This is part two of Matt Farmer’s look at the importance the month of September holds in Lucha Libre history. If you haven’t already, we definitely recommend you check out part one.
Forty years ago, the world of Lucha Libre was set to take a huge change of course when Francisco Flores and Benjamin Mora along with veteran wrestlers Ray Mendoza, Karloff Lagarde and Rene Guajardo announced the formation of a new conglomerate of promoters set to challenge the Lutteroth family’s monopoly on wrestling in Mexico.
The conglomerate of promoters have been called many different names over the year, ranging from Los Independientes to La Allianza de la Lucha Libre Internacional, Universal Wrestling Alliance or simply “El Toreo”. The group was officially called Promociones Mora y Asociados and they went on one of wrestling’s most historic runs at the box office in history!
Promociones Mora y Asociados held their first event on January 29 of 1975 at the massive Palacio de los Deportes. Francisco Flores and his partner Benjamin Mora were both very hard working promoters and put a lot of work into advertising their events. Their first card was a success as they were able to attract a huge crowd.
January 29, 1975 Palacio de los Deportes
- Anibal* beat Rene Guajardo- NWA World Middleweight Title
- Mil Mascaras & El Solitario & Ray Mendoza beat El Canek & Dorrel Dixon & Sunny War Cloud
- Cesar Valentino & El Vikingo beat Rayo de Jalisco & Tinieblas
- Dos Caras beat Renato “El Hippie” Torres
- Villano I beat Atila
And with their success that Wednesday evening, the war began.
One of the first things Promociones Mora y Asociados did was catapult younger wrestlers into the limelight. Prior to this in many cases it took years of paying their dues working small spot shows across the country or low paying opening matches for major promoters. With Francisco Flores promotion and the influence of Ray Mendoza some of the wrestlers now headlining major cards with just a handful of years under their belts.
EMLL and Salvador Lutteroth as always did not react, they continued to promote a staggering number of weekly events throughout Mexico and employed hundreds of wrestlers, if you include the members of staff or merchants that made their living from Lucha Libre in Mexico that number would grow to the thousands. Even with all of the defections they had more wrestlers working for them than any promotion at any time in history. On with business as usual is how they conduct their business. You cannot argue with their success and longevity so obviously they have been doing something correctly. With the emergence of new competition, Lutteroth had many hit as well, here are the two big anniversary cards they held in 1975.
September 19, 1975 Arena Mexico (42nd Anniversary Part I) att: 14,000
- Los Gemelos Diablos I (Aldolfo Sanchez) & II (Jose Sanchez) beat Colosso Colosetti & Adorable Rubi- Double Hair vs Hair Match
- Dr. Wagner* drew Angel Blanco Jr- NWA Light Heavyweight Title
- El Santo & Blue Demon & Ringo Mendoza beat Perro Aguayo & Karloffe Lagarde & Alfonso Dantes
- Gino Hernandez beat Tony Salazar
- El Cobarde beat El Nazi DQ
- Septiembre Negro beat Tony Lopez
- Indio Jeronimo beat Mr. Steel
September 26, 1975 Arena Mexico (42nd Anniversary Part II) att: 17,500* (Thousands Turned Away)
- Perry Aguayo* beat El Santo- NWA World Middleweight Title
- Blue Demon* beat Karloff Lagarde- NWA World Welterweight Title
- El Halcon beat Raul Reyes*- Win National Heavyweight Title
- Alfonso Dantes & Los Gemelos Diablos I & II beat Huracan Ramirez & Dr. Wagner & Cien Caras
- Ringo Mendoza & Gino Hernandez beat Adorable Rubi & Tony Salazar
- Fishman beat Mr. Tempest
- Cacique Mara beat Manuel Robles
The hottest rudo in all of Mexico during the mid 70’s was without question Perro Aguayo. The match with El Santo was a classic good versus evil conflict that drew tremendous heat. The heat was so hot that the local police were called to ringside to settle down the audience who were ready to riot! UWA had taken a bite out of EMLL’s business but you would not have felt it if you were sitting inside Arena Mexico that Friday evening. Aguayo took a major beating but walked out that night with Mexico’s biggest prize and a championship that at one time was synonymous with El Santo.
