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Lucha history lessons

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Might as well cross post these:

Matt D asked me if I could start doing this. I'm not the most qualified to give lucha history lessons as there are plenty of people who know more about it than me, but I'll try my best. Feel free to suggest any corrections or suggestions.

 

Satoru Sayama y Gran Hamada vs. Perro Aguayo y Baby Face (4/13/80)

 

Gran Hamada (green trunks) was one of the first New Japan trainees and came from a strong judo background, where he fought for one of the top universities in Japan and was a candidate for the 1972 Olympics. Due to his lack of size, he was sent to Mexico to train with the newly formed LLI promotion in 1975 and learn the lucha style. Despite having a hard time with everyday life, Hamada soon established himself in Mexico and by the time he returned to Japan in 1979 he already had a family in Mexico, which is why he split so much of his time between the two countries.

 

Hamada had a rivalry at the time with Perro Aguayo (white trunks), one of the biggest stars in lucha libre history. Aguayo is famous for his blading and for being arguably one of the greatest brawlers in lucha history, but Aguayo vs. Hamada was, for the most part, a title match feud. This tag match from the famous El Toreo bullring was sandwiched between a pair of title matches the men had. The first was a match for the UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Championship, which Aguayo took from Hamada on 4/22/79. The second was a title defence of Hamada’s UWA World Light Heavyweight Championship on 5/25/80, which Aguayo also took from Hamada. They would go on to have an even fiercer rivalry for the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship, which would trade hands several times in both Mexico and Japan and their rivalry crossed promotions from UWA to New Japan to Shinma’s original UWF. Eventually, they would become tag partners in both Mexico and Hamada’s UWF promotion.

 

Sayama (tights with a stripe) was on his own excursion at the time and had tasted his first success in Mexico by winning the NWA World Middleweight Championship from Ringo Mendoza on 9/9/79, a belt he lost to El Satanico on 3/28/80, a few weeks before this tag took place. He would move to England by the end of the year and have a run under a quasi-Bruce Lee gimmick as “Sammy Lee” before heading back to Japan to done the famous Tiger Mask gimmick.

 

Aguayo’s partner Babe Face (red and white trunks) was one of the original UWA wrestlers and a hated rudo also known for his bloody hair matches.

 

This was on the undercard of an Antonio Inoki vs. Tiger Jeet Singh match for the UWA World Heavyweight title, which is why it was filmed by a Japanese TV crew.

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Andre the Giant y Cien Caras vs. Alfonso Dantes, Herodes y Sangre Chicana (1981)

 

Andre was touring Mexico fairly regularly at this point. He’d stay for about a week and work for EMLL and UWA on alternate nights. This is a match from Arena Coliseo de Guadalajara and appears to be an EMLL booking. It aired on Jalisco television and is reportedly the only time one of Andre’s bouts aired on Mexican television.

 

Andre was frequently booked in handicap matches while touring, sometimes two on one, three on one, anywhere upwards of four on one. The most famous Andre moment in Mexico was when he headlined the 1984 UWA Anniversary show against El Canek at the Palacio de lose Desportes, a large indoor sports arena that was built for the 1968 Olympics. The match drew a large crowd of 25,000 and is the bout where Canek body slammed the Giant.

 

His partner for this bout was Cien Caras, the oldest of Los Hermanos Dinamita, a trios he formed in the mid-to-late 80s with brothers Mascara Año 2000 and Universo 2000. Caras, an Arena Coliseo de Guadalajara regular at this point, would go on to play a major part in the lucha television boom with both CMLL and AAA, headlining two of the biggest shows in lucha libre history, CMLL’s 57th Anniversary show against Rayo de Jalisco, Jr. and the inaugural Triplemania show against Konnan. In 1981, he was still a masked technico, who’d taken the scalps of Alfonso Dantes and Goro Tanaka in hair matches and won his first major title, the Mexican National Heavyweight Championship, in 1980.

 

On the rudo side, Dantes and Herodes were regular rivals of Caras in the heavyweight division. Sangre Chicana (black tights with red stripe) was a middleweight to light heavyweight and not a natural rival of Caras’, though their paths crossed numerous times, particularly when Caras turned and became a rudo.

 

Chicana rose to fame in 1977 when he lost his mask to Fishman at Arena Mexico in a triple threat match with El Cobarde I. This feud catapulted him to stardom and he was enjoying an extremely successful rudo run at this point, including stints with the NWA World Middleweight Championship. He’d get even bigger the following year in 1982 when he jumped from EMLL to UWA and resumed his feud with Fishman.

Herodes (red trunks, awesome beard) has a rep as one of the great “lost” rudo workers of the 80s, though more footage of him surfaced in time for this set. Prior to the set, he was regarded as a great bumper and superb base for young technico flyers like Stuka, but he was also a hair match worker of note and a championship winning wrestler, taking the Mexican National Heavyweight belt from Caras in ’82.

 

Alfonso Dantes (red trunks with white trim, no beard) was an older worker than either Chicana or Herodes. He was a star from the mid-to-late 60s through the 70s, where he spent a large portion of the decade in the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship title picture, as well as the Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship, a belt he held in 1981 (and lost to Babe Face.) Like Herodes, he had a strong reputation as a worker, particularly for working bigger than his size, which due to his physique earned him the nickname of “El Tanque,” which means “The Tank.” His most famous feud was with El Halcon, but his career at this point was intertwined with the other wrestlers in the ring. He’d lost his hair to Caras at Arena Coliseo de Guadalajara at some point in this push of Caras’ and twice tagged with Chicana in hair matches. He was the father of 90s wrestler Apolo Dantes.

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Thanks for starting these, OJ. Just from these two I can see that they're going to be a hugely useful reference not just for the project but for people trying to get into this era of lucha in general. There were huge swaths in there that I didn't know anything about before reading.

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Thanks for starting these, OJ. Just from these two I can see that they're going to be a hugely useful reference not just for the project but for people trying to get into this era of lucha in general. There were huge swaths in there that I didn't know anything about before reading.

