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The only real 70s stuff we have is UWA that was taped for Japanese TV. There's a really good Fujinami vs. Ray Mendoza match from El Toreo that's a must-see. 

 

Which is available on Phil Schneider Comp #20, yet another reason to get it! (Does it count as a shill if it isn't my product?)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Javier Cruz vs. El Dandy (Hair vs. Hair) (10/26/84)

 

So far we've seen a lot of headliners crossing promotions and continuing feuds in different territories. What makes this match special is that it features two guys who came up through the EMLL system. Both wrestlers trained in Guadalajara under Diablo Velazco and Pedro Anguiano and made their debuts in the Jalisco territory before being called up to Mexico City. Despite the fact that the LLI/UWA was outdrawing EMLL rather heavily, there was a lot of optimism in the EMLL office that it was their feeder territories that would produce the next generation of stars. In particular, Paco had high hopes for El Dandy, La Fiera and Jerry Estrada. As we know, only one of those workers lived up to his potential and the other two flaked out due to drugs, but in the 1984 landscape those were the bright young hopes. 

 

Cruz wasn't as charismatic as those workers I mentioned and subsequently never received their level of push, but he held on to a solid spot through most of the 80s up until the TV boom where he struggled to make an impact. A technico for much of the 80s, they turned him rudo in the early 90s, but he didn't have the panache to pull it off. His push for the most productive part of his career centered around a "El Tijeras de Oro" (Golden Scissors) gimmick, which is where you win a lot of hair matches and gain the rep of being hard to beat in a hair match. He also enjoyed a trios run with "Los Xavieres," a group made up of Cruz, Chamaco Valaguez, Americo Rocca, and sometimes Javier Llanes, all of whom shared the first name of Xavier/Javier. 

 

Cruz was also an early rival of El Dandy. The pair had a lengthy feud over the NWA World Welterweight Championship that began when Valaguez vacated the title in '85 and continued through 1986. A week after reclaiming the world's title from Cruz, the pair met in a second hair vs. hair match that I believe is the match Dr. Alfonso Morales always refers to as one of the all-time memorable bloodbaths. A few years later, Cruz got a measure of revenge over Dandy by taking the Mexican National Middleweight title from him before the belt was given to Octagon, which heralded a new style of booking. 

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Gran Cochise, Villano III y Rayo De Jalisco Jr. vs. Fishman, Mocho Cota y Tony Bennetto (11/30/84) 

 

This marks the first appearance on the set of one of the biggest stars of the 80s, Fishman, which gives you an idea of how sketchy footage is.

 

Fishman began training as a wrestler in Cicudad Juarez when he was 17 years old alongside El Marquez, El Cobarde I, and Cobrade's brother El Impostor, who later became El Cobrade II. Like most wrestlers from his generation, he claims to have been inspired by the iconic stars of yesteryear, in Fishman’s case Blue Demon and Black Shadow. His debut story, whether kayfabed or real, is a classic wrestling yarn about showing up to a card where one of the wrestlers had no-showed and being asked to wrestle despite only having a pair of underpants and some old boots lent to him by another wrestler. In the middle of 1972, he got a gig in Monterrey and by November he had worked his way up to Mexico City, where he got over despite working the more violent Monterrey style. Having established himself at Arena Mexico, he changed the design of his mask under the initiative of Lutteroth Sr. and began wearing the classic green mask with the yellow manta ray design. 

 

Despite the fact he was a rudo, he was pushed as one of the top welterweights in the country, initially supplanting Karloff Lagarde as the dominant Mexican National Welterweight Champion and then feuding extensively with his idol Blue Demon over both the national and world titles. He also had three important mask matches in the late 70s against El Faraon in '76, Sangre Chicana (in a triangle match with El Cobrade) at the '77 Anniversary show, and a week later against El Cobrade, his real life best friend. These mask matches not only launched the careers of El Faraon and Sangre Chicana, they pushed Fishman to further stardom,

 

In spite of this, he walked out on EMLL and joined UWA in the second wave of defections. In the UWA, he was pushed as the their top light heavyweight through much of the early 80s, feuding with the likes of Perro Aguayo, Sangre Chicana, Villano III and Anibal, often in rudo vs. rudo feuds. At the time of this match, he was still the UWA World Light Heavyweight Champion having defeated Villano III for the vacant title on 4/1/84.

 

As the 80s wore on, however, his star began to wane. The death of two of his closest friends in the business, El Cobrade and El Solitario, greatly affected him, the latter especially as Fishman was Solitario's final opponent and the magazines at the time initially blamed him for Solitario's death. Fishman continued to work for UWA until the early 90s when the majority of LLI’s talent left for either CMLL or AAA. Fishman made the jump to AAA, but the worker who made TV after many long years, despite still being a fine brawler in my opinion, didn’t match the legendary status of his name, leading many to question whether he ever any good. Those who saw him in Cicudad Juarez swear he was one of the all-time greats. The 1977 Anniversary show three-way mask match exists on tape, but it’s unlikely that we’ll ever get to see it. From the fragments that exist of his pre-AAA career, he looks like a fantastic rudo brawler.

