Tito Santana Thinks Bobby Heenan and Jesse Ventura’s Racial Commentary Helped His Career


During a recent interview with VOC Nation’s Wrestling With History, WWE Hall of Famer Tito Santana commented on Bobby Heenan and Jesse Ventura’s racial commentary, and more. You can check out some highlights from the interview below:

On his new book: “The preorders are coming in and the numbers are growing. I’m very happy with the results and I hope that they keep growing. Everyday we get a few preorders, and I have promised the fans that I will be Santa Claus and I will be making a call for everyone that preorder the book before Christmas.”


On his current work as a school teacher: “I’m a school teacher and that takes up a lot of my time, and I go out and do appearances on the weekend. The reason I keep doing appearances is that it’s amazing how many fans come up to me and thank me for childhood memories, and talk about things that they remember about my career that I had forgotten. It’s always so cool to see the satisfaction.”

On how the WWE Network helps legends still get booked for appearances: “With the (WWE Network) a lot of the young kids are (classic) wrestling fans, so we’ve got a second or third life in professional wrestling. I would have never thought that I’d still be on the road making appearances and meeting fans. It’s great.”

On why his book is titled Don’t Call Me Chico: “It was a combination decision that Kenny (Cassanova, co-author) and I made…I talked to him about how Jesse “the Body” (Ventura) used to call me Chico. I was never one to watch wrestling shows; when I started getting to arenas and the fans started calling me Chico, I thought they were being insulting and it kind of pissed me off a little bit…then one day I was watching it and I saw that Jesse “the Body” calling me Chico and I realized that (the reason they were calling me that) was because Jesse was over so big on TV as a commentator. In reality Jesse and I were good friends and Jesse was really trying to help my career…so we (Tito and Kenny) both decided that would be a good title. As far as I’m concerned, when Jesse “the Body” and Gorilla were going the commentary on TV it didn’t get any better than that.”

On likening wrestling in the 1980s to a fraternity and not being offended by racial insults: “No…professional wrestling was a fraternity….those guys were saying things; the more they knocked you, I think it was the more they liked you. Bobby Heenan used to say, ‘I met Tito Santana selling hot dogs in Mexico living with his family in a 56’ Chevy.’ I don’t think you could get away with it nowadays, but back then it helped my career. Neither one of them had a racial bone in their body.”

On if he thinks Bobby Heenan and Jesse Ventura could get over today: “Those guys were so smart and so intelligent about the business, they would figure out a way to get the wrestlers over in the ring. That’s what it was all about. They were there to get heat, and Gorilla Monsoon was the babyface. They could do it (if they had to today) without being racial. At the time you could get away with it so they used it to their advantage. Those guys were so smart that there is no doubt in my mind that they could pull it off today just like they did back then.”

On how wrestling has changed and evolved to become more scripted now: “I remember when I went in to introduce Alberto Del Rio on one of the Raw (shows) several years ago, they gave me a script and I was nervous and hell because I had to memorize it. We used to talk from the heart and the fans could feel what we were trying to get across. They felt what we were saying, and then in the match we would even make them feel it more. We were able to continue the story from our interviews with the match, and the story could go on forever and ever and ever. Me and Greg Valentine wrestled each other for a year and a half pretty much every night. You couldn’t get away with it now.”

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