Black Warrior (1969-2023)

Black Warrior, Jesus Toral Lopez, passed away early Tuesday, according to his son. He turned 54 earlier in the week. No cause of death has been mentioned. Black Warrior had a long and varied career wrestling career. He’s best remembered as half the CMLL 73rd Anniversario (2006) main event mask match. Mistico cemented himself as the new gigantic star of Mexican wrestling with the win, and Black Warrior remained linked to him for the rest of his career.

Black Warrior was part of a lucha libre family. He was the nephew of Blue Panther and married into the Mano Negra family. He was trained in Torreon by legendary local trainer Halcon Suriano, started wrestling in 1984 as Destroyer, then came to Mexico City soon after as Camorra. What followed was one of the most dizzying series of gimmick and promotions changes on record. This is our best guess at when and where:

  • started in EMLL as Camorra from about 1985 to 1988
  • jumped to LLI as La Mascara from about 1988 to 1991
  • returned to (now) CMLL as Bronce, one of Los Metalicos, from 1991 to May 1992
  • joined AAA as Super Star at the founding in May 1992 until around October 1992
  • stayed in AAA but switched to Dragon de Oro in October 1992 and kept that until July 1994
  • stayed in AAA but switched to Bali (AAA suddenly had TV in India) from July 1994 to February 1995
  • moved to PROMELL/Promo Azteca using the Dragon de Oro name in February 1995 to August 1995
  • returned to AAA as Vegas for a few dates in September 1995
  • returned to CMLL as Black Panther in October 1995
  • stayed in CMLL and switched to more copyright-safe Black Warrior in May 1996, which he stayed with for the rest of his carer.

It was a wild time of promotions rising and falling. The eventual Black Warrior often followed his uncle Blue Panther from group to group but didn’t have the name recognition or power to keep a gimmick. He still stood out – he had size and potential – and fans could pick him out even as he changed identities.

As Black Warrior, he became famous for his bullet tope – a high-speed, big-impact dive that would smash his opponents into the front row of fans in the days before ringside barricades in Arena Mexico. (Aramis and Black Warrior’s nephew Dark Panther come closest today, but just come close.) Warrior had a lot of high impact moves and a cool personality that would get cheered as a rudo. It never translated as well as a tecnico and he didn’t seem to enjoy that role as much. The luchawiki bio notes Black Warrior once went in the Box y Lucha magazine to ask CMLL to return him to rudo side. That was in 2005, and he got his wish in 2006.

Black Warrior, Negro Casas and Mistico defeated the trio of Averno, Mephisto and Toscano on February 10th, 2006 in Arena Mexico. Averno & Mephisto were the CMLL tag team champions at the moment and a skit aired on TV with Casas, Warrior and Mistico debating which two of them should go after the titles. They decided on Mistico & Warrior, and the two challenged the following week. The Warrior/Mistico team nearly won, but ran into problems. Mistico collided with Warrior on a dive in the third fall, leading to his elimination. Warrior tried to come back in anyway, when Mistico seemed to have the match won, and the referee DQed the challengers. The two teams rematched two weeks later, and more miscommunication between Warrior & Mistico led Warrior to betray Mistico and return to the rudo side.

Mistico was already taking off as a young superhero. He’d won the Gran Alternativa in 2004, then the NWA Middleweight Championship from Averno on New Year’s Day 2005. By May of the year, CMLL was throwing him in an unrelated Dinamitas/tecnicos cage match just because he was already starting to draw. He’d beat Atlantis and Ultimo Guerrero in singles matches later that year, but CMLL hadn’t found his big mask rival yet.

Black Warrior was that man for Mistico. He was a near-top wrestler, someone who’d won the Leyenda de Plata tournament previously, beaten an important name in El Dandy to win the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship and again from (at the time) fellow young star Shocker. He’d had an Arena Mexico mask win over Bronco (who’s daughter is now WWE wrestler Yusila Leon.) Warrior had toured Japan for both CMLL Japan and Michinoku Pro and brought a lot of credibility and veteran experience. He was a true challenge for a guy on the way up like Mistico.