 

Also making his debut on the set is Rayo de Jalisco Jr. Rayo’s father, Rayo de Jalisco Sr., was a big star in the 60s and an absolute legend in the Jalisco region. Rayo Sr. didn’t want his son to become a wrestler, so initially Rayo Jr. kept his training a secret from his father. He was trained in Guadalajara under Diablo Velazco, making his debut as a 15 year-old as “Rayman.” It was Rayo’s uncle, Tony Sugar, who convinced Rayo Sr. to watch his boy wrestle and bestow the Rayo de Jalisco character upon him complete with the famous lightening bolt mask. Rayo Sr. then took his boy under his wing until he was ready to work in the Federal District.

 

Rayo Jr.’s most famous feud in EMLL was his long running rivalry with Cien Caras, which came to a head on 9/14/90 in a mask vs. mask match that drew the biggest crowd in EMLL history. In fact, they crammed so many people into Arena Mexico that the upper deck suffered structural damage from the weight of so many extra fans. For many it was the Match of the Century and certainly the most anticipated lucha match since the 1953 Santo/Black Shadow mask match.

 

In 1984, however, Rayo was still finding his way and had won and lost the Mexican National Heavyweight Championship in short order.

 

Another wrestler new to the set is Tony Benetto. Benetto is better known as Gran Markus Jr., a gimmick he took on when the original Gran Markus was looking for a successor, but originally he had an Italian Mafioso gimmick. Like Rayo Jr., Benetto was a heavyweight and up until this point his biggest push had been a strong rivalry with Halcon Ortiz that included two hair matches and a heavyweight title change.

 

This trios was part of the build to a Gran Cochisse/Mocho Cota hair match on the 12/7/84 Arena Mexico show. 

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Sangre Chicana vs. Villano III (12/7/84)

 

I don't think the date on this is correct. According to my research, the 12/7/84 Arena Mexico show was headlined by the Gran Coloso vs. Mascara 2000 mask vs. mask match and a Gran Cochisse vs. Mocho Cota hair match.

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The undercard featured Solar II y Las Estrellas Blancas vs. Panico, Lemus II y Franco Colombo, MS1,Herodes y Espectro Jr vs. Amercio Rocca,Tony Salazar y Cachorro Mendoza, a El Hijo del Santo, Hombre Bala y Javier Cruz vs. Fuerza Guerrera, Talisman y El Supremo match where Santo pulled off Fuerza's mask. and a Villano III y Cien Caras vs. Perro Aguayo y El Faraon tag match that was allegedly so violent and bloody that all four were banned from Arena Mexico for three months, and ended with Aguayo and Faraon coming to blows.

 

There was a Chicana vs. Villano III mano a mano bout at El Toreo on 10/7/84. with Cien Caras, Fishman y Coloso Colosetti vs. Misioneros, El Hijo del Santo y Los Fantasicos vs. Negro Casas y Los Temerarios atomicos, and Blue Panther y Ray Richard vs. Falcon y Halcon 78 on the undercard. Since rematches between El Toreo and Arena Mexico usually took place in short succession, my guess is this bout is from either October or November of '84.

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Raul Reyes Jr. & Climax vs. Mocho Cota & Loco Zavala (Sonora 1985) (Youtube)

 

A lot of wrestlers when they weren't working the Federal District would work for smaller independent promotions around the country and in some cases promote the shows. Cota was from the Sonora region and had gotten his start there. I don't know how often Cota worked Sonora during his gravy years, but he continued to work there and train young wrestlers after his run with the big promotions was over. There's not much info about the other three workers. I suspect Raul Reyes "Jr." is actually Raul Reyes the maestro who helped train Fuerza Guerrera, Negro Casas, Felino, Heavy Metal, L.A. Park and Octagon, among others. In any event, this is a good example of the type of independent wrestling that was happening outside of the major territories like Monterrey, Tijuana and Mexico City.

 

Atlantis vs. El Faraon (3/22/85)

 

This match saw Atlantis defend his Mexican National Middleweight title against El Faraon. Faraon was still a rudo at this point and Atlantis was still being pushed as a new young superstar. He'd just come off his first luchas de apuestas victory at the '84 Anniversary show, and successfully defending his title here against a wrestler as established as Faraon was another big coup for the youngster, similar to El Satanico's victory over Faraon in 1980. Atlantis' initial push would last through to the end of '86 where he lost the middleweight title to El Talisman but took Hombre Bala's mask to compensate. A cooling off period followed before his career entered its second phase in 1988.

 

La Fiera, El Faraón y El Egipico vs. MS-1, Satanico y Pirata Morgan (3/29/85)

 

In 1985, Pirata Morgan joined MS-1 and Satanico to form the most famous version of Los Infernales, though they are more renowned for their second run as a team than for this first wave of terror. A common story on the internet is that Morgan replaced Espectro Jr when injuries ended his career, but Espectro continued to wrestle throughout the 80s and into the 90s. According to an interview with Morgan, he filled in for Espectro when the latter had an illness. Yet again this is rudos contra rudos, and led to a hair match between Morgan and El Egipico the following week.

