I added 1996 lucha libre lineups, mostly from the cities Torreon and Gomez Palacio (and an increasing amount from elsewhere), to the luchadb database a few weeks ago. They’re integrated the different pages of this site, and they’re also just available here. This is a slow continuing project to mine the El Siglo de Torreon archive for lucha lineups and results, where the slowest part is me actually writing this post.
Events per year:
year events 1990 169 1991 175 1992 181 1993 151 1994 113 1995 144 1996 114 1997 4 1998 9 1999 235 2000 288 2001 158 2002 196 2003 189 2004 267 2005 291 2006 77 2007 226
I do that list for my own sanity. I’m creeping thru 1997 now, which will take longer than usual due to issues. I have 1998 to do. I should look thru 2006 to clear that out, and then I’m done? Or I go back to the 70s, which should at least have a lot less of these and move quicker.
The lineup count is back down again; the scene is still Arena Olimpico Laguna and maybe one or two other arenas. The non-Torreon/Gomez Palacio lineups are now virtually gone. The names on these shows are greatly reduced to; there’s few AAA & CMLL talent visiting, and Monterrey isn’t sending people. It’s mostly local luchador, with no TV or any avenue to grow the star power of those local wrestlers. This is pretty much the local scene as it stands two decades later.
The one exception is the existence of PROMELL as the third promotion. Blue Panther introduces the third group to readers early in the year. He claims PROMELL is not a promotion, rather a wrestler co-op where the wrestlers own it owners. Panther objects to fans believing luchadors are simply products of TV and AAA’s work. His guys are upset about Antonio Pena getting both the credit and most of the money in AAA. The economic crisis has cut everyone’s money, so they’ve struck out on their own to see if they can get more that way. Panther does the usual bit of positioning the group as Lucha Libre The Way It Ought To Be: stipulations will be adhered to, those who lose a mask or hair will lose in the ring, no rudo (Tirantes) referee affecting outcomes, no dancing or drunk wrestlers, instead a dignified spectacle. Panther argues fans are tired of watching lucha libre on TV and would return to going to shows instead. Later in the year, Atlantis is less anti-TV but also makes the case for the live experience.
The list of wrestlers mentioned as being on the PROMELL roster include Hermanos Dinamitas, Angeles Azteca, Dragon de Oro, El Signo, Los Destructores, Lizmark, Solar and locals Pantera del Ring, Super Punk, Flanagan. Those last three are who we know today as Ephesto, Luciferno and Ultimo Guerrero, getting their first national break via PROMELL. Pantera del Ring has been traveling for years. Punk & Flanagan seem to leave the arena in January, but don’t get regular work in Mexico City for months. They make their first appearances back in Gomez Palacio as Ultimo Guerrero & Ultimo Rebelde in June, with the paper seemingly unaware of their previous identities. They do figure it out by the next time.
PROMELL doesn’t stay PROMELL or off TV long. The paper covers the October press conference of Promo Azteca, with the TV network creating it’s own lucha libre show and promotion to rival Televisa. In an attempt to make the PROMELL story work, that’s explained to be a separate live event group from the TV promotion, but most people just think of it as Promo Azteca only when it lasts. Konnan is announced as being in charge of the TV product. He infamously had some harsh things to say about Antonio Pena in announcing his new project. The newspaper project seems to ignore them. They focus more on Mascara Sagrada being upset with Pena over control of his name and the guys who’ve replaced him in AAA (who are outed as Kraneo & Aguila de Acero.)
The other national story that resonates locally is Pentagon (Jesús Andrade Salas) near death in a match in Aguascalientes. It comes off as no one fully understanding the extent of it at first, with both AAA and people close to him trying to keep the specifics quiet until they have a falling out over money. The injury happens on March 6th, and the big story on the situation shows up on March 30th in one two parts. Pentagon was in a coma for three days, and spent two weeks in the hospital before being transferred to a recovery center back to Torreon. His injury is described as a temporary loss of blood to the brain due to a spine/nervous system trauma, with any connection to drugs being obviously kept quiet. Joaquin Roldan, Octagon and AAA’s doctors are mentioned as visiting Pentagon in the hospital in Agusacalientes.
