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Tito Santana Appreciation Thread

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All right, let's fire this baby up. I dunno how often I'm gonna do one of these, but here we go:

 

TITO SANTANA VS. THE WORLD #1 -- Don "the Rock" Muraco

 

Tito Santana was the man who ended Don Muraco's reign as WWF Intercontinental Champion at the Boston Gardens. That match only exists as highlights, but there are two MSG matches from 1/23/84 and 2/20/84 that give you a fair look at their title feud. It was quite a disjointed feud as Muraco cut these awesome heel promos where he said a bunch of derogatory things about Santana and Mexican people in general, but Tito was in real challenger/title match mode so instead of the fired up Santana we love so much we got a bunch of leverage holds. There were good things about the MSG matches, particularly when they unleashed on each other, but nothing beat the intros from the first match with Tito's hair and jacket, Muraco's badass red hoodie and the MSG crowd. Those early 80s MSG crowds were a much different beast to later WWF crowds. I dunno if you'd call them a wrestling crowd or a New York crowd or what, but every time the camera pans the crowd there's an array of interesting looking characters. But as great as the crowds are, these matches are a little disappointing. I actually prefered the shorter, tighter matches they had in Philly in '85 and Boston in '87. They're nothing special, so don't trip over yourself to see them, but they have a more watchable structure than the messy MSG matches. They also had a match at the Wrestling Challenge in '85 which is skippable and some matches in ECW in '93 which I only skimmed through but looked lacklustre. The thing I took away from watching this match-up is that they could have had matches as good as the Santana/Valentine ones but instead were going for some kind of title match psychology that didn't pan out very well. Nothing here I'd really recommend watching, but that MSG crowd sure rocked.

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That second MSG match from 2/20/84 I really liked. I agree it started slow with them working hammerlocks and what not. But I appreciated Muraco going on his run. Tito should have had a longer come back before they went to the finish with Muraco's head in the ropes. It's easy to assume the matches could have been better.

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TITO SANTANA VS. THE WORLD #2 -- "Mr Perfect" Curt Hennig

 

These guys wrestled each other a bunch of times. I watched matches they had from 5/1/89, 5/16/89 and 8/21/89, as well as the final of the IC title tournament in 1990 and their Saturday Night Main Event match from 7/16/90. This was a real workrate feud by WWF standards and I imagine wildpegasus was a fan of this series. The impression of Hennig I had from the last time I watched his 80s stuff was his over the top bumping, but this time he struck me as a workrate machine. Compared to guys like Rude or Dibiase, Hennig was relentless. It was a bit suffocating, to be honest, as it was almost like watching Kurt Angle if Kurt Angle had no offence. The 1990 matches are much more impressive than the '89 bouts in large part because Hennig wasn't sticking to his man so much. The SNME match is the one to watch if you're going to watch any of their matches as it's a hot bout with a great crowd and a ref storyline that works. The only downer is the finish, which is too clean (of all things.) Definitely one of the better Curt Hennig matches and one of my recommended Tito bouts as well. If it had happened on a PPV it would be a lot better known. Tito had this ability (habit?) of blending with whoever he faced, but he was a pretty good foil for Hennig, firstly in vying to be the guy who ended the perfect streak and then as a rival for the IC belt. I don't know if it's true or not, but in the youtube comments some guy said Tito told him the original plan was for Santana to win the IC title off Hennig, not Kerry Von Erich. Kind've makes sense except for the fact that there seems to be other "Tito was supposed to win the belt" rumours. One final thought while watching this matches was whether Tito was better than Bret Hart. They were very similar wrestlers and did a lot of the same moves and I think it's an interesting comparison at least for Bret's work prior to '94.

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Kerry came in at the time Beefcake got injured, and was basically put in his spot, so maybe Beefcake was the one who would have got a run with the IC belt. He was quite hot in 1990.

I enjoy your Tito Series BTW.

Tito better than Bret ? Not in my book, not close. The best Bret stuff is better than the best Tito stuff. But Tito is still pretty underrated by people not familiar with his 80's work I think.

Tito better than Hennig ? I would think so.

Tito better than Michaels ? At points, yes he was. When Shawn was in his prime, probably not, but it's not as far fetched as some would think (well, considering I find Michaels to be very overrated, as in *very good*, but not *great*)

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One final thought while watching this matches was whether Tito was better than Bret Hart. They were very similar wrestlers and did a lot of the same moves and I think it's an interesting comparison at least for Bret's work prior to '94.

Why would the comparison stop in '94?

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One final thought while watching this matches was whether Tito was better than Bret Hart. They were very similar wrestlers and did a lot of the same moves and I think it's an interesting comparison at least for Bret's work prior to '94.

Why would the comparison stop in '94?

 

 

He's comparing them throughout the same time frame in the WWF. Tito was gone from the WWF I believe happened in 94 or late 93. It's a fair comp becuase they can use same time frame, same federation, a lot of the same opponents.

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Comparing 84-93 Tito to 84-93 Bret is interesting. As far as who had the best matches, Tito from 84-90 would have the edge, although Bret had many memorable tag and singles matches over that time. Survivor Series 90 was a turning point for both men, as Bret had his breakout performance with DiBiase, while Tito had his last real spotlight moment making it to the final match with Hogan and Warrior. Bret gets the big push in 91 and Tito slides into a JTTS role, so Bret has the edge from 91-93 (I really need to see more of Tito's El Matador matches, though).

 

Both were great. Overall, who was better from 84-93? *Flips coin* Uh, Bret.

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I think, as with all comparsions, you have to look at peak vs. peak. So for Tito it's '82-'87 and for Bret it's '92-'97. We can look at the area in-between for common opponents but Bret was on his way up and Tito on his way down so there's only so much you can gain.

