Mexican superstar Hector Garza dies of lung cancer at age 43

R.I.P. Hector Garza 1969-2013 - Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Hector Garza, who worked briefly for WWE, WCW and TNA, and was one of the top stars in Mexico for almost two decades for both CMLL and AAA, has passed away at age 43 after a lengthy battle with lung cancer.

Unfortunately Cagesiders we have to report the news of another wrestler dying at far too young an age. As reported yesterday, Hector Garza, who worked briefly for WWE, WCW and TNA, and was one of the top stars in Mexico for almost two decades, has passed away at age 43 after a lengthy battle with lung cancer.

Like many luchadors, such as WWE's Alberto Del Rio and Sin Cara, Hector was a second generation wrestler who followed his father Humberto Garza into the business. Indeed, he was trained by his family and started wrestling in the autumn of 1992 on the Monterrey circuit where Humberto was a local legend. It wasn't long before the young Hector gained a following due to a combination of his good looks and graceful aerials. Most notably, he is believed to have invented the Tornillo dive (corkscrew plancha), one of the most innovative and spectacular moves of the time.

In 1994, Hector got his big break when Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) brought him to Mexico City and chose to give him a huge push, as the company was looking to create new stars in order to combat stiff competition from AAA who had stolen most of their established draws when the rival upstart was formed two years earlier.

To get him over immediately, CMLL created the Torneo Gran Alternativa, a tournament where veterans teamed with rookies, with the idea being that the youngster that won would be elevated up to main events, teamed him up with the respected tecnico Negro Casas and had them beat rudos Satánico and Arkangel in the finals. The tourney continues to this day and has been used to kickstart the careers of Shocker, Rey Bucanero, Último Guerrero, Místico, La Máscara and La Sombra amongst many others.

With his long black locks, Garza's calling card became defending his hair against that of other stars. In the early days he was undefeated in such matches, taking the hair of top rudos like MS-1, Satánico, El Brazo, Bestia Salvaje and Pirata Morgan.

Garza jumped ship to AAA in late 1996 due to their short-lived talent trading agreement with the WWF. Due to his working ability, he got over better than any of his peers, but the deal between the two companies only lasted a few months, as Vince McMahon quickly tired of dealing with the disorganised Antonio Peña and decided to cut short his lucha experiment, a style of wrestling that he never learnt to appreciate.

However, the decision makers of World Championship Wrestling spotted more potential in Hector, most notably their arena promoter Zane Bresloff who thought he could become a major ticket seller as a Latino hero, and signed him to a contract in May 1997. Of course, despite Bresloff's backing, for most of his two year run in WCW he was often just the in ring highlight of a meaningless trios match with other luchadors.

Hector's best remembered WCW match was on the Sep. 22nd, 1997 Monday Nitro where Scott Hall "put him over" by giving him no offence whatsoever until he rolled Hall up from behind for a fast three count when The Outsider was busy tormenting referee Mark Curtis. After the match, Hall made sure to get his heat back by planting both Garza and Curtis with the Outsider's Edge. For good measure, Hall easily got his win back just two weeks later.

Garza was also a member of Eddie Guerrero's brief heel gang the Latino World Order in late 1998, which came to an abrupt halt when Eddie was almost killed in a horrendous car accident on New Year's Day 1999.

Unlike many of his Mexican colleagues whose potential went wasted in WCW, Garza quickly rebounded by returning to AAA in late 1999 and instantly becoming embroiled in a unique four way feud with heartthrob headliners Perro Aguayo Jr., Heavy Metal and Latin Lover. He took Metal's hair on Nov. 23rd, 2001, but finally got shaved bald himself when he was defeated by Latin Lover on Oct. 26th, 2003 in two of the biggest Mexican matches of the time period.

In January 2004, Garza started working for TNA part time as part of Team Mexico with his AAA brethren Juventud Guerrera, Abismo Negro and Mr. Aguila where they would feud with high flying teams from other countries in an idea to spice up the promotion's X-Division. They beat Team USA, Team Canada and Team UK in a series of singles, tag and team elimination matches to win and retain the TNA Americas Cup. However, because Garza lost an Ultimate X match to Chris Sabin (which also featured Petey Williams), Team Mexico didn't win the first ever World X Cup in May of that year.

In late June 2004, Garza quit AAA and rejoined CMLL over a feeling that Antonio Peña wasn't paying him fairly for his work in TNA. The move was one of the best decisions of his career, as he eventually formed one of the hottest rudo groups in lucha history with Perro Aguayo Jr., Los Perros Del Mal, that helped set CMLL's business on fire together with the super push of the dazzling Místico, the former drawing the adult heel fans, whilst the latter brought in the kids and families.

Noticing how Eddie Guerrero had caught on in WWE, TNA wanted to create their own Hispanic babyface sensation (something they've unsuccessfully tried more recently with Hernandez and Chavo Guerrero too) and brought back Hector with a major push. He surprisingly won the 20-man international invitational X-Division gauntlet match at Victory Road on Nov. 7th, 2004, TNA's first ever monthly three hour pay-per-view. The following month he pinned AJ Styles, took NWA World Champion Jeff Jarrett to the limit before losing and was placed into a feud with Scott Hall, who he was to face at Final Resolution 2005.

However, disaster then struck when Garza was arrested in Houston, Texas, days before the pay-per-view, and jailed for having Deca-Durabolin and Primobolan in his suitcase. A week later, he pleaded guilty to possession of steroids and was sentenced to 15 days in prison. This also ended his TNA career, as he was deported and wasn't allowed to apply for an American work visa for five years as a consequence of this conviction. It was perhaps for the best, as CMLL was on the upswing, while TNA continued to struggle and their history proves that they didn't know how to get an ethnic babyface like Garza over.

All good things must come to an end though. CMLL's business started cooling off and Garza left Los Perros Del Mal in February 2008 to became a tecnico again, naturally feuding with his former comrade Perrito. This led to his last major hair match against Perro Aguayo Jr. on Mar. 21st, 2008 in Arena Mexico, which he unsurprisingly lost, as he was always the number two guy in the stable.

Garza remained a top star with CMLL until November 2011, which included having runs with the CMLL World Trios Championships with El Hijo del Fantasma and La Máscara in 2008, the CMLL World Tag Team Championships with Mr. Aguila in 2010, and the CMLL Heavyweight Championship in 2011.

He then left the promotion without dropping their heavyweight singles belt in a match (not because he wasn't willing to, but because an upset Paco Alonso refused to allow him) and joined Perro Aguyao Jr.'s Perros del Mal Producciones promotion as a member of the Perros del Mal stable again. By this time, as well as running his own independent shows, Perro Jr.'s gang was also working for AAA, so Garza returned back there too. The duo soon worked another break up angle with an errant chair shot by Garza costing Perrito his AAA World Heavyweight Championship match against El Mesias at TripleMania XX on Aug. 5th, 2012, which led to Hector being dumped out of the group at the next television tapings.

However, the feud never got off the ground as shortly thereafter Garza was diagnosed with lung cancer (caused by excessive smoking) and retired from wrestling to focus on the chemotherapy treatment he required to get better. People feared the worst when Hector was so ill he couldn't attend his own benefit show just over a month ago. Sadly those fears came true, Cagesiders, hence the need for this obituary column.

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