The 2006 Mistico/Black Warrior feud was huge business for CMLL. It was the start of the “Mistico’s working four times a Sunday and drawing big crowds” era, and Warrior was his tough opponent. The two worked against each other everywhere and often for the whole year. They brought in a massive amount of new and young fans into lucha libre; a lot of parents bringing their children to lucha libre show in 2023 became fans around this time. Averno was more important to Mistico’s development and Ultimo Guerrero and El Hijo del Perro Aguayo would become bigger potential matches, but it was the Black Warrior feud where Mistico truly took off.

Warrior beat Mistico for the NWA Middleweight Championship on May 12, 2006, the first time Mistico lost a singles match in Arena Mexico since taking that identity. Mistico got the win back in the semifinal of that year’s Leyenda de Plata, before winning over Atlantis in the final. Mistico and Black Warrior agreed to a mask match on the CMLL 73rd Anniversary show, and Mistico defeated Black Warrior in one of the most famous matches in modern lucha libre history.

Black Warrior seemed to have regrets about taking the feud to a mask match, covering his face as he unmasked. He’d recover well. The feud with Mistico remained hot into 2007 and Warrior remade himself as “El Dennis Rodman de lucha libre” for his every changing multicolored hair styles. He’d get another big match in 2007, teaming with Rey Bucanero to lose a hair match against Shocker & Hijo del Lizmark at the then traditional end-of-the-year show. Warrior became the third man in a Poder Mexica trio with Sangre Azteca and Dragon Rojo in 2009, a fun group that didn’t get to do a lot, and then put over NJPW’s Yujiro in a hair match at end of 2009 before leaving the promotion.

Warrior returned to his iterant ways in 2010. He worked briefly with the shortlived Perros del Mal promotion, then appeared with them when they ‘invaded’ TripleMania as part of Perro Jr’s return to the group. (All the Perros del Mal wore black for the angle, except Black Warrior found the whitest outfit possible.) He was in and out of AAA (brought back again later as a Mistico/Myzteziz opponent when he returned from WWE), returned to CMLL at times (including a brief trios title reign with Volador and Mr. Aguila) and showed up ELITE, among other places. Warrior appeared less and less often as the 2010s went on. The nickname of “El Dennis Rodman de lucha libre” may have referred not just to his hair, but also to the persistent rumors of Warrior having outside-the-ring substance issues. He’d allude to those issues in later years, and it seemed like those issues got the best of him after his Mistico peak.

Black Warrior had returned to a more active role in wrestling in the last few years, spurred on by his sons Warrior Jr. and Hijo de Black Warrior starting their own lucha libre careers. Black Warrior made a one night return to CMLL in 2018 as part of honoring his uncle Blue Panther’s 40-year career, and worked occasional indie shows with his sons. Warrior Jr. began training with CMLL for an eventual debut, before suffering a (still unclear) accident in training and suffering a severe neck injury. Black Warrior continued wrestling himself, returning to Arena Coliseo Guadalajara to face Mistico once again in 2021, and again in March 2022 after Warrior Jr. passed away due to his earlier injuries. Black Warrior, either motivated by his son’s passing or just caught by the wrestling bug, started getting more involved in wrestling once again in 2022. He was training wrestlers for both the small Welcome to Mi Barrio promotion in Mexico City and Arena Mama Luchas in Mexico State, and was booking recent shows for Mama Lucha. He’d worked there on New Year’s Day and WTMB had built towards a Pantera/Black Warrior match for their February restart.

Both Black Warrior and his nephew Dark Panther used the name “Black Panther” for a while, and are linked with a similar style. Dark Panther even seems to be dressing himself a little like the kilts Black Warrior use to wear of late. Dark Panther is scheduled to main event Area Coliseo Guadalajara tonight. Black Warrior will no doubt be honored there and on many other shows this week.