|Birth name||Antonio Hipolito Peña Herrada|
|Ring name(s)||El Genio
Espectro Jr. (original)
Espectro de Ultratumba
|Born||June 13, 1951
Mexico City, Mexico
|Died||October 5, 2006
Mexico City, Mexico
|Debut||April 8, 1974|
|Retired||1986 (From wrestling)|
Antonio Hipolito Peña Herrada (June 13, 1951 – October 5, 2006) was the founder of the Mexican professional wrestling promotion Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA) in 1992, which today is the largest wrestling promotion in Mexico. Peña's promotion reached its height of popularity in the early 1990s before the downturn of the Mexican economy. Peña's AAA is the promotion largely responsible for bringing the "Lucha" style to the United States, with such wrestlers as Rey Misterio Jr, Psicosis, La Parka, Konnan and others. Peña was the former head booker of Empressa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL) before forming AAA. Peña began his professional wrestling career as a wrestler or Luchador, as they're called in Spanish, working under various masks as El Genio, Espectro, Jr., Kahoz, Espectro de Ultratumba and Dalia Negra before retiring in 1986 to work with the promotional side of wrestling.
Antonio Peña grew up in a wrestling family in Mexico City, Mexico. His father wrestled as the Luchador Ponzoña and his uncle was the famous original Espectro, a big star in the 1950s and 1960s. Peña was trained by Rojas, Isias Rodríguez, Toño Hernández and his uncle before making his professional wrestling debut in 1974 at the age of 18.
Professional wrestling career
Peña began his wrestling career as the enmascarado (masked) character El Genio (Spanish for "The Genius") on April 8, 1974. After wrestling as El Genio for a couple of months Peña got his uncle's blessing to adopt the Espectro name and began wrestling as Espectro, Jr.. Peña wore the "venom green" mask and trunks like Espectro, but unlike the original he wrestled barefoot most of the time. As Espectro, Jr. Peña blended a good solid wrestling foundation with various psychological antics to create a character, while being a hated rudo (Heel or "bad guy") character drew the crowd's attention and soon he found himself challenging the top wrestlers of the 1970s for both the Mexican National Welterweight Championship and the Mexican National Middleweight Championship, two of the top championships in Mexico at the time. While a gifted performer in the ring backstage he was described as more of a quiet, thoughtful person who would often talk about how he would change Lucha Libre and add more character and showmanship to it. In 1980 Peña decided to change wrestling personas, giving the Espectro, Jr. outfit and name to his cousin Jose Elías Pinceno, who has wrestled as Espectro, Jr. since then. Instead of working as Espectro, Jr. Peña came up with a totally original character of his own called Kahoz (sometimes spelled Kahos or Khaoz), a sinister masked rudo character who invoked various dark spirits as part of his pre-match ritual. Many have likened the Kahoz character to one of Lucha Libre original showmen, Murciélago Velázquez. Kahoz would often carry a bag of live pigeons to the ring with him, releasing them at his opponent and then making it seem like he ripped the head of one of the pigeons and smeared the fake blood all over himself or his opponent. To Peña the Kahoz character was not about winning championships, but about the psychology of the character and actually scaring the audience, so while he did not win any titles as Kahoz it was considered a huge success and he main evented shows all over Mexico. While Peña had the mind for wrestling his body could not handle the heavy main event schedule that he wrestled as Kahoz and by 1985 he gave up the gimmick to work as Espectro de Ultratumba ("The Ghost from Beyond the grave"), giving the Kahoz gimmick to Astro Rey instead. Astro Rey's Kahoz was nowhere nearly as important nor as successful as Peña as Astro Rey lacked the charisma and theatrics of the original. Peña only worked as Espectro de Ultratumba for a short period of time, giving the gimmick to his cousin in 1986. Peña tried working as "Dalia Negra" but his body could not take the strain, forcing Peña to retire in 1986. Peña would briefly wrestle as "the Rose" in 1994 but only worked a handful of matches. Peña's final match at the 2001 Guerra de Titans where he wrestled, and lost to Cibernético.
Peña had been active backstage for years before his retirement, always offering suggestions of wrestling gimmicks, storylines and booking, so when he retired Peña was hired by Empressa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL), Mexico's oldest professional wrestling promotion, to work in their public relations department. Over the next couple of years Peña began booking shows for EMLL and started writing storylines for the company. Peña and head booker Juan Herrera worked together to capitalize on the 1980s television boom, making EMLL the top promotion in its time. Peña and Herrera were also the masterminds of EMLL's "Rebranding" as Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) when EMLL withdrew from the National Wrestling Alliance in 1989. Peña was the creative force behind CMLL's Mini-Estrella division and wanted to feature more non-heavyweight wrestlers in the main events. Herrera wanted to maintain the old style of booking with heavyweights such as Atlantis, El Dandy and El Satánico, while Peña wanted to feature younger, faster moving wrestlers such as Konnan, Octagón or Máscara Sagráda. In the end CMLL owner Paco Alonso decided to go with Herrera's booking style.
Asistencia Asesoría y Administración
After Paco Alonso chose to ignore Peña's booking ideas Peña began negotiations with Televisa television channel to fund a new wrestling promotion that would provide Televisa with weekly wrestling shows. In 1992 Peña started a booking agency, providing wrestlers and matches for the Televisa owned Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA) promotion. While Peña technically owned the promotion Televisa owns the rights to the AAA name. In 1995 during a financial crisis Televisa sold all rights to AAA to Peña who formed Promociones Antonio Peña. S.A. (PAPSA). Peña's promotion featured many of the young wrestlers that Peña wanted CMLL to push as they chose to leave CMLL to join AAA. AAA's pinnacle came in 1993 when they drew the largest wrestling crowd in Mexico ever as they staged Triplemanía I in front of 48.000 paying fans. Over the years Peña managed to establish AAA as a viable alternative to CMLL, making CMLL and AAA "the Big Two" in Lucha Libre.
Peña has occasionally been criticized with trademarking gimmicks and not allowing the original performers of the gimmicks to use the name elsewhere. Wrestlers such as Psicosis and La Parka were both forced to change their ring names when Peña took legal action to bar both of them from using those names in Mexico and gave the gimmicks to two AAA wrestlers. Psicosis now wrestles as "Nicho el Millonario" in Mexico, while the man that took over the gimmick, Psicosis II now works on the independent circuit. The original La Parka now wrestles as L.A. Park while AAA has their own La Parka working for them. Peña also tried to prevent the original Máscara Sagráda from using the name and outfit, but in the end Sagrága won the court case and the rights to the name. Peña often "recycled" the ring personas, giving the mask and outfit to a new wrestler if the previous one left AAA, for instance when Super Crazy left AAA Peña gave the Histeria outfit to another wrestler.
Death and legacy
Peña died on October 5, 2006 due to a massive heart attack. In the days following Peña's death several wrestling promotions in Japan that AAA had worked with over the years paid tribute to the promoter. Peña's death left a void in AAA, he had always been the man in charge and always had the final word. In the years up to his death, Peña had brought in his brother-in-law Joaquin Roldan and Roldan's son Dorian Roldan and taught them the business of running a wrestling promotion.
AAA holds a tribute show to Antonio Peña each year around the anniversary of his death, as part of the Antonio Peña Memorial Shows AAA holds the Copa Antonio