Santo was so upset that he didn’t take the prestigious NWA World Middleweight Championship from the young punk, he quickly challenged him to a Mask versus Hair match. If he could not take the championship he would humiliate Perro by taking his hair. A week later, on October 3, 1975, headlining the third part of their 42nd Anniversary El Santo stood by his word and took the hair of Perro Aguayo in one of Arena Mexico’s most famous matches that packed the building and turned thousands away, and many of them stayed outside waiting to hear what the outcome of the match that night.
On September 24, 1976 for the companies 43rd Anniversary, Perro Aguayo put his hair up once again. This time to someone who go on to be one of his biggest career long rivals in El Faraon. For the second year in a row he was unsuccessful in keeping his hair, however Perro was successful at the box office! Aguayo had proven to be Mexico’s top draw and main eventer for every promoter in the country.
1977 was UWA’s sophomore year and it was widely successful. Their World Heavyweight Champion was none other than the legendary Lou Thesz. Thesz had been traveling to Mexico for well over 20 years, originally as National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Champion but was now reigning and defending UWA World Heavyweight Champion. Lou Thesz successfully defended his Championship against two of the country’s top heavyweights Mil Mascaras and Dr. Wagner. The promotion was primarily using Palacio de los Deportes and Thesz’s August 15 match with Mil Mascaras sold out the huge stadium.
Lou Thesz was not the only international star who made a big impact for Promociones Mora. Tatsumi Fujinami who came to Mexico from New Japan Pro Wrestling. Fujinami quickly made a huge mark in UWA going head to head with the country’s top hero El Solitario. The two fought over Solitario’s UWA Light Heavyweight Championship and sold out Palacio de los Deportes in May of 1977.
EMLL was still doing very strong business with some of Mexico’s biggest attractions headlining events for both promotions. Those that were able to appear more frequently for both promotions were Mil Mascaras, Perro Aguayo and El Solitario. With two big stars like El Solitario and Perro Aguayo regularly appearing on main events for EMLL’s major arena’s it kept their business strong. And business was very strong for that years Anniversary cards.
September 23, 1977 Arena Mexico (44th Anniversary I) att: 18,000*
- Alfonso Dantes* beat El Faraon- NWA Light Heavyweight Title
- Fishman & El Cobarde beat Sangre Chicana (Andres Duran Reyes)- Triangle Mask vs Mask Match
- El Halcon* beat Gemelo Diablo I- National Heavyweight Title
- El Faraon & El Monarca & Mano Negra beat Perro Aguayo & Alfonso Dantes & Joe Palardy
- Raul Reyes & Carlos Plata beat Gemelo Diablo II & Herodes
- El Vengador beat Demonio Blanco
- Franco Colombo beat El Satanico
September 30, 1977 Arena Mexico (44th Anniversary II) att: 15,000
- Fishman beat El Cobarde I (Miguel Angel Delgado Reyes)- Mask vs Mask Match
- Alfonso Dantes* beat El Faraon- NWA Light Heavyweight Title
- Ringo & Cachorro Mendoza & Kung Fu vs Adorable Rubi & Sangre Chicana & Joe Palardi
- Enrique Vera & Cien Caras vs Herodes & Gran Markus
- Louis Canada vs Bruno Victoria
- Manuel Robles vs Fumanchu
September of 1978 was a big month in the history of Lucha Libre. The war between EMLL and UWA was in full effect, with each promotion trying to outdo the other. UWA was running the huge Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City nearly every Sunday, when they weren’t they used the equally large El Toreo de Cuatro Caminos located in the Mexico City suburb of Naucalpan.
