Vuelven los Campeones Justicieros (1972)

The five “Champions of Justice” in this film are Blue Demon, Mil Mascaras, Rayo de Jalisco, Fantasma Blanco and Avispon Escarlata. Sure, we’ve seen Blue and Mil before, but let’s get you up to speed on a few of the others.

Rayo de Jalisco started wrestling in 1950 but didn’t find success — and the gimmick that would get him said fame — until the early 60s. Once he put on the black mask, he quickly won both the NWA World Middleweight Championship and Occidente Welterweight Championship. He was named best wrestler of 1963, as well as forming a tag team with Blue Demon, the man who would take his hair 26 years later in Plaza de Toros Monumental (the same arena where Los Brazos lost their masks to Los Villanos).

Fantasma Blanco is actually Coloso Colosseti, who wrestled as El Internacional (he lost that match to Tinieblas), El Enterrador (that hood was lost in ring to The Tempest), Batman, Maskaraman and Tårzan.

As for Avispon Escarlata — the Scarlet Hornet — he was created for this film and echoes the Green Hornet. He’s played by Manuel Leal, the man who is also Tinieblas. He was a bodybuilder who was scouted by Dory Dixon and the Black Shadow for wrestling, yet before that, he was already in movies, playing Frankenstein in Santo y Blue Demon contra los Monstruos and Satan in Las Momias de Guanajuato. As Tinieblas, he shows up in The Champions of Justice — why he was that role in the first in this series and switched in this one is beyond me — as well as The Castle of Mummies of GuanajuatoMacabre Legends of the ColonyEl Puño de la MuerteLa Furia de los Karatecas, El Investigador Capulina and Las Momias de San Ángel. The character was originally intended to be the faceless enemy of the man of a thousand faces, Mil Mascaras! Instead, he became a comic book hero — he had his own book for years — and even has a mascot, the Ewok-like creature known as Alushe*.

One of his nicknames is El Gigante Sabio (The Wise Giant) and he even has a column called Pregúntale a Tinieblas (Ask Tinieblas) where people send him questions to answer. Perhaps that’s one of the many reasons why people thought that he and the respected Mexican commentator Dr. Alfonso Morales were the same person. On August 21, 1970 when Tinieblas made his debut, Dr. Morales was not there. They were both tall men, so the joke for years was that they were the same man.

The main story here is that a team of rat-men — yes, the same miniature henchmen from the original, but now looking like rodents — are trying to take over the world for a Mexican superscience villainess in hot pants named Gatussy. I’m not certain if these guys were men who became rats or rats who became men, yet most of the film is about them swarming all over our heroes.

If you have an issue with a movie about cool lucha dudes riding motorcycles and watching their women go-go dance in between fighting miniature rat men, you should really examine your life.

*Alushe was based on a Mayan mythical elf born in the year 1767 in the city of Anahuac in Xibalba, the Mayan version of hell. When he made his debut in 1988, he was already 221 years old. He was also bribed with candy, money and women by Pierroth Jr.’s group Los Boricuas and suddenly became a Puerto Rican rudo for some time before rejoining Tinieblas. A second Alushe debuted shortly afterward and the original became the blue monkey KeMonito entering into a threeway mascot feud with Mije and the dreaded evil dancing Zacarías el Perico. Man, how much better is lucha libre than pro wrestling?

You can watch this on YouTube.

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