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How Mexican Wrestling Works


Lucha Libre Stars
El Hijo del Santo (the son of the Saint) continues the legacy of his father, El Santo, a common practice among lucha libre families.
El Hijo del Santo (the son of the Saint) continues the legacy of his father, El Santo, a common practice among lucha libre families.
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The most legendary star of lucha libre is undoubtedly El Santo. His full name was Santo, el Enmascarado de Plata (The Saint of the Silver Mask), and his real name was Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta. El Santo began wrestling under various names in the 1930s, then created the Santo identity in the 1940s. His legendary status began in the '50s, mainly by way of a comic book featuring the character. El Santo would go on to star in dozens of cheap, quickly produced films, including titles like "Santo vs. the Vampire Women." El Santo was never unmasked -- he was buried still wearing the mask after his death in 1984. Only one known photograph of Santo without the mask is known to exist, and it is not publicly available.

The Blue Demon was a contemporary of El Santo. They were opponents in the ring, but appeared together in several movies. The Blue Demon starred in more than 20 of his own films.

Mil Máscaras, whose name translates as "Man of a Thousand Masks," was the first Mexican wrestler to have a major impact on American wrestling, appearing in many WWF (now WWE) events. He also wrestled in Japan and starred in several movies.

Rey Mysterio is perhaps the most popular luchadore who has made the jump into American wrestling leagues. Inspired by his great uncle, Rey Misterio Sr., Mysterio's style typifies lucha libre. From his early days in the Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) group to high-profile work in WWE, Mysterio has become known for his colorful masks and astonishing aerial maneuvers.

Eddie Guerrero was an immensely popular star in the WWE, despite the fact that he was a rudo, or heel, for most of his career. Guerrero was part of an extended wrestling family with a lineage tracing back to his father, one of the original luchadores, along with three wrestling brothers, an uncle, a nephew and a cousin. His death in 2005 of a heart condition possibly aggravated by prior steroid use was highly controversial.

Mistico debuted in CMLL in 2006 with a suitably "mystic" mask, complete with crucifixes. The high-flying technico became a top draw for the promotion before joining the United States' WWE in 2011 as Sin Cara, which traslates to "without a face." His name and mask were altered due to CMLL's ownership of the character.

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