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Americo Rocca vs. El Talisman (3/29/85)

 

On 9/21/84 at EMLL’s 51st Anniversary show, El Talisman lost to Atlantis in a mask vs. mask match, revealing his identity to the lucha public for the first time. Talisman unmasked as Arturo Beristain, a 13 year vet from Mexico City who had been trained by Pedro Nieves, Rolando Vera and Rafael Salamanca, maestros who had trained some of the biggest names in the business.

 

talisman2.jpg

 

Photo: Talisman after his unmasking in 1984.

 

For much of the 70s, Talisman had been a lower card worker, wrestling in either the first or second match on the card, but with the right physique and a mask the fans liked, he began winning luchas de apuestas matches at smaller venues such as Pista Arena Revolución and Arena Coliseo. In 1978, he won his first professional wrestling title when he defeated Mario Valenzuela to win the Mexican National Lightweight Championship, and the lucha magazine El Halcon declared him the best opening match worker in the country. By the early 80s, he had moved into the welterweight ranks where he feuded with both Mocho Cota and Americo Rocca over the Mexican National Welterweight championship and gained even more of a national spotlight.

 

It was in the middle of his feud with Rocca that he dropped his mask to Atlantis. A month before his unmasking, Talisman had defeated Rocca for the vacant National Welterweight title, thus ensuring that even though he lost his mask he was still the holder of one of the most important titles in the country. Talisman was lucky that like Faraon and MS-1 before him, he was a handsome guy with a great physique, and the magazines immediately began running photo shoots and cover stories with him after the unmasking. He also got his heat back immediately by taking Rocca’s hair on the 10/26 Arena Mexico show.

 

This match from March of ’85 was the culmination of a six month effort by Rocca to win back the National Welterweight crown and gain revenge for his hair loss. It was also the high water mark for the Talisman character. Beristain spent the remainder of the year working in a trio with Fuerza Guerrera and El Dandy. The threesome made for a good pairing, but with the trios scene so stacked they were never serious contenders for the newly established trios titles, and after a series of hair match losses, the Talisman character found its way to the gimmick graveyard in 1987.

 

Beristain enjoyed a lengthy second career as the masked man El Hijo Del Gladiador, even enjoying a CMLL World Trios title run with a modern incarnation of La Ola Blanca in ‘94/95. Beristain unmasked for a second time in 2000, losing to a young luchador by the name of Rencor Latino, better known as El Averno. He retired in 2005 and began a trainer at CMLL’s wrestling school in Mexico City, where he’s had a hand in training many of the undercard workers we see today.

 

Talisman would go on to have one last title run from here as the Mexican National Middleweight champion before putting over new young star, Mogur. Rocca, similarly, would feud with El Dandy to continue his ascendancy, but this feud was their glory years when both men were at the top of the welterweight world. 

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El Hijo del Santo & Black Shadow Jr. vs. Espanto Jr. & Eskeletor (12/1/85)

 

This is from the Plaza De Toros Monumental bullring in Monterrey and was on the undercard of the El Solitario vs. Dr. Wagner mask vs. mask match. It was part of the build to an El Hijo del Santo vs. Eskeletor mask match on 12/22, at a time when Santo was taking masks all around Mexico.

 

Eskeletor’s partner here was one of Santo’s great career rivals, Espanto Jr., while Santo’s partner was the worked son of one of the most legendary luchadores of all time.

 

Espanto Jr. (Jesus Andrade) was the son of El Moro, a Laguna based wrestler who trained all seven of his sons to wrestle in an effort to keep them off the streets. Andrade made his debut at Arena Ferrocarrilero de Gomez Palacio in 1971 at the age of 14, and recalls the crowd laughing at him for being so skinny and nervous. Like many luchadores, he drifted in his early days, winding up in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, where he began working for Gori Guerrero, who had become a local promoter in the Cd. Juarez area. Over the next few years, he worked Juarez to Monterrey under the guise of various different gimmicks.

 

In 1978, with no other profession or studies to fall back on, he began working for EMLL at the Plaza de Toros Torreon in Chihuahua, where he worked his way up to the third match on the card, and by 1982 he was working Arena Coliseo in Mexico City. Andrade’s preferred gimmick was as El Moro II (or sometimes El Moro), but promoters changed his name practically everywhere he wrestled. Supposedly unhappy at EMLL wanting to change his gimmick to Negro Andrade, he returned to Gomez where he wrestled locally until promoter and journalist, Hector Valero, suggested he return to Mexico City as Espanto Jr, part of la dinastia de los Cisneros: José Vázquez Cisneros, Espanto I, y Fernando Cisneros Carrillo, Espanto II.

 

With the blessing of Espanto II, Andrade was given permission to work as Espanto Jr. and made his debut in 1984 at El Toreo, tagging with Blue Panther against El Hijo del Santo and Black Shadow Jr.