Couldn't agree more. Bookmarked reading here.

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The next two matches are from the LLI’s 7th Anniversary show. It was headlined by Perro Aguayo y Abdullah the Butcher vs. Antonio Inoki y Tatsumi Fujinami, which is why there was a Japanese television crew present. LLI was the top promotion in Mexico throughout the 80s, but didn’t get television until 1991, by which point the company was in terminal decline. The only footage we have of the UWA in its heyday is either from handhelds or Japanese TV.

As with the opening tag match, the footage comes from El Toreo de Naucalpan, or Toreo de Cuatro Caminos as it was officially known. This domed bullring was to the LLI what Madison Square Garden is the WWE. It was demolished at the beginning of 2009 and a mixed-use development project was supposed to begin construction at some point this year.

Lou Thesz is your ref for these bouts.

 

Centurion Negro vs. Gran Hamada (2/14/82)

This was for Centurion Negro’s UWA World Middleweight Championship. The middleweight championship was the first belt Hamada won when he started working Mexico, as UWA co-founder Rene Guajardo put him over in the early days of Monterrey, a region in the North of Mexico where Guajardo had begun promoting a style of show that would go on to be synonymous with lucha brawling. The belt passed hands through Hamada and Guajardo and another big star in Anibal before it ended up in the hands of Jungle Negra. Not much is known about Negra other than Anibal took his mask as penance for Negra winning his title and Centurion Negro later took his hair.

 

Centurion Negro was not a wrestler of particular note. As with many LLI/UWA wrestlers, he resurfaced on the indy scene once UWA folded, but there’s not much to be said about him. He dropped the belt here, but won it back on 6/13, which suggests that the LLI put Hamada over for New Japan’s benefit since the TV crew was there. On the other hand, the title wound up back around Hamada’s waist in ’83 and he enjoyed a lengthy year-long reign, so perhaps they just wanted a title switch on the Anniversary show.

 

El Canek vs. Don Corleone (2/14/82)

 

Canek, as many of you will know, was the UWA’s top attraction and the biggest Mexican wrestling star of the 80s. He was the guy chosen by Francisco Flores to headline the promotion when it became apparent that Guajardo and Ray Mendoza were getting old and other draws like Mil Mascaras were out of the country most of the time.

 

His push to the top started with title match victories over Dr. Wagner Sr and Lou Thesz in 1978 and was greatly aided by the LLI’s talent sharing agreement with New Japan Pro-Wrestling. As the Japanese promotions had done after the war, the UWA built Canek up by having him go over foreign stars from all over the world. Incidentally, he usually worked as a junior heavyweight in Japan, but in Mexico he faced heavyweight challenges from the likes of Inoki and Choshu. The formula worked and played a large role in the UWA being so successful in the 80s, as Canek vs. foreign “invader” consistently drew people to El Toreo. Eventually, they drove the formula into the ground and the UWA was left for dead by Antonio Pena’s new style of booking, but in 1982 Canek was still on the rise.

 

He was enjoying his second reign as UWA World Heavyweight champion, a title he would go on to hold 15 times. It had become a year earlier when he defeated Tiger Jeet Singh at El Toreo on 2/15/81 and included title defences against the likes of Strong Kobayashi, Tatsumi Fujinami, Billy Robinson and Pat Patterson. Why Don Corleone was chosen to face Canek at the Anniversary show is unknown. Corleone was Tony Rocco, who worked Los Angeles a lot. Canek also worked Los Angeles a fair bit, so there may have been a connection there. This was sort of a two part deal as the following month Canek took Corelone’s mask.

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Tatsumi Fujinami vs. El Canek (6/12/83)

 

Tatsumi Fujinami wrestled in Mexico on his first excursion abroad in 1974, but he wouldn't rise to prominence until he defeated Carlos Jose Estrada on 1/23/78 for the WWWF Junior Heavyweight championship. For the next three years, Fujinami defended the title across Mexico, Japan and the US, establishing it as the world's premier junior heavyweight wrestling title.

 

During that time he had matches against Mexican stars like Perro Aguayo, Angel Blanco, Ray Mendoza, Canek and Fishman, some of which are the only real footage we have of 1970s lucha. Unlike Hamada, Fujinami never stayed in Mexico for a significant amount of time, so he didn't really work a lucha style, but lucha at the time wasn't idiosyncratic enough that UWA stars couldn't work a 70s style mat based match for Fujinami's title defences, as LLI had close ties with both New Japan and the WWWF and the booking philosophy of using a lot of outside talent meant that the matches were often a hybrid of various styles.

 

Fujinami vacated the WWF Junior Heavyweight title in December of '81 when he moved into the heavyweight ranks, but he'd actually begun challenging Canek for his UWA Heavyweight Championship earlier than that. They had a match on the 5/1/81 UWA show at El Toreo that drew 20,000 (with thousands turned away), a show that was headlined by Antonio Inoki vs. Bob Backlund in a NWF vs. WWF title match. In what was a direct copy of Canek vs. Choshu the year before, Fujinami defeated Canek for the UWA Heavyweight belt on 5/1/83 at El Toreo, setting up this rematch between the two.

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The next two matches were from EMLL's 50th Anniversary show.

 

Kevin Von Erich, Mascara Ano 2000 y Halcon Ortiz v. Coloso Colosetti, Pirata Morgan y Herodes (9/23/83)

 

There was no real back story to this match. It was just Kevin Von Erich being brought in for a match the same way Andre was brought in for that Guadalajara bout.

 

But let's take a look at the players:

 

Mascara Ano 2000 (blue mask, gold trunks) was the younger brother of Cien Caras and the middle brother of Los Hermanos Dinamita. The brothers hadn't formed their trios yet (I believe it was actually a tag team first between the two brothers), so MA2k was still a technico here, a sort of aspiring Anibal/Lizmark type. Surprisingly, he wasn't that decorated a wrestler by lucha standards. He'd had a run with the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship in '82 built around feuds with Brit journeyman Dave Morgan and rudo El Faraon, but that as it as far as singles titles went. He did claim a fair number of masks, however, which built up the value of his own mask until finally he dropped it to Perro Aguayo at the first ever Triplemania.

