What did William Faulkner say about the past? “The past is not dead. It’s not even past.” Sounds like Mexican wrestling to me.
The wildest story in wrestling this weekend didn’t come out of NXT TakeOver, Backlash or Best of the Super Juniors. Rather, what could be the beginning of a significant tectonic shift in Mexican wrestling started in a private parking lot at Arena Mexico, home base for Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), Mexico’s largest promotion and the oldest wrestling promotion in the world. That’s where the first figurative shots were fired, but the foundation was laid decades earlier.
Those unacquainted with Mexican wrestling may be surprised to learn that luchadors are unionized, though you’d be mistaken if you confused this “union” for a traditional independent labor union. There was a time when an independent luchadors union existed, but corruption quickly seeped in and an unspoken consensus began to form that the union was little more than a dues generator. When Manny Guzman took over, some belief in honest practices were restored but Guzman’s organization was badly damaged in his losing fights against Televisa and fracturing among wrestling promotions. Some luchadors in the newly-formed AAA split off to form an independent union, led by Fuerza Guerrera. CMLL talent responded by forming their own independent union, but CMLL management quickly responded and ensured that the independent CMLL union would be affiliated with the largest labor union confederation in the country, the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM).
Once a powerful political player, CTM became known for frequent bargaining concessions to management that provided little benefit to their member-workers. Even more, current CMLL boss Paco Alonso, grandson of the company’s founder, maneuvered in such a way that he signs off on union boss appointments. In doing so, Alonso had transformed what was once a nascent independent organization into a subsidiary of a weakened national syndicate and a valuable tool of management, while still being able to tout the existence of a wrestler’s union. Since the present union’s inception, rumors of corruption circulated and, given the organization’s management-friendly structure, it’s not hard to see why.
For decades, Alonso’s chosen union chief was Jesús Alvarado Nieves, more commonly known by his in-ring sobriquet “Brazo de Oro.”
— Enfoque Deportes (@enfoquedeporte) April 29, 2017
Brazo de Oro and his brothers El Brazo and Brazo de Plata (Super Porky) were a famous trios act in the 80s and 90s. While Brazo de Oro had settled into semi-retirement by the mid-00s, he maintained his position at the top of the wrestler’s union, despite infrequent in-ring appearances. In a 2008 profile with Box Y Lucha magazine, Brazo de Oro described his role with the union, and what he described sounds much closer to a territory’s booking office than a traditional labor union. As he described all he did for the country’s luchadors, two photographs hung over Brazo de Oro’s desk. One photograph was of Salvador Lutteroth, founder of CMLL (i.e. management), and the other was of the head of CTM, the controversial labor union confederation. If you are an assemblyman and walk into your union delegates office to find photos of Henry Ford and Jimmy Hoffa prominently displayed, you may understand the lack of esteem some luchadors have for their supposed representatives. Brazo de Oro held the top position for a quarter-century, until his death in late April 2017. His death left a vacancy at the head of the union table and, both directly and indirectly, a very dented automobile.
According to Super Luchas, there was a meeting with several wrestlers regarding the union vacancy on Thursday, May 18. La Mascara, Brazo de Oro’s son and current CMLL Light Heavyweight Champion, was in attendance alongside Brazo de Oro’s nephew, CMLL Heavyweight Champion Maximo Sexy. CMLL mainstay Ultimo Guerrero was also present and is said to have criticized the management of the union, and the possibility of La Mascara inheriting his father’s job as union boss. Super Luchas reports that Ultimo Guerrero was merely giving voice to widely held complaints, rather than angling for the position himself, and Ultimo Guerrero’s daughter posted on Facebook that her father had no interest in taking over the union. Whatever Guerrero’s intentions, his criticism did not sit well with the Alvarado clan.
Apparently, Guerrero arrived at Arena Mexico the following morning and parked his blue sports car in the private area of the parking garage set aside for talent. After Guerrero left, the Alvarado family appeared and showed why hushed voices occasionally call them “The Alvarado Mafia.” A hidden camera video of the incident widely circulated on Facebook joins the episode en medias res.
The brief clip shows Maximo Sexy and La Mascara standing near the rear of the car while Brazo de Platino, Brazo de Oro’s brother, pounds and tears at the car with his bare hands. Some reports indicate Psycho Clown, Maximo Sexy’s brother and top talent in CMLL’s rival promotion, AAA, was also there, unmasked and slamming a folding chair into the car. It is known that CMLL security guards oversee this area of the parking lot, but did not intervene.
