IWRG promoter’s license canceled, Lucha Memes empty arena show, deaths

There’s a report I’ve seen on a few Facebook pages saying CMLL will be back on October 3rd. That story appears to be false. People saw “CMLL returns October 3”, without realizing it was a 2017 post, referring to the return from the earthquake stoppage that year. Everyone’s desperate for news, but the idea we have any idea what’s going to happen three months from now seems like a joke.


The Moreno family promotion, now known as IWRG, is likely one of the oldest currently running promotions in the world. Family patriarch Adolfo Moreno started promoting lucha libre shows just outside Mexico City in Naucalpan in 1962. The promotion was based for many years in an arena called Arena KO Algusto and now in Arena Naucalpan. Ownership passed down to his sons. Marco Moreno is now in charge, with a third generation of the family working within the lucha libre promotion. Except, at least for this moment, they have no ability to promote lucha libre shows.

Monday, the Estado de Mexico Lucha Libre commission canceled Marco Moreno’s promoter’s license as punishment for Sunday’s empty arena Arena Naucalpan show. The commission’s note says Moreno ran the show without being sanctioned by the commission. No show has been sanctioned since safe distance health controls went into effect on March 16th. The commission says they’ll also punish those who worked on the show (or, for wrestlers who are licensed elsewhere, ask for those commissions to punish those wrestlers.) There’s a Zoom meeting set up for June 23rd to discuss this more, which means probably nothing happens with this for a week.

IWRG released their own statement on Tuesday. They said they’d cover any punishments (fines) for the wrestlers who worked the show and that they took all required sanitary and health measures. (They sanitized and took temperatures. They did not test for COVID.) They accept they broke the rule against empty arena shows but feel that is a bad rule, and will push for empty arena shows to be allowed in the state during that Zoom meeting.

On a long Instagram video (preceded by two minutes of music but helpfully summarized here), Marco Moreno mentioned he’d originally told the commission he was going to run June 7th, got approval for that date, but then told the commission it’d be June 14th and heard nothing back. He also said he sees people on public transport and “we’re almost on an orange light”, so he feels it’s time to go out. I need to take a paragraph break here to recover from “we’re almost on an orange light”, bear with me.

Moreno feels suspending his license is too strong. He certainly has a case if he was actually approved for a show on June 7th and the only issue is the date. Moreno also says he’s going to continue the Rey del Ring tournament outside of Mexico State if they won’t allow him to run shows there. That seems highly unlikely, since IWRG hasn’t run any show of their own outside of Naucalpan in over a decade. The last regular building they had elsewhere was in Arena Xochimilico, which is both in Mexico City (same issues there) and also torn down. There are obviously places elsewhere in Mexico you can run if you’re desperate to run shows.

I have some doubts about how or if the punishment will be enforced. Angel o Demonio getting by with a short suspension after throwing the brick at Cuervo points to this commission having a big bark and a small bite. Coliseo Coacalco was threatened by the commission for running the March empty arena Lucha Memes show. That doesn’t seem to have stopped Coliseo Coacalco from hosting the one airing today. Maybe there was something that happened behind the scenes or we’ll hear about a punishment about it after the show airs, but the commission’s talk in that similar case hasn’t amounted to anything yet. It’s also ultimately up to the local municipalities to enforce or not enforce the policies of the lucha libre commissions. Zona 23 seems to get by in part because the government in Tultitlán is fine with it. Naucalpan may be different.

This show and the blowback seemed to have divided wrestlers and promoters as well. A post put on the Arena Neza Facebook page avoids names but is obviously critical of IWRG for putting money ahead of health and +LuchaTV for reaping benefits from the show. Other wrestlers have been critical of those who had wrestled on the IWRG show for similar reasons, while those on the show have accused their fellow luchadors of betrayal for critical comments. The post that’s caught the most attention has been Big Stripper’s Big Ovett, who was part of the Rey del Ring match on the show. His son, Lunatik Extreme, also was in that match. Ovett said people may call him irresponsible for working the show, but he needed to find a way to put food on the table. Ovett says he and his wife travel on public transportation every day to work because they need the money, and sees working a wrestling show offered to him as no different. He seems to feel it’s unfair that taxi drivers can keep working without criticism but his work is treated as less important.

