Melissa Santos was one of the most beloved and important fixtures of Lucha Underground. She did a little bit of everything from ring announcing to participating in storylines and even wrestling. Impact Wrestling signed on the multi-faceted performer during a rebuilding phase for the company. Santos can feel the winds of change as she enjoys contributing to the fresh presentation of the product.
"There has definitely been growth when it comes to this big guy [motions to Brian Cage]," Santos said, in the midst of the excitement of Starrcast II in Las Vegas. "He was X Division champion. Now he is the Impact champion. I think he is representing them well. Not just because he is my soon-to-be husband and the father of my child, but because he is an incredible talent. He is just one of the amazing talents brought on in the past year, 18 months."
Santos and Cage have the luxury of being together on the road, but it's not without a cost. Being in the same often hectic and unpredictable industry means their little on at home. Luckily, the couple has a good support system.
"It can be a little difficult at times to get my schedule to correlate with the sitter, which the sitter is my mom," she said. "She is the only one to watch my baby. It works out. You creatively do things in a different way. You just have to be creative."
The lively host is able to get some work done off the road some weeks. She interacts with viewers during commercial breaks for the Twitch broadcast of Impact Wrestling.
"The first couple of weeks there was definitely some baby crying, but we have that under control now," Santos said. "We have a sitter to make sure she is corralled around that time, but that's just the way it's going to function for now because I'm doing it from home. Or the case I'm doing it from my hotel room. Many times, I'm on set shooting Impact. Then when I'm done, I switch over to do the Twitch.
"It's fun. I like how organic it is. I like to have fun with people. You have the occasional wrestling troll who gets online and says, 'Is that a baby in the background?' Absolutely, I'm a mom. If you have a problem with a baby, then I can't help you with that. I've been known to, I don't want to say clap back, but clap back. I'm very defensive of the things I love. I love Impact. I love what we're doing. I'm always going to defend the product. I do that on Twitch. Most fans, 99.99 percent are all for it. It's great to interact with them on the chatrooms to get a feel of what they're liking and not liking genuinely. It caters to the true Impact fan."
Her duties also involve conducting interviews backstage. Two of her favorites to hold the mic for are Tessa Blanchard and Madison Rayne.
"This is not to downplay anyone else's flow when we are back there, but Tessa Blanchard has a great flow about her. She goes in and does her promo and it's done. It's one shot, where there are others who might take a little bit longer to do their promos. Not saying it's bad, but it's kind of like a rapper who is told to rap out of nowhere on a topic. They just do it. Tessa is one of those people. Not only is she incredible in the ring, but she is incredible at doing these promos.
"Also, Madison Rayne is amazing. Just really good. You can see how natural it is for her and all her expressions are incredibly organic. So, Tessa and Madison have that similarity. I enjoy that because organically I can respond to that. My expressions come from them organically flowing. It's like two actors working together where if one actor is flat face and not doing anything, it's hard to flow because you need that other person. They do it very well."
Even though her focus is predominantly observing from the sidelines, that doesn't mean Santos has permanently hung up the wrestling boots. She still has aspirations to mix it up.
"I originally started wrestling in this industry before my body didn't allow me to do any of the bumping," Santos said. "I have a lot of bumps to fill in my card . I'd like to. I just had ACL surgery, so I can't really do anything for a bit of time. Probably, seven more months. This happened training and took a bad step, but that's just the way life is. You roll with the punches, literally and figuratively."
And even as she becomes more part of the Impact family, Santos holds a place in her heart for Lucha Underground. The El Rey Network show has remained in flux with no signs of returning with new episodes at the moment.
"I don't want to say it's completely dead because obviously there are talks," Santos said. "I still work with AAA and Impact and Impact and AAA works together. We ideally would want that for Lucha in the future, but Lucha was a different product. It was TV. It was true to being a TV show. It was a little different. I don't want to say there became too many cooks in the kitchen at the time, but I really feel hopefully once that gets dialed in, it can be handled in a better way.
"I feel people deserve to watch Lucha. It's a great product. Not just because I was on it, but just because it was so different. It was a different type of wrestling. I had friends who didn't watch wrestling when they were kids, but they started watching because it had a feel of a television show with wrestling in it. It grabbed different eyes."
Outside of wrestling the former Celebrity Apprentice receptionist continues to act. She can be seen in the upcoming horror flick Desert Moon. The experience gave he the chance to shoot scenes with Richard Grieco, a veteran actor known for projects including "21 Jump Street."
"I play a news reporter, which is not a horrible stretch," Santos said. "She is kind of like the Courtney Cox from Scream. The inquisitive one getting into things she shouldn't probably be getting into. I won't tell you the end of the movie, but hopefully I come back for the sequel."
Wrestling Inc's full interview with Santos was included on Wednesday's episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post.
You can check out past episodes of the WINCLY here.