 

Black Shadow Jr. was a Monterrey native who was considerably older than either Santo or Espanto Jr. having made his debut in the mid 60s. He was already working El Toreo as Pequeño Solín, a gimmick believed to be derived from the famous Mexican comic book Kaliman, when he approached the original Black Shadow about wrestling as his “son.” Since none of Black Shadow’s sons had wanted to wrestle, he gave Solin his permission and Black Shadow Jr. made his debut around the same time as Espanto Jr. And in another striking parallel to Espanto, Black Shadow Jr. would go on to have a bloody mask match against Santo in this same arena some six years later. 

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Lizmark, Mil Mascaras & Valente Fernandez vs. Sangre Chicana, Angel Blanco & Angel Blanco Jr. (12/1/85)

 

More action from the Wagner/Solitario card…

 

Angel Blanco was Wagner’s long time friend and tag team partner. Together they had formed La Ola Blanca, one of the most legendary tag teams of the 60s and 70s. In the late 60s, the team became a trio when they added El Solitario to their ranks. Solitario was a young rudo star who had rocked the lucha world by taking the hair of both Ray Mendoza and René Guajardo in a matter of weeks. A high flier with incredible natural charisma, his meteoric rise had many claiming he was the best worker in Mexico. By 1969, La Ola Blanca were the hottest act in Mexico, described by Jose Fernandez as “a pre-Four Horsemen type unit where all three were considered among the top ten wrestlers in the country.” With Solitario’s appeal growing by the week, EMLL struck gold by having Wagner and Blanco turn on him. Solitario instantly became the hottest babyface act in the country. Solitario vs. La Ola Blanca set business on fire all over Mexico, and Solitario had a record string of sellouts at Arena Mexico. After two years of chasing each other around the country, Solitario and Blanco met in a mask vs. mask match in front of yet another Arena Mexico sellout. Solitario took Blanco’s mask, but the feud continued to do great business.

 

The downturn in Blanco’s career came when he jumped to UWA and was swept aside by the new wave of main eventers. By the 80s, he was working predominantly in the Northern states and remained popular in Monterrey. He died on 4/26/86 in the car accident that ended Wagner’s career.

 

The Angel Blanco Jr. here is Rey Salomon, who was the original Blanco’s son-in-law. He used the gimmick until his divorce from Blanco’s daughter where upon it was given to one of Blanco’s sons (the one who works in Santo’s Todo x el Todo promotion.)

 

Valente Fernandez was a light heavyweight/middleweight worker from Nuevo Leon who worked for UWA right up until ’92 and continued to work the independents for some time after. He had a reputation as an excellent worker, but never made a huge impact in the capital. Notable career matches include a mask match against legendary Monterrey rudo Fishman, a hair match against Negro Casas and title matches against the likes of Mano Negra, Solar, Blue Panther and Sangre Chicana. 

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So no information on Eskeletor? I'm guessing he was another journeyman like Espanto, just minus the talent or luck?

 

Apparently, his real name was Julio Bermejo. Gimmicks like Eskeletor are pretty common in places like Monterrey so it could have been just about any local. Apparently, the mask vs. mask match was pretty screwy with Santo getting DQ'ed for ripping off Eskeletor's mask in the third fall, and the ref heading to the back and returning with a new Skeletor mask. But that's something I read on a message board.

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El Solitario vs. Dr. Wagner (Mask vs. Mask) (12/1/85)

 

Here we go… a match that was 15 years in the making.

 

According to Jose Fernandez’ Wagner bio for the WON HOF, Monterrey was red hot in ‘85. Having maxed out all the smaller arenas in the city, promoter Carlos Elizondo began running weekly shows at the 15,000-seat Plaza de Toros Monumental bullring. Despite a hike in ticket prices, this long awaited mask vs. mask match sold out the bullring and drew the largest gate in the city’s history. It was such a big deal that it was even taped for TV, which was rare back then as we’re all too painfully aware.

 

Wagner was 49 years old at this time and no longer a headliner in Mexico City (his last major match being arguably his hair match against Angel Blanco in 1979 after a short technico turn), but he remained a big draw in Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo, where he turned rudo again and feuded with Solitario and Anibal. It may be difficult to gauge from his one appearance on the set, but Solitario was one of the top three or four stars in the history of lucha libre; making this one of the most famous mask matches in the history of the sport.

 

Wagner had a short run as a headliner at El Toreo after this match, as people in Mexico City where curious to see him sans mask, but the aftermath to the match was nothing short of tragic.

 

On April 6th, 1986, during a match against Fishman in Nuevo Larendo, Solitario took a move that aggravated an injury Solitario had. He was taken to the hospital complaining of abdominal pain, and as the story goes doctors initially misdiagnosed his condition. When the doctors realised he was suffering from internal bleeding, he was rushed into surgery where he died from a cardiac arrest. Rumours have long persisted about the actual cause of death and his general health at the time, but the official story is that he suffered a cardiac arrest from receiving an anesthetic.

