"CHAD DEITY" fight director profiled
Marquez lends his expertise to the theater
A critically acclaimed play is tackling racism and the trappings of stardom in pro wrestling.
Pablo Marquez can personally relate on both accounts.
Marquez -- who is choreographing the grappling action for "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity," a play set to debut next month in Boca Raton, Fla. -- had visions of fame and fortune when he began wrestling almost two decades ago. Marquez worked for two major U.S. companies in the 1990s (WWE and Extreme Championship Wrestling). He then spent extensive time performing in Japan, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
At roughly 5-foot-6 and 175 pounds, Marquez hoped he could break the size barrier, as Rey Mysterio Jr., Chris Benoit and the late Eddie Guerrero did through international touring on their way to WWE stardom.
Marquez, 38, forged a nice career, but the riches he thought would come with worldwide experience and outstanding in-ring skill never materialized. He now wrestles part time and is the lead trainer at Coastal Championship Wrestling's Bodyslam University in Davie, Fla.
"When I first broke in, guys like Chris Candido and Sabu told me, 'You've gotta travel for a few years before you can get your big break and the big money in WWE,'" Marquez said in a telephone interview. "I left everything behind to do that, but I never got the break I wanted or the millions I thought I would make one day.
"If I think about it now, a lot of guys on top didn't ever have to pay their dues. Having a good look (physically) is more important than anything now. But I wouldn't change what happened with me. I traveled the world on wrestling's dime, I got a lot of nice experience, I met a lot of good people and I lived out my dream."
Marquez's wrestling resume has grown with his work on "The Elaborate Entrance," a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist in drama. The script focuses on the wrestling aspirations of Macedonio "Mace" Guerra, a low-level performer whose hopes of headlining are bolstered when he discovers an Indian-American hip-hop/wrestling talent named Vigneshwar "V.P." Paduar.
The two are transformed into anti-American terrorists by a sleazy wrestling promoter -- in the style of WWE owner Vince McMahon and his packaging of Muhammad Assan and Shawn Daivari in the mid-2000s.
Although toned down by WWE in recent years, race baiting and stereotyping are engrained in pro wrestling's history and culture. Marquez experienced that firsthand during his WWE stint as Babu, the turban-wearing manservant of anti-American heel "Tiger" Ali Singh.
Marquez, who is from Ecuador, says he landed the role because the previous Babu refused to follow WWE orders that went against his religious beliefs.
"I remember (ex-WWE employees) Bruce Pritchard and Jim Cornette told the first Babu that he would have to take a choke slam -- he wasn't a worker (wrestler) -- and kiss a girl," Marquez said. "His religion didn't allow him to kiss a girl like that. They told him, 'Don't bother to come back if you don't do it.'
"I was listening and said, 'I wouldn't mind doing that.' They said, 'Get dressed. You're up next.' "
Marquez made his debut the same day against The Undertaker on an episode of "Monday Night Raw" (9 p.m. Mondays, USA Network).
"It worked out great for me," Marquez said.
"The Elaborate Entrance" is scheduled to run Jan. 8 to Feb. 12 at the Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton, Fla. See www.caldwelltheatre.com. For more information on Coastal Championship Wrestling, visit www.ccwevents.com.
(Alex Marvez writes a syndicated pro wrestling column for Scripps Howard News Service. Reach him at alex1marv(at)aol.com or follow via Twitter at http://twitter.com/alexmarvez.)