Two out of three falls: The history of Lucha Libre

Lucha Libre is an international reference to Mexican culture. The sport and cultural expression is a mixture of sports and theater performances, which make it the most popular sport-show in Mexico

Two out of three falls: A tour through the history of Lucha Libre
English 04/10/2019 20:48 Mexico City Patricia Plata Cruz Actualizada 21:32
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During the 1970s the Mexican Company of Lucha Libre (EMLL) had a great growth and talent overcrowding and not everyone had the same opportunities, as refers the World Wrestling Council (CMLL) on its website. Although there were new and young wrestlers, the big stars were still the protagonists in the arenas.

In addition, Salvador Lutteroth González left the EMLL in 1974 in hands of his son Salvador Lutteroth Camou. Unhappy with the decision, some wrestlers decided to leave the company, as affirmed in the official website.



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That was how master Ray Mendoza, the investor Francisco Flores, and the promoter Benjamín Mora separated from the EMLL to establish the International Lucha Libre company, later known as Universal Wrestling Association (UWA).

UWA became the direct competition of EMLL. Besides training young talents, it also took stars like El Santo. The gladiators had no problem remaining in one company or the other; they wrestled in both and everyone was fine with it.

Back then, a heel was building his name in the rings and had a rivalry with El Santo. El Perro Aguayo faced “The Man with the Silver Mask” on September 26, 1975, in Arena Mexico, fighting for the National Wrestling Alliance championship where the “Nochistlán canine” won, according to



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Despite his age, El Santo kept crowding arenas and could not afford to lose, hence, the Silver Man went big: A mask-against-hair match that would take place only a week later.

That October 3rd, 1975, in the same venue, after a bloody wrestle, El Santo remained masked and deprived El Perro Aguayo of his hair.

Cuatro Caminos Bullfighting Arena and the independents
UWA was founded on January 29, 1975, with a show in the Palace of Sports. It was until February 1977 that it settled in what would be its home during almost two decades and the cradle of the so-called independents: the Cuatro Caminos Bullfighting Arena.

UWA’s success was due to its association with companies from Japan and the United States, such as the World Wrestling Federation (today WWE), New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) and the Japan Women’s Wrestling (JWP).



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The link with these promoters brought more foreign wrestlers to Mexico. In addition, UWA popularized trios wrestling; two groups of three members (heels or faces), as mentions the website of world wrestling history

The 1970s ended tragically for the EMLL, for on December 25, 1979, in the Colisseum Arena, in a semifinal relay wrestle, Sangre India made a bad move and his head crashed directly to the floor; he died in seconds.

On November 2, 1980, with 63 years old, El Santo, along with Rayo de Jalisco, and Huracán Ramírez, faced the heels Misioneros de la Muerte. During the fight, “The Man with the Silver Mask” had a heart attack.

In the early 1980s, big legends started to retire, like Black Shadow on May 14, 1981, or El Santo on September 5, 1982.

On December 11, 1981, in Mexico’s Arena, there was a fight between the UWA independents and some wrestlers from the EMLL, including Tony Salazar, Fishman, and El Faraón. That was how the exchange of wrestlers between EMLL and UWA started.



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The great height of the new promoter UWA was during the 80s. Among the most outstanding wrestlers was Canek “The Mayan Prince,” who wrestled against the most famous wrestlers of the United States like Hulk Hogan and Big Van Vader, as well as Japanese Tatsumi Fujinami.

In the mid-80s, Francisco Alonso Lutteroth was in charge of EMLL, starting a transition in the way to wrestle, which incorporated more aerial moves.



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At the beginning of the 90s, UWA had financial problems since its shows became repetitive and unappealing for the public, as says Dan Madigan in the book Mondo Lucha a Go Go: The Weird and Honorable World of the Wild Mexican Wrestling.

The birth of AAA.
Antonio Peña, as his old colleagues, separated from EMLL and on May 15, 1992, began his own promoter, the AAA (Assistance, Assessment, and Administration), as says the website of the company.

Opposite to the other two companies, this one was not born in Mexico City but in the Benito Juárez Auditorium in Veracruz. In the opening were present famous wrestlers like El Perro Aguayo, Máscara Sagrada, El Fantasma, Cien Caras, and Octagón, among others.



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Although many stars worked in other companies, they enrolled in the AAA.

In addition, characters such as La Parka (today L.A. Park), Octagón, Atlantis, and Máscara Sagrada emerged. The last three were known as “the film stars,” for they were the protagonists of the new wrestlers' films, which did not have the same success as in the 70s. “The Rematch” (La Revancha) from 1991 is one of the most famous of those films.

Octagón made a good pair with El Hijo del Santo, and together they won the NWA Tag Wrestling World Championship on November 5, 1993.

AAA became popular with the pay per view event “When the Worlds Crash” (Cuando los mundos chocan) in California, United States, on November 6, 1994, thus starting its international expansion.

On that occasion, the most expected wrestle was the one between El Hijo del Santo and Octagón versus Eddie Guerrero and Art Barr, in a classic mask-against-hair, in which the faces won and shaved “The Pair of Terror,” as Guerrero and Art Barr were known.



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With the foundation of AAA three years before and the economic problems they dragged since the beginning of the decade, in addition to the mistake of December 1994, UWA was forced to close its doors in 1995, according to Dan Madigan’s research.

Nowadays, AAA and CMLL are the most representative companies of Lucha Libre in Mexico. Within its ranks, we can see women wrestlers, little and exotic wrestlers.



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Thus ends our tour along three key stages of Lucha Libre in Mexico, “two out of three falls without time limit.”


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