 

Twenty one days later, Wagner was driving with a group of wrestlers from a matinee show in Nuevo Larendo to an evening show in Monterrey when a tire on the car exploded, and Wagner lost control of the car and collided with a truck. The wrestlers in the backseat where unharmed, but Blanco in the passenger seat was killed instantly and Wagner suffered a broken back with severe spinal damage. Doctors initially told him he would never walk on his own again, but he eventually learnt to walk with the use of a cane, even taking a taxi driver job in his old age.

 

A grim entry this time, but the tragedy that followed the mask match is a huge part of these wrestlers’ legacies. For anyone interested in their glory days, there are detailed bios at luchawiki and other places. 

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Americo Rocca vs. El Talisman (3/29/85)

 

On 9/21/84 at EMLL’s 51st Anniversary show, El Talisman lost to Atlantis in a mask vs. mask match, revealing his identity to the lucha public for the first time. 

 

One thing I only just learnt about this match was that they did the same finish as the 1993 Mano Negra/Atlantis mask match where Atlantis won the third fall in 15 seconds with the the La Atlantida torture rack.

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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. 

 

Since this is a popular match on the set, people might like to know (or alternatively be gutted to hear) that there was a super libre revancha match the following week, as cubsfan discovered on his trip to Mexico.

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Sangre Chicana vs. Perro Aguayo (Hair vs. Hair) (2/28/86)

 

This was another match several years in the making.

 

Chicana and Aguayo first began as a tag team in September of 1982, taking on Riki Choshu and Gran Hamada at El Toreo on 9/19/82. This was at a time when the economic crisis was hitting Mexico mercilessly, and promoters had to make the cards increasingly attractive to draw the fans. The sight of two of the biggest rudo names in the sport aligning brought back memories of the great rudo tag teams of the past like La Ola Blanca, Blue Demon y Black Shadow, Mendoza, Guajardo y Lagarde and the Espantos. They continued to tag together a few more times until the violent Chicana/Faraon vs. Aguayo/Fishman feud erupted, spanning Arena Mexico and El Toreo in some of the bloodiest matches ever recorded. Over the next few years, Chicana and Aguayo met in mano a mano matches, and title matches, and trios matches and elimination bouts, but never until this point a hair match.

 

In 1985, Chicana began tagging with the newly turned Cien Caras and together they formed a formidable tag team. EMLL at the time had a lot more focus on their tag team division, which had been dominated for almost three straight years by the Mendoza brothers. Los Hermanos Mendoza had seen off the threats of Perro Aguayo and Fishman, Satanico and his Infernales partners Espectro Jr. and MS-1, and Los Brazos de Oro y Plata, but on 4/12/85, they succumb to the unholy alliance of Cien Caras and Sangre Chicana. Chicana, for much of ’85, was feuding with Tony Benetto, whose hair he took on 3/31/85, and it would be Benetto and Rayo de Jalisco Jr. who lifted the tag belts from Chicana and Caras on 10/28/85.

 

Tensions then began to develop between Chicana and his regular partners Caras and El Faraon, leading to Chicana and Faraon brawling with one another after a trios match. Aguayo got involved somehow, and the end result was a three-way match at Arena Mexico where the first person to earn a submission or pinfall over the two over combatants was eliminated and the losers forced to have a lucha de apuesta match the following week. Faraon cheated to win, and Chicana and Aguayo had a huge post-match brawl.

 

One thing I’ve always admired about Aguayo is his honesty about getting into the business. Most luchadores of his era claim they were inspired by Santo, Blue Demon or Black Shadow, but Aguayo says he was an amateur luchador for 14 years and got into it out of hunger. Born on a ranch in the town of Nochistlan, Zacatecas, the land his family worked didn’t give them enough to eat, so they moved to Guadalajara where eventually Aguayo had to leave school and go to work in Mexico City as a baker. Eventually, he returned to Guadalajara, where he took up boxing to stand up to the street gangs that harassed him. A luchador named Apolo Romano convinced him to take up wrestling training, and he eventually moved to Mexico’s Olympic Center where he won a national championship before Diablo Velasco convinced him to turn professional.

 

Aguayo’s star was made with his legendary 10/3/75 apuesta with El Santo, where according to luchawiki: “Perro ripped Santo's mask and bloodied him like few had before, and Santo retaliated by going back to his beginnings for rudo tactics of his own.” Chicana himself called this match with Perro the high point of his career. In the immediate aftermath, Chicana took Faraon’s hair on the 3/7/86 Arena Mexico show, and later in the year Faraon took Aguayo’s hair in Monterrey. Two hair losses in the same year was a pretty big deal for a wrestler who in 1985 the magazines had called the wrestler of the year, but the Aguayo/Chicana feud would continue for many years, and Aguayo took Chicana’s hair in 1989 in Baja California and again in 1990 at Arena Mexico. This one, however, was the big one, as the later hair matches were overshadowed by the rise of Konnan as a main event player.