Starting the month off strong Francisco Flores promoted a big event right off the bat with a triple main event on September 3, 1978 selling out 22,000* seats as the legendary El Santo took the mask from another young wrestler Bobby Lee (Carlos Alvarado Gonzalez) in a big mask vs mask match. Here is the card.
September 3, 1978 Palacio de los Deportes att: 22,000*
- El Santo beat Bobby Lee (Carlos Alvarado Gonzalez)- Mask vs Mask Match
- El Solitario* beat Perro Aguayo- UWA Light Heavyweight Title
- Anibal* beat Fishman- UWA Middleweight Title
- Sergio el Hermoso & Bello Greco beat Babe Face & Scorpio- Hair vs Hair Match
- Lobo Rubio & El Signo drew Alberto Munoz & Tawa Vera
A week later, on September 10th, in the same building, they sold it out once again. In fact, it was reported that an even larger crowd showed up to witness El Solitario put his mask up against the hair of Perro Aguayo. Even though the card was not as stacked like it was the week prior, the thought of Aguayo being shaved bald or one of the hottest luchadores in the country losing his mask had people fill up the isles. These two men were at the top of their game and had an excellent bloody match.
Also on the card Black Man beat El Matematico to capture the UWA Lightweight Championship in the finals of the title tournament.
EMLL not to be out done during their 45th Anniversary month put together a strong card. With all the major events for competition that month it failed to sellout Arena Mexico, still they were able to fill 80% of the building up.
September 22, 1978 Arena Mexico (45th Anniversary)
- Sangre Chicana & Adorable Rubi beat El Cobarde & Dragon Rojo (Leonel Rivas)- Double Hair vs Hair & Mask Match
- El Santo & Blue Demon & El Halcon beat Alfonso Dantes & La Ola Blanca (Dr. Wagner & Angel Blanco) DQ
- Tony Salazar* beat Satoru Sayama- National Middleweight Title
- Mano Negra & TNT beat El Nazi & Bruno Victoria
- Leo Lopez beat El Imposter
Two days later UWA countered with another stacked card at Palacio de los Deportes. While it was not a sellout the building was near capacity. Francisco Flores promotion was on a roll, and for the next four or five years they sold more tickets to live events than any other promotion in the world and may hold a record from the most number of paid tickets per year for any promotion in history!
The card below is almost the epitome of Flores UWA at its peak. Every card was stacked from top to bottom. On this five match card with 14 wrestlers you would have eight current Hall of Famers and if all was fair all but two wrestlers (Bobby Lee & Mascara Roja) could make a claim for being a Hall of Famer.
Besides the hot Santo/Lee match another big draw was the semi-main event tag team match. The rules being that losing team would be forced to face off in a singles match and the loser of that match would have to forfeit their mask!
September 24, 1978 Palacio de los Deportes
- El Santo beat Bobby Lee- Mask vs Hair Match
- El Solitario beat Mascara Roja (Indio Jeronimo)- Mask vs Mask Match
- Anibal & Villano III beat El Solitario & Mascara Roja- Relevos Suicida
- El Canek beat Mil Mascaras DQ
- Rene Guajardo & Ray Mendoza & Fishman beat Rayo de Jalisco & Huracan Ramirez & Dos Caras
An El Santo mask vs mask match while very predictable, was always a big story! A week prior to the major Santo versus Bobby Lee mask match, a major event was held at Palacio de los Deportes, and it was billed as “Homenaje al Santo Enmascarado de Plata y Legendario Lou Thesz” which basically translates to “Tribute to the Silver Masked Santo and Legendary Lou Thesz”. The show drew a reported 21,450 fans with high ticket prices and set up the career of El Toreo’s big attraction of the 1980’s El Canek.
