Lucha Libre magazine 289 includes a recap of the April 25, 1969 Arena Mexico show, an anniversary show for the building. There are suitable big matches: the main event is a hair match between new rudo force Los Hippies and the team of Black Shadow and Ray Mendoza. The semi-main has Rayo de Jalisco becoming NWA World Middleweight Champion for a third time by beating El Santo. The recap doesn’t include a photo of Rayo (or Santo) with the belt, but the description and captions are clear this is a title change.
The problem is title histories record Santo as last being middleweight champion in the 1950s. Most, including the one on the luchawiki, had Rene Guajardo starting 1969 as champion, losing it the week before, and this match as a title defense. I’m confident that’s incorrect: El Santo actually was champion at the end of 1968 and through early 1969. (Cagematch also seems to have this title change with a slightly incorrect date. None of the other title histories I’ve looked at mention it.) I’m going through magazines from the period right now and it’s stuck out as a big error. Maybe I’ll find something more as I get farther along, but I think I’ve got enough to go now:
- El Santo probably defeated Rene Guajardo for the NWA Middleweight Championship on December 13, 1968 in Arena Mexico. We don’t have full results from that show; the collection of magazines generally used are missing for the crucial week. It is a big enough show that it gets brought up later, but only for the main event – El Solitario taking Ray Mendoza’s hair is a gigantic deal in the moment, and nothing else gets brought up – so it’s possible a title match could’ve taken place. DJ Spectro did mention Santo/Guajarado title match on this date, but the Facebook photo about it appears to be gone. Box Y Lucha mentioned Santo defeating Guajardo for the title on December 13 as part of a This Day In History bit, but had it as 1966. December 13th would’ve been a Tuesday, but CMLL Tuesday shows would never have big names in that era. Mistaking a 6 for 8 makes more sense. It’d still be better to have a definite recap of the show. Edit: this forum thread also has the December 13, 1968 change with photos which appear to be part of the title change.
- The first magazine acknowledgement of a title change I can find, between missing issues and the title not being active, is when Lucha Libre 285 (published April 5, 1969) does a rankings update and lists the current champions. Santo is clearly listed as World Middleweight champion – there’s no question he’s champion by this point.
- I’m missing issue 286, but 287 covers the semi-finals of a tournament to determine a challenger to Santo. The recap is unambiguous about Santo being champion. Guajardo & Jalisco fighting for a shot for the title, not for the title itself.
- Issue 288, covering that April 18th show, has Jalisco beating Guajardo (an upset) to earn a shot against Santo
- and Rayo de Jalisco beat El Santo for the title on April 25th in Arena Mexico, as already mentioned. This is where CageMatch slightly differs; I’m confident on it being the 25th. The magazine publish date lines up and it’s also the Arena Mexico Anniversary show, which is typically the last Friday of April. A long ago post on the old Box Y Lucha forum also has this lineup on 04/25, but there’s no cache of it.
The net effect is El Santo should be credited with two NWA World Middleweight Championships reigns. The number of reigns goes up: Averno was the 86th champion, Caristico is essentially the 93rd. Rene Guajardo’s days as champion are about a hundred shorter.
Missing lucha libre title reigns are rare but not unknown. Part of the interest in doing this project is finding them. It seems absurd an El Santo title reign was missing though. Maybe this is one that people in Mexico knew about it but it’s wrong in every title match history I thought to check. Maybe it’ll be a little less wrong now.
(If you like this research or just want to help, any tips about Mexico newspaper archives which might cover lucha libre are greatly appreciated. Doesn’t have to be Mexico City prorer, doesn’t even have to be free if it’s promising enough, I’m just looking for additional sources.)