From Mark to Marco: A Cult Tribute
Grab your socks and pull; not only did I just blatantly rip that line off from JFK (first time anyone’s ripped that line of willingly), but it’s time for another Cult Tribute. Hey, when you’re riding the heat wave of luck that I am right now, it’s good to just keep the train going, and that’s what I’m doing. So what do I have for you tonight? Well, this Cult Tribute involves someone who appeals to both US and lucha libre wrestling fans. This wrestler started off his career in the states, had some degree of success and almost because a huge star, only for circumstances and poor booking to lead to his exit. In that wake, he found lucha libre, and the rest is the sort of thing you see in movies not directed by Oliver Stone. So with that intro, I think we’re ready to begin. This is a Cult Tribute for a man known by two names. For US fans, this is a tribute for the one and only Mark Jindrak. For lucha fans, it’s a tribute for the charismatic, athletic Marco Corleone.
What You Already Know
If nothing else, most wrestling fans at least know who Mark Jindrak is. A WCW Power Plant graduate that was trained by Paul Orndorf, Jindrak spent the first five years of his career wrestling in the states, first with WCW and then later with WWE. Despite that longevity, Jindrak’s run wasn’t exactly memorable, outside of being part of the entertaining Natural Born Thrillers stable (one of the few bright spots of WCW’s Twilight), a better than you remember tag team with the late Lance Cade and a brief stint on Smackdown that saw him admiring himself in the mirror. Leave it to Vince to be the only one wanting to relive the glory days of Lex Luger’s Narcissist character. Ultimately, Jindrak would be released from WWE in the summer of 2005, and for most wrestling fans, that’s it. Seriously, I’d bet there’s a better chance people know La Parka continued to wrestle after WCW folded than they know Jindrak didn’t retire. That’s pretty much all you need to know about his WWE stay.
What You Didn’t Know
As it turns out, Jindrak’s stay in WWE almost went a completely different way than it did; and I mean completely different. It’s been confirmed by several sources (most notably by Triple H himself in his recent DVD) that Jindrak was supposed to be the fourth and final member of the famed Evolution stable. That’s right, it was Jindrak, not Batista, who was originally conceived as the muscle of the group, and he also took part in several vignettes that were filmed with Triple H, Ric Flair and Randy Orton. In the end though, the call was made to replace him with Batista, and the rest is history. How’s that for “what if” scenario? Considering Jindrak was still in his twenties and had/has one of the best looks ever in wrestling, it’s no surprise why he was considered for the group. I’d love to see an alternate reality where he does get the spot over Batista; does Jindrak become as big a star as Big Dave did? Is he playing Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy and hanging out with Chris Pratt right now? Hell, what becomes of Batista’s career? It’s fascinating to wonder what may have happened, and just how close Jindrak was to seeing his career with WWE go the other way.
Alas, it may have turned out for the best that the Evolution gig didn’t go to him. Why? Well, for those of you who think Jindrak just upped and left the wrestling business after WWE canned him, you’d be wrong. After a short stint over in Japan, Jindrak found his way to Mexico in 2006, joining CMLL. There, largely due to his partner at the time (former WWE, TNA and WCW wrestler Johnny “The Bull” Stamboli) working an Italian gimmick, Jindrak changed his ring name to Marco Corleone; yes, he went with The Godfather reference. Overnight, Corleone became a huge star, winning over the women with his look and charisma and captivating the rest of the audience with the sort of athleticism you don’t see from people who are almost 6’8 and 280 lbs. Aside from a two year stretch where Corleone worked for AAA and then Lucha Libre USA (where he was largely responsible for putting the roster together), Corleone has been a stalwart for CMLL, and today finds himself a part of their top rudo stable Los Ingobernables, which only features two of the best lucha stars today in Rush and La Sombra. He later stated that the move to Mexico changed his life, and the results certainly don’t lie.
Neither does his life outside of the ring. In what would seem like a very arrogant statement, Corleone once described himself as being Mexico’s John Cena; the fact is that he’s not wrong. Thanks to his good looks and his charisma, Corleone has parlayed his wrestling success in Mexico into becoming a star all across the board. He’s appeared on numerous Mexican game shows (most notably their version of Family Feud), had numerous magazine covers, starred in numerous soap operas and TV shows (most notably scoring decent roles in the telenovela series’ Porque el amor manda and Mi Corazon es tuyo) and even writing a children’s book called Marco Corleone: las primera luchas de mi vida. The acting thing isn’t surprising, considering Corleone almost won a role for Remember the Titans back when he was a WCW Power Plant trainee. But to write children’s book teaching kids how to cope and stand up to bullying? That’s pretty bad ass. That more than makes up for the fact that the world never got to see Corleone as Gerry Bertier, which would’ve been sublime. Imagine him doing the scene as Bertier when he has to kick his best friend off the team? I reckon that wouldn’t have been as calm a scene if Corleone has gotten the role. And yes, I know he wouldn’t have gotten that big of a role, but so what; this my column, and the dream stays alive dammit!
What a shock; Corleone’s best moment comes from when he was wrestling as Marco, not Mark. For this one, I decided to go with his hair vs. hair match against lucha star Lizmark Jr. from 2012. There’s nothing groundbreaking about the contest the way Grave Consequences was per say, but it’s still a very good, at times even great match. Corleone shows off his great blend of athleticism, striking ability (the man may throw the best punch I’ve ever seen in wrestling history) and that cocky charisma that he was able to harness in Mexico, while Lizmark holds up his end of the bargain too. It’s an excellent contest with some twists, turns, controversy (that ending!) and for those of you who only know Corleone from the Jindrak days, it’s an opportunity to see what did ultimately lead him to superstardom south of the border.
It was a no doubter that Mark Jindrak was in some shape or form going to be a star in wrestling one day. That he became one in Mexico instead of the US is a tad surprising. I’ll always be a little confused as to why WWE never gave Jindrak a better look, considering he had both the talent and the appearance they love, and the fact that they’ve given Roman Reigns (a very similar talent to Jindrak honestly) numerous chances and gave Jindrak none. That said, I think it worked out for the best, and I think we’re all better off with Marco Corleone at this point. He’s still an excellent wrestler to this day, he’s still a solid draw for CMLL, he’s crossed over into other mediums of Mexican entertainment; he really did become the John Cena of Mexico. It was a treat to see him compete again at CMLL’s 82nd Anniversary show, and I can’t wait to see more of his work going forward. Sometimes, something that doesn’t work in one wrestling company can flourish like crazy in another. Mark Jindrak, Marco Corleone or whatever you want to call him is living proof of that.
That’ll do it sports fans. Hope you enjoyed this look at a guy who had success both in WWE and down in Mexico; a good combo, no? I’ll be back tomorrow with the return of the Failbag. Till then, let’s close with some Tommy Wiseau.
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