 

Halcon Ortiz (stocky, white trunks) was formerly El Halcon, then Halcon Ortiz, then Super Halcon... Well, you get the picture. He was a veteran heavyweight, who was actually the guy who Flair was supposed to wrestle on the previous year's Anniversary show (as the story goes.) He'd dropped his Mexican National Heavyweight Championship to Pirata Morgan in August in Guadalajara, so there was heat there. Morgan we'll have plenty of opportunity to talk about later, but he's the guy with the eye patch for those of you who are really lost. The heat between Ortiz and Morgan built to a hair match the following April, which Ortiz won.

 

Herodes we've spoken about before, but Coloso Colosetti is new. Colosetti (blue trunks, goatee) was actually an Argentinean wrestler who worked primarily in Mexico and Southern California but travelled throughout the wrestling world. He belonged to the same generation as Ortiz, essentially. The high point of his career was defeating Ray Mendoza for the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship at the end of 1969, back when it was the most prestigious title in Mexico. Rather than jump to the UWA, I believe he spent a lot of time in Mike LeBell's NWA Hollywood territory before closing out his career in Mexico.

 

MS-1 vs. Sangre Chicana (9/23/83)

 

There's not much I can add to the backstory of this match that wasn't covered by Kris Zellner when MS-1 died or by Jose Fernandez in his old bio of MS-1, but to go over the basics:

 

MS-1 was a masked rudo who EMLL liked the look of and wanted to lose the hood. He lost his mask to Rayo de Jalisco Jr. in July of '82 and became a rudo idol among the ladies, hence the hairdo. Chicana was a huge draw at this point at Arena Mexico and Arena Coliseo, as well as Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo, and in '82 had reignited his feud with Fishman over the UWA World Light Heavyweight Championship at El Toreo. I mentioned before that he jumped to the UWA in '82, but that doesn't appear to be factually correct. It was either a talent sharing arrangement between EMLL and the UWA or Chicana was working as an independent, but in any event he was everywhere in the early 80s.

 

The interesting thing about Chicana was that whether he was a technico or a rudo, he seemed to develop rivalries with everyone. Prior to this feud, he'd had a massive rivalry with Satanico that led to two hair matches and been embroiled in a tumultuous situation where he sided with El Faraon after Fishman and Perro Aguayo turned on him, leading to a big rudos contra rudos tag match at Arena Mexico that seemed to spur on Chicana's popularity.

 

Whether Chicana was a technico here or simply just "Sangre Chicana" is an interesting point. In any event, the match did so well that they ran it as the main event of the following year's anniversary show.

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Espectro Jr, Satanico y MS-1 vs. Mocho Cota, Sangre Chicana y La Fiera (9/30/83)

 

This was a rudos contra rudos trios a week after the Anniversary show. Judging by the evidence, rudo vs. rudo was something EMLL booked a fair bit of during this period.

 

MS-1's trio were the original Los Infernales, a group created to capitalize on the popularity of trios wrestling and imitate the success of Los Misioneros de la Muerte, who had become a big rudo act at El Toreo. The original group consisted of MS-1, Satanico and Espectro Jr, but became more well known for line-up which included Pirata Morgan. Despite MS-1 vs. Chicana headlining the Anniversary show, Satanico was the biggest star on the team and more often than not the captain. Espectro (green tights and mask) had enjoyed a brief run with the Mexican National Middleweight Championship earlier in the year in a feud with Lizmark and Satanico was also in the midst of a feud with Lizmark for the NWA World Middleweight title, so they were quite a heavily pushed both individually and as a group.

 

Sangre Chicana's trio were dubbed "Los Guerreros" and featured rudos Mocho Cota (goatee and missing fingers) and La Fiera (black vest and pants.)

 

Posted Image

 

Cota was fairly new having debuted in 1979, but already he was making strides as a welterweight. He was both a skilled technican and a credible brawler and was pushed in both disciplines, title match wrestling and luchas de apuestas (hair and mask matches.) During the 80s, he feuded extensively with Chamaco Valaguez and Talisman. Had a second run in the early 90s after TV came in, but was a shell of the worker seen on the set. Fiera debut in '77 and had also come up through the welterweight ranks. He was part of a new wave of big bumpers with flashy offence, which ultimately took a toll on his body and by the early 90s he was physically wrecked. He was still fairly valuable as a veteran worker through to about '97, but had some serious drug issues and did a stint in jail for drug dealing before meeting a rather nasty end in 2010.

 

The reason for their shaved heads was that Cota had lost a hair match to Gran Cochisse on 9/9 and Fiera had lost a hair match to Satanico on 9/16. Add to that MS-1's hair loss at the 9/23 Anniversary show and you had the culmination of a month's worth of hair matches at Arena Mexico. Not only that, but Chicana and Satanico had feuded ferociously in '82 despite originally starting as allies in Chicana's never ending feud with the Mendoza brothers, and Satanico had also taken Cota's hair in '80, which meant the La Fiera victory gave him a trifecta of scalps against the Guerreros. Even Chicana and Espectro Jr had been involved in a mano a mano bout on the 6/24 Arena Mexico show, and Espectro had tagged with Fiera and Cota on the previous week's Anniversary show, so there may have been yet another issue there.

 

It shouldn't come as much surprise then that this match was quite heated.

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Sangre Chicana vs. Ringo Mendoza (10/28/83)

 

Luchawiki says this is title vs. title, Mendoza's NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship vs. Chicana's UWA World Light Heavyweight Championship, but while both men came to the ring wearing their respective belts, the footage suggests that it was Chicana's belt being defended. That was the belt the wrestlers posed with during the photographs at any rate.