August 27, 1978 Palacio de los Deportes (Homenaje al Santo “Enmascarado de Plata y Legendario Lou Thesz) att: 21,450*
- Bobby Lee* beat El Santo- UWA Welterweight Title
- El Canek beat Lou Thesz*- Win Heavyweight UWA Title
- Ultraman beat Leon Negro (José del Carmelo Castillo Aguilera)- Mask vs Mask Match
- Anibal & El Solitario beat Perro Aguayo & Fishman- Revelos Increibles
- Los Villanos I & II & III beat Dorrel Dixon & Rayo de Jalisco & Karl Gotch Jr.
This was a major moment in Lucha Libre as El Canek dethroned the legendary Lou Thesz. To this day you will read articles about Thesz in Mexico and with Canek’s win it cemented his position as a top star from decades to come. Also you may notice Karl Gotch Jr. on the undercard, this was the gimmick that Joe Malenko used during his time in Mexico.
Jumping to 1980 Francisco Flores promotion was running on all cylinders and like I mentioned before was doing phenomenal business, which allowed them to import some of the industry’s biggest attractions. And there was no attraction bigger than Andre the Giant!
If you were to give September of 1980 a nickname you could call it the Month of the Giant! When Andre the Giant would take bookings in Mexico he would make appearances for both promotions. While many of the promoters were enemies, UWA was really a promotion that presented itself as working for the independent wrestler. EMLL had more of a monopoly on many cities due to owning their own buildings across Mexico yet the Lutteroth’s were very careful not to cross the Union as it could affect their entire business. Wrestlers in Mexico had unionized during the 1940’s with their largest Union Sindicato Nacional de Luchadores (referred to as SNL) was affiliated with the very powerful Confederation of Mexican Workers. This allowed wrestlers to take bookings from both promoters, but really only the top stars carried enough stroke to work for any promoter they so choose.
Having Andre in town meant full buildings throughout the country. If you want proof that Andre as a touring attraction was a legitimate draw look no further than Mexico. Weather the building was big or small Andre filled it. His reputation was great in Mexico and all the promoters loved having him because he meant big business and was usually easy to work with.
Andre started off September of 1980 in Acapulco a spot many of the big named foreigners were booked into. Often wrestlers would bring their significant others with them and make a vacation out of it. The city also was home to one of Salvador Lutteroth’s Arena Coliseo buildings that he and his family built and owned.
September 2, 1980 Arena Coliseo, Acapulco
- Andre the Giant & Angel Blanco beat El Canek & Villano III & Cesar Valentino
A few days later he appeared for Lutteroth’s on their Friday evening Arena Mexico card in Mexico City.
September 5, 1980 Arena Mexico
- Andre the Giant & Cien Caras beat Alfonso Dantes & Sunny War Cloud & Herodes
- Carlos Plata & Tony Benetto beat Siglo XX & Mascara Año 2000
- Sangre Chicana & Adorable Rubí & Tony Salazar beat Ringo Mendoza & El Faraón & El Fantasma
- Guil Don Jon beat Carnicero Aguilar
That Sunday it was Francisco Flores time to host Andre the Giant for an event at Palacio de los Deportes also in Mexico City.
September 7, 1980 Palacio de los Deportes (near sellout)
- Andre the Giant & El Solitario beat El Canek & Anibal & Dr. Wagner
- El Texano beat El Gringo*- Win UWA Welterweight Title
- Perro Aguayo & Fishman & Huracan Ramirez beat Enrique Vera & Dorrel Dixon & Gran Hamada
- Angel Blanco & Satoru Sayama & Kuniaki Kobayashi beat Los Misioneros de la Muerta (El Signo & El Texano & Negro Navarro)
Between September 8 and September 11 Andre took bookings in some smaller buildings across Mexico like Arena Puebla, Arena Aficion in Pachuca, back to Acapulco and the city of Hidalgo. Most of the time he would team with someone like Gran Hamada and face a trio like Perro Aguayo, El Canek and Dr. Wagner. Which was the main event in Pachuca.
On the 13th of September Andre was back to Arena Mexico and in front of another near sold out crowd the following card took place.
