32 years ago today, Rodolfo Guzman Huerta, best known to wrestling fans as the legendary El Santo (The Saint), dies of a heart attack in Mexico City. He was 66.
Born in Tulancingo, Mexico, Rodolfo was the third youngest of seven children. He and his family moved to Mexico in the 1920s. As a child, he was interested in baseball and American football before trying his hand at ju-jitsu and wrestling. In the mid 1930's, Guzman began his career (some accounts put it at 1934, while others put it at 1935), but he would be established by the end of the decade, wrestling under the names Rudy Guzman, El Hombre Rojo, El Demonio Negro, and El Murcielago II.
In 1942, Don Jesus Lomeli, Guzman's manager, wanted to put together a team of wrestlers dressed in silver. Given a choice of one of three names, he went with El Santo (later just Santo), and it stuck. In 1952, he took on Los Hermanos Shadow (Blue Demon and Black Shadow) and won, unmasking Black Shadow. Blue Demon and Santo would have a legendary rivalry that spanned throughout 1952 and 1953, culminating in Blue Demon defeating Santo.
Around this time, his popularity began to grow away from the ring. A comic book series was created in his name and would become one of the most popular comic series in all of Mexico, running continuously for 35 years. Beginning in 1958, Santo appeared in 52 lucha libre films, many of them in starring roles. The B-movie style flicks usually revolved Santo fighting aliens, evil scientists, criminals, secret agents, and other tropey bad guys. Just four of his movies were ever dubbed into English, including Santo vs. Las Mujeres Vampiro (Santo vs. The Vampire Women) in 1962, which was featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and The Mummies of Guanajuato, released in 1970, which co-starred lucha legends Mil Mascaras and Blue Demon.
Santo's final match and movie both came in 1982. His last film, Fury of the Karate Experts was filmed in Florida. His final match was just a week before his 65th birthday.
Wrestling for Empresa Mundial de Lucha Libre (EMLL), he had won the National Middleweight Championship four times, the Light Heavyweight title once, the Welterweight title once, and was a two-time tag champion. He had also won the NWA World Welterweight and Middleweight Championships. He had also put his hair or mask on the line 35 times, never losing once.
Santo was very protective of his identity; he never took his mask off in public, not even at home (he had a specially made mask for eating). In January 1984 while appearing the Mexican talk show Contrapunto (Counterpoint), Santo unmasked for the first and only time in public. Just a week after unmasking, he would die of a heart attack at age 66. Per his wishes, Santo was buried wearing his famous silver mask.
At the time of his death, he was survived by his wife and ten children, but only their youngest son Jorge broke into the wrestling business. He wrestled for over 30 years as El Hijo de Santo before retiring in 2014 due to a spinal injury. Surely enough, one of his sons has recently started wrestling too, as El Nieto de Santo.
In the years since El Santo's passing, numerous statues have been erected in his honor. The legacy of El Santo lives to this day, as he had become a folk hero and a symbol of justice for the common man throughout Mexico. He is often credited with popularizing the sport in Mexico, much in the way Rikidozan did in Japan and Hulk Hogan would do in the United States.
On September 23, 2016, Google commemorated Santo’s 99th birthday with his own collection of Google Doodles.
29 years ago today, WWF presented The Main Event (WWE Network link) from Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Not to be confused with Main Event, WWE’s C-show, The Main Event was a Friday night version of the popular Saturday Night’s Main Event series. Just five episodes of The Main Event were produced, the last of which came in October 1990.
The Main Event made television history: it was the first primetime wrestling show on network television since 1955. The people turned up for this one. On the strength of the first singles match between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant since Wrestlemania III, the show got a 15.2 rating and an audience of 33 million viewers, the highest viewing audience for any professional wrestling show ever, a mark likely never to be touched.
To put that number in perspective, that’s a bigger rating than the series finale of Full House (14.6) and a bigger viewing audience than the series finale of Gunsmoke (30.9 million viewers). It’s also bigger than the average audience of Sunday Night Football, the most-watched show on television in the country (20.2 million).
A full card was presented for the fans in attendance, but only the final two bouts aired on the show (with only Hogan-Andre airing to its conclusion).
- Demolition (Ax & Smash) defeated Billy Jack Haynes & Ken Patera.
- Ron Bass defeated Koko B. Ware.
- The British Bulldogs defeated The Islanders.
- Jim Duggan defeated The One Man Gang.
- The Ultimate Warrior defeated Sika.
- Randy Savage defeated The Honky Tonk Man by countout in a WWF Intercontinental Championship match.
In matches airing on The Main Event:
- Andre the Giant defeated Hulk Hogan to win the WWF Championship. The pin came off a double arm suplex by Andre, but Hogan's shoulders were clearly up before the three count. DiBiase (in storyline) paid off a referee to get cosmetic surgery to look like WWF official Dave Hebner. 108 seconds after the win (no, seriously, not even two minutes later), Andre the Giant per a pre-match agreement sold the championship to Ted DiBiase. Then the real Dave Hebner showed up. That other guy? Dave's real-life twin brother Earl Hebner making his WWF debut. Hogan threw Earl over the top rope onto DiBiase and Virgil. The loss for Hogan ended his run at a staggering 1,474 days, or just over four years. DiBiase was actually announced as the WWF Champion in a few house show events following The Main Event, but on WWF Superstars on February 13, DiBiase's title reign was stricken from the record and the title declared vacant, with a new champion to be crowned via a one-night tournament at Wrestlemania IV. This is the first time the WWF Championship was vacated for a significant period of time in its 25-year history.
- Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana) defeated The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart) to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship. The match was still in progress when the show went off the air. The match does air to its conclusion on the WWE Network version.
23 years ago today, ECW presented The Night the Line Was Crossed from the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The show featured what is believed to be the first three-man world championship match in modern professional wrestling history. It didn’t have to be though: per the rules of the match, if either Sabu or Shane Douglas could have defeated the other within 15 minutes, that person alone would get Terry Funk for the ECW title. If not, Funk would join in, making it a triangle match
Highlights of the show aired on the February 15 and February 22 episodes of ECW Hardcore TV (WWE Network link).
- 911 defeated Chad Austin
- Mr. Hughes defeated Sal Bellomo.
- The Sandman & Tommy Cairo defeated Rockin Rebel & Pit Bull #1 in a double dog collar chain tag team match.
- The Public Enemy (Johnny Grunge & Rocco Rock) defeated The Bruise Brothers (Don Harris & Ron Harris) in a no rules tag team match.
- Jimmy Snuka defeated Tommy Dreamer.
- Pat Tanaka & The Sheik defeated Kevin Sullivan & The Tazmaniac.
- JT Smith defeated Mike Awesome.
- Terry Funk, Sabu, and Shane Douglas went to a one-hour time limit draw for the ECW Heavyweight Championship.
16 years ago today on Nitro from Tupelo, Mississippi (WWE Network link), Rick Steiner defeated Shane Douglas to win the WCW United States Championship.
15 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Los Angeles, California (WWE Network link), Maven defeated The Undertaker to win the WWF Hardcore Championship.
10 years ago today on RAW from Sioux City, Iowa (WWE Network link), Shawn Michaels defeated Edge and Randy Orton in a triple threat match to earn a WWE Championship match at Wrestlemania 23.
9 years ago today, Bobby Lashley announces on his Myspace page that he had left WWE. This comes less than a year after Lashley was part of the heavily-promoted “Battle of the Billionaires” match at Wrestlemania 23. Lashley:
"Circumstances, which are out of my control left me no decision but to leave the WWE. I can't go into details of this now but like I said before, sometimes people will hate you personally and try to destroy you, which has happened here. Evil has prevailed. However like I said before, if you continue your struggle, doors will open around these people. You have not seen the last of me, so please don't stop your support. Add Bobby Lashley to the list of RECENTLY RELEASED!"
At the time of the statement, Lashley had already been gone from WWE for quite sometime, as he was actually released prior to the Royal Rumble event. Why he left depends on who’s telling the story.
One story goes he left in response to the treatment of his girlfriend at the time Kristal Marshall (Marshall was released in part due to refusing to do a storyline involving Teddy Long). Another goes that creative had nothing for him. Yet another suggested he had issues with Michael Hayes, who was on the creative staff at the time. And yet another suggested he was injury-prone (Lashley was recovering from a shoulder injury at the time of his release).
In a September 2016 interview with ESPN, Lashley implies (but never directly says) that the Hayes issue may have some truth to it, and if a return to WWE is possible:
“It does to a certain extent. It would have to be the right deal if it was. I don’t know if there is even an opportunity. There are certain people in the business who may not want you there and that’s why I left the first time. I don’t know if there is even a possibility of going back but their schedule is challenging. A lot of their guys are dealing with that. If I were to go back full-time, it would have to be something we sit down and really piece together and make it make sense. I would hate to say yes I’m doing it and get back and then it’s, “Oh no. Boo-hoo. What about my kids?” I don’t want to have a bad attitude. So I would have to really sit down and say this is what we can do.”
Don’t shed a tear for Lashley though: he’s doing just fine. He’s since gone into mixed martial arts (and is doing well; he’s 15-2) and, like most ex-WWE stars, found a home in TNA, where he is a four-time world heavyweight champion.
4 years ago today, WWE announces their official Youtube channel has surpassed one million subscribers.
Today, the channel has uploaded over 36,000 videos across 33 subchannels, over 14 million subscribers, and 13 billion views, making it one of the 50 most successful channels on the site.
The best of cSs on this day:
2016: Scott Hall has a bad idea for the WrestleMania 32 main event (Scott Hall proposes the following for Wrestlemania 32 on his Twitter: Triple H with Shawn Michaels in his corner versus Roman Reigns with The Rock in his corner, and Daniel Bryan as ref; yes it is as dumb as it sounds)
2015: NXT Champion Charlotte Flair: I will main event a WWE pay-per-view one day (Charlotte says on the Gorilla Position podcast she will main event a WWE PPV one day—turned out she was right)
2014: Let's name the rumored Dolph Ziggler and The Miz tag team (Cagesiders come up with a name for a theoretical tag team of Dolph Ziggler and The Miz)
2013: Elimination Chamber 2013: The Shield vs John Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback official for Feb. 17 (Following a show-ending brawl, Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback will challenge The Shield at Elimination Chamber)
2012: John Cena and The Rock still sniping at each other on Twitter (John Cena and The Rock coming at one another with haymakers on Twitter ahead of their Wrestlemania XXVIII bout)
2011: Ric Flair's friend gives new account of TNA issues w/ him & Kurt Angle (Longtime wrestling journalist Mike Mooneyham offers a different view on what led Ric Flair to be kicked off the TNA European tour)