Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only
ohtani's jacket

Lucha history lessons

Recommended Posts

As Charro needed a hip replacement so he came back to lose his mask. He was essentially semi-retired by then. He was never a big star at Arena Mexico or Coliseo but he was somebody that people would recognise because of the cool photos from Lucha Libre magazine with the charro outfit and sometimes with big dogs.

 

Mogur was a big flop. No charisma or fire and people just didn't take to him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Blue Panther/Sergio El Hermoso v. Super Astro/Solar (10/17/87)

 

This was from Benjamin Mora's Tijuana based promotion, WWA, which along with Super Muneco's AWWA promotion in Mexico City and Carlos Elizondo's FILL promotion in Monterrey, was one of the major independent promotions in Mexico outside of the UWA. It attracted a large number of stars who worked for Flores, as well as unearthing future stars such as Psicosis and Rey Mysterio. Jr. The promotion's major venue, Auditorio de Tijuana, became known as the "Cementerio de las Máscaras" due to the number of stars who dropped their masks there, and it was also the site of some of the bloodiest hair matches of the late 80s.

 

WWA also promoted in Southern California. In fact, this match is from the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles and the correct date is 8/22/87 according to the WON.

 

Los Cadetes Del Espacio had broken up by this point with Ultraman busy losing his mask all over Mexico and Southern California. Solar and Super Astro still worked the indy circuit together with Solar II often filling in for Ultraman in trios matches. Later in the year, Solar and Astro worked this match-up twice in one day (in Aguascalientes and Colima) with Black Terry replacing Sergio el Hermoso. A 1987 version of the maestro matches that would take place thirty years later.

 

The main feud here was Solar vs. Blue Panther. Solar was the UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight champion at the time this match took place, having beaten Panther for the title in Puebla on 5/25/87. Solar would have a brief feud with Satanico at Arena Coliseo that ended with a drawn title match on 1/22/88 before he dropped the belt back to Panther in Puebla on 2/8/88. Panther was a rudo at the time, but essentially what you're seeing is the chase from two of the best mat workers of the decade.

 

Solar is a true lucha maestro and generally regarded as one of the finest wrestlers of his generation. Next year will mark the 40th year of his professional career and he remains an excellent worker at the age of 58. Solar was from Jalisco originally, and was born and raised in a small town called Zacoalco de Torres. He spent most of his childhood milking cows and working the fields, and his original inspiration for becoming a luchador was traveling to Arena Coliseo Guadalajara and seeing the likes of Solitario, Rene Guajardo and Angel Blanco thrill audiences.

 

Like most of the era's brightest talent, Solar trained under Diablo Velasco, a man whose mystique rivaled that of the biggest stars. Solar ranked among Velasco's finest prodigies and bought into his training completely, believing wholehearted in Velasco's mythos of professional wrestling being a sport that required physical and mental conditioning and precise knowledge of the rules and regulations, as well as the "castigos," or wrestling holds. Velasco would draw parallels to "pancracio" (the ancient Greek sport of Pankration, which was like a mix of boxing and wrestling), and all of his students trained in what was loosely referred to as "Olympic" style wrestling (i.e. amateur wrestling) with many of them becoming outstanding mat workers; some of them among the best of all-time. Solar was special, though. Even Velasco had pause to tell Box y Lucha reporters that he was amazed by the things Solar managed to show when he was just starting to train at the Coliseo gym.

 

Solar initially wanted to do a type of executioner gimmick where his face was covered by an axe, but while training under the sun in Guadalajara the idea of the sun came to him and the Solar gimmick was born. Solar enjoyed success right from the get-go. He arrived in Mexico City in 1976 from Monterrey where he had won notoriety for his extraordinary abilities, and caused a major upset when he beat Villano III in two straight falls and without disqualifications for the UWA World Welterweight title in May 1977. Villano had been on an impressive winning streak to that point, and Solar proved the upset was no fluke by successfully defending the title against Fishman in a match El Halcon called the most spectacular match-up of 1978. Flores then booked him in a successful apuesta feud with popular independent worker Dr. O'Borman to cap 1979, promoting Box y Lucha to proclaim: "his name is Solar, and it truly seems he could be the center of our universe." More success followed in 1981 when he took the National Middleweight title from Cachorro Mendoza at Arena Coliseo. Defenses followed against both Satanico and El Faraon before Satanico claimed the belt back for EMLL.

 

During the next few years, the magazines pushed him as a contender for another world title. Then, for some reason, Solar's career cooled off with the Los Cadetes Del Espacio run and he never fully delivered on the promise that Box y Lucha saw in him. He forged out a respectable career, but instead of becoming one of the big names of the early 90s, he continued to work pretty much the same way he had in '87, working El Toreo and the indies with the occasional appearance at Arena Coliseo or Arena Mexico. Later on, he had a run in AAA where he again feuded with Panther as El Mariachi. He was then part of the group of workers who jumped to CMLL where he was used on the undercard as a veteran hand to guide young workers. In the early 00s, he began working regularly with his former UWA contemporaries on the indy circuit, developing a style of working we would later dub "maestro matches." In particular, he had tremendous chemistry with Negro Navarro and the two honed a type of touring maestro match which they've performed all over Mexico and as far abroad as the US, Japan and Europe. Due to the dearth of footage from Solar's prime, this maestros work has done a great deal to enchance Solar's reputation as a worker and has been a terrific coda to his long career.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

El Dandy, Magico y Super Astro vs. Gran Cochise, Javier Cruz y Javier Rocca (11/11/87)

 

The first thing you'll notice about this match is Dandy's buzz cut. It took me an age to figure out that Dandy had lost his hair to El Satanico because of an edit on Luchawiki that changed a 10/87 Satanico win into a 4/88 Dandy win.

