One of the most innovative wrestlers in the history of Mexico, he became legendary for his high-flying moves and influenced wrestlers across North America and Japan.
Real Name: Aaron Rodriguez
Stats: 5′ 11″ 245 lbs.
By Steve Slagle
“If it weren’t for Mil Mascaras, there would be no Jushin Liger, no Ultimo Dragon, or the Great Sasake today…” was what Satoru Sayama, the original Tiger Mask, is quoted as saying when asked about the great Mil Mascaras. Sayama, who as the original Tiger Mask, inspired the likes of Liger, Dragon, and Sasake to become pro wreslers, was himself inspired as a youth by the noble and charming, high-flying, inventive Mexican superstar who made his first Japanese appearances in 1971. For anyone who was lucky enough to see Mascaras wrestle, whether on TV or in person, it was hard to look at the sport the same way again. His style and persona were unlike any other wrestler competing at the time, and he truly revolutionized the sport…
Mascaras was born Aaron Rodriguez on July 15, 1942 in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. He grew up idolizing El Santo, like millions of other Mexican children, and when he entered the sport in April of 1964 he was determined to emulate Santo’s sportsmanship and skill. As far as pure wrestling skill goes, it can be argued that Mascaras, indeed, surpassed his boyhood idol.
His first title came on June 12, 1967 when he won the Mexican National Light Heavyweight title. He lost it several months later, but he again won the title in 1968. “The Man Of 1,000 Masks” also wore the America’s Heavyweight title four times (between 1968-1971), as well as winning 2 America’s Tag Team titles. He also won the I.W.A. (U.S.) World Heavyweight title in 1976, and the A.L.L.L. (Guatemala) Heavyweight championship in 1976.
These championships won over the years, combined with his wildly successful, precedent-setting Japanese tours, as well as his frequent trips through the N.W.A., A.W.A., and W.W.W.F., helped Mascaras establish himself as an elite international superstar and a tremendous drawing card for many promoters. Everywhere he wrestled around the globe, he inspired young athletes (Jimmy Snuka, Sweet Brown Sugar, Muta, Tiger Mask, Liger, Dragon, Rey Mysterio Jr., and dozens of other future stars) to become high-flying wrestling superstars.
Although he was loved and respected by the fans, Mascaras — who was known as being one of the best-conditioned and athletic wrestlers in the sport — had many bitter feuds throughout his career against some of wrestling’s strongest, meanest and toughest legends.
His matches and feuds with Ken Patera, “Superstar” Billy Graham, Ox Baker, Harley Race, Ivan Koloff, Nick Bockwinkle, Freddie Blassie, Dory Funk Jr., and dozens of other wrestling greats were always hard-fought, intense, and exciting! Although his opponent often cheated as much as possible against Mil, the sophisticated and refined Mascaras never lost his cool. Nor did he ever resort to rulebreaking. He didn’t need to…when you have a repertoire of moves and counter-moves like Mascaras did, you don’t need to cheat! He truly was the original “Man of 1,000 Holds”…and masks, as the name implies.
Aside from being a world-famous wrestler, Mascaras, like El Santo before him, was also a huge movie star in his native Mexico during the 1960’s. One of Mexico’s all-time biggest box-office attractions, Mascaras filmed over 30 action movies (yes, with his mask on!) during his motion picture career.
On September 10, 1991 Mil Mascaras, at the age of 49, won his final title, the W.W.A. (Mexico) World Heavyweight championship. He went o to hold the title until 1994, and assumed a state of semi-retirement after his final championship reign. He still makes occasional appearances throughout the wrestling world, though, and tapes of his legendary matches continue to thrill and inspire anyone who is able to view them. The Ring Chronicle proudly inducts the world’s messenger of Lucha Libre’, the man who made the flying bodypress a work of art, the influential and incomparable Mil Mascaras into T.R.C.’s Hall of Fame……….