All professional wrestlers are taking some risk with their health in a normal situation, some more than others. Some feel this is just another risk they’re willing to take. This vital difference of this moment is that everyone who comes in to contact with that luchador subsequently is unavoidably taking their own health risk. The two view points of the wrestlers on the show don’t totally fit together; the concepts “hold off on the criticism, we’ve got to stick together” and “I’ve got to do what’s best for me and my family” don’t unite.

There’s also the small reality that it’s those who worked that IWRG show probably weren’t actually paid Sunday. YouTube doesn’t drop immediately money in a bank account off a Super Chat donation, that’s sitting in the YouTube account until the end of the month, two weeks from now. The Paypal account and the bank account went to IWRG, and no one’s rushing out to an ATM on a Sunday night in Naucalpan to walk around with a big wad of bills. Mexico, and most definitely Mexican wrestling, is a physical money economy, so it’s not like the wrestlers were going to start seeing money in their Paypal or Venmo accounts Monday morning either. It’s possible IWRG could’ve gotten money in advance and paid wrestlers that night, but I strongly suspect they were waiting to see how much money came in before they started figuring out how much money was going back out. With no IWRG show imminent, it may take even a little longer to get it to the people. Ovett may be buying dinner with what he got paid for working that royal rumble, but it may take a while for that money to get to him first.

I didn’t listen to all of the +LuchaTV podcast, but the first 50 minutes or so seemed to be about this situation.

SuperLuchas writes about the IWRG situation and a show in Arena Cuatitlan Izcalli, in the town of the same name. It’s a small arena, which played host to a Fuerzamania (Fuerza Guerrera Jr.) show on May 20th where there appeared to be fans in attendance. The promotion that owns the building also was running a long tag team tournament. At least two wrestlers working that FuerzaMania show reported symptoms of COVID-19, though at least one deleted their post after people started putting two and two together. The Arena Cuatitlan Izcalli promoters have canceled all shows in that venue going forward. It does not appear any commission did anything about the Arena Cuatitlan Izcalli situation; one of the problems is these commissions don’t appear to have a website or an active Facebook page where anyone can find out what they’re actually doing, just mailing press releases out to approved media.

In Mexico City, Fantasma has been handing out food packages to current and former wrestlers this week. Fantasma was asked about the Naucalpan situation and passed it off as outside of his jurisdiction. He also said he didn’t stop those AAA Lucha Fighter shows only because he didn’t know where they were being held. It seems unlikely Fantasma couldn’t find out and strange that, like the Mexico State commission, he wouldn’t try to punish AAA after.

Fantasma gave out pantry packages to women and retired wrestlers on Monday, donated “by the Jewish Community.” That report has it as about 100 packages, Pasala says 200, the one in ESTO has it as 400. Other reports mentioned that out of the 500 luchadors who signed up for financial aid through the Mexican government, only 200 people have actually received their money. There are currently no plans for July to continue sending that money.

Some Empty Arena Shows

Lucha Memes’ Chato show will air tonight on +LuchaTV at 9 pm. This show was taped in advance – I believe around the June 7th weekend – back at Coliseo Coacalco

  • Guerrero Maya Jr. vs Dr. Cerbero
  • Belial vs Ricky Marvin
  • Latigo vs Aramis
  • Arez vs Ripper

The donation account is 5256 7860 8442 9798 Citibank/Oxxo. There is no Paypal account. The matches should be good; Belial/Ricky Marvin was great when they did it back in 2013. Aramis & Latigo has happened a lot more often and is usually really good.

The show will also include two matches from a 2017 Lucha Memes YouTube PPV. This is a question without a good answer, but if the idea of this show is “please donate to wrestlers who are working on this show”, do the wrestlers in the 2017 footage get a cut as well? Should Rush & Ray Rowe expect money? I’m guessing no. I’m sure they’re there because someone felt four matches wouldn’t be enough, but it sort of dilutes the concept.

+LuchaTV appears to be airing a random Mexico City show on Thursday night, with Heddi Karaoui vs El Angel. That’s a photo of Hijo del Angel but a description of Oscar Sevilla; your guess is as good as mine as who’s in this and why this is happening at all. There is no mention of donations.