 

Dandy and Satanico were tag partners for a good part of the '87 season, but at some point in October they had the type of falling out that's typical between rudos and began fighting with one another. This turned Dandy face and the match we have here is technicos contra technicos. Gran Cochisse also turned technico around this time, but I don't have any details about the wheres and whys.

 

Dandy didn't just lose his hair in October of '87. He also lost the NWA World Middleweight title to Kung Fu, albeit not on a major show. According to Box y Lucha, Jerry Estrada was meant to be Dandy's challenger, but Kung Fu replaced him and won the belt.

 

This match also features the first appearance on the set of Mascara Sagrada, an Antonio Pena creation and relatively well known wrestler from the 90s. He had been kicking around the independent circuit for about a decade before returning to Mexico City for another crack at the big time. Pena had retired from wrestling in '86 due to injuries and was working in EMLL's PR department when he came up with the "Magico" gimmick for his friend Sagrada. Sagrada made his debut as Magico on 10/22, tagging with Atlantis and Rayo de Jalisco Jr. against Los Hermanos Dinamita, however it was soon discovered that there was already a character by that name in Monterrey and that the wrestler who played him held all rights to the name. For a while, Sagrada was forced to wrestle as "El Hombre sin Nombre" (The Man With No Name) before Pena came up with a new gimmick for him in June of '89 -- Mascara Sagrada or "Sacred Mask." The gimmick was a play on the sanctity of masks in lucha libre, and it was this incarnation of the Sagrada gimmick coupled with the television boom that catapulted him to stardom. The height of his fame being the movie he made with Octagon in 1992, Octagón y Máscara Sagrada, lucha a muerte.

 

Incidentally, watching this it may seem that Magico has two horrific botches in this bout, but the last time I spoke with Jose Fernandez about the bout he assured me that the spots weren't botched and that Magico's finisher was supposed to look like that. Go figure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The first thing you'll notice about this match is Dandy's buzz cut. It took me an age to figure out that Dandy had lost his hair to El Satanico because of an edit on Luchawiki that changed a 10/87 Satanico win into a 4/88 Dandy win.

Not that you were implying it didn't, but I think that the 4/88 Dandy win actually did happen. This match from April 22, 1988 (assuming the date on the camera is correct) features a freshly shorn Satanico brawling with Dandy, and they look like they're feuding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are clips of the 4/88 Satanico/Dandy hair match. I'm not sure where they come from. Possibly World Pro Wrestling?

 

Dandy and Satanico met in five hair matches from the late 80s through to the early 90s. It's possible that the listings the Dandy Luchawiki has now are accurate and that this match is actually from after the 10/21/88 Dandy vs. Satanico hair match, though I haven't been able to confirm that date.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, as soon as I typed that I confirmed the dates.

 

Their first hair match was on 4/8/88 and their second hair match was on 10/21/88. I now suspect that Magico made his debut in October of '88 and that this match is from the same year. That makes much more sense given that Cubsfan has match listings for Sagrada under his old gimmick Hecatombe through October of '87 and into November.

 

I need to re-write that last match write-up. Thanks for the prompting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, let's try this again...

 

El Dandy, Magico y Super Astro vs. Gran Cochise, Javier Cruz y Javier Rocca (11/11/87) -- Take 2

 

'Magico', or Mascara Sagrada as we know him, began his wrestling career in the city of Texcoco about 25 km northeast of Mexico City. Originally known as Hecatombe, his professional debut came in September 1978 and from there he began working as a preliminarista in the local area. Rookie of the Year honours soon followed and with them a title match victory over Mando Amezcua for the Texcoco Welterweight Title and a first hair win against Impala. This was enough to get him noticed by promoter Raul Reyes, who owned a few arenas on the outskirts of the Federal District, the so-called "Kings circuit' made up of the Azteca, Xochimilco, Apatlaco, and Puente Negro arenas.

 

Sagrada worked the circuit from 1980-82 and it was during this time that he first met Antonio Pena. Pena was doing his Kahoz gimmick at the time, a type of horror act where he'd invoke dark spirits and bite the heads off live pigeons, smearing fake blood over himself and his opponent. The two became friends and it was this friendship which would play a pivotal role in Sagrada's national break through.

 

In 1983, Sagrada began wrestling at Arena Naucalpan where he continued to have success taking the masks of some of the local talent and defeating Villano IV for the Naucalpan Middleweight Title. Over the next few years, he worked in the smaller arenas around the Federal District such as Arena Naucalpan, Arena Neza, Pista Arena Revolucion and Plaza de Toros el Cortijo. He may or may not have worked for EMLL during this time, but not in any major capacity. It was after a lengthy stint in Ciudad Juarez that Sagrada returned to Mexico City somewhat frustrated with how his career was progressing and fed up with how promoters like Marco Moreno were treating him. Pena had been forced to retire by this point and was working as an assistant in the EMLL programming department thanks to an old friendship with EMLL treasurer Juan Herrera. It was a minor office role, but it allowed Pena to channel his passion for lucha libre into coming up with new character ideas. Pena and Sagrada got together in the summer of '88 and began working on a new character for Hecatombe. That character became "Magico" and made its debut at Arena Coliseo de Guadalajara on 10/22/88 in the trios match I mentioned.