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Lizmark, Alfonso Dantes y Tony Salazar vs. El Signo, El Texano y Negro Navarro (8/15/86)

 

And finally we come to the Misioneros.

 

For those of you looking for a detailed write-up on the trio, look no further than the obituary which Steve Sims wrote for El Texano in 2006. Some of the dates are off, but it’s an excellent resource. I’ll go over the basics and add a few points.

 

It’s a shame that the only televised footage we have of the Misioneros is from the end of their drawing run, because their EMLL appearances don’t really convey what a big deal they were in the early part of the decade. We do have some grainy and incomplete footage of them at El Toreo, but it pales in comparison to people’s recollections and the magazine photos we have from their pomp.

 

At some point in ’86, the Misioneros lost their UWA World Trios Championship titles to the Villanos and then left the UWA to begin working at Pavillón Azteca where they feuded with Trio Fantasia and the exotico pairing of Adorable Rubi, Sergio el Hermoso and Bello Greco. EMLL brought them in over the summer to headline their 53rd Anniversary show where they fought Americo Rocca, Tony Salazar and Ringo Mendoza in a rare triple hair match. A few weeks prior, they had defeated El Dandy, Talisman and Jerry Estrada (substituting for the masked Fuerza Guerrera) under the same stipulations, and it remains somewhat odd that EMLL used the Misioneros to put over their midcard stalwarts instead of giving Dandy and Estrada the rub.

 

After all, the Misioneros began as wrestlers in Dandy and Estrada’s position. As the story goes, Francisco Flores noticed that despite the fact the best heavyweights in Mexico were working at El Toreo, often against top class international competition, EMLL promoter Salvador Lutteroth was still able to draw using smaller wrestlers like Fishman, Sangre Chicana and Satoru Sayama. Flores’ response was to scout young light-weight talent, the first group of which included Signo, Texano, Navarro, Brazo de Oro, and his brothers.

 

At the end of 1977, Flores instructed Shadito Cruz, the patriarch of the Brazo family and a referee and trainer at the time, to take his boys and the young Misioneros to one of the smaller venues in Mexico City, and work a series of Sunday shows culminating in a Brazo de Oro vs. El Texano mask vs. mask match. The lucha magazines soon got behind the two trios, and in 1980 a fortuitous, if nearly tragic, incident occurred during an El Toreo match between the Misioneros and El Santo, Blue Demon and Huracán Ramírez when Santo had the first of several heart attacks that eventually claimed his life. Santo was laid up for several months while he recuperated, and the Misioneros were instantly hailed as the rudos who almost killed the biggest legend of all-time. The magazines lapped it up and the Misioneros became an overnight sensation.

 

The climax of El Santo’s retirement tour in 1982 was a huge atomicos main event at El Toreo that saw him team up with Gori Guerrero, Huracan Ramirez and El Solitario to take on the Misioneros and Perro Aguayo. As with the Wagner/Solitario mask match, the ticket prices were raised but the show still drew 25,000 and set a box office for El Toreo.

 

Over the next few years, the Misioneros were involved in a number of high profile feuds with various different trios teams, some of which we have already documented, such as their role in turning Villano III technico. As I’ve mentioned before, El Toreo was by far the “bloodiest” of the major arenas in Mexico City, and to this day the Misioneros have a reputation for being one of the bloodiest, most violent trios teams this side of the Brazos and Villanos, who also bled buckets in the 80s. El Signo was usually the captain of the team and was involved in a number of memorable hair matches during their run with Villano III, El Solitario and Babe Face, and all three were decorated singles workers in their weight classes.

 

In ’87, as their star was fading, the Misioneros won the UWA World Trios titles back from the Villanos and held onto them for a few months before losing to the Brazos, but rumours persisted about differences between the team members. Then on 11/13/87, during a match against the Villanos, El Texano threw in the towel when it seemed like El Signo was losing consciousness in a submission hold. After the match, Signo and Navarro turned on Texano, and the Misioneros as we know them were no more. Texano was laid out and left for EMLL, and Flores and subsequent UWA bookers’ efforts to replace him with a new member fell increasingly limp. The Misioneros never drew again, and strangely when just about everyone was picked up by either CMLL or AAA after UWA fell apart, Navarro and Signo had only the briefest of runs in AAA before working the independents for the rest of their careers. Texano was much more successful, enjoying a 90s international run with El Dandy and then Silver King as Los Cowboys.

 

Negro Navarro still wrestles today and has changed his style to more of a mat based one. He is considered one of the finest maestros in the sport today. Signo, who may have been the best worker of them all, retired only a few years ago, while Texano died of pneumonia in 2006 after a number of years of poor health and wrestling related injuries. 

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Rayo De Jalisco Jr. vs. Mascara Ano 2000 (8/15/86)

 

Mascara Ano 2000 had turned heel by this point and formed the original version of Los Hermanos Dinamita with his brother Cien Caras, which would later become a trio when their younger brother Universo 2000 started working Mexico City. Los Hermanos Dinamita had taken the Mexican National Tag Team titles from Rayo and Tony Benetto on 4/16/86, and now MA2k was after Rayo's NWA World Light Heavyweight title. This was a belt that Mascara had held for several months back in '82 before losing to El Faraon, and he would have another rematch for the title in December of '86. Later on, he became a frequent challenger for the title during Lizmark's three year run as the top light heavyweight in Mexico. 