 

Mendoza is a guy who's easy to overlook as just another maskless wrestler, but he was more important than you'd think. When he debut in '68, he was given a Native American gimmick and wore a headdress similar to Wahoo McDaniel. He was also given the ring name "Mendoza" in order to get a rub from Ray Mendoza. Like his namesake, he was an extremely successful singles wrestler, winning titles in both the middleweight and light heavyweight classes, which as you're probably aware by now were the weight classes where most of the best talent in Mexico presided. He was particularly synonymous with the NWA World Middleweight Championship, a title he held on five occasions from 1977 to 1981. The World Middleweight title was the focal point of many of the most memorable rivalries of his career, including names such as Perro Aguayo, El Faraon, Tony Salazar, and indeed Sangre Chicana.

 

Chicana and Mendoza basically belonged to the same weight class and challenged for the same belts. When Chicana was the NWA World Middleweight Champion in 1980, he defended the belt against both Mendoza brothers, Cachorro and Ringo. Ringo later took the belt from Chicana in '81, prompting a series of rematches, but their feud wasn't simply a bit of tit for tat for the middleweight titles. Chicana and Mendoza were no strangers to hair matches and they were no strangers to facing each other in hair matches, either. During the late 70s through to the early 80s, tag team apuestas were a lot more common than they are today. Ringo and El Faraon formed a team at the time that took a number of scalps, including Chicana and Alfonso Dantes' hair in '78. Faraon turned rudo overnight in '81 by turning on Mendoza and aligning with Chicana, which was the catalyst for Mendoza teaming with his brother Cachorro. Of all the people Chicana hated at this time, and there were many (Fishman, MS-1, Satanico, Aguayo, and still to come Villano III), he seemed to have a special place in his heart for Mendoza. His hatred for Mendoza even managed to forge an alliance with Satanico for long enough to take the Mendoza brothers' hair.

 

At this particular juncture, Mendoza was the NWA World Light Heavyweight champion having bested both Faraon and Satanico in the same year, two of his biggest career rivals, as well as Mexican National Tag Team champion with his brother. Chicana was UWA World Light Heavyweight champion having defeated Fishman three weeks earlier at El Toreo. Mendoza would go on to hold both titles until '85 while Chicana vacated his title in early '84, but this was really towards the end of their run as top middleweights of their day.

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With some help from my buddy Raging Noodles, I was able to flesh out some of the details of the Satanico/Chicana hair matches.

 

The first match was on 7/2/82, on the undercard to the Rayo de Jalisco, Jr./El Jalisco vs. MS-1/Carlos Plata match where MS-1 lost his mask. The finish to the match saw Chicana grab Satanico by the hair and launch him outside the ring. Chicana slammed Satanico hard into the wood panels that surround the ring. He repeated it twice, and the referee Palau told him that if did it again, he would DQ him. Chicana didn't care, he repeated the move, bringing the referree out, who tried to prevent it. This caused Palau to DQ Chicana, who lost his hair.

 

While Chicana was being shaved, Satanico realised that he had won. He didn't even know how, but his rival was being shaved and he climbed the ropes to celebrate. Chicana took advantage of the situation, got out of the ring, and grabbed a beer bottle. He climbed back into the ring, smashing it on Satanico's head, leaving him knocked out. Afterwards, this type of action continued in their feud.

 

Their second hair match was on 12/10/82, which I believe was the final Arena Mexico show of the year. The match ended in a draw and both men had their hair shaved. Here's a picture from that match:

 

http://s790.photobucket.com/user/OPCELINON...c85bc4.jpg.html

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Here's a bit more on the Satanico/Chicana hair match that Raging Noodles translated for us off of DJ Spectro's blog. Note that Chicana went under the name of Andres Richardson rather than his real name and is often referred to as Richardson on lucha sites.

 

"The semi-final would make clear who was the best rudo, a rivalry dating back years between Sangre Chicana and Satanico culminated. Even though two weeks ago, they had shaved [i guess they won a luchas de apuestas against] Los Hermanos Mendoza, their hatred to prove who was the best took them to this lucha de apuesta. The match started before the sound of the whistle, with a furious Richardson going after his rival, ripping his jacket (off) and sending him crashing into "the butaquerio" [i think these are the boards that they have on the apron, that advertises products, etc]. Satanico's face was immediately covered in blood, while (Chicana) expressed his anger with the fans, since their opinions were divided among who was the best. The match continued on "el enlonado" [i think this means mat or canvas]. El Infernal reacts by dodging an attack by El Paredon-native and the arena explodes. Chicana gets hit and gets out of the ring. His rival goes air-borne with a tope suicida but Chicana moves to the side to avoid it. Satanico hurts himself landing on the outside. Richardson now flies through the air and successfully connects. The rudo (Satanico), stays out of the fight, and the damn "pocho" advances. (In the U.S. Southwest, "pocho" like "Chicano" can mean an Americanized Mexican, while some have used both terms for lower-income Mexican-Americans or it can be political. Anyways, the meaning can be used differently, depending on the region and context but it's clearly referring to Chicana, which I thought was interesting).

 

In the second fall, Daniel (Lopez) gives his rival a taste of his own medicine, by knocking him out of the fall with a tope suicida. Things are getting heated, the fans from ringside bursting with emotion. It's overshadowed by the sound of the whistle, signaling the start of the third fall. Now it's Andres (Richardson) who is bleeding dramatically, but he continues with this fight. It's close to 11:20 pm. [Had a difficult time translating one of the sentences on here so I passed it since it doesn't seem necessary to do a direct sentence-translation. Rough translation of the sentence I skipped was that it seemed like Satanico was on the verge of victory]. However, Chicana connects with a dropkick, which leads both wrestlers and the referee to go to the outside, through the ropes. Andres goes to the outside, to keep on punishing his enemy. But the arena and el rudo goes quiet when Palau responds by disqualifying (Richardson, awarding the match) in favor of El Satanico for the action outside. Nobody can change the result [Also, I think Richardson is taunting/mocking around this point, but I'm not too sure here]. Richardson is getting his head shaved. But the story doesn't end here. The losing "tuzadoel" [never heard this word before and couldn't find anything on Google except this blogpost] heads towards Satanico and smashes a Coca-Cola (glass) bottle that makes El Infernal go to sleep. Richardson heads off to the dressing room, while Daniel is taking away in a stretcher through the fans."