 

From there, the rest of the story I told is accurate. It simply happened in a shorter time frame than I would've had you believe. After the Monterrey wrestler claimed the rights to the name, there was apparently a contest among the public to "name the nameless fighter," and Mascara Sagrada was chosen from the entries. When Paco was shown the character sketches which Paco had drawn for Octagon and Mascara Sagrada, he promoted him to director of programming and public relations. This upset the established hierarchy and eventually led to Pena making a secret deal with Televisa to start his own promotion. Sagrada followed Pena to AAA, but the two had a messy falling out when Sagrada discovered that Televisa were receiving royalties for merchandise bearing his likeness. Sagrada was ineligible for royalty payments as Pena had signed away the rights to the gimmick, and this along with other payments Pena was withholding from wrestlers (such as Japanese broadcasting rights) led to Sagrada quitting. AAA quickly put another wrestler in the costume and claimed that the original Sagrada had no rights to the name. The issue went through the courts and was finally settled in Sagrada's favour in 2005, but by then it had taken a decent chunk out of his later earning years.

 

As for the state of Dandy's hair, it does appear that Dandy and Satanico began feuding at the end of '87, but their first hair match was on 4/8/88 and the return hair match was on 10/21/88. Satanico lost the first match and Dandy the second, which places this match some time after Magico's debut and the second Dandy/Satanico hair match.

 

My apologies for the confusion. The clues were there, but I was working with a series of bad dates which I tried to make work. My thanks to the poster Gregor for providing the catalyst for the re-check. Much appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Arandu vs. Guerrero Negro (Hair vs. Hair) (1988)

 

This is a hair match from Arena Coliseo de Monterrey in 1988.

 

Guerrero Negro you'll be familiar with from his work with Los Bravos. I think I mentioned earlier that he returned to the Coahuila region after the '85 earthquake, but that doesn't appear to be the case as he worked in the Federal District up until 1993 and was rumoured to have been doing the La Avispa gimmick in AAA after that.

 

Arandu was a Monterrey regular who was based in Eagle Pass, Texas just across the border from his hometown of Piedras Negras, Coahuila. In the States, he worked for Joe Blanchard's Southwest Championship Wrestling and was a main stay at Arena Valadez where he and his tag partner El Horoscopo headlined shows and trained new wrestlers. He also worked extensively in Southern California and throughout the lucha independent circuit. His main selling point was his hair, which drew strong reactions from crowds and allowed local promoters to book him in apuesta feuds wherever he went He originally wrestled under a mask as Principe Aries before losing it to Jorge Reyes (I believe) in 1981. He then adopted the Arandu gimmick based on the 1970s comic book, Arandú, El Príncipe de la Selva. Arandu's luchas de apuestas record is not well documented, but he had a notable match with Kato Kung Lee in Monterrey in September of 1990 and a hair vs. mask match with La Parka in '95. He still wrestles today in Baja California and has three kids in the business.

 

I believe that Arandu's valet's name was Layla and that she was an American.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kung Fu vs. Javier Cruz (3/88)

 

Kung Fu, you'll remember, was a guy who got over in the 70s doing a kung fu gimmick and became a star with "Los Coliseinos" (EMLL), then jumped to the UWA and worked the independents for a decade before returning to EMLL and getting a nice little push as a middleweight. In fact, he got a nice little push right up until '91 or so, even after Atlantis had unmasked him. Here he was the reigning NWA World Middleweight Champion having regained the title from Dandy on 10/7/87. Cubsfan has a record of a 2/19 Arena Coliseo title defence against Cruz, but it's not this bout. This appears to be a mano a mano that happened at some point either before or after the title bout.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pirata Morgan, Hombre Bala y Verdugo vs. Atlantis, Angel Azteca y Ringo Mendoza (3/88)

 

This marks the first appearance on the set of Angel Azteca, who would go on to play a prominent role in EMLL's booking during 1989 and 1990.

 

Azteca, whose real name was Juan Manuel Zuniga, began his career in 1980 under the ring name of El Charro and later Charro de Jalisco, a gimmick he would later recreate in AAA when Pena went through a phase of repackaging everyone. He was from the Durango region of the Comarca Lagunera area and was an "El luchador lagunero" the same as Blue Panther and many others. In fact, Panther and Azteca shared a common maestro in Hector Lopez. Like most luchadores, he started out on the independent scene claiming regional titles such as the Laguna Lightweight Title and the Arena Victoria Tag Team Titles. He rose through the ranks and took the Mexican National Cruiserweight Title in 1986 as Charro de Jalisco, a championship which was created in 1983 as the national equivalent of the overseas junior heavyweight titles, but which petered out for some unknown reason.

 

At some point in the mid to late 80s (I hesitate to guess at the timeline), Zuniga adopted the Angel Azteca persona, a gimmick which brought him tremendous success in the short term. I'm not sure when he began working for CMLL full time, but it looks to have been sometime in 1987. In 1988 they began pairing him with Atlantis and he received the "Mogur push" racing straight up the card. On March 6th, Atlantis and Azteca won the Mexican National Tag Team Championship from Los Infernales MS-1 and Masakre. On February 26, 1989 Ángel Azteca became a double champion when he defeated Bestia Salvaje for the Mexican National Welterweight Championship. Two months later he became a triple champion when he defeated Emilio Charles, Jr. to win the NWA World Middleweight Championship.

 

SCAN0870_zps8b8faacb.jpg

 

 

One can only assume the booker behind this was Juan Herrera as "Angel Azteca" wasn't a Pena style gimmick and Zuniga had more in common with the Velasco trained wrestlers that Herrera preferred to push than the talent Pena advocated. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, Pena would end up repackaging Azteca in the short lived Los Folkloricos trio; a decision which Solar agonised over as it meant they couldn't return to their existing gimmicks in AAA if the trio failed.