The article mentions other unnamed wrestlers unhappy with how Pentagon was being treated, and with the match being shown on television. The situation escalates when AAA says Pentagon will return in a couple weeks, while PROMELL says he’ll never be able to return from this injury. What’s probably really going on is AAA getting ready to just put someone else under the Pentagon mask, as they’ve already done with other characters. The press over the situation might have contributed to AAA holding off until 1997 to actually do it. It doesn’t do much for Pentagon himself, who’s later said to have $13K in expenses and living in private hospital. He never does return to the ring, though he appears at shows to talk about this injury thru this day.
The Pentagon name being passed along is a familiar situation to people who keep up with lucha libre today, and there’s an Espanto Jr. in CMLL today. One more of his names also was reused: “Santo Negro” pops up on shows after the Pentagon injury. A Santo Negro is listed on a show in March, on a PROMELL show in May, and an local show a couple weeks later. There’s no attention being paid to it, though the luchador is treated as if he’s the same national star from a couple years ago, before Jesus Andrade Salas had to give up the gimmick due to pressure from the El Santo family. Laguna versions of the AAA Power Raiders are also around with no explanation. Brillante, Zafiro and Diamante are back full time in the area in 1996, so my hunch is they just sold their AAA gimmick (and maybe Espanto’s gimmick) and gear to other people and AAA was busy with a lot of more important things.
Las Gemas del Ring are the part of the most coherent build to a big match in a while. Another one of their brothers, Atlantic Jr., faces Stuka Jr. early in the year in a mask versus mask match. Atlantic Jr. appears to be the luchador eventually known as Kevin, claims he was a Power Ranger Rojo, and disappears soon after losing this mask (probably to one of his many other gimmicks.) The Stuka Jr. bio leaves me still confused if this is the same guy as now or a previous person using the same name. At any rate, this Stuka Jr. takes Atlantic Jr.’s mask in August, then he and Stuka I take the masks of Espanto IV & V in September. Meanwhile, the three Gemas brothers split up and have an apuesta match in October, where Diamante takes Zafiro’s hair. Diamante takes Stuka I’s hair a couple weeks later, with Stuka Jr. sticking up for his brother to set up the ultimate match. Stuka Jr. defends his mask and takes Diamante’s hair in November.
The Espantos losing their masks might have been because of other things going on. They disappear for months, then return in early December with the explanation that they’ve been working in Ciudad Juarez. A few days later, their father Espanto III passes away. He’d been living in Ciudad Juarez, so I suppose his sons knew it was coming and moved up there for a time. This is a big story locally, with a second day story on the national star’s his passing and coverage of his funeral.
That’s all the big stuff. The commission stuff is a lot less than usual: luchador/promoter Lee Roy complains about the work it does, and it doesn’t seem like it’s actually doing much work at this point. The Satillo luchadors revolt against their commission, a battle between older luchadors who expected the union to help them in their later years and young luchadors who aren’t seeing much benefit to the group with the decline of lucha libre scenes. Lerdo forms it’s own commission, with the idea it’ll help them run more shows in the city. There’s not other news about Lerdo, so it’s hard to tell if it works. There’s bio of luchadoras Shira and Mariposa Negra, and luchadors Silver Line and El Cazador, around a charity show. Satillo promoter Mario E. Garibay Ortiz is honored for twenty years of promoting. An article building up the Rey Mysterio Jr. vs Juventud Guerrera car versus car match slips into the paper; the paper is clearly getting national lucha libre articles from El Universal but is only usually running the Super Dioses column. Those include Hector Garza, Super Munequito, Super Muneco, Blue Demon, Los Cadetes de Espacio (and again), Emilio Charles Jr. ,El Duende (again), Hijo del Santo, not wrestling much, Dos Caras to Japan, Fuerza Guerrera, Century 2000, Negro Casas, Rey Bucanero, Mano Negra and one about Vampiro, saying he’s trying to do too much (wrestle & sing) at the same time. Some things don’t change.