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Tito Santana Appreciation Thread

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All the recent talk about Tito surrounding his alleged consideration for the WWF title in 1992 has been fun and has inspired me to create this thread.

 

During the early years of my wrestling fandom (circa 86-89) there were a few wrestlers I really gravitated towards, like Steamboat, Owen Hart, and the Bulldogs. However, the wrestler I considered my absolute favorite during those formative years was the man billed from Tocula, Mexico--Tito Santana. I'm not exactly sure why I embraced Tito like I did, but his passion and emotion in the ring likely had something to do with it.

 

So to begin, in honour of the man, and also as a romantic ode to my youth, I give you this photographic tribute. Please feel free to contribute to this thread with matches, interviews, stories, results, etc. This thread is not intended to be a HOF pimp job, and I don't have the patience to seriously delve into Tito's career record like Dylan has so impressively done with Rose and Patera.

 

Tito Santana: A career in pictures

 

*First, I suggest playing this song in the background in order to capture the mood

 

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"¡Arriba!"

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I don't think it's the case here on this forum but I have always felt like Tito was underrated. Maybe his peak hit before Hulkamania took off so he missed the boat, so to speak, but he was good during his entire WWF stint in my mind. I even liked his El Matador run. Dude could just bump and sell like no other.

 

As far as being World Champion, I don't know. It was a different era then. He sure as shit could be today, with the likes of people like The Great Khali being former champions. It almost feels like the World Heavyweight Championship now is on par with the Intercontinental Championship back then. So looking at it from that perspective, Tito then was where Mark Henry is now. I can see that. Still below John Cena/C.M. Punk and the WWE Title, just like back then he was still behind Hulk Hogan.

 

I'll always pimp Tito Vs. Barbarian from Wrestlemania 6. Tito made Barbarian look like a monster in that match. It wasn't a long, back-and-forth exhibition or anything like that but it was memorable. Mainly for the finish.

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I like Tito, but he's not someone who I look back on with a great sense of "What if?" To me, he was used exactly as he should have been -- an upper midcard babyface who could be counted on to deliver a good match or get a storyline point across in a match when the situation required it. He did well in that role, and good for him. He had a good career and considering the time period, I think he was used exactly as he should have been.

 

He wasn't a world champion or top headliner, but he didn't need to be. He was used in a way that played to his strengths. Perhaps in a different era, he'd be a guy with an impressive resume of good TV matches. I think he'd be the guy that faced the top heel and had just enough credibility to make you think he might pull off the win, but he'd lose in the end.

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Tito had two of the best feuds of the WWF in the 80's in term of quality matches, against Valentine and against Savage. Lots of very good/excellent matches there. I really opened my eyes to Tito during the SC WWF poll. I always enjoyed his late 80's-90's work, but I didn't think he was that solid in the 80's. IC champ was the exact right spot for him when it meant something.

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I'm a Tito fan. Tito-Valentine and Tito-Savage were good feuds. There are other matches out there that are very watchable against the likes of Orndorff, Orton, Reed, etc.

 

John

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A few random bits and stuff...

 

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An atypical look for Tito in this picture, looking almost like a cocky heel. Does anyone know if he had a heel run at some point somewhere? Otherwise, I guess he's one of the few guys who were faces their entire careers.

 

Until doing some modest research (read:wikipedia), I didn't know Tito was trained by the same man (Hiro Matsuda) and debuted in the same year for the same territory (1977, Florida) as Hogan.

 

I forgot he wrote a book, Tito Santana's Tales from the Ring, released in 2008. Has anyone read it? The reviewers on Amazon complain about its lack of depth and factual errors.

 

Appearance wise, Tito's website leaves something to be desired to say the least http://www.titosantana.net/ It does contain a career record book, though, which I'll have to explore at some point.

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I always loved the way Tito would seem like he was fighting like mad to kick out of something when he was being pinned. Tito/Warlord was Summerslam '90 is a good example of it, Warlord is pinning him with the powerslam and Tito is kicking his free leg like he's trying his damnest to kick out.

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I really liked his match against Bob Orton at MSG in the summer of 1984. It always strikes a chord with me even though I can't specify why.

 

Tito was very good in his AWA run as well. His feud with Sheik Kaissie was cut short when they plugged Sheik in with Bockwinkel to try and get Bock re-established as champ, and that was too bad...the TV angle where Kaissie bloodied Tito with his sword was really a big deal at the time.

 

One of my all-time favourite title wins was Tito regaining the IC title from Valentine in the cage. One of the reasons it worked is that Tito's time as a challenger seemed "up", and it made his win improbable. That was reflected in the crowd going batshit when Tito hit the floor first.

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Edit: Tito also wrestled Flair for the title 9/24/92 in Stuttgart, Germany.

I guess there's no video of this ? Too bad, I remember their match in London being pretty cool.

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Edit: Tito also wrestled Flair for the title 9/24/92 in Stuttgart, Germany.

I guess there's no video of this ? Too bad, I remember their match in London being pretty cool.

 

It got missed by a day...

