Ricardo Rodriguez Reflects on WWE Exit A Decade Later & Finding A Home in MLW

It’s been almost a decade since Jesús Rodríguez (Ricardo Rodriguez) was released from WWE. Since then, he has gone on a soul-searching journey that has led him to Major League Wrestling. 

A company Rodriguez was grateful to find at this stage of his career, taking all he has learned and experienced to put forth the best version of himself. I recently spoke with the talented performer about his experience wrestling for WWE and what he’s enjoying in Major League Wrestling (MLW).

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His WWE Exit

“It’s honestly amazing thinking back 10 years ago,’ Rodriguez said. “The story is, I called the [WWE] office and told them, ‘Hey I’m done. I’m not happy. I’m still at home. I didn’t get on the plane.’ When they just said, ‘Well stay home and we’ll talk and figure it out.’ They called me back a few days later and said, ‘Yeah, we’ll grant you your release.’ I was like thank you.”

At the time he was in his late 20s. He likened it to your first big breakup in high school. A time when you think your life is over and that you’ll never find love again. The ring announcer and pro wrestler learned that the only thing he could control was how he reacted to things.

“Life is going to happen on life’s terms. I didn’t react the proper way,” Rodriguez recalled. “I was very angry and bitter. I just hated life and wrestling and anybody that was, in my mind, opposing me in what I wanted to accomplish. It took a while to control how I reacted. I had to learn that aspect. 

It’s no secret because I am very open about it, my addiction issue. Getting sober and clean was a huge step forward and realizing all that. I am grateful in hindsight that I went through all that to appreciate what I have now. Opportunities I was given when I learned to appreciate things and being more mindful. Now I’m in a situation now with an amazing company that we are leading into.”

Rather than leave the business, Rodriguez found a renewed motivation. He worked with The Great Khali to open the market up in India. This wasn’t the only stop on his international travel with stops in Europe, Australia, and of course, Mexico. Rodriguez, who had a great run with Alberto Del Rio, took his knowledge to helping run schools including a year in Cairo, even maneuvering through the uncertainty of COVID.

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Looking back, Rodriguez is happy to go through the lows in order to truly appreciate the highs, many of which the veteran is getting in MLW as a member of Salina de La Renta’s Promociones Dorado. Rodriguez, who also helps as a producer and behind the scenes like de La Renta, can’t be happier to watch her success onscreen and offscreen working with the women’s division. 

“It’s amazing because I’ve known her for her entire career,” Rodriguez said. “The same for Janai Kai, who I’ve know since the very first day she walked into a wrestling school. It’s rewarding to see their growth and development now…and the presence they have. It’s so admirable if you look at it and the presence they carry with them. I feel like this is portrayed on camera which is very hard to teach.”

Rodriguez, who helps the next generation through Three Legacies Wrestling, takes pride in seeing so much representation across the board in regards to the Latin American community. So much MLW has built a brand and show Azteca Lucha on May 11 when the company returns to a sold-out Chicago’s Cicero Stadium. Rodriguez will team with Atlantis, and Guerrero Maya Jr. to face El Felino, Virus, and Villano III Jr. as the war with Cesar Duran continues.

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“It’s amazing to me as a lucha libre fan because I grew up on lucha libre. To be in a trios match with partners like this is amazing to me. The very first wrestling hero I had was Atlantis. To be partnered up with him is a dream come true…I did spend a lot of time with a top heel in the industry so I may have a trick or two to secure that victory.

“We have Azteca Lucha and sold out. We’re building this relationship with CMLL which is very important. We’re able to provider great luchadors from Mexico, the United States, and internationally. Who is to say there isn’t going to be an MLW takeover in Mexico and Arena México? It would be huge. We have a lot of amazing events coming up.”

MLW Azteca Lucha airs airs at 10 p.m. ET, May 11 on Triller TV+