 

We'll have plenty more to say about Azteca before the set is over, but sadly he is no longer with us. He died in 2007 of a sudden heart attack shortly after competing in the main event of a small show in Campeche, leaving behind a wife and five children.

 

Verdugo, Spanish for executioner, was the real life brother of Morgan and Bala and stepped into the Los Bucaneros when Jerry Estrada broke off to reinvent himself as the Jerry Estrada we know today. Verdugo's run with his brothers was unarguably the highlight of his career and like Bala he slipped into a journeyman role once the Los Infernales were reformed with Morgan, though he was a worth scalp for wrestlers they were trying to milk something out of like Mogur or Huracán Sevilla, and a lot of fun as Troglodita.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

El Hijo Del Santo vs. Espanto Jr. (4/10/88)

 

The last time we left Santo and Espanto Jr. they were having their classic 1986 mask match, but the feud itself was far from over. If the history between the original El Santo and Los Espantos had been the hook then the mask match was the first act climax with things intensifying as the second act progressed.

 

There's basically three ways you can hurt a luchador: you can strip him of a title, you can make him suffer the indignity of a shaven head, or you can steal his very identity from him with an unmasking. Espanto over the course of the 5 or 6 years that UWA remained a viable entity because hell bent on not only unmasking Santo but proving himself the better wrestler in a classic title match and apuestas feud, which are naturally the best kind.

 

Espanto and Santo essentially feuded over four titles. The primarily focus of their feud was over the UWA World Lightweight Championship which Santo had first won in 1984 by defeating Negro Casas at El Toreo, briefly dropped to Aristotle I, whose mask he took for his troubles, then regained for another lengthy reign. The lightweight title is the belt they're fighting over here. They also chased each other over the WWA World Lightweight, UWA World Welterweight, and WWA World Welterweight titles culminating (on tape at least) in their classic 1992 handheld title bout.

 

Espanto was the champion going into this bout having finally dethroned Santo for the championship after literally a dozen attempts at trying. That title change happened on 7/26/87 in Torreon, Coahuila. Espanto, although born in Durango, was based out of Torreon, and most of the jobs Santo did for him were either in Torreon or his birthplace of Gomez Palacio. Of course Santo being Santo, with as carefully a groomed image as Michael Jordan, would immediately get his heat back with a hair match victory, and that's what happened a week later. Espanto got to hang onto the belt for a few months though, and what we have here is a title defence in his hometown hence some of the cheering for his heel tactics.

 

Santo hit back hard with a crushing double blow the following month when he took the title back at El Toreo on 5/1/88 and then took Espanto's hair the following week in Monterrey, but it was a feud that never really died. It cooled off somewhat after '88, but they worked another hair match at El Toreo in '89 and feuded with each for Mora's WWA promotion. They then entered AAA where Espanto initially wrestled as himself but soon suffered the fate of Solar and other UWA workers in becoming one of Pena's pet projects. The gimmick Pena had in mind for Espanto was an evil twin to face El Hijo del Santo named Santo Negro. Espanto agreed to play the role, but it only lasted a couple of months in 1995 as Santo's estate objected to Pena using the Santo image and took legal action against the company. Santo was basically on the way out at that point and gave notice to AAA at the same time, but according to the Observer he personally didn't have a problem with the Santo Negro gimmick. That is effectively where our story ends as Santo went on to have a highly successful return to CMLL, but it would be remiss of me not to mention the tragedy that befell Espanto after Santo's departure.

 

Never one to give up on an idea, Pena changed tack and turned Espanto into Pentagon, the evil twin version of Octagon. They began in the summer of '95 on the first Triplemania show of that year with the idea being that they would have a singles match somewhere down the line, but on March 3rd, 1996 during Ultimo Dragon's AAA debut match at Aguascalientes, Pentagon took a backdrop from La Parka and suddenly lay motionless in the ring. The Observer claimed that drugs and alcohol were involved, but in any event Pentagon took the bump wrong and landed on his head causing severe head injury trauma and high cervical spinal cord contusion. Parka initially tried to lift his head and put a castigo on him, but when he pulled Pentagon up he was like a rag doll having already gone into respiratory arrest. The wrestlers desperately tried to perform CPR on him while a stunned crowd looked on. A child began to scream "He's already dead! He's already dead!" while a woman cried out for a doctor. As the stretcher came to ringside, a man began howling that it was a fraud.

 

Pentagon lay clinically dead for three minutes before being resuscitated. In the hospital, he remained in a coma for three days and awoke to discover he was a quadriplegic who could neither see nor speak. The early prognosis wasn't good with doctors fearing he would never walk again. According to Epanto's own account, his initial reaction was one of despair. Somehow he was able to move his arm and leg for a moment and tried to make a suicide bid by rolling off the bed. His wife and doctor managed to lift him back into bed and he lay there that night praying to God. That evening he made a pact with God, and on May 13th, despite doctors saying he would never walk again, he took his first steps.

 

Espanto regained his speech and 15 percent of his vision and was eventually able to walk again though with great difficulty and never at night due to his poor vision. He bought a gymnasium he named "El Ranchero," and with his brothers set up the El Moro school of wrestling where he trains young luchadores.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kato Kung Lee vs. Kung Fu (Mask vs. Hair) (4/29/88)

 

There aren't a whole lot of explanations necessary for this one since it was an apuesta match between former tag partners. Not only as Los Fantasticos incidentally, but dating back to the late 70s as tag partners in EMLL and in the "El Triangulo Oriental" trio with Satoru Sayama. None of my Spanish sources have ever written up this feud, and I don't have access to the magazines from the time, so you can take a stab at guessing the motivations yourself.