 

La Fiera vs. Babyface (8/15/86)

 

Sometime, in I want to say early '86, La Fiera turned technico. (I think, you can never be sure with this patchy lucha history of ours.) On 2/23/86, he had a hair match with El Faraon right in the middle of all that Faraon/Chicana/Aguayo drama, and by the summer he seems to have definitely turned. Babe Face, you'll remember, was one of the original UWA wrestlers. He had a number of bloody hair matches over the years, always with great opponents like Villano III, Brazo de Oro, El Signo, Texano, and even his old partner Perro Aguayo. Like many people, I've always assumed that there was a working agreement that allowed UWA wrestlers to appear on EMLL shows and vice versa, but the last time I spoke with Jose Fernandez he claimed this wasn't the case and that the wrestlers simply took bookings for both companies. Looking at some of the records we have, it seems this wasn't the first time Babe Face worked EMLL and it didn't end with this hair match as he was back for more dates in the final third of '86, but I believe this was the only time he was booked in any sort of program at Arena Mexico. La Fiera took several months off in '87 due to injury and returned late in the season where he had a hastily arranged hair match against Sangre Chicana, but according to hardcores he was never the same after his return. 

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Espanto Jr. vs. El Hijo del Santo (Mask vs. Mask) (8/31/86)

 

You’ll recall that a wrestler by the name of Jesus Andrade asked the original Espanto II, Fernando Cisneros Carrillo, for permission to carry on the Espanto name and was granted that permission during 1984. Immediately, Andrade was put into a feud with the son of the Espanto family’s greatest rival, and from the moment they opposed one another a mask match was inevitable. 

 

The history here goes back a long way. 

 

Los Hermanos Espanto (Espanto I y II) originally tagged with El Santo while Santo was still a rudo. When the time came to turn Santo, it was the Espantos who did the dirty work. On a Friday night show at Arena Mexico, June 22nd, 1962, the team of Rito Romero, Rayo de Jalisco and Henry Pilusso showed Los Hermanos Espanto and El Santo up in an embarrassing two falls to nil loss. Espanto II was so livid with Santo that he attacked him after the bout. A melee ensued and Santo fought back, leaving Espanto II bloodied and bruised; his mask a mess. In true lucha fashion, Santo was abandoned by his rudo partners and left alone with the technicos he was still offside with, and on July 5th he made his debut as a face tagging with Pilusso against the Espanto brothers. (In other versions of events, the details differ slightly, but the upshot is that Espanto II turned on Santo, thereby turning Santo face.)

 

Santo’s face turn was an instant success, and he began regularly tagging with the biggest technico names against the Espantos, who brought a third brother, Espanto III, into the fold. Rubén Juárez ended up taking Espanto II’s mask at the 30th Anniversary show on September 9th, 1963, but just over a month later Santo took the mask of Espanto I in one of the bloodiest Arena Mexico mask matches in memory, dubbed “La Lucha de la muerte” by the magazines. A match that is famous for Santo being so beaten and battered that after the match he turned to known lucha aficionado Don Garcia Erastus and asked who’d won.

 

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The Espantos continued to tag together successfully after their unmaskings until tragedy struck as it so often does in these lucha stories. After working a show in Monterrey on May 30th, 1968, Espanto I and another wrestler were shot and killed by a canteen owner during a barroom brawl after he refused to serve them any more drinks. The owner then fled and was on the run for eight years until he was finally caught on March 16th, 1975; however he hung himself in his cell before he could be sentenced.

 

Espanto II was devastated by the loss of his best friend and shirked the limelight after his death, though he continued to wrestle in the Northern part of Mexico and occasionally in other territories. When Andrades took on the lineage, this rematch of the “Fight of Death” was the inevitable course of action, but the El Hijo del Santo vs. Espanto feud didn’t finish here, as we’ll see as the set continues. 

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Ringo Mendoza, Atlantis y Ultraman vs. Satanico, Masakre y MS-1 (September 1986)

 

This was the third incarnation of the Infernales that began after Satanico and Pirata Morgan had a falling out, which isn't that surprising since one claimed to be "El Número Uno" and the other "El Mejor Luchador del Mundo" (the best wrestler in the world.) That altercation not only led to hair matches between Morgan and MS-1 and Morgan and Satanico, but a whole new rudo faction known as Los Bucaneros. The original version of the Bucaneros featured Morgan's brother Hombre Bala and a slightly repackaged Jerry Estrada, who swapped the Iron Maiden t-shirts for an eye patch and pirate bandana.

