El Hijo del Santo
|El Hijo del Santo|
|Wrestling Observer Hall Of Fame Member|
Like his own name says, El Hijo del Santo is one of El Santo's sons (Santo had eleven children total) and the only one that followed his father's steps as a wrestling and film star.
Hijo Del Santo's pro wrestling debut was under the name and mask of Korak and without his father's consent. Korak is the name of Tarzan's son. El Santo actually wanted to have one of his sons carry on his legacy for the years to come, however to get the nod to become a professional wrestler they would have to study a career at the university first, and when they had a degree, they could start wrestling.
A few months later after getting his Communication Science degree, Hijo del Santo made his "official" debut, this time wearing his father's mask and costume, teaming with Ringo Mendoza against Coloso Colosetti and Sangre Chicana in Nuevo Laredo, Tamps. Even though the fans and the media were happy to see Santo's junior, they all were very skeptical and it was generally thought and said that he'd never be nearly as good or as popular as his father was. Little did they know that even though he'd never become a cultural icon and mainstream personality like Santo, he'd be a considerably better wrestler after just a few months in the business.
"Santito" quickly impressed the crowds with his amazing aerial skills. His moveset is exactly the same than his father's - they used the same dives and they had the same signature moves - however the junior is smaller than the senior was so his flying is faster and smoother.
During his first years he wrestled in many different places from Mexico and Panama and also appeared at EMLL cards, however most of his work was for Carlos Maynes' UWA/LLI promotion and Benjamin Mora's WWA. His Toreo de Cuatro Caminos debut was on July 22, 1983, teaming with Black Man and Matemático against Black Terry, Lobo Rubio and Blue Panther, and his Arena Mexico debut was on November 25, 1983, teaming with Atlantis against Lobo Rubio and Fuerza Guerrera. In that year 1983, he was selected rookie of the year.
His first title was the UWA World Lightweight title he got on October 28, 1984 defeating a young up-and-coming wrestler called Negro Casas, who would later become Santo's most memorable opponent ever. Casas was never able to regain that title that Santo lost to the original Aristóteles on July 14, 1985. Almost two weeks after that match (July 28), Santo showed to his masked opponent that you don't mess with The Man of the Silver Mask and defeated him in a mask vs. mask match at El Toreo de Cuatro Caminos. As if that wasn't enough, on September 1 he regained the title and on November 27 he unmasked Aristóteles II!
Santo was Lightweight champion for two straight years until the 13rd of September of 1987, date in which Espanto Jr. (whose mask Santo had taken on August 31, 1986) defeated him in a title match. The Santo Jr. vs. Espanto Jr. feud was sort of a revival of the classic encounters the seniors of these two had had some decades ago. Espanto Jr. was a very capable and underrated wrestler with historical name value and a good mask so he was the perfect rival for Hijo Del Santo. Of course Santo also took Espanto Jr's hair (August 2, 1987) and eventually regained the UWA Lightweight title (May 29, 1988).
Other than Espanto Jr., the most important opponent of Santo at the time was the already mentioned Negro Casas. Casas was a very charismatic second generation wrestler with great rudo skills and a really good worker as well, so he was a perfect opponent for Santo. The pinnacle of the Santo vs. Casas feud was reached on July 18, 1987 when they fought in a mask vs. hair match. Their match brought more than 7,000 fans to the L.A. Olympic Auditorium which is awesome considering that there was little-to-no publicity for this event on the local media and the only way people could know about it was through word of mouth.
Hijo Del Santo, along with a group of other Mexican wrestlers like Blue Panther, Super Astro and Fuerza Guerrera made their Japanese debut the 6/1/90 wrestling for Gran Hamada's Universal promotion. Santo's first Japanese match was a trios bout teaming with Kendo and Yoshihiro Asai (Ultimo Dragon) against Negro Casas, Fuerza Guerrera and El Cuchillo (who had already been in Japan wrestling as El Polaco). That Japanese tour was a successful one for Santo as a few days later, on June 7, he captured the WWA Welterweight Title by defeating Fuerza Guerrera. Santo made several other tours for that little promotion during 1990 and 1991.
