Mexican wrestling is an entertaining sport that has captured the hearts and minds of people all across the world.
From its earliest days as a medley of Greco-Roman techniques to its current iteration as an entertainment platform on part with the WWE, Mexican wrestling has produced its share of super-start athletes and characters.
While many Mexican wrestlers have achieved some cross-over success in other wrestling promotions, the majority of their fame comes from their careers as luchadores and their appearance on the “silver screen” as action stars and film heroes.
Without a doubt, the most famous Mexican wrestler of all time is Santo. El Santo (The Saint) was one of the very first Mexican wrestlers during an era of mass communication, and his early matches in the 1940s and 1950s drew regional acclaim and thousands of fans. El Santo’s popularity came partly because he was such an early adopter of the Lucha Libre style, and partly because he represented a wholesome “heroic” ideal that the nationalist fervor in Mexico was sorely craving. El Santo competed for more than five decades – and in his entire career, he only removed his mask a single time, at a farewell interview that he gave on Mexican television just two months before his death. His popularity was so great that he appeared in nearly forty “B-movies” and starred in a series of comic books and novellas where he played a heroic figure that fought crime and defeated supernatural adversaries.
With today’s obsession over “dark” characters and twisted backstories, it seems hard to imagine that such a one-dimensional character could have existed for so long – but the excitement over El Santo was palpable in Mexico throughout his life.
In Mexican wrestling, there are usually two types of characters. One character, typically the “bad guy” in the wrestling match, uses a brawling style that emphasizes strength and aggression. The “good guy” in the match is typically a technical wrestler with high-flying techniques and complicated submissions. Blue Demon was one of the best technical wrestlers of all time, wrestling alongside El Santo throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Blue Demon began his career as a famous villain – and he was eventually unmasked by El Santo in a match in 1952. After being unmasked, Blue Demon changed over to a “good guy” and had a long rivalry with El Santo. Like many of the best Mexican wrestlers, Blue Demon stared in dozens of movies – including a string of horror movies that he shared co-billing with El Santo. He retired in 1989 at the age of 67, and he continued to support Mexican wrestling by teaching others his skills and participating in documentaries.
One of the most important matches of all time took place in 1952 between El Santo and Black Shadow. This match was a “mask vs. mask” match – which meant that the loser would be forced to give up their mask and reveal their true identity to the public. At the time, El Santo was the most famous wrestler in the country, and Black Shadow was a popular villain – so the results of the match seemed up in the air.
Black Shadow tag teamed with Blue Demon in most of his matches, calling themselves the Shadow Brothers, The match was so popular, and the promotion for it was so intense, that it is credited with the popularization of mask matches and the construction of Arena Mexico to host larger promotions in the future.
Black Shadow actually became more popular after he lost his match – and he was one of the most technical wrestlers of the era so he had a huge impact on the evolution of the style.
All of them have fought bravely in this sport, but let us not forget that they're also human like us, and as humans, we can assume that they've lived a life having bliss on the simple and little things such as partying, wearing proudly their ponchos, and having fun with their friends, even if they are the "top three Mexican wrestlers of all time" that we speak of today. It's a good reminder for us that even wherever fate takes us and even how far we make it in life, we can still look back and say, "ohhh I was like that", "ohhh I wore costumes like that", remembering the simple things yesterday, that made us great today.