 

In 1984, Los Fantasticos were on the top of the world having defeated Los Cadetes del Espacio to become the first ever UWA World Trios Champions, but things quickly fell apart as they did with many short peak trios teams of the 1980s. When the Fantasticos broke up, they each went their separate ways. Black Man opted to stay in the UWA, Kung Fu went back to the promotion that made him, and Kato Kung Lee began wrestling on the independent circuit (mostly Promociones Mora.) Lee took a payday at the end of '86 from Mora and dropped his mask to Santo in Tijuana, which exists on tape apparently:

 



Lee then kicked around for a year or so before the bout you see here. The build doesn't appear to have been anything special though obviously we're missing Arena Mexico records from the weeks prior. The Atlantis vs. Kung Fu rivalry was building up a head of steam at the same time and appears to have been a bigger deal in the promotion's eyes. Kung Fu dropped the NWA World Middleweight Title to Atlantis in June and would eventually lose his mask to Atlantis in October of 1990. Kung Fu and Kato Kung Lee fought each other a few more times, most notably on the 3/1/91 Arena Mexico show, but the bouts were never anything special and far from important. As one of my sources so wonderfully described, Lee would fall into a slump in gambling fights and pedal his hair to numerous wrestlers in the years that followed. It's worth noting that in late '88, Lee and Kung Fu reformed Los Fantasticos with Black Man and worked some of the UWA venues together, as well as appearing at Arena Mexico in 1989, so apparently they buried the hatchet for a time. That would also indicate that Kung Fu turned technico some time after dropping the belt to Atlantis.

 

While Lee won't be remembered as one of the greats of lucha libre, he was an interesting guy out of the ring. His real name was Johnny Lezcano Smith and he was born in the Arraijan District of Panama. He started out learning taekwondo and judo at his local YMCA before being introduced to lucha through wrestler Chamaco Castro, who once put his hair on the line against a young El Hijo del Santo in Panama for what it's worth. Smith trained in secret and made his professional debut without his parents knowledge (or consent) and when his mother found out she tried to enroll him in the US Navy. According to Smith, he fled to Colombia where he continued to wrestle and subsequently fought in Venezuela, Panama and Guatemala before moving to Mexico City in 1970 where he fought for many years in Ciudad Juarez before getting a break. Definitely a life less ordinary and one of the more interesting routes to distrito federal and the big time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Atlantis vs. Emilio Charles Jr. (8/12/88)

 

This marks the first appearance on the set of Emilio Charles Jr.

 

Emilio, or "El Chino" as he as affectionately called because of his curly blonde hair, was born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, the third son of Sergio Emilio Charles Lizcano y doña Cora Garduño Núñez. His father was a professional wrestler by the name of Emilio Charles Sr who had fought many of the great fighters of the golden age like El Santo, Black Shadow, Rolando Vera and Tarzan Lopez, and had gained huge respect for his professionalism, great technique and creativity in the practice of the sport. Charles Sr had contribute two beautiful and effective creations to lucha libre, namely the "rana" and "angelito," moves which are still used today. Unfortunately, Emilio Jr never got to see his father wrestle as he was forced to retire when Emilio was still very small due to a serious elbow injury that required screws to allow him to regain mobility in the arm. His father then decided to become a promoter of boxing and wrestling in his native San Luis Potosí as well as his residence of Monterrey.

 

Despite never seeing him wrestle, Emilio had great admiration for his father. He knew how important his career had been and had heard from contemporary wrestlers the stories and anecdotes of what a great wrestler his father was. From the age of 13, Emilio dreamed of emulating his father's feats, but was afraid to tell him that he wanted to leave school and become a wrestler. Emilio Sr. was a man of strong ideas and strong discipline who could subdue his sons with a simple look and had a passion for books. Emilio was sure that his father would refuse to allow him to quit his studies, but don Emilio underdone a radical change since the death of his youngest son, Carlos, in a car accident. It took Emilio a few days to summon the nerve to talk with his father, but to his great surprise don Emilio accepted the arguments of his son and advised him to completely devote himself to training, noting that if he was going to be a fighter that he had to be the best, which meant training under Diablo Velazco.

33kzti0.jpg

Taking his father's words to heart, Emilio spent most of his time in the gym. He would awake with great enthusiasm at 5:30 am and begin training at 6 o'clock for two or three hours before returning in the evening for Olympic wrestling classes at the Arena Coliseo de Guadalajara gym. Eventually, Emilio earned his first opportunity to get into the ring professionally at a show to honour his maestro. Without his knowing, don Emilio was in attendance and discovered that his son had enough qualities to fully devote himself to the difficult profession of professional wrestling. Such was his excitement that the first thing he did was tell his beloved wife Cora that their son was going to be a wrestler.

 

Early on, Emilio got his start working at Arena Naucalpan. The most high profile of his early bouts was probably his 9/29/83 hair vs. mask match against Villano IV in Veracruz. Sometime around 1985 he began working for EMLL. His early run in the company was in a trios with Javier Llanes and Rino Castro. Slightly chubbier in those days, Charles and Castro were agile fat men who moved fairly quickly, had a spectacular style and were somewhat aggressive for tecnicos. On 3/3/85, Charles and Castro culminated a feud with Comando Ruso I y II that saw the big men take the Comandos' hair. Emilio was then given the opportunity to exploit his aggressive style by engaging with peers on the rudo side, eventually pairing with Tony Arce and Vulcano as a costumed trios team known as Los Destructores. Los Destructores were given a huge push at the beginning of 1988 when they defeated Los Bucaneros for the Mexican National Trios Titles on Jan 31st. The Destroyers held onto the belts for most of the season despite strong challenges from the Infernales, Brazos and Bucaneros.