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I think tuzadoel is actually an error, it's actually supposed to be tuzado el (two words). From what I've been able to look up, tuzado means someone who has had their hair cut.

Sweet, I wasn't familiar with "tuzado" so this makes more sense now.

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Atlantis y El Hijo del Santo vs. Fuerza Guerrera y Lobo Rubio (11/25/83)

 

This was El Hijo del Santo’s debut at Arena Mexico, which he had to have been nervous about since it was the site of so many of his father’s most famous matches.

Santo had made his debut as “El Hijo del Santo” on 10/18/82 in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipa, where he partnered with Ringo Mendoza in a match against Coloso Colosetti and Sangre Chicana. His debut generated plenty of interest, but also a fair amount of skepticism as few believed that he would live up to his father’s name. While he never became as famous as the original Santo, by the end of his rookie year he had already silenced the skeptics with his sheer athleticism and was winning “Rookie of the Year” honours in the lucha magazines.

 

On 7/22/83, he made his debut at El Toreo in a trios with Black Man and Matematico against Black Terry, Lobo Rubio and Blue Panther. For most of the decade, he would work predominantly for the UWA as well as the Tijuana promotion WWA while occasionally making appearances at Arena Mexico. He wouldn’t feature heavily on national TV until he jumped from UWA to AAA in 1992 along with many of the other UWA talent. The reason for El Hijo del Santo working for the UWA and not EMLL, aside from the UWA being the more successful promotion at the time, is presumably because his father had jumped from EMLL to UWA in 1977. Santo belonged to the lightweight class in UWA and competed against the likes of Black Terry, Negro Casas, Fuerza Guerrera and Espanto Jr early in his career.

 

Atlantis had made his debut on 6/12/83 (as Atlantis, at any rate) and I believe his Arena Mexico debut at EMLL’s 50th Anniversary show was built up as the debut of a new young superstar and heavily pushed in the magazines.

 

While we’re on the topic of Arena Mexico debuts, Fuerza Guerrera had made his debut on a major EMLL card at the 1981 48th Anniversary show, where he wrestled a match against Negro Casas that is somewhat legendary in that those who were there live claimed it was revolutionary for its time. Fuerza (the guy with the mask) is by far the better known of Santo’s opponents here and would go on to play a prominent role during the TV boom. He had just claimed the vacant Mexican National Lightweight title on 11/6, a relatively minor title which he would vacate in May when left the weight division and moved up to welterweight.

 

Lobo Rubio (the Mad Max looking guy) was a veteran welterweight who’d been wrestling since 1969. He’s best known for being a member of Los Temerarios, a trios that considered of himself, Black Terry and Jose Luis Feliciano and had memorable feuds with groups such as Los Cadetes del Espacio, but he was also a fairly regular Santo opponent in the early days of Santo’s career. In fact, his was the first hair that Santo took on 10/28/83. It’s generally thought he was a trusted hand who was in the ring with Santo a lot during his rookie year to guide him through these difficult matches.

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Atlantis vs. El Satanico (1984)

 

Atlantis continued to be pushed as a hot young superstar in ‘84. He was billed almost immediately as “El Ídolo de los niños” (The Idol of the Kids) and was extremely protected, always wrestling in the top two matches on the card and rarely jobbing. A modern equivalent would be someone like Mistico, though he became far more of a sensation than Atlantis.

According to Steve Sims, in his recent bio for Atlantis’ induction into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, the company also worked hard at legitimizing Atlantis in the eyes of the “lower class” fans by having him work the type of brawling style matches that lead to revenge bouts and stipulation matches, which is what we see here in this mano a mano with Satanico.

There were two key milestones for Atlantis in 1984. He had his first luchas de apuestas match at the 9/21 Anniversary show, wagering masks with midcard vet Talisman. Taking Talisman’s mask was an instant boost to his credibility and he followed it up by winning his first title, the Mexican National Middleweight Championship, which he captured from Jerry Estrada on 11/30.

 

Satanico, by comparison, was right in the middle of his prime, a period which ran from roughly 1979 to 1991 or so. He enjoyed tremendous success during this time, winning numerous titles and wager matches and always featuring near the top of the card. When he wasn’t involved in singles feuds, he was generally given something interesting to do with the Infernales, and was basically a mainstay of the promotion until the 1992 Anniversary show, where a third hair match in three years against El Dandy failed to draw.

 

His gimmick was that he was “El Número Uno,” the number one rudo in Mexico and by extension the best wrestler. As we’ve mentioned with the Chicana feud, this meant that he often feuded with both rudos and technicos alike. In truth, he wasn’t the biggest drawing rudo in Mexico, but he had by far the most technical ability, which allowed him to feature heavily in the nation’s title picture and demonstrate a level of skill usually only shown by technicos. In 1984, he was involved in title match feuds with Lizmark and Gran Cochisse for the NWA World Middleweight Championship, which are documented on the set, and won the UWA World Middleweight Championship from Super Astro, which we’re also fortunate to have on the set.

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So in my manic attempt to learn more about lucha a couple of months ago, I convinced Devon (a better spanish reader than I) to parse through this DJ Spectro post on Cota (http://djspectro.blogspot.com/2010/03/de-mis-apuntes-el-mocho-cota-rudo-unico.html), mainly because I wanted to know why the hell Cota was dressed up like Darth Vader. What he got was the general gist that he was driven out or banned or something and he kept coming back every week with a different costume to piss off the fans and that this somehow led to the Los Infernales feud. If even a little bit of that is spot on it just makes him all the cooler.