September 13, 1980 Arena Mexico
- Andre the Giant & Cien Caras beat Alfonso Dantes & TNT & Herodes
- Pak Choo & El Fantasma & El Faraon beat Tony Benetto & Tony Salazar & Adorable Rubi
- El Satanico & Mocho Cota beat Ringo Mendoza & Lizmark
- Carnicero Aguilar & Don Guill beat Pirata Morgan & Alma Grande
- El Reo vs El Invasor
Two days later, he appeared at the famous El Toreo de Cuatro Caminos. I think the frequent appearances may have affected the house as they only drew a Little over half of a house (approximately 10,000 fans) for Flores Sunday afternoon card.
September 15, 1980 El Toreo de Cuatro Caminos
- Andre the Giant & Cien Caras beat Alfonso Dantes & Herodes & Sunny War Cloud (2-1)
Often times to celebrate their Anniversary EMLL would promote major event in their other arenas around the country and stack them up with strong cards. This card at Arena Coliseo in Mexico City set what was at the time an Arena Coliseo gate record.
September 21, 1980 Arena Coliseo att: 6,000* (Record Arena Coliseo Gate)
- Alfonso Dantes* beat El Faraon- NWA Light Heavyweight Title
- El Cobarde & El Jalisco beat Leo Lopez & Manuel Robles- Double Hair vs Hair Match
- Siglo XX & Pak Choo beat Tony Salazar & El Nazi
- El Invasor & Carnicero Aguilar beat Alma Grande & El Doberman
- Vulcano beat Aguila Solitaria
In the mix of all of this EMLL held their 47th Anniversary at a near sold out Arena Mexico.
September 26, 1980 Arena Mexico (47th Anniversary)
- Sangre Chicana NC El Fantasma- NWA Middleweight Title
- El Satanico beat Mocha Cota- Hair vs Hair Match
- Cien Caras* beat TNT- National Heavyweight Title
- El Cobarde & Mascara Ano 2000 & Siglo XX beat El Nazi & Herodes & Bruno Victoria
- Seiji Sakaguchi & El Faraon beat Alfonso Dantes & Tony Benetto (Gran Markus Jr)
- El Vengador beat Manuel Robles
It’s really difficult to skip over the late 70’s and early 80’s in such a quick fashion. Business was so hot, to compare it to a similar period of time would be when Steve Austin and Rock were running full steam and breaking business records nearly every week. When looking at the business in hindsight it seems almost like fiction or a tall tale told by many wrestling veterans, but it was not. Nearly every weekend a card was held that in any other time period would be considered a spectacular extravaganza or pay per view quality show. Some of the biggest names from all over the world came into Mexico for high paying bookings. Francisco Flores had a working agreement with New Japan Pro Wrestling which gave them access to Japan’s top talent and some of the best up and comers in the world New Japan with their connection to Vince McMahon’s New York promotion gave them access to some of the biggest names in the United States.
EMLL being a longtime member of the National Wrestling Alliance gave them an option of booking some great talent as well, however EMLL has almost always relied on their own talent with very little outside assistance. During the 1970’s EMLL’s founder Salvador Lutteroth was spending less time working on the day to day operations of his wrestling and boxing business. In 1975 he passed most of those duties along to his son Salvador Lutteroth Gonzalez Jr better known simply as Chavo Lutteroth and at the same time his Grandson, Francisco Alonso Lutteroth, commonly referred to and known today as Paco Alonso began working for the company. By the end of the decade Paco Alonso had stepped in and was running the company for the most part, however when business was down Chavo would step back in and work with Paco to turn things around.
In 1981 Francisco Flores took an angle from the playbook of his partners New Japan Pro Wrestling when he borrowed their “mixed match” or “worked shoot” match gimmick which had done great business for Antonio Inoki in Japan. Ray Mendoza, one of the founding members of UWA and one time had the reputation for being an excellent shooter booked an angle where he would face a Karate Fighter. The office created a character to challenge Ray in a mixed match it was a success at the box office as they were able to pull a complete sellout for the card yet the match was not very entertaining and the gimmick did not last.
