APRIL MOVIE THON 2: El luchador implacable (2006)

April 6: Viva Mexico — Pick a movie from Mexico and escribir acerca de por qué es tan increíble.

Lucha libre movies were a big deal from the 1950s to 1980s, but kind of went away, ironically at the same time that lucha had a major boom by finally being on TV. Yes, unlike America, wrestling often stayed off TV in Mexico, instead using magazines and newspapers for promotion. That all changed when one of the largest promotions, CMLL, began appearing on the national Televisa network in the early 1990s.

Lucha is very conservative — despite the high flying ring style — and has only changed when renegades left their home promotions. For example, Francisco Flores, along with EMLL trainer Ray Mendoza, broke away from EMLL (the old name for CMLL, which you can consider very similar; it was formed in 1933 and is still around to this day) because they were too restrictive, taking many of the younger wrestlers and those that had not really been pushed — including Fishman, Perro Aguayo, El Canek, Dos Caras and Villano III  — and forming the Universal Wrestling Association. While they were the main national competition to CMLL, by the late 80s, the companies were working together and many of their wrestlers left to work for CMLL.

The nail in the coffin of UWA was another renegade, Antonio Peña. The company remained stuck in the past and matchmaker Juan Herrera preferred heavyweight wrestlers who stuck to the traditions of lucha libre, while Peña — who wrestled as Espectro Jr., Dalia Negra, The Rose, Espectro de Ultratumba  and Kahoz, a rudo who would invoke evil spirits before his match and release live pigeons before he fought, sometimes even appearing to have bitten the head off of one of them and being covered in blood — was a fan of faster-moving wrestlers like Konnan, Octagon, Mascara Sagrada and the mini-estrella division, in which wrestlers under 5’1″ were not in comedy matches but instead high action battles.

After Paco Alonso, the owner of CMLL, kept ignoring booking ideas, he began negotiations with Televisa. They paid for Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA) and now owned their own lucha libre promotion, leading to an even bigger boom — despite the hardliners claiming TV would ruin their live gates — that only died out when the peso was devalued.

CMLL and AAA are still in business, but man, in the 90s, AAA boasted one of the most exciting rosters ever. In addition to Konnan and Octagon becoming gigantic stars, it was where Rey Mysterio Jr. got his first major fame, as well as having a roster that included Psicosis, El Hijo del Santo, Eddy Guerrero and his partner Love Machine Art Barr, Blue Panther, Cien Caras, Blue Panther, Heavy Metal, La Parka and so many more.

It’s funny — Konnan leaving AAA just followed the same formula — he returned — and CMLL is still considered way too conservative, thirty years after AAA was created.

El Luchador Implacable is a throwback to the other way that lucha libre was once promoted. Stars like El Santo, Blue Demon, Mil Mascaras and more often appeared in movies that were created to draw fans back to the arenas.

It’s about a motorcycle gang that is running wild until they make the mistake of attacking a pro wrestler: Dos Caras Jr.!

Dos Caras Jr. — the nephew of Mil Mascaras — would eventually lose his mask voluntarily when he left Mexico behind to find fame in America as part of the WWE. That said — he did do a few MMA matches with the mask on!

Known as Alberto Del Rio, he became the only man to hold the WWE, WWE World Heavyweight, Impact World, GFW Global, AAA Mega and CMLL World Heavyweight Championship titles. He’s been controversial — that’s putting it mildly — figure due to multiple scandals but is currently back in AAA.

At the time this was made, he was still in CMLL and while there, he would be one of the few of his family members — El Sicodélico Sr., his uncle, was also a rudo — to be a bad guy. He kind of struggled in CMLL as one way that the company changed was that heavyweights weren’t pushed as hard as they were in the pre-UWA days. Unlike most luchadors, Del Rio is 5’6″ and 239 pounds, so he has some size.

Other luchadors that show up in this include Silver King (who was Ramses in Nacho Libre), Rey Bucanero, Hector Garza, Olimpico and Ultimo Guerrero, as well as Rey Myserio Jr. I wonder if some of this movie was filmed while Rey wrestled just ten matches for CMLL in 2001-2002. Mysterio started the year this movie was made by winning the Royal Rumble, then the world title from Randy Orton, becoming a bigger superstar than he ever was before, even if he had to change his name, removing the Jr. as Vince McMahon hates the name as he suffered being called Junior most of his early life.

El Luchador Implacable isn’t bad, but when compared to the movies of lucha libre’s history, it kind of pales in comparison. There are no mummies, no aliens, no werewolves transforming in the middle of the ring.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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