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Mocho Cota vs. Americo Rocca (1/27/84)
Mocho Cota vs. Americo Rocca (2/3/84)


According to Cota, he made his debut in 1968 for a local promoter in the Nogales region when he was a teenager. In 1971, he had an accident at the factory he was working for and from there the "Mocho Cota" gimmick was born. Of course, you'll have all read the story of how he hung out with the wrong crowd as a teenager, got into drug dealing and did a little jail time, and that his fingers being cut off was a message to whatever gang he was in, but the way Cota tells the story these days is that he worked as Mocho Cota for a long time locally until Blue Demon recommended him to Mexico City, who sent him to Diablo Velazco in Guadalajara to polish his act.

Regardless of how he lost his fingers, he wasn't shy about flashing his stumps at the audience. He waved his hand more times than Arn Anderson gave the Four Horsemen signal. When he finally cracked Mexico City, he was immediately pushed into a top rudo spot by EMLL, squaring off against El Satanico on the 1980 Anniversary show in a hair vs. hair match.

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He then entered into two long running feuds with Talisman and Chamaco Velaguez that were both title match feuds and hair match feuds. Another frequent rival of Cota's was Gran Cochisse, who allegedly faced Cota in hair matches twice in the same year, though I very much suspect their second match took place in '84.

This pair of back to back matches shows Cota defeating Americo Rocca for the NWA World Welterweight Championship and then successfully defending it. Cota would hold the belt through to July before losing it to his rival Velaguez, who he then took his revenge on just prior to the '84 Anniversary show by taking his hair.

Cota's last major match for EMLL in the 80s was a hair match in March of '86 where he and Chicana took El Faraon and Talisman's hair and after that he disappeared until 1993, presumably because of another prison stint. The reason that these matches are so special is that prior to their discovery when people thought of Cota they thought of the worker from the 90s, who was decrepit to put it nicely. These matches show him as the worker he appeared to be from 1980-86, who famed television commentator Pedro "El Mago" Septien described as the "little giant of lucha libre."

These days he's semi-retired, but still works the odd show in Nogales and around the Northern region, often tagging with his brother or sons. I believe he works at a centre for vaccinations against rabies while being involved in training local talent.

Americo Rocca is a guy like Ringo Mendoza who the company just seemed to trust. Like Mendoza, he enjoyed some lengthy title reigns during his prime. He started off with the Mexican National Lightweight title, which he took from Flama Azul in '77 and worked his way up through the welterweight ranks to the National Welterweight title and the NWA World Welterweight title. Within that weight class, there was strong competition and he would be chased by wrestlers such as Cota and Talisman and later on the likes of El Dandy, Javier Cruz and Fuerza Guerrera. He had held the NWA World Welterweight title for 558 titles prior to Cota's challenge, and although Mocho takes the belt here, the company would give him a third reign in '86 that lasted for a further 606 days. He would continue to challenge right up until 1990 then adopted the old masked gimmick of Antonio Pena's father, Ponzona, and did some goofy stuff with the likes of Espectro de Ultratumba and Espectro Jr.

Eventually, he began wrestling as himself again and worked for CMLL up until around 2001. Like Cota, he still works occasionally in the indies and has sons in the business.

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One semi-useless fact that I want to add about Mocho Cota is that people would often cry "fraud" about his hair vs hair matches because a week after losing he'd have a head full of hair. But he just seems to have unreal hair growth. A week after getting his head shaved bald he'd look like I do two weeks after getting my hair cut to 1cm length using an electric shaver.

 

And, yeah, whenever Fiera, Jerry Estrada or Mocho Cota disappeared from the scene for months and you wonder why then jail seems to be the safe bet. I know that Sangre Chicana had one or two long retirements so I always wondered if they are the same time of hiatuses too.

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Atlantis y Lizmark vs. El Egipcio y El Faraón (2/17/84)

 

This next match features two guys who’ve been mentioned quite a bit already, El Faraon and Lizmark.

 

El Faraon means “The Pharaoh” in Spanish, and as you can imagine he used to come to the ring adorned in Egyptian imagery, mostly notably the Anubis on the side of his mask, back in the era where lucha masks were truly beautiful.

 