September 13, 1981 Palacio de los Deportes
- Ray Mendoza beat Apeman (Rick McIntosh)- Lucha vs Karate
- El Canek* beat Pat Patterson- UWA Heavyweight Title
- Perro Aguayo & Babe Face & Choi Sun beat Blue Demon & Rayo de Jalisco & Enrique Vera
- Los Misioneros de la Muerte (El Signo & El Texano & Negro Navarro) beat Huracan Ramirez & Fishman & Mano Negra
- Gran Hamada & Osamu Kido beat Coloso Colosetti & Cesar Valentino
- Kuniaki Kobayashi & Hiro Saito drew Scorpio & Masanobu Kurisu
La Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre promoted their 48th Anniversary card the following weekend.
September 18, 1981 Arena Mexico (48th Anniversary)
- Alfonso Dantes beat Enrique Vera*- Win National Light Heavyweight Title
- El Supremo & Espectro Jr beat El Vengador (Arturo Diaz Rodriguez)- Triangle Mask vs Mask Match
- Cachorro Mendoza beat Mocha Cota- Hair vs Hair Match
- Fuerza Guerrera* beat Negro Casas- National Lightweight Title
- Babe Face & Tony Salazar & Fishman beat Ringo Mendoza & El Faraon & El Satanico DQ
- Yanco beat Bufalo Salvaje
A week later, Andre the Giant made another trip to Mexico. This time his tour was shorter but he brought with him the legendary Peter Maivia. To my knowledge this was Peter’s only time appearing in Mexico. Andre made his appearance in Arena Mexico on Sunday instead of the usual Friday night card. Sunday was interesting for EMLL as they often ran a card at Arena Mexico but they also ran a card at the smaller Arena Coliseo, just miles apart from each other. Along with those two cards UWA usually held their biggest event of the week every Sunday afternoon and that does not include the dozens, yes dozens of other Lucha Libre events held in Mexico City on any given Sunday afternoon top stars would work three or four cards if they so choose!
September 27, 1981 Arena Mexico
- Andre the Giant & Kuniaki Kobayashi beat El Canek & Colosso Colosetti & Peter Maivia- Handicap Match
- Perro Aguayo & Dr. Wagner & Babe Face beat El Solitario & Fishman & Enrique Vera DQ
- Rayo de Jalisco & Huracan Ramirez & Dorrel Dixon beat Angel Blanco & Scorpio & Anibal
- Gran Hamada & Masa Saito & Osamu Kido beat Ray Mendoza & Los Villano I & II
- Ultraman & El Solar beat Masanobu Kurisu & Choi Sun
UWA held a special Wednesday card at Palacio de los Deportes to accommodate Andre the Giant’s availability.
September 30, 1981 Palacio de los Deportes
- Andre the Giant & El Solitario beat El Canek & Peter Maivia
- Perro Aguayo & Babe Face & Anibal beat Los Misioneros de la Muerte (El Signo & El Texano & Negro Navarro)
- Blue Demon & Fishman & Gran Hamada vs Angel Blanco & Villano III & Scorpio
- Black Terry* beat Black Man- UWA Lightweight Title
- Ultraman & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Hiro Saito beat Luis Mariscal & Lobo Rubio & Choi Sun
September of 1981 also marked a rare appearance of Bob Backlund and Pat Patterson at Arena Mexico. To my knowledge this is the only Arena Mexico appearance for Bob Backlund. The two stars from New York faced off with UWA’s top stars in El Canek and Perro Aguayo. The entire card contained wrestlers that you would see Sunday afternoon at El Toreo de Cuatro Caminos. This card is an example of the strength of the wrestlers Union and their influence over the promotions as this was a card held to benefit the Union.
To put it into perspective a comparison would be if Vince McMahon held an event at Madison Square Garden in 1998. And his main event was Kevin Nash & Scott Hall wrestling Hulk Hogan & Sting, and an undercard filled with other WCW stars.