 

The Infernales replaced Morgan with a wrestler by the name of Masakre. Masakre was a guy who was something of a late bloomer. Originally, he intended to be a fireman and was only interested in wrestling as a means of staying in shape. He trained for nearly five years under Raul Reyes before training at the Arena Mexico facilities with Rafael Salamanca. Finally, he made his debut at Pista Arena Revolución on 5/1/83 and was soon given a push as MS-2. That fell by the wayside when EMLL saw the potential in MS-1, and Masakre's career floundered for a few years before he finally got his big break joining the Infernales. He was unmasked by The Kiss, a wrestler from Baja California, on the 8/29/86 Arena Mexico show, and from that point on was a perfect fit for the Infernales as the same type of tall, ruggedly handsome rudo as MS-1.Together they won the Mexican National Tag Team Championship from Los Hermanos Dinamita in March of '87 and began a new chapter in the Infernales' history. Eventually there would be another bloody falling out, but we'll get to that later. 

 

Aside from some old rivalries, I don't think there was anything particular important about the match-up here. The last few minutes of the Satanico/Morgan hair match aired on Japanese TV but were fairly disappointing. No blood and they made a real hash of the finish. The match took place on the 12/5 Arena Mexico show in a double billing with the Atlantis/Hombre Bala mask match. 

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Pirata Morgan, Babe Face y Cien Caras vs. La Fiera, Lizmark y Rayo De Jalisco Jr. (September 1986)

 

This is a fairly straightforward match that likely took place in July of '86. The only confirmed date I have for the trios matches leading into the Babe Face vs. Fiera hair match is La Fiera, Ringo Mendoza y Tony Benetto vs. Babe Face, Satanico y MS-1 from 7/18/86.

 

Since there's not much to talk about with this one, I thought I'd tell the story of how Morgan lost his eye. In December of 1981, when Morgan was still an unknown, he was wrestling a match against El Jalisco in Guadalajara. They traded the first two falls and the match was going pretty well when Morgan launched himself at Jalisco who was on the floor outside the ring. I'm not sure who was to blame, but Jalisco was out of position for the tope and Morgan crashed head first into the ground. The impact of the crash burst Morgan's eye open. Fans who were in the front row were sprayed with blood, and when they looked down they saw Morgan was a bloody horror and had no eye. Medical assistance arrived and in the panic it was feared that Morgan might die as Sangre India had done in 1979. Morgan survived, but he needed surgery to remove the remaining part of his eye.

 

When Morgan returned to the ring, he had to wear an eye patch to cover his missing eye, and used the disability to cultivate the Pirata Morgan gimmick, naming himself after the Welsh 16th century pirate Henry Morgan, one of the most ruthless privateers of his era. 

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Americo Rocca, Cacharro Mendoza y Kung Fu vs. El Talisman, El Dandy y Guerrero Negro (September 1986)

 

This trio of El Talisman, El Dandy and Guerrero Negro are sometimes referred to on the internet as "Los Bravos." The more famous version of Los Bravos was Fuerza Guerrera, Talisman and El Dandy, a trio which ran from 1985 through to some time in '86; and while I've seen a magazine cover that also calls the Guerrero Negro version Los Bravos, I'm not sure how often they tagged together or how long their association was. Talisman and Dandy often appeared without Fuerza, especially on smaller shows, and it's possible that they gained a new partner along the way.

 

Guerrero Negro was a talented wrestler from Monclova, Coahuila, who was brought to Mexico City by Herodes. Apparently, he didn't adapt to life in the capital so well and returned to Monclova some time after the 1985 earthquake, so whether he was working full time in the Federal District at this point is unclear. In the Coahuila area, he had a long running rivalry with Remo Banda, who later became Volador/Super Parka, and the two had several apuesta matches. Negro wrestled for CMLL up until 1991 and then worked a bit for AAA through to the end of the 90s. He then suffered a stroke and was in poor health for some time before his death in 2006.

 

Kung Fu was a veteran worker who had made his pro debut at the end of the 60s. During the mid-70s, he capitalised on the kung fu craze by changing his gimmick to a masked martial artists fighter and had success in EMLL both in singles and teaming with another practitioner of the martial arts, Kato Kung Lee. In 1979, they formed a trio with Satoru Sayama called "El Triangulo Oriental," a forerunner for the UWA trio they formed with Black Man, "Los Fantasticos." The Fantasticos were one of the most exciting trios acts of the 80s, working a fast paced, all action style that was a perfect blend of high flying, martial arts kicks and lightning quick lucha exchanges, but by this stage they had broken up and gone their separate ways. Kung Fu moved back to EMLL, Kato Kung Lee was working for Mora in Tijuana and Black Man stayed with UWA. So long as he was masked, Kung Fu received a solid push from EMLL. He won the NWA World Middleweight title from Gran Cochisse on 10/17/86 and again from El Dandy on 10/7/87 before losing the belt to Atlantis in 1988; a rivalry that would culminate in Atlantis taking his mask on a 1990 Arena Mexico show. This was in stark contrast to his partners, who lost their hoods shortly after breaking up, but once the public realised how old Kung Fu was, his career took a steep nosedive. He also died relatively young, just shy of his 50th birthday, from a heart attack.

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