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TITO SANTANA VS. THE WORLD #3 -- The Barbarian

 

The Barbarian didn't bring as much offense to his WWF matches as he did during his WCW run but he was still a pretty fun power wrestler. I always thought it was a bit weird how The Powers of Pain were broken up and repackaged as nothing singles workers. I mean, there's nothing to Barbarian other than some new threads, some hair and the fact he's managed by Heenan. Astute Tito Santana vs. the World readers will remember that Tito and The Barbarian had some history as Tito and Martel brought them in as hired guns to gain revenge on Demolition. As a kid, I thought it was badass that there was a team who might stop Demolition, but even I cottoned on to the fact that they were incredibly boring in the ring. I'm sure someone who take objection to that and point out the great Powers of Pain matches, but I think by the double turn no-one gave a fuck. Anyway, there's no reference to Tito and the Barbarian's previous history in this match-up, no baggage and no learned psychology. Just bear hugs. I watched three matches -- Wrestlemania VI, MSG 9/21/90 and a 12/2/91 El Matador/Barbarian match. All decent matches, but the highlight was Barbarian's clothesline to win the Wrestlemania match. Man did Tito eat that. One cool thing about watching Tito matches is that someone usually jobs as wins and losses in later Tito matches are inconsequential.

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I think, as with all comparsions, you have to look at peak vs. peak. So for Tito it's '82-'87 and for Bret it's '92-'97. We can look at the area in-between for common opponents but Bret was on his way up and Tito on his way down so there's only so much you can gain.

Tito was one of the better workers in the company from '88 to '90 and didn't appear as though he had lost anything in his El Matador run. I think the key period of interest is when Bret started working more singles matches in the late 80s and early 90s as there are a lot of easy comparison points such as both of them having a ton of matches against Hennig. Yes, Tito was older and more experienced, but they were in a similar position company wise as midcard faces.

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but even I cottoned on to the fact that they were incredibly boring in the ring. I'm sure someone who take objection to that and point out the great Powers of Pain matches, but I think by the double turn no-one gave a fuck

Powers Of Pain were awesome in the the NWA, doing all sorts of sick double teams. Then they get to the WWF and they are told "You know all that neat shit you do? STOP DOING IT!!"

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I think, as with all comparsions, you have to look at peak vs. peak. So for Tito it's '82-'87 and for Bret it's '92-'97. We can look at the area in-between for common opponents but Bret was on his way up and Tito on his way down so there's only so much you can gain.

Tito was one of the better workers in the company from '88 to '90 and didn't appear as though he had lost anything in his El Matador run. I think the key period of interest is when Bret started working more singles matches in the late 80s and early 90s as there are a lot of easy comparison points such as both of them having a ton of matches against Hennig. Yes, Tito was older and more experienced, but they were in a similar position company wise as midcard faces.

 

I didn't really mean in terms of ability but position on card. Tito was pushed down and Bret pushed up. But I guess you're probably right, in that ultimately both were midcard guys during much of that overlap period.

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(I really need to see more of Tito's El Matador matches, though).

I always had a soft spot for Matador vs Michaels from WM 8. Good match, my very first WM, I was a fan of both, I was really excited about Michaels turning heel, I loved Sherri.

I also remember a good Matador vs Luger match from 1993, before WM 9, but I haven't seen it since, so my memories might be tainted at this point.

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I always thought it was a bit weird how The Powers of Pain were broken up and repackaged as nothing singles workers.

Story goes that one was supposed to feud with Hogan and one with Warrior but it never came to be.

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Bret is pretty obviously better than Tito peak vs peak, but I thought the idea was to see which of the two was better in the late 80s. Maybe Tito could have been as good as Bret with the same opportunity, but he didn't get the same opportunity, so he wasn't.

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but even I cottoned on to the fact that they were incredibly boring in the ring. I'm sure someone who take objection to that and point out the great Powers of Pain matches, but I think by the double turn no-one gave a fuck

Powers Of Pain were awesome in the the NWA, doing all sorts of sick double teams. Then they get to the WWF and they are told "You know all that neat shit you do? STOP DOING IT!!"

 

What sick double team moves?

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Yes, Barbarian is generally well-received ... in some circles. In the WON at the time, Dave would always say he was a great athlete who had no concept of how to put together a match.

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Barb was a lot of fun. He'd bump bigger than you think too.

 

And there were good Warlord matches. I don't think he was that bad by 91 or so. The year feud with DBS got boring at the time but looking back there are some good matches. He also had a feud with Bret and I know I've seen some other good stuff from that era.

 

OH! and I love the Warlord/Jannetty opening segment from 90 Survivor Series

 

Actually, a good way to compare Contrast Barbarian/Warlord is to look at Barbarian's Battle Royale at the Royal Albert Hall match vs DBS and compare it to the 91 series Warlord had with him. (and then compare them both to the Berzerker/DBS match from Rampage. Nord was the best non-Tenta big man in early 90s WWF).

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but even I cottoned on to the fact that they were incredibly boring in the ring. I'm sure someone who take objection to that and point out the great Powers of Pain matches, but I think by the double turn no-one gave a fuck

Powers Of Pain were awesome in the the NWA, doing all sorts of sick double teams. Then they get to the WWF and they are told "You know all that neat shit you do? STOP DOING IT!!"

 

What sick double team moves?

 

They did a flying headbutt Demolition Decapitation to a jobber. Lots of stuff but that one really stood out. In the NWA Warlord was busting out all kinds of suplexes. I get that they could not do that to the Bolsheviks in midcard matches, but even the jobber matches were boring.

 

WWF really botched the Demolition/Powers of Pain feud, considering Dusty practically gift wrapped it for them.

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