hell does that mean?’ I looked it up and it [meant] ‘crazy white guy’ and I asked them in my broken Spanish why they put me on there [billed as] Gringo Loco. They said there’s this guy down in Mexico named Art Barr ‘Love Machine’ and you look just like him, and you have the work style of him. I was like ‘OK!’
I was so young, but I didn’t see until five years later what they were talking about, and it was a life changing moment. It was like I am meant to do this, and then I ran with the Gringo Loco character because I was very similar to him without ever seeing his work. I was trying to do him an honor because he passed away early, so I was trying to work in his honor, and work exactly like him. Now I developed my own style with the basic and all of that, but I had a long period of time where it was all ‘Art Barr! Art Barr!’. I had to do everything in his name.”
He continued by talking about how many signs he saw that this was working:
“If I were to go in to how many signs came to me from him before Mexico and after Mexico, it’s unbelievable. He had the song ‘Jump’ from Van Halen; I walked into a little bus in Mexico City on my way to my first big match, the whole front of this bus had an American flag graphic, and the moment I sat down, Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ started playing. I was like ‘no way!’ I had the Art Barr gear in my bag, looking at a perfect graphed out American flag dashboard, and as soon as I sat down the music played.”
Does he feel like he has more to prove to some of his detractors that might think he’s appropriating the culture?
“In the beginning I definitely had to show people that I really love this and I really want to learn it. Now I’ve gotten to a point where I’m known and I don’t feel like I’m stepping on anybody’s toes. If I’m going to call something for the guys that do, I’m only calling it because I know I can do it. Definitely in the beginning it was a little hectic. I’m the only white guy in the locker room, I don’t speak the language, [asking myself] what am I doing here.
Here we are ten years later, and I’m fluent in Spanish, calling crazy spots and knowing 100% that I got the guys’ [respect]. It’s a great feeling to know that I’ve come as far as I have, and not have any serious injuries (knock on wood), working with the best talent like Bandido, the other day it was Puma King. All of these CMLL guys that are really, really good are taking me into account and we’re friends. Of course, once you have a really good match you become friendly we each other, but now it’s like flowing, it’s one of those things.”