Mil Máscaras (1969)

Mil Máscaras means Thousand Masks and the man behind those multiple faces became one of the most recognizable wrestlers in the entire world as well as the star of twenty movies.

The character of Mil Mascaras was announced before he even wrestled in the ring, with the character created by “El Rey Midas de la Lucha Libre” Valente Perez. Perez was the publisher of Lucha Libre magazine and also came up with Tinieblas.

Mil is one of the first lucha stars to wrestle in the U.S. — he was the first masked wrestler to appear in Madison Square Garden after the ban on masked wrestlers was lifted — and Japan, where he became a major star in All Japan Pro Wrestling, often teaming with his brother Dos Caras.

Yet Mil Máscaras was created specifically to be a movie star. This suited producer Luis Enrique Vergara well, as Santo had argued for more money and Blue Demon was injured. The lucha movies were making money, so Vergara got a new star out of Mil.

Taking a page — many pages to be fair — out of Doc Savage, Mil gets an origin story that finds him as an infant found clutched in his dead mother’s arms at the end of World War II. Scientists adopt him and put him through a brutal series of physical trials and mental lessons to create a superhuman that can make the world a better place.

While this movie was shot in black and white and may seem pretty plain when compared to the wilder lucha stories to come, everything has to start somewhere. Mil has some really fun matches in this and there’s lots of great rock and roll for the kids to twist away the night to.

While there are many that decry Mil for being selfish in the ring, he remains a major star years after being named Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s most popular wrestler in 1975. No less of an expert than the original Tiger Mask, Satoru Sayama, said ” If it weren’t for Mil Máscaras, there would be no Jushin Liger, no Último Dragón or the Great Sasuke today.”

Note: Information for this article came from Luchawiki.

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