Lucha Libre Great Konnan Continues to Make an Impact on the Wrestling Industry

The Week in Wrestling: Konnan’s latest way to highlight the art of lucha libre, WWE’s shocking releases and more.
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Konnan becomes the first luchador to mint his own NFT

One highlight of the Stadium Stampede main event at Sunday’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view was the surprise appearance from Konnan.

It marked his AEW pay-per-view debut, and the moment was executed perfectly. Tully Blanchard and FTR had outnumbered Santana and Ortiz in a bar fight, when suddenly the DJ—Konnan—evened the odds for his former protégés. Konnan worked with Santana and Ortiz in Impact as part of LAX, and the duo reached entirely new heights with him as their mentor, both on screen and off.

“I’ve loved those guys since I met them,” Konnan says. “I call them my lucha sons, and I am incredibly proud of them. They have put in so much work to get to where they are. And they never forgot about me, so that meant a lot to me.”

The legendary Konnan reached a rarefied air in wrestling, one few will ever attain. A star in both Mexico and the United States, he came to prominence—and remained there—without the benefit of the WWE machine. Yet, for all his professional success, Konnan’s greatest feat in the industry may be his ability to cultivate talent.

Most famously, Konnan helped bring a young Rey Mysterio to prominence. He has also played a role in the success of stars in every major company, including Franky Monet and Santos Escobar of NXT, Penta and Fénix and Angélico and Jack Evans of AEW, and Black Taurus of Impact Wrestling. And he continues to do the same as head of creative for AAA, where he is showcasing emerging stars like Laredo Kid, Aramís and Arez.

“I really love what I do,” Konnan says. “Identifying and cultivating talent, that is so much of what drives me. Look at someone like Franky Monet. Seeing her 10-year journey, and being along for that, it’s incredible. I’m so happy for her.

“I love what I do. When I’m working with these kids, I know I’m seeing them take these steps to greatness.”

The Konnan learning tree also includes past greats like Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera. His vision to make lucha libre a worldwide entity continues to come to life. His step toward that goal is the release of new nonfungible tokens (NFTs) from three signature moments in lucha history.

The NFTs are digital collectibles that feature videos and insight from Konnan. The first celebrates the 25-year anniversary of a trios match in which Konnan and Psicosis went one-on-one; the second features Rey Mysterio flying off a ladder to interfere in a mask vs. mask match pitting Psicosis against Ultraman 2000; and the third is Mysterio facing Juventud Guerrera in a worn-down bull ring before they redefined the industry in both WCW and WWE.

“The first match you’re seeing on the NFT, it’s full of legends,” says Konnan, who becomes the first lucha star to mint his own NFTs. “It’s a full house in Tijuana, and you get to see how I used to wrestle in Mexico, which was straight lucha libre. The second moment shows that ECW, hardcore style I introduced to Tijuana wrestling, and then much of the lucha world followed.

“The third is Rey and Juventud revolutionizing wrestling forever, but no one was there. They were doing it in a bull ring. They were literally revolutionizing the sport. It was such an incredible time, and I’m honored that it’s now highlighted on these NFTs.”

The footage is rare, coming from Konnan’s own personal tapes. Available exclusively at Blockparty.co, the project is in partnership with Masked Republic, and now serves as a new way to monetize intellectual property for luchadores. Masked Republic also launched its Artist Collaboration Series of NFTs, the first with pop culture artist Pete Bregman illustrating Psicosis to celebrate his three-decades-plus as a trailblazing luchador.

“Changing wrestling for the better, bringing lucha around the world, that was always my goal,” Konnan says. “Lucha used to be laughed at or talked over during matches, so it means so much that my vision is finally coming to bloom. It’s hard for me to put my appreciation into words, but it means the world to me.”

Later this summer, Konnan will seek to redefine wrestling once again. He has booked Kenny Omega to face Andrade at AAA’s Triplemanía this August, and though people in the U.S. may be unable to stream the event—AAA is currently unable to stream its live shows in the U.S. due to an ongoing lawsuit with Lucha Libre FMV—this has the makings of a card that can leave a genuine imprint on the industry.