 

It was during this period of success for the Destructores that a slimmed down Emilio was given his first singles push. He took his first big singles scalp with a hair victory over Javier Cruz on 6/24/88 and immediately went after Atlantis' NWA World Middleweight title. The pair wrestled on at least five known occasions between July and September, trading the title three times. This match, originally thought to be from 1984, is believed to be Emilio's second title match victory over Atlantis. Atlantis would go on to have an incredible unbeaten reign with the title from 1990 to 1993 where Charles was a frequent challenger and the two developed a strong rivalry notable for their signature exchanges with each other. Emilio enjoyed a period in the final part of the '88 season as a double champion before the Destructores dropped the trios titles to Los Temerarios at the end of November. He then made way for new star Angel Azteca as middleweight champ in April, but would continue his strong singles push through 1989 in a memorable feud with El Dandy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pirata Morgan vs. El Dandy (Hair vs. Hair) (9/23/88)

 

This was the semi-main of EMLL's 55th Anniversary Show, the main event being Mogur vs. Máscara Año 2000. Please note that the Anniversary card listed on Wikipedia and Pro Wrestling History is incorrect and includes title matches that took place on the following week's show. The correct card is listed here -- http://www.thecubsfan.com/cmll/events/shows/00031000/00031497.php These 1988 Anniversary show matches were released on "Viva Lucha Libre II", a Japan only VHS tape that was produced toward the end of the bubble era when hardcore interest in wrestling was strong. Thanks to the efforts of Jose Fernandez a copy of the tape was located and eventually converted to DVD.

 

To the best of my knowledge, there wasn't a tremendous amount of back story to this fight. We have a record of a trios match on the 9/16 Arena Mexico show between Los Bucaneros (Morgan, Bala and Verdugo) vs. Dandy, Cachorro Mendoza and Ringo Mendoza, and it's safe to assume there were other matches in the build up to the event. However, it's worth noting that although the Anniversary Show is traditionally EMLL's biggest show of the year, the degree to which they stack the card varies from year to year. The booking during this era was so fluid that they could run a title match or apuesta bout with little to no build. An abundance of talent meant that a week out from the Anniversary Show the 9/16 show was headlined by a Gran Cochisse vs. Blue Panther and Satanico vs. Texano double billing, while a week later the 9/30 show was led by Bestia vs. Santo and Lizmark vs. Fabuloso Blondy. The latter two match-ups were featured in trios matches on the Anniversary Show, yet the promotion didn't even take a week to pause. There's no real evidence therefore that this was a particularly important or historic Anniversary Show, or one that was pushed as hard as previous years. And as ever with lucha, it would be ill-advised to assume that Pirata vs. Dandy was a perfected booked feud. The best case scenario is that they had some cool trios matches in the lead in.

 

What we can make a case for is that this was Dandy's breakout year as a singles performer. His push as we see it here really began in the summer of '87 when he defeated Kung Fu for the NWA World Middleweight Title. He dropped it back to Kung Fu a few months later, but from '88 he was programmed in a feud with Satanico that saw him eventually take the National Middleweight title from Lopez while trading hair losses. Dandy was in no less than five hair matches during 1988 with his only loss coming in the return match against Satanico. Morgan was also at the height of his powers here arguably as a worker and a singles draw. He was back at Arena Mexico two days later unsuccessfully challenging Enrique Vera for his UWA World Junior Heavyweight Title, but his day in the sun would come the following year when he dethroned Satanico for the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship and became embroiled in a memorable feud with Los Brazos, which we'll see later in the set.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mogur vs. Mascara Ano 2000 (Mask vs. Mask) (9/23/88)

 

This was the main event of EMLL's 55th Anniversary Show.

 

Despite main eventing the previous year's show, Mogur was already beginning to slip down the card in '88. He'd gone from appearing in the 5th or 6th match of every card to the 3rd, and his only significant apuesta win prior to the Anniversary Show had been firmly rooted in the midcard with him unmasking rudo midcarder "Quazar" as veteran worker César Curiel. He'd also lost his Mexican National Middleweight title to Satanico, which, while not significant in and of itself, having successfully defended it against Satanico on at least two occasions, was notable for the fact they moved the belt onto Dandy shortly after the show; a wrestler whose stock was definitely rising. Still, the smart money was on Mogur defeating Mascara Ano 2000, the way Atlantis had defeated the similarly positioned Talisman.

 

It was something of a shock then when Mogur was unmasked as José de Jesús Pantoja Flores, an eight year man out of La Barca, Jalisco. Despite the fact he had a good body, a nice looking mask, and the biggest push since Atlantis, he'd failed to fire at the box office; and while he never fell out of the midcard (particularly with the defections to AAA), in hindsight this apuesta loss marks the end of his push. Unmasking MA2k in 1988 would have been a major coup for Mogur, but tellingly, taking Mogur's mask did little to raise MA2k's status and it was business as usual the next year with Los Hermanos Dinamita. Mogur was thrown a bone with veteran El Egipcio's hair the following year, as well as Hombre Bala in 1990, which was probably his last significant singles win, though it should be noted that they both took place at Arena Coliseo and not Arena Mexico. He also had a fun feud with Pierroth Jr over the Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship, which produced some good matches. By no means a terrible worker, he managed to eke out a thirty year career, much of it spent working for EMLL/CMLL, though that may have had something to do with being former booker Tigre Hispano's son-in-law.