On January of 1991, Santo vacated the UWA Lightweight Title as he was heavier than he used to so now he belonged to the welterweight division. In fact, before vacating the Lightweight title he had captured the UWA Welterweight Title defeating Charles Lucero in Monterrey (April 27, 1990) and the already mentioned WWA title.
Santo broke his relationship with WWA/Promociones Mora on November 91 and vacated the WWA title, though he still kept defending the UWA title in UWA and EMLL cards until he lost it against Espanto Jr. in a "phantom title change" in Gómez Palacio, Durango, on May 12, 1992. Of course that loss had a a reason behind it, as three days later AAA was born and Santo jumped ship.
In AAA Santo had several classic feuds. The first one was against another member of the Casas family, Erick Casas, also known as Heavy Metal, a young wrestler who was considered to be a better pure worker than his older brother "Negro". Santo (who defeated the Espanto Jr. on March 19, 1993 in Tijuana) was holding again the WWA Welterweight title which now was defended in AAA cards. AAA was all about making new young stars while keeping the big stars high, so Santo didn't have a problem to put over the brother of his best real-life friend in a title match - that was on May 14. Heavy was also given the Mexican National Welterweight Championship, which only fueled the Santo vs. Heavy feud even more.
Heavy lost both titles to Santo, but again, it was time to make a new star, and Santo lost both titles against Psicosis, whose superstar status got consolidated with those wins, especially the one the 3rd of May, 1995, in which Psicosis defeated the silver masked one clean in two straight falls to get the National Welterweight Title.
Though in reality, Santo's most memorable feud in AAA is the one against Eddy Guerrero and Love Machine. After the evil "gringos" declared war on him, he teamed with his old buddy Octagon and eventually won a 2 out of 3 Falls Double Hair vs. Double Mask Match against the two in a classic five-star match at AAA/IWC When Worlds Collide on November 6, 1994.
After Machine's sudden death and further misuse of Eddy Guerrero, around late February of 1995, Santo and Peña came up with a new character that could have a high profile feud with Santo: El Santo Negro (Black Santo), a dark, heel clone of Santo that supposedly came from South America to destroy him and take his mask. The man under the mask was Espanto Jr. (Jesús Andrade Salas) who feuded with Santito in the 80s. Non-wrestling members of the Santo family didn't like the idea of having an "evil Santo" and the character was dropped on April after they threatened with taking legal action if they kept using Santo Negro.
With no big feud on the booking sheets, as he didn't really like the new approach that AAA was taking, on August 95 he returned to EMLL to revive his feud with Negro Casas, who he fought against on the big September 29 card, a week after the Anniversary show.
CMLL's 1996 edition of the "International Grand Prix" (July 5) was the best they ever had as Tiger Mask and Great Sasuke from the Japanese promotion Michinoku Pro Wrestling came to Arena Mexico for that event. The expected wrestlers reached the finals and Hijo Del Santo defeated Great Sasuke in a very good match to win the trophy.
The co-promotion with the small Japanese group continued as on November 96 Santo had a chance to return to Japan (the two post-Hamada's UWF times he had been there were on November 18, 94, when he lost the UWA Welterweight title to Norio Honaga at a New Japan Pro Wrestling card and on August 30, 1995 when he lost in a match for the vacant NWA World Junior Heavyweight title against Masayoshi Motegi at a Dream Factory card), to compete for Michinoku Pro's "1996 Tag League" in which he teamed with Super Delfin and reached the finals but lost to KAIENTAI (Dick Togo and MEN's Teioh).
Santo and Casas kept feuding like always but soon the feud was going to take a weird, unexpected twist...
After the September 20, 1996, 63rd Anniversary of EMLL show match in which Casas defeated Santo by DQ, the silver masked one disappeared for a few weeks so it looked like he was having a little vacation. Despite being a rudo Negro always was a extremely popular wrestler that always got lots of cheers, many times he was cheered louder than his tecnico opponents, so after he had a fallout with his partners Bestia Salvaje and Scorpio Jr. and turned tecnico, he quickly became the most popular wrestler in the company. Salvaje, who claimed to be sick and tired of Casas, told him that he had a little surprise for him that would be delivered during the November 22 Arena Mexico match which was announced to be a Bestia Salvaje, Scorpio Jr. and Felino vs. Negro Casas, Dandy and Hector Garza match.