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In 1975, he became embroiled in a “una grande rivalidad” with the rudo Fishman, where the only way to determine who was the best was a mask match. Both masks were coveted at the time, El Faraon’s beautiful emerald mask and Fishman’s distinctive green and yellow mask. El Faraon entered the mask match as the favourite, as he’d had a long string of undefeated matches and Fishman had just added the NWA World Welterweight Championship to his Mexican National Welterweight crown, which in lucha booking suggests the rudo is going to lose his mask while still being protected as a champion, but what the public didn’t realize was that El Faraon had movie star looks, and so on 4/23/76 Fishman unmasked the Pharaoh to the dismay of the fans.
Fishman went on to become an even bigger star and El Faraon immediately got his heat back by taking Perro Aguayo’s hair, as well as defeating him for the NWA World Middleweight Championship in the Autumn of ‘76. Faraon would often team with fellow technico, Ringo Mendoza, in apuestas matches where they took a number of big scalps. The pair would also meet as rivals in the middleweight division.
In 1980, Faraon was instrumental in cementing Satanico as a championship caliber wrestler after Satanico had defeated Sayama for the NWA World Middleweight title on 3/28 and successfully defended it against Ringo Mendoza on 4/9 in Acapulo. Some older lucha fans claim that while Satanico showed a lot of ambition in his early career he wasn’t a particularly good technical wrestler and was favoured by the EMLL office given his rise to stardom was quicker than others. Whether that’s just perception or there’s any truth to it I’m not sure, but Faraon, Mendoza, Americo Rocca, Halcon, Benetto, Dantes and Tony Salazar were considered better technical workers. On 4/11, they ran a trios between El Halcón Ortiz, Faraón y El Fantasma vs. Alfonso Dantés, Satánico y Sangre Chicana that set-up a challenge from Satanico for either his NWA World Middleweight title or Mexican National Heavyweight title, both of which Satanico held at the time. The end result was Faraon challenging Satanico for his NWA title on the 4/18 Arena Mexico show, which saw the return of El Santo to Arena Mexico and EMLL. The match was said to be a classic and Satanico earned plenty of admiration through his performance.
At some point around 1981, Faraon turned on Ringo Mendoza and became a rudo. This tag match is from that period. Some time around late ’85-early ’86 he would turn technico again and feud extensively with Sangre Chicana and Perro Aguayo. He then enjoyed a veteran midcard spot with EMLL up until his retirement from injuries in 1992. He is best known to 90s viewers for his bloody hair match against Pirata Morgan from 1990.
Lizmark was probably the most pure athlete in the promotion. Before getting into wrestling, he was a swimming champion, cliff diver, boxer and body builder. Fortunately, for us he also became one of the premier young flyers in lucha libre, as well as an excellent mat worker. He was particularly notable for bringing new moves to lucha libre that were state-of-the-art at the time like the flying dropkick and the powerbomb. For a long time he was criminally underrated in wrestling circles, possibly because he didn’t get over in Japan, but at this time he was arguably the best technico worker in EMLL or at least the best masked one. A good intro match for Lizmark is his title match against El Enfermero Jr., which didn’t make the set but which you should be able to find online easily enough.
Around this time, Lizmark had just come off a run of being dual NWA World Middleweight and Mexican National Middleweight champion in a feud with Satanico, and would spend the next few years in title limbo before moving up to the light heavyweight ranks. Later on, he jumped to AAA where he produced some of his best work against rudos like Jerry Estrada and La Parka despite being in his mid 40s.
Faraon’s partner in this match El Egipcio also had an Egyptian gimmick where he wore a type of Pharaoh’s headdress (if they’d found a third guy, they could have made a trios out of it.) His claim to fame was losing his mask to Rayo de Jalisco Jr. on the last Arena Mexico show of ’83 in a Relevos suicidas bout which also involved Hombre Bala and Masakre. The week before this tag Lizmark and Faraon had fought in a mano a mano bout, which may have been testing the waters for a future hair vs. mask match. That match never occurred, which makes this match more significant for the Atlantis and Lizmark pairing, which would go on to be a lasting combination that won both tag and trios titles.

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El Faraón, Herodes y Mocho Cota vs. Lizmark, Ringo Mendoza y Tony Salazar (2/24/84)

 

This is an example of the type of brawling trios that would be used to set-up revenge matches during the 80s, in this case the Herodes vs. Tony Salazar mano a mano grudge match that features later on this set.

 

Tony Salazar was an older wrestler who had made his debut in the mid-60s after getting a try out on the recommendation of influential lucha magazine editor, Valente Pérez. He was best known in his early days as a rudo and earned the nickname "The Jackal of Tlatilco" for his rudo behaviour. According to older lucha fans, Salazar modeled his style on René Guajardo, but because he didn't have the same technical ability as Guajardo his technico push never really took off. Still, he received a solid enough push, particularly in the wake of so many workers leaving for the UWA. He had two significant feuds for the NWA World Middleweight title with Ringo Mendoza in the late 70s and Sangre Chicana in the early 80s, and the peak of his career was a year long run with the NWA World Light Heavyweight Title when he defeated Alfonso Dantés for the belt in 1981. Oddly enough, Salazar would drop the belt to British journeyman Dave Morgan, who had feuded with El Solitario for the same title a decade before and lost a hair match over it.

 

Salazar himself was no stranger to hair matches, having fought them both as a rudo and a technico. His biggest apuestas match was on the 1982 Anniversary Show against Perro Aguayo, and after moving out of the title picture he spent a busy '83 having three hair matches, including two in a matter of weeks against Herodes and Coloso Colosetti. Much like Americo Rocca and Talisman, he enjoyed a mid card vet spot through to the mid-80s, and even featured in the '86 Anniversary Show main event in the Los Misioneros hair match, before donning a mask and becoming a rudo character called Ulises. As Ulises, he formed a short lived trio, Los Renegados, with another vet turned enmascarado, Gran Markus Jr (Tony Bennetto), and young breakout star Pierroth Jr.

 

These days Salazar is an official with CMLL and is rumoured to have some sort of role in putting together CMLL's Sunday night Arena Coliseo shows.

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Solar, Ultraman y Super Astro vs. Sergio El Hermoso, Bello Greco y Rudy Reyna (2/26/84)

This match pit the high flying Los Cadetes del Espacio against the exoticos team of La Ola Lila.

 

We'll have the opportunity to talk about each member of the Space Cadets in more detail later in the set, so for now I'll give you a general rundown of the trio. The Space Cadets were part of the trios boom that occurred in Mexico after the Misioneros made it big. The Misioneros changed the landscape in Mexico from cards that were primarily made up of singles matches and tag matches to cards which were mostly made up of trios matches. This shift saw not only a rise in the number of trios matches, but also the number of gimmick groups. Now banking one of the hottest acts in Mexico, Francisco Flores tried to replicate the success of the Misioneros by packaging other lightweight talents together, most notably Los Fantásticos (Kung Fu, Kato Kung Lee y Black Man) and the Space Cadets.

 

Ultraman was the oldest of the Space Cadets and the most established at the time of their formation. He had debut in the mid 60s with a superhero gimmick modeled on Robin from the 1960s Batman television show. For a time he partnered with a guy doing a Superman gimmick, before taking the name Milo Ventura, which was a play on his real name and the famous French actor Lino Ventura. In 1974, during a tag match, Ventura took a bump from a hurricanrana that left him unable to move. At first it was feared that he might die or lose the use of his legs, and in fact he spent the first several months in bed during his recovery. After rehabilitation, he returned to the ring with a new gimmick based on the Japanese tokusatsu television show, Ultraman. The gimmick was a success and Ventura was regularly booked in mask matches where he was like a real life superhero vanquishing the likes of Dr. Z and Alfa Centauris.