 

As for MA2k, he went on to lose his mask to Perro Aguayo in front of 48,000 people in one of the biggest lucha shows ever, so I'd say he made out all right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Blue Demon, Blue Demon Jr. y Ringo Mendoza vs. Emilio Charles Jr., Pirata Morgan y Satanico (11/25/88)

 

This was supposed to be Blue Demon's retirement match, and there was even a documentary made about it called Blue Demon, el campeón, but he was lured by promoters into a retirement tour in '89, especially in his native Monterrey, where he was booked in two mask vs. mask spectaculars against Rayo de Jalisco Sr. and Matemático.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZTxpOzdjmQ

 

The Blue Demon vs. Rayo de Jalisco mask match was actually one of the biggest mask matches in lucha libre history as Rayo Sr. had been a massive star in the 60s and 70s and Blue Demon was legitimately the second biggest star in lucha history. You may find it odd, then, that unlike the 15 year build to the Dr. Wagner vs. El Solitario mask match, the build for Demon vs. Rayo lasted exactly one week.

 

On 7/23/89, Demon appeared at la Plaza Monumental de Monterrey to accept a career award from mayor Sócrates Rizzo. In an angle similar to Funk vs. Flair at WrestleWar '89, guest of honour El Rayo de Jalisco interrupted the award ceremony, claiming that Demon didn't deserve the recognition and that Jalisco himself should be the one being honoured. When Demon ignored him, Jalisco attacked him with the plaque he'd been given, challenging him to a mask vs. mask match. In actual fact, there had never been any rivalry between the two. They'd appeared alongside each other regularly as idolos in both movies and tag matches and were both bona fide lucha legends; nevertheless, the promoters whipped up a jealousy angle and Demon came out of "retirement" the following week, where, after his moment of madness at the award ceremony, Jalisco lost the mask he'd worn for 27 years and was unveiled as Máximino "Max" Linares Moreno, native of Mexico City, though obviously billed from Jalisco.

 

Originally, Demon hadn't planned to make any stops in Monterrey on his retirement tour, but so many people were turned away from the Jalisco fight that business was too good to not keep milking the cow and a feud with Matemático was concocted. EMLL apparently wanted in on the action as well, as a week after the Matemático fight, Demon, Rayo Sr. and Matemático fought in a mask vs. hair vs. hair bout at Arena Mexico. That may be an urban myth, however, as there isn't a lot of evidence that a triangle match took place.

 

Lucha history is not particularly well recorded. While researching for this entry, one source said that Blue Demon was a spectator during a Rayo de Jalisco bout and that Rayo began insulting him after the bell until it escalated into a wager challenge, while another claimed that Matemático was Jalisco's second during the mask match and kept attacking Demon during the bout. The footage shows that's not the case and that Rayo Jr. was in his father's corner. Matemático possibly challenged Demon after the fight, but in any event the story the promoters and magazines concocted was that the younger Matemático, who really wasn't that young, saw a chance to cover himself in glory and use Demon as a stepping stone to become a legend in the sport. The match was another sell out with yet more people waiting outside trying to get in. Demon saw off the "younger" man's thirst for glory and at 67 years of age finally walked away from the ring.

 

Despite a series of serious head injuries, Demon had kept making films through to the mid-70s and main eventing regularly through to the late 70s. When El Santo's heir emerged in the early 80s, Demon began expressing the sentiment that "if the silver legend of Santo can continue, the blue legend will continue as well!" Fierce rivals with Santo for much of their careers (despite their on-screen partnership), Demon was known to make disparaging remarks about Santo in his later years. Wherever that resentment stemmed from, Demon was so desperate for the name of Blue Demon to live on that when his biological son showed no interest in wrestling he gave the gimmick to another young wrestler much the way Black Shadow had done. Originally billed as Blue Demon's biological son, the magazines picked the relationship apart until the story was changed to Demon Jr. being his adopted son. Even that failed to appease some critics who were none too pleased by the lack of any blood relationship between the two. Demon Jr. has always maintained that the story is no lie and that he was adopted at six months old even providing a back story about going to military school and training for the ring in secret while he completed a Bachelor's degree. In their ongoing dispute over booking fees and the rights to the gimmick, Demon's biological son Alfredo Muñoz has added fuel to the fire by claiming that Demon Jr. is unrelated to the family and not adopted.

 

Whatever the case, Demon Jr made his debut on 7/11/84 alongside his father and Villano III against Perro Aguayo, Fishman and Kato Kung Lee at the Auditorio de Tijuana and hasn't stopped working since.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a quick stop to thank you for doing this - as you mention several times, lucha history is poorly recorded, so many people are unaware of how difficult it is to put all the pieces together.

 

You should check out the G*Spirits magazines from Japan as in the last few pages they have great lucha libre features with tons of really cool pictures and posters. The articles by Dr. Lucha (the original Japanese one, Shimizu) look great too and I imagine that you should be able to read them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A combination of people relying on their memories, secondary magazines not being as trustworthy and people failing to properly read between the lines.