In Coahuila, “Bien Bien Bien Entertainment” and the Coahuila Sports Institue will be putting on an streamed closed door show on Sunday, billed as Father’s Day special. The location and time is unclear, though the article guesses it’ll probably be Arena Campeones since Dr. Wagner and his sons are headlining. There’s no mention of where the show can actually be seen, but I’d guess it’ll be promoted on Wagner’s social media. There’s no mention of donations.

Recent Lucha Libre Deaths

Estrella Blanca III passed away Tuesday according to Furia de Titanes. Estrella Blanca III was not related to the original Estrella Blanca, but someone who used his name in both EMLL and UWA/LLI in the late 80s/early 90s boom. The report mentions he been a lucha libre teacher in recent years. Alfredo uploaded an Estrella Blanca III match last year.

El Molusco (? Lozado, 79), passed away recently. He was a Mexico City area wrestler in the 70s/80s. More recent appearances under that name may be other people. Box Y Lucha also adds Sonora luchador Pepe Luis Esparza (Jesus Esparza, 62), as having passed away on Monday.

The promoter of Revolucion Lucha Libre, Antonio Alvarez Silva, passed away on Monday according to Furia de Titanes. Revolucion Lucha Libre mixed names from CMLL and the indies in 2018 and 2019 around Mexico State, most often using the Munoz family. They partnered up with a lot of promotions in a short 10-ish show run, and last run an event July 17th, 2019.

There’s so much recent lucha libre death. It’s unclear if most of these are COVID related; very few of them list any cause of death. I think there are wrestling deaths that occurred in previous times which might not get noticed – even on this blog – but have gotten more attention because of the quietness (and now because the amount of deaths themselves has become a story.) It’s still a lot of deaths.

Other COVID related news

Mexico State luchador Rudy Garduno is out of the hospital after dealing with COVID-19, according to his daughter Reina del Sur. His wife is also recovering. Reina del Sur’s post strongly encourages everyone with symptoms to get checked out right away and not wait until it’s too late.

Benjamin Mar says he has no date when Arena Puebla will return, only that they will not run empty arena shows. It’s framed as not wanting to leave the fans out, though there’s also an acknowledgment that they can’t make money running shows without tickets. Ares el Guerrero’s death gets mentioned in the article; they’re specifically not releasing a cause of death.

SuperLuchas has a post asking if wrestling promotions will be ready for shows once they’re allowed; it’s going to be tough to keep sanitation standards in buildings which don’t have running water (but wrestling promotions being allowed to run places without running water suggests the authorities have been letting them run while substandard for quite some time.)

Sorta Non-COVID-19 Stuff?

DTU said they’ll be running a second closed-door event, following the success of their first show. No date has been announced.

Astral is listed as appearing on today’s CMLL Informa. Astral quit CMLL back in April 2019, seemingly unhappy about his career going nowhere. Moving from the minis division moved Astral from the 1/2 matches to the same 1/2 matches, with no hope of moving any higher. Astral jumped to the ELITE promotion in May of 2019 as a surprise, just in time for ELITE to pretty much stop running. Most of his matches were on AAA & ELLITE combined spot shows, with little indie work. Not everyone’s built for hustling for work on their own, Astral going back to the safety of around 8 matches a month in CMLL is easier. It’s more of a surprise CMLL would be bringing him back; they didn’t seem to value Astral much before and aren’t in a position to promise people work.

Diaro Basta has an interview with Pentagon Jr., which I’m more interested for his talk about Dark Dragon. Penta says he didn’t like the Dark Dragon mask, because it covered up to his face too much. It made hard to see and hard to express emotions and personality.

Hijo del Dr. Wagner Jr. says he learned to communicate with his GHC tag team championship partner Rene Dupree in English and some Japanese. They were also roommates on the NOAH tour.

The Out of the Box Podcast has an interview with Dorian Roldan, which I’ve meant to get to for two days but, like the rest of this post happened. I’ll try to bring it up later if there’s something worth noting.