Felino (Casas' real-life brother) came to ringside covered by a big cape and just watched the action at first. The big surprise was when Felino removed his cape - IT WAS SANTO! The shock value of that heel turn was really high not only because Santo had been one of the most popular babyfaces in Mexico for years, but also because NOBODY (and that includes sheet writers) expected it. So, in just a week, the "old and boring" Santo vs. Casas feud was the hottest event in the worldwide wrestling scene again. As a side note, Santo was only mostly booed and considered a true heel in Mexico City. As he claimed "he didn't want to be a rudo, but the circumstances forced him to" so he only was a rudo in Arena Mexico and he wrestled tecnico everywhere else.
This was just the perfect thing EMLL needed to pick up big business again. The following week (Nov 29), Santo, Scorpio and Bestia lost to Dandy, Casas and Garza in a really heated, wild, bloody and intense brawl. After the match, both Dandy and Casas challenged Santo to a mask vs. hair match next week, and it was finally decided that it would be a triangle match.
And as expected, the next week (Dec 6) Dandy lost his hair to Santo in a bloody, dramatic, psychology-laden match that is considered a true classic by most lucha fans. Of course, the feud didn't die here and several things happened after the Dandy loss.
Santo and Casas both carried their feud even to Japan as in Feburary of 1997, the Japanese "pseudo promotion" (as it's not a real promotion that runs all year, just a name to promote tours with different talent rosters every few months) CMLL Japan was born.
1997 was a year in which Santo competed a lot for the Tijuana-based Promociones Mora. On April 4, Negro Casas and Santo teamed for the first time ever to defeat the team of Scorpio Jr. and Bestia Salvaje. This piece of news didn't make it to Mexico City so nothing special happened afterwards. Earlier in the year (Feb 21) Santo had taken the WWA Welterweight Title from Rey Misterio Jr., and in that same match the feud between Santo/Misterio Jr & Sr/Misterioso was started, as Misterioso offered himself to be Santo's second, however Santo didn't like the offer so he was sent to the back after he complained about it for a long time.
On May 16, Misterioso and Santo defeated Rey Misterio Sr and Jr. The stipulation for this match is that the three losers would wrestle in a triangle match on June 6 putting their hair/mask on the line. So after winning the tag match, the partners had to fight each other and Santo defeated Misterioso. Out of curiosity, the match finally was Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Misterioso with no Rey Sr involved and on December 19. Misterioso was unmasked as Roberto Castillo, but Santo's involvement in that feud had already finished months ago.
With the public recognition of the Felino/Casas brothers relationship (a relationship that used to be a "well-known secret"), it was Santo's time to fight against Felino, who took the WWA Welterweight title from him on July 4, in a match with a very unique finish. Bestia Salvaje was seconding Santo and Casas was seconding his brother. During the closing moments of the match, Bestia Salvaje threw his towel to Casas' face in anger to hurt him. Casas was smart and threw Santo's towel to the ring, and when the ref turned back and saw Bestia without a towel, he gave the match to Felino.
But Santo and Casas kept building their rivalry for months until they wrestled each other on singles again: September 19, 1997, 64th Anniversary Show, Arena Mexico. One of the longest awaited rematches of the century - mask vs. hair, again. Of course you can guess who won, but even that way it was a long awaited match as everybody knew it would be awesome and indeed it was, as they had an off-the-charts match with incredibly stiff work whose matwork was closer to the one of "worked shoot" Japanese promotions like the old UWF than to pure lucha matwork.
After that match Santo still kept wrestling as a rudo in Mexico City and a tecnico all over the republic, in fact he was the most over babyface in Tijuana, land of the nasty rudos.
A tecnico turn was being hinted as during November and December of that year, Scorpio Jr. kept attacking Santo and trying to unmask him. The 17th, at a Arena Mexico card, the team of Santo, Scorpio Jr and Villano III lost to Negro Casas, Fiera and Pantera, and after the match Scorpio and Villano turned on Santo for costing them the match.