 

Box y Lucha, Lucha Libre or El Halcon never broke kayfabe (at least until the 90s) but they had their ways to tell you when a match was bad or when a worker's performance wasn't up to par. Some magazines ran their own angles or stories much like Apter mags. A lot of Mexican fans aren't as sophisticated in filtering out the bullshit as American or Japanese fans (mostly because the business has been more open for longer) and still may be taking some of those stories as fact.

 

A random Blue Demon Jr. story: back in the late 90s/early 00's we used to exchange emails in a semi-regular basis and he'd always write from an account using his real name. I don't know if he didn't give a shit or it was a "Herb Meltzer" type issue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally, we come to 1989.

 

1989 was a significant year in lucha as it laid the groundwork not only for the early 90s television boom but for EMLL's return to prominence. You'll recall that at the beginning of the decade, Lucha Libre Internacional was selling out El Toreo and other venues on a weekly basis while EMLL was struggling to fill Arena Mexico. Around 1981 or so, EMLL began using independent wrestlers to boost their gates. In the eyes of the fans, these matches represented the "coliseinos vs. independientes," but in reality they were more about freelance wrestlers using their drawing power to boost earning opportunities rather than any sort of inter-promotional feud. When business began cooling off in '84, there were more obvious signs of co-operation between the two promotions, but the ins and outs of this era aren't well known and it's impossible to say the extent to which the promotions worked together. When Canek defended his UWA World Heavyweight Championship against Cien Caras, for example, the title wasn't billed as the "UWA" World Heavyweight Championship, making it difficult to guess how much of a "loan" it was and how much was Canek simply brokering his own appearance. Nevertheless, NWA titles were defended at El Toreo and UWA titles at Arena Mexico during this period.

 

As with many breakaway promotions, LLI began splintering from within. In 1985, Rene Guajardo, who ran the successful Monterrey branch, tried breaking out on his own and had the territory taken away from him. Then Cesar Valentino managed to secure a Televisa deal but couldn't get his rebel promotion off the crowd. The real body blow came in 1987, though, when promoter Franciso Flores died of a massive heart attack. His nephew, Carlos Maynes, took over the business, but made the mistake of continuing with the same formula his uncle had used. Crowds continued to dwindle, and by the time they hopped on the television bandwagon in November 1991, it was too late for the struggling promotion.

 

Television broadcasts of lucha had been banned in Mexico City since 1953 when the city's regent Ernesto Uruchurtu, at the behest of concerned parents, prohibited not only televised wrestling, but also banned women from wrestling in Mexico City and barred children under the age of eight from attending live shows. By 1985, Comisión de Box y Lucha Libre's control over wrestling had loosened, and as mentioned previously, the Asociacion de Luchadores, Referís y Retirados discovered that it had never been granted legal authority in the first place and that lucha libre had no binding regulations. Nevertheless, Televisa had been somewhat hesitant to resume broadcasting wrestling in the capital due to the risk of public criticism. Antonio Pena, seeing the potential in televised wrestling, convinced Paco Alonso that EMLL should approach Televisa with a proposal to broadcast Arena Mexico and Coliseo shows on Mexico City TV. Televisa at the time broadcast three wrestling shows -- two EMLL shows (one for Galavision in the US and one for Cablevision) and the Pavillon Azteca show on Cablevision. Televisa began experimenting with broadcasting EMLL on Channel 4 in Mexico City in 1990, first on Saturday nights at 11pm then moving to prime time at 7pm. As the ratings grew, it was moved to Channel 9 (broadcast nationally) on Saturdays at 6pm and finally Channel 2, the biggest channel in the country, broadcasting every Sunday at 5pm. EMLL (now CMLL) was by now the hottest promotion in the country, but the television broadcasts caused a huge amount of controversy in the lucha world as Sunday at 5pm was when the El Toreo show began as well as several other major shows around the country. As ticket sales began to suffer, the wrestlers' union, the Sindicato Nacional de Luchadores, organised a strike against all CMLL owned or controlled arenas demanding that Televisa suspend its broadcasts. They even arranged a protest in front of the interior ministry with the luchadores parading in full costume. On September 30th, 1991, the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board ruled in the union's favour and Televisa was forced to change the time slot. They moved the time slot to Sunday afternoon from 12-2pm, which the wrestlers reluctantly agreed to, and were given conditional permission from the Department of Radio, Television and Film to broadcast lucha libre provided there was no excessive violence. Televisa's frustration with CMLL during the strike action led to them supporting Pena's rival start-up promotion, AAA, which was later revealed to be wholly owned by Televisa; a thinly veiled attempt at seizing control of the lucha business by stepping around CMLL and the SNL union. But all of this is 90s history. On to the matches!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sangre Chicana vs. MS-1 (Hair vs. Hair) (9/21/84)

 

This one is pretty straight forward.

 

The most interesting thing about this match is that Sangre Chicana had his finger in so many pies at this point that it's interesting that they went with a return match for the Anniversary Show. Not only did he have a personal vendetta with each of the Los Infernales members, he also had bad blood with Fishman, Perro Aguayo and the Mendoza brothers. Hell, he'd even taken Los Guerreros over to El Toreo in '83 and started something with the Misioneros that led to a Super Libre match, which is basically a no DQ match. On the undercard of the 7/1/83 Mendoza brothers vs. La Fiera and Mocho Cota hair match, Chicana and Aguayo had a mano a mano bout that was so bloody the doctor stopped the fight. So, there was any number of ways Paco could have gone if he wanted a Chicana fight in the main event, and you can judge for yourselves if you think it was the right choice.

 

Another self-correction here, Chicana vs. MS-1 wasn't the main event of the 51st Anniversary Show but rather Talisman vs. Atlantis.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×