 

Solar was also an established worker by the time the Space Cadets were formed. The idea for the Cadets came about when Flores brought in a young wrestler from Tijuana who'd had trouble with promoters but managed to create a successful masked gimmick for himself as Super Astro. Flores gave Astro a shot at working Mexico City and packaged the Cadets together as a trio with a sort of cosmic theme, the idea being that the high flying moves they did made them seem like meteorites or comets shooting across the sky. The trio was formed some time around 1984 and lasted through to about '87. Sometime around 2003, they reformed on the indy circuit despite the fact that both Ultraman and Astro had dropped their masks for cash. They still wrestle together as a trio every once and a while.

 

Los Cadetes del Espacio had two big matches in '84, a match against Los Fantásticos on 3/18 to decide the first UWA World Trios champions, which they lost, and a six-way hair match against Los Temerarios (Black Terry, Jose Luis Feliciano y Lobo Rubio) on 7/8, which they won.

 

The rudos here are all famous exoticos. The first really famous exotico was Sterling "Gardenia" Davis, a Texan wrestler who was brought to Mexico by EMLL promoter Salvador Lutteroth in the 1940s and was apparently an influence on Gorgeous George. Davis would hand out gardenias to women on the way to the ring and wouldn't dream of stepping into the ring without help from his personal assistant. He inspired the next wave of exoticos such as Adorable Rubi and Bello Greco, men who were such good workers that they rose above the stigma of exoticios being sideshow freaks and became legitimate main eventers. In the mid-70s, Rene Guajardo came up with the idea of pairing Greco with younger exotico, Sergio El Hermoso, in his Monterrey territory. Together they became known as La Ola Lila, "The Lilac Wave" in English. This was a play on the famous La Ola Blanco tag team of Angel Blanco and Dr. Wagner, The White Wave. They belonged to a higher aristocratic class and could afford eau-de-Cologne, and would regularly condemn wrestlers who would get into the ring without bathing or putting on perfume. The pair became extremely popular, winning Tag Team of the Year in the 1978 El Halcon magazine awards after finishing runner-up the year before. This success led to them working in Japan in 1979, which was a big deal for any luchador at the time let alone a pair of exoticos. Greco and El Hermoso would eventually drift away from the UWA and wind up feuding in Super Muneco's AWWA promotion, where they had a hair match in Tijuana. Greco worked the Karis La Momia monster gimmick in AAA at the end of his career and helped set-up his son Super Calo's career.

 

Rudy Reyna was a newcomer on the scene when La Ola Lila were taking off, though he'd been in the business for a while. Along with Baby Sharon he was one of the first openly gay exoticos. The rudos here weren't an official trios, rather Greco and El Hermoso occasionally teamed with other exoticos in trios matches.

 

For everybody's benefit, the first pairing in the match is Super Astro vs. Reyna (pink trunks), followed by Solar vs. Greco (yellow singlet) and Ultraman vs. El Hermoso (purple trunks and sideburns.)

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Enrique Vera vs. Dos Caras (2/26/84)

 

Enrique Vera, known as the Lion of the West, was one of the favourite students of legendary trainer, Diablo Velazco. A Guadalajara native, he came up through the territory, wrestling at Arena Coliseo Guadalajara and the surrounding Jalisco area before making the move to the Federal District. He may not have been a legit six-footer, but he was close enough by Mexican standards, and at around 220 lbs his wrestler's build made him one of the top young heavyweight prospects at a time when most of the existing stars were aging.

 

His first taste of success came when he defeated Indio Jeronimo for the Occidente Light Heavyweight Championship, which was one of the state championships of the Guadalajara box y lucha libre commission and a reasonably important regional title at the time. After moving to Mexico City, he had a surprising title victory for the Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship over Raul Mata (some sources say this was on 6/18/72, some say 12/23/72.) He eventually lost the title to Dr. Wagner on 3/16/73 at Arena Mexico in a match that greatly enhanced the reputation of both men. Vera would then score the biggest upset of his career to date when he defeated Angel Blanco for the Mexican National Heavyweight Championship on 10/26/73. EMLL continued to groom Vera with a long championship run, as well as keeping him strong with hair match wins over the likes of Indio Jeronimo, El Nazi and Alfonso Dantes. His biggest loss during this time was at the 1974 Anniversary Show where the team of Dr. Wagner and Angel Blanco took the hair of Enrique Vera and the mask of a worker named Super Star.

 

By the time the 80s rolled round, Vera was the Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship holder and had left EMLL for the independents. The biggest victory of his career came when he won the UWA World Heavyweight Title, which is the belt that Vera defends in this match. There seems to be some confusion over how Vera came to win the title, particularly at luchawiki where it's claimed that Vera was an unofficial champion for a week and that the belt was held up. What happened was that on 10/23/83 there was a triangular de apuestas match between Vera, Canek and Dos Caras where Vera put up his hair, Caras his mask and Canek his title. Vera emerged victorious with the title and this match was a straight title shot after Caras defeated Canek in a number one contender match on the New Year's Day show for 1984.

 

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Vera went on to wrestle right up until last year where he had a retirement show in September. True to form, he wrestled a few matches after that, much like Satanico and others have, but for the most part he remains retired.

 

Dos Caras I'm sure you're all familiar with as the younger brother of Mil Mascaras and father of Alberto Del Rio. Caras was the number one native rival for Canek and arguably would have been in Canek's position if he hadn't spent so much time working lucrative All Japan tours with his brother. Most people's first exposure to Caras came with the Michinoku Pro Mask Tournament World League 95 commercial tapes, where Caras worked a considerably different style from his heavyweight days at El Toreo. The Michinoku Pro matches are closer to the maestro version of Caras who even now continues to work the indies. In his prime, he worked a mixed style, blending elements of lucha libre with a mat style more customary to both US and Japanese style wrestling. This version of Caras would occasionally work a lucha style hold at the end of a fall, but nothing like the exhibitions he put on in Michinoku Pro. Nevertheless, or rather because of this, he was regarded as one of the very best heavyweights in Mexico.

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