Around that time CMLL was promoting the "Leyenda de Plata" (Silver Legend) trophy, which was an special event in honor of El Santo (Sr.). There would be a 16-man cibernetico tournament with the winner competing against Hijo Del Santo over the trophy, which was a plaque with an original Santo mask in it. The 24th, Scorpio Jr. won that tournament, and a week later he defeated Santo in a match to win the trophy. Scorpio Jr. moved out of the way when Santo was going for his patented running tope suicida so Santo was counted out, and later stretchered out.
Santo didn't fully turn tecnico until September 11, during a Fiera, Casas and Atlantis versus him, Fuerza Guerrera and Villano III match. Santo "mistakenly" used a Tope de Cristo onto Fuerza as he missed his target Negro Casas, and later on the match he picked up Casas so he wouldn't receive a senton from Fuerza. After the rudos lost, Villano and Fuerza beat down Santo until the tecnicos made the save, but then Scorpio Jr. and Bestia Salvaje ran in and a huge brawl ensued. A week later, on September 18, Santo was already wrestling tecnico and teaming with Casas, Atlantis and Fiera defeated the team of Villano III, Fuerza Guerrera, Scorpio Jr. and Bestia Salvaje.
The most shocking event of this turn is that long time enemies Santo and Casas showed mutual respect for each other and started teaming together in a regular basis, and of course they also teamed in six-man matches with Casas' brother, El Felino.
During the following months the new alliance kept feuding with Bestia Salvaje and Scorpio Jr. The team of Bestia and Scorpio captured the vacant CMLL Tag Team titles on November 13 by defeating Dr. Wagner Jr. and Satanico in the tournament finals, and as expected, Santo and Casas showed interest in those belts.
Bestia and Scorpio retained the titles against Santo and Casas ten days later after winning them at a house show in Puebla, but this match wasn't televised so it wasn't seen as "the big challenge". That challenge actually was on February 5 when Santo and Casas won the titles at a Arena Coliseo card, but as they won via disqualification (as the commissioner DQ'd Salvaje for having a ringside brawl with Perro Aguayo) they refused to take the titles. Those titles were vacated, rather than returned to their previous owners, but the rudos got them again as on February 26 at Arena Mexico, they defeated Santo and Casas after Salvaje pinned Negro, who had been fouled by Scorpio.
But the big challenge that had been hinted during months was finally issued and the 19th of March, both teams faced in a double hair/mask vs. hair/mask match. After that match, Scorpio Jr. was revealed to be Rafael Nuñez while Bestia was getting his hair shaved, but Santo and Casas didn't have enough and on April 2 they won the CMLL tag titles via DQ, but this time they accepted the belts. From then on the feud didn't die but it kept losing the interest it had.
Not a lot after that match, Santo had a dispute with the EMLL office regarding money so he was off EMLL TV for a while, however he kept delivering all over Mexico, and also the United States. He eventually returned to TV, though.
Ever since the day of his debut with the silver mask, El Hijo Del Santo had a really hard task to accomplish - he had to show that he deserved wearing that mask and that he wasn't just a son of Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta trying to make easy money out of his father's legacy. During the years he has been wrestling he has had countless excellent matches and if we are taking longevity, drawing power and match quality into account he is the most important wrestler Mexico has had in the last twenty years which is quite a feat considering both the quantity and the quality of talent that Mexico has produced during that time.
Santo did return to CMLL, but had another falling out with the company in 2006. El Hijo del Santo went independent, and CMLL banned any of their wrestlers from working on any show that Santo worked.
Santo's still seen as a top current star of modern lucha libre, but his relevance to the current scene has slipped as he's been estranged from both major companies. Santo's formed an alliance with the World Boxing Council, who awarded him an honorary wrestling championship. He's also instrumental in a pseudo-promotion of freelance wrestlers, called either "Todos X El Todos" (after their first show) or UMLL.
The December 2007 Todos X el Todos show, featuring a 16 masked man tournament, also served as one of Santo's 25th anniversary shows. The show was broadcast on Televisa, an unusual situation for an independent group but also a sign of the continuing power of the Santo name. He's ran another anniversary show in Guadalajara in May of 2008, but it was not treated as big a deal.
Lucha de Apuestas Record