If any year in the long history of Lucha Libre can be called something unique it would be 1982. Not only was 1982 a banner year at the box office, it also included maybe the deepest talent roster to be seen anywhere at one time. Along with phenomenal box office success 1982 featured the highly publicized retirement of Mexico’s most beloved idol El Santo.
Over the last few years El Santo’s family had been urging him to retire, yet Santo continued to take bookings all across the country and stayed fairly active. What really set plans for retirement into motion was surrounding his health. For the last few years Santo had been having problems with his heart including what many assumed were a few public heart attack scares. The most famous occurred on November 2, 1980 at El Toreo de Cuatro Caminos. That afternoon Santo was teaming with two long time partners Blue Demon and Huracan Ramirez as they faced the young team of El Signo, El Texano and Negro Navarro. During the course of the match it Santo appeared to have suffered what looked like a heart attack. The building was at near capacity and in all of the commotion either the paramedics could not make it to the ring or did not see what was happening in the ring, so Huracan Ramirez rushed over to Santo picked him up and quickly carried him to the back so medical care could be administered. Santo’s family has always credited Huracan Ramirez fast reaction for saving his life that day.
Just for history’s sake that six man tag team match was not the main event that evening. The main event was Perro Aguayo and his regular tag team partner Fishman teaming with Buffalo Allen, known in the United States and Canada as Bad News Allen or Brown. Those three rudos teamed to beat the very popular El Canek along with Dr. Wagner and Cesar Valentino. This match was setting up the following week’s main event when Canek gained revenge by beating Buffalo Allen.
Not to allow a near tragedy get in the way of making money. They three young luchadores took credit for nearly killing the beloved Santo. And the notoriety of Los Misioneros de la Muerte really took off!
Santo came back to wrestle on a few cards over the next year or so, but he never really recovered and it became increasingly more dangerous to continue to wrestle. Also his chosen son was now ready to be introduced to the world, so Santo agreed to retire.
El Santo’s retirement was set to play out over the course of three nights, at three of the largest indoor buildings in the Federal District of Mexico.
It started off on August 22, 1982 at Palacio de los Deportes with a huge sellout and jacked up ticket prices set a record gate for the building and Lucha Libre. It was advertised as part of Santo’s retirement tour as well as “Colosal Torneo de la Muerte” which can be translated to say “Colossal Tournament of Death”. The tournament was set up as the losing team will advance. El Santo was teamed with El Solitario, and beat Villano III & Rokambole (who was brother Villano V) in the first round saving their masks. The finals came down to brother team of Brazo de Oro & Brazo de Plata beat El Enfermero II (Martin Herrera) & Flama Azul (Antonio Hernandez) who both lost their hoods.
To show you just how crazy Lucha Libre’s business in Mexico was at the time. Just a half an hour drive away a stacked card was held at El Toreo de Cuatro Caminos and drew a very respectable gate with Abdullah the Butcher teaming with Perro Aguayo to beat El Canek & Carlos Colon by disqualification. And the Japanese team of Riki Choshu & Masa Saito & Gran Hamada & George Takano beat Babe Face & Los Misioneros de la Muerte.
The next stop on the El Santo retirement express was September 5, 1982 and this event was for the Lutteroth’s (Chavo Lutteroth & Paco Alonso by now were the daily force behind the promotion). Every building El Santo hit on his retirement tour sold out and drew huge gates and Arena Mexico was not an exception. Like the card held in Palacio de los Deportes this event was another tournament of death. Santo’s partner for this tournament was the very popular Gran Hamada. Once again Santo won his first round match when the duo beat the team of Scorpio and Villano I.
Each night there were elaborate ceremonies which included dignitaries and famous luchadores. And each night El Santo’s would introduce his son and future Hall of Famer Hijo del Santo to the live crowd as a symbolic passing of the torch.