“We’ve got so much attention for this show from the United States, but AAA is going through litigation and may not be able to show it here,” Konnan says. “We’re so proud to have this match, this dream match, and it’s a match that will live up to the expectations.

“Plus, we’ll have Deonna Purrazzo and Faby Apache in a title vs. title match, and our most popular wrestler, Psycho Clown, putting his mask on the line against Rey Escorpión, which is a feud that has been building over three years. I’m hoping, between now and August, something changes and this card will be seen in the United States.”

The (online) week in wrestling

  • WWE announced more releases on Wednesday. Braun Strowman, Aleister Black, Ruby Riott, Lana, Buddy Murphy and Santana Garrett were all let go. The news, which was first broken by Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp, came as a surprise, especially in Aleister Black’s case, considering he just started a new program on SmackDown with Big E. 
  • Immediate speculation on a couple of the releases: Tommy End (Aleister Black) would be a perfect fit for AEW, as would Ruby Riott. It would also make sense for Lana to reunite with Miro in AEW. Strowman is a legitimate giant who would add a unique element wherever he goes, and he would be a perfect fit in New Japan. Even with the potential moving forward, the releases are another reminder of the coldness of the industry.
  • Kofi Kingston and Drew McIntyre put forth a compelling main event on Raw. The finish was creative, and though it leads to a rematch pitting McIntyre against Bobby Lashley, I hope Kingston remains a part of the world title picture. 
  • Jimmy Smith had a very good night in his debut as the lead voice of Raw. 
  • I was disappointed to see no real conclusion in the Johnny Gargano–Pete Dunne–Kyle O’Reilly triple-threat match on NXT, which ended due to interference from Adam Cole, though it has my interest in where it will go next. 
  • New Japan’s Dominion show, headlined by Kazuchika Okada against Shingo Takagi in a match that will crown a new IWGP world heavyweight champion, will take place on Monday. 
  • The “Nature Boy” still has solid form. 
  • Dynamite airs on Friday again this week due to NBA playoff conflicts. One of the matches that particularly stands out is Jungle Boy and Christian Cage against Private Party. Every time I see Christian in AEW, I immediately think of how much value he would have brought to Raw. 
  • Jake Atlas is a star in the making for NXT. 
  • The bad guys in wrestling have a knack at being the good guys in life. 
  • What do you think? Should Ted DiBiase be recognized as a former WWE champion? 

Logan Paul on WrestleMania 37: “I had so much fun out there”

Logan Paul added some excitement to the Kevin Owens–Sami Zayn program entering this year’s WrestleMania.

Following Zayn’s request to check out his conspiracy-ridden documentary, Paul had a role at the biggest show of the year as Zayn’s “guest of honor.” Paul was immediately booed by the crowd at Raymond James Stadium. This disdain grew, as Paul tried to curry favor with Owens after winning the match, literally pushing aside Zayn to celebrate with Owens. Instead, to the crowd’s delight, Paul was treated to a stunner by Owens.

Ever the showman, even while sprawled out on the mat, Paul turned to the referee, in pure shock, and asked, “Why did he do that?”

There are times when a personality is just a natural-born villain, and Paul fit that description perfectly at WrestleMania.

“I had so much fun out there,” says Paul, who spoke with Sports Illustrated ahead of his boxing exhibition against Floyd Mayweather for a story that will run later this week. “I enjoyed myself, and I have the wit to come up with s--- on the fly like that.”

No stranger to controversy, Paul was eager to play a role at WrestleMania, especially since a whole new fan base is aware of him as he now approaches the pay-per-view spectacle with Mayweather.

“WWE is an incredible organization, and I jumped at the opportunity to be included in that,” Paul says. “WrestleMania was fun, man. You go in there and the fans have so much energy, and they wanted to see me get f----- up. Kevin Owens stunned me, and I was living that energy. I loved it.”

A lot can happen in a year, but Paul notes that he is open to returning next year to WrestleMania for some revenge on Owens.

“Hell yes,” Paul says. “Owens is a big guy, so we’ll see how that goes, but entertaining people is what I was born to do.”

Tweet of the Week

When seeing this tweet, all I could think of was this story.

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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.