 

WWF DORTMUND GERMANY 9/25/92 (handheld)

The Bushwhackers vs Skinner & Kato, Rick Martel vs El Matador,

Crush & Road Warrior Animal vs Beverly Brothers, WWF Champ Ric Flair vs Randy Savage, Virgil vs the Genius, Bret Hart vs Papa Shango,

WWF Tag Team Champions the Natural Disasters vs Ted Dibiase & IRS VQ VG/EX

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Here's a brief taste of some AWA Tito. The Team Eventually Known as Strike Force vs The High Flyers, from St. Paul, 1982. Based on what is shown, the full match was likely awesome. Tito takes a great flying bump over the top rope. And it's funny how during the wrap around bits Greg Gagne speaks of himself in the third person for some reason.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CPB-9RVkSE...nel_video_title

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The most complete Strike Force v. High Flyers match is an excellent match.

 

Tito was really a very good wrestler and while I tend to agree with Loss that he was used correctly throughout his career, he has been underrated by smart fans over the years.

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Yeah, Tito is almost the dictionary definition of a solid, hard-working, mid-card babyface. I'm not sure where he could have headlined long-term during his prime, other than one of the struggling territories. Maybe in the Martel role in AWA? I guess you could argue that with the right push at the right time he may have caught on as a main eventer, but I'm more than fine with the career he had, even though it kind of came to an abrupt end on the big stage.

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I think he was treated shabbily towards the end when he was being used as a JTTS tagging with Virgil and appearing in dark matches. I think he was shunted down the card a little too early considering his solidness.

 

One "what if" that does interest me was that in early 1992, early in the El Matador gimmick, Santana and DiBiase had house show matches around the horn. 20-minute time limit draws, that sort of thing.

 

Clearly this was interrupted by the accidental Money Inc team and title run(s) following real life shenanigans with the Road Warriors.

 

And seemingly this was when Tito was really really shunted down the card.

 

I wonder what plans the WWF had for Tito vs. DiBiase. Seems to me that they were planning on it being a Wrestlemania match.

 

I wonder IF that feud had actually taken place, whether Tito would have been so directionless and handed in his notice like he did in 93.

 

I also wonder if those matches were any good and if any footage of them has ever surfaced.

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I'm pretty sure Money Inc. had been formed and had at least one match in the can ready for TV when the sudden title win over LOD happened. That is, they weren't just thrown together at the last second and had their first match together the night of the change, even though it sure seemed that way at the time. I think the DiBiase-Tito feud was meant to be short-term thing, almost something just to keep Ted busy until Vince or whoever came up with a better idea for him. But who knows.

 

The only Ted-Tito singles match I could find online was from November 15, 1988, a Prime Time taping. I'm going to watch it later.

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I don't see Tito/Ted as a viable match for 'Mania 8, even without Ted and Rotundo coming together and forming Money Inc. Shawn/Tito just makes more sense the whole way around. Tito is a good, solid, worker who can work a good match with Shawn and help get over his new heel attitude and persona. It also allows them to play the history card, with Tito and Shawn being former buddies until Shawn developed his new attitude.

 

Not to mention that the last few 'Mania shows featured Tito helping get over new acts. He put over the Barbarian fresh from splitting off from Warlord at 'Mania 6, and he put over Jacques Rougeu-turned-Mountie at 'Mania 7.

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Tito rode a seven match Wrestlemania losing streak. Funks, Hart Foundation, Demolition, Martel, Barbarian, Mountie, Michaels. Forget if he won the dark match against Papa Shango at Wrestlemania IX.

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Re: Tito in 91-92.

 

Becoming El Matador had one really important end result to Tito in ring.

 

Before 88 or so, Tito used the figure four as a viable finisher and the Flying Forearm could work as a transition/comeback move or a set up move. After that, when he wasn't using the figure four, so many of the matches where he would lose would let him keep his heat somewhat by hitting the forearm, but having the heel too close to the ropes in one way or another. As a 10 year old, I knew the second that would happen, that he would lose the match.

 

After becoming El Matador, however, he gained el paso de la muerte.(do I have that right?) and past looking cool, it meant that his match structures became just a little more unpredictable.

 

Trust me, as a kid it really made his matches more exciting.

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I'm pretty sure Money Inc. had been formed and had at least one match in the can ready for TV when the sudden title win over LOD happened. That is, they weren't just thrown together at the last second and had their first match together the night of the change, even though it sure seemed that way at the time. I think the DiBiase-Tito feud was meant to be short-term thing, almost something just to keep Ted busy until Vince or whoever came up with a better idea for him. But who knows.

 

The only Ted-Tito singles match I could find online was from November 15, 1988, a Prime Time taping. I'm going to watch it later.

You'll find the one from Invasion '92 on Dailymotion if you look (search El Matador vs. Ted DiBiase). It's the one with the Sherri Manager cam. 10 minuntes of her SCREAMING "Teddy Bear, my Teddy Bear". Don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I own every Coliseum VHS released in the UK from 1985 till 1994. I remember that one being like nails on a blackboard.

 

I know DiBiase and IRS tagged a couple of times, but I don't think they became "Money inc." until the LoD match.

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Oh God, that match is unbearable because of Sherri. Kudos to Sherri for managing to be as annoying as humanly possible because she knows she is the focus of the match.

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