Both Maximo Sexy and Ultimo Guerrero were scheduled to appear on the big Friday night show later that evening, with Guerrero set to shoot his big angle with his technico-drifting partner Niebla Rojo and Maximo in the main event. Both men were featured prominently on the event poster, but only Ultimo Guerrero would appear on the card.
That afternoon, Maximo Sexy was pulled from the main event and replaced with Marco Corleone. Later La Mascara was pulled from his Monday date in Arena Puebla and replaced with Sam Adonis, and neither Alvarado cousin appears in the upcoming match listings published by Box y Lucha. According to LuchaBlog, CMLL owns both luchadors’ names as well as the title “Los Ingobernables,” and have already removed La Mascara’s name from the Los Ingobernables logo. On the night his father died, La Mascara wrestled at Arena Mexico and cut a passionate promo after the match, during which he said that he intended to change his name to more closely reflect his Brazo heritage. Even if that was already in the works, we may have already seen the final matches of “La Mascara” and “Maximo Sexy.”
That is not to say that Felipe de Jesús Alvarado Mendoza or José Christian Alvarado Ruiz would be out of work for long. WWE was rumored to be interested in La Mascara, but it’s difficult to see how WWE signs him right after this affair, especially when it’s caught on video. Still, there are domestic alternatives. Maximo Sexy’s brother, Psycho Clown, is in the middle of an angle in AAA where he was betrayed by his clown brethren, and AAA is also in the midst of a rebuild, having lost luchadors up and down the card, so both could use reinforcements. Also, Maximo Sexy was scheduled to work a show in Chicago on Saturday. (Maybe getting out of the country for a while isn’t such a bad idea.)
En camino !! Buen día ? !!! pic.twitter.com/vnO8IPGLhf
— Maximo sxy (@Maximo_cmll) May 21, 2017
Then there’s the currently-dormant Elite promotion and The Crash, who signed several big names from AAA and, after a disappointing first attempt, appears to be working for a foothold in Mexico City, where both La Mascara and Maximo Sexy are recognized acts. In short, don’t be surprised if “Ultimo Sexy” and “Brazo de Oro Jr.” appear in a rival promotion soon.
Of course, all that could be derailed by Ultimo Guerrero.
On his Facebook, Ultimo Guerrero posted that he is pressing charges against those Alvarados who destroyed his car, and shared at least one fan’s post running down the Alvarado family as the “clasica familia perdedora de la Lucha Libre en Mexico” (i.e. “Mexican wrestling’s classic family of losers”). If Guerrero proceeds with the case, promotions may not want to invest too much in either Maximo or La Mascara until the issue is resolved. Psycho Clown’s status is also unclear, as the promotion started a one-year build to a mask vs mask match for this year’s Triplemania. AAA is not a promotion determined to deliver its advertised card on any given night, so that main event spot can’t guarantee Psycho Clown a full pardon, but the potential damage to AAA’s credibility that could come from not delivering a main event with Psycho Clown works in his favor. However, the published video shows an unmasked Psycho Clown so, at the very least, the intrigue of the mask match could take a hit.
These events have the potential to reshape the face of Mexican wrestling.
The Alvarado family has deep roots and, that short video clip shows, they have not taken kindly to potential uprootings. The incident also raises issues for those who weren’t present at the attack, like Brazo de Oro’s brother Brazo de Plata, who is recuperating from surgery and was endeavoring to return to CMLL, and the Casas family, who is related to the Alvarados by marriage. It also calls into question the near-fraternal allegiance between La Mascara and the Munoz family; Rush and La Mascara are close friends and partners in Los Ingobernables, and Rush was tweeting “Siempre Ingobernables,” or “Ingobernables Always” in the following days. Beyond Rush, the Munoz family includes Mistico and Dragon Lee, who is a world away competing in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament. There has also been talk that these events will help expose corruption in the union and lead to the formation of a new independent union free of management control, but that may be premature.
What can we count on going forward? Well, it seems we’ll be getting two championship tournaments to determine new Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight Champions, though the most recent edition of Wrestling Observer Radio indicated that La Mascara may only be suspended. It’s also likely that Ultimo Guerrero, in challenging a family that may no longer have a place in CMLL, consolidated more power, especially if he is appointed to run the union. Fredo Esparza at LuchaWorld neatly outlines the loyalty many wrestlers feel to Guerrero, who broke so many into the business and CMLL.)
At the very least, it will be another chapter in a rapidly unfolding saga that feels like it could be titled “El Padrinos.” And we thought there was only one Corleone in CMLL.