Adam Brooks mentioned it was actually working a The Crash show with Matt Taven that got him first noticed by Ring of Honor on their podcast. Lots of Ring of Honor talent has worked The Crash shows in the last year and people who were just working The Crash have ended up in Ring of Honor; it’s not a formal connection, but I wonder if The Crash will start marketing to wrestlers as a place to get seen to be signed. Australia’s Kellyanne is also on that podcast and mentions Teddy Hart brought her to Mexico to train for a time, which must’ve been a while back since Skayde & Apache came as people she trained with. I have no recollection of her at all and can’t find anything on other match databases; it’s possible she just wasn’t around long enough to get noticed on shows.

My Frustration With The Empty Arena Donation Process

This is not news, this is me getting out things stuck in my mind. It’s all the way down at the bottom for that reason.

Here’s how these things are going for me right now:

  1. Promotion/Media Empire announces they’re taking donations for an empty arena show with all the money going to the wrestlers
  2. I jump through whatever hoops I have to try to at least give them something, even if I’m not very interested in the show.
  3. That money goes into a void of where nothing is known again. The promoters & media empires may give me a shout out (of which I don’t care, I don’t have a name) but the most I hear about the money ever again is maybe some short social media video thanks.
  4. My knowledge of wrestling promotions – mostly US ones, but not just – causes me to know I’m being very naive to assume this process is going right.
    • if you’re just a lucha libre fan, the latest example appears to be Evolve Wrestling walking off money they owe people for canceled WrestleMania weekend tickets, and Evolve is what most people consider Evolve a serious promotion. Wrestling seems like a magnet for poor money decisions.
  5. Various rumors and gossip and Whatsapp discussions leads me to believe question everything, while also realizing its rumor and gossip and not proof or reportable fact; it may all be fine and everyone is happy – the wrestlers all are happy enough to keep working for the same group, so why I am having the problem?
  6. Any attempt to follow up or question going on with specifics gets met with silence or annoyance; how dare I question those who are supplying the luchadors with an opportunity to make money at a time where there’s almost none?

Now, people being angry is not the biggest concern. One thing, which has not been referenced on this blog previously and in no way will be explained in any more depth outside of this paragraph no matter who the DM, is recent months have drilled into my head that there are many people in the Mexican wrestling community who do not like me, can’t stand me, and occasionally refer to me as a rat and a thief. Those things aren’t great but a lot of that comes with running a site like the ones I do in the ways that I do. But getting people mad doesn’t actually achieve my goal of “helping out wrestlers with money during a historically awful time.” That’s the point of the money. I want to know that what I’m doing is actually making the difference it’s intended towards and that hasn’t been an option so far. It’s their right to ask for money with no strings attached, I just don’t know that I can keep going that way.

Here’s how I’m thinking of handling it.

  • I’ve got no problem donating to promotions where the Paypal is directly set up to the luchadors.
    • Lucha Libre Vanguardia’s show on Saturday is not a card I particularly like, but they’ve got Draztick Boy‘s Paypal info so I know at least he’s getting the money. Hopefully, he’ll share but that’s up to the Vanguardia wrestlers.
    • I’m not strictly against doing this same for bank accounts, but most of these bank accounts are not listed with anyone’s name, which both makes it annoyingly difficult to send money from the US and also hard to figure out who they’re exactly going to.
  • I’ve got no problem paying for a ticket or a virtual ticket for shows no matter the method. When I buy a ticket, I do it understanding not all the money is going to the wrestlers, that people handling along the way will be taking some. It’s not as an effective donation but it feels like a more honest one.
  • I’m open to doing it the current way if and only if there’s a clear announcement of how much money was donated within a short period (let’s say a few days) of the show taking place. That allows both the people donating the money and receiving the money to have at least a little bit of an idea if it matches reality
    • clear announcement means a total, and as easy to find as the account number to donate towards it (not buried in a private Facebook post, not mentioned in a podcast)
    • everyone in Mexico hates talking about money publically so I understand this will never actually happen

I well overthink thinks; if you’re fine with just sending money and not worrying about, you’re probably a lot saner than me. And maybe this is only relevant in that I may skip writing in detail about donation shows after this week which don’t fit into one of those categories; it’s not trying to punish them as much as it is not feeling like I’m stealing something I should’ve paid for.