Santo’s last match was September 12, 1982 and was held at El Toreo de Cuatro Caminos. Every seat was sold out, every isle was full and the ringside was moved to just a five or six feet from the ring to witness El Santo’s last match. Some of Mexico’s biggest names were on hand to thank Santo for his services as the country’s biggest wrestling superstar and cultural icon.
September 12, 1982 El Toreo de Cuatro Caminos
- El Santo & Gori Guerrero & Huracan Ramirez & El Solitario beat Perro Aguayo & Los Misioneros de la Muerte (El Signo & El Texano & Negro Navarro)
- El Canek & Fishman & Babe Face beat Gran Hamada & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Riki Choshu
- Enrique Vera & George Takano & Kiss beat Anibal & Kahoz & Scorpio
- Irma Gonzalez* beat Lola Gonzalez- UWA Women’s Title
- Brazo de Oro & Brazo de Plata beat Black Terry & Lobo Rubio DQ
Another piece of trivia for the month of September of 1982. While the Lutteroth’s were getting one leg of Santo’s retirement. It was their rivals of UWA who were going to benefit the most from his retirement and had built up that month with week after week of extravaganzas and EMLL was really feeling the effects of UWA massive success.
In order to fight them Lutteroth’s made a call to bring in the NWA World Heavyweight Champion for a week including for his major anniversary card. Ric Flair had not been to Mexico yet, but he was being built up as a huge star, on the cover of Box y Lucha it announced something to the effect that “The Majesty has arrived!”
Ric Flair’s debut was scheduled for September 10, 1982, and Flair did arrive to Mexico however the rumor is that someone from Francisco Flores office called the commission or city officials and complained that no one had taken care of Flair’s work visa.
This is the lineup from Box y Lucha magazine for Ric Flair’s debut match at Arena Mexico for September 10, 1982. Which was going to lead to a NWA World Championship match the following Friday between Ric Flair and Halcon Ortiz. During the week Flair was scheduled to wrestle a couple matches in Lutteroth’s smaller buildings across the country including Acapulco.
Here is the card that took place with Dr. Wagner taking Ric Flair’s spot on the card:
September 10, 1982 Arena México
- Halcon Ortiz & Tony Salazar & Lizmark beat Perro Aguayo & Dr. Wagner (sub for Ric Flair) & Sangre Chicana
- Fishman & El Satánico & El Supremo beat Ringo Mendoza & El Faraón & Cesar Curiel DQ
- Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & El Jalisco beat La Fiera & Mocho Cota
- Belcebú & Pánico beat Chamaco Valaguez & El Solar II
- Leon Chino & El Dandy beat Josué & Dardo Aguilar
Which of course lead to EMLL’s 49th Anniversary event.
September 17, 1982 Arena Mexico (49th Anniversary) att: 16,000
- Perro Aguayo beat Tony Salazar- Hair vs Hair Match
- Halcon Ortiz* beat Dr. Wagner (sub for Ric Flair)- National Heavyweight Title
- Fishman* beat Ringo Mendoza- UWA Light Heavyweight Title
- Cesar Curiel & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & Lizmark beat Alfonso Dantes & MS-1 & El Satánico
- Franco Colombo & Chamaco Valaguez & Solar II beat La Fiera & Mocho Cota & Salvaje
- El Dorado & Águila de Plata beat Belcebú & Bello Adán
On the same day as El Santo’s retirement September 12, 1982 EMLL held an event at Arena Coliseo, which NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair was scheduled to wrestle. El Canek substituted for Flair as he teamed with El Faraon & MS-1 to take on Ringo Mendoza, Tony Salazar and Cesar Curiel. The New main event was Mascara Ano 2000 defending his NWA World Middleweight Title against Tony Arce.
Next time we will discuss the mid part of the 1980’s and the huge success of the late 80’s and early 90’s of EMLL. The emergence of AAA and the demise of the UWA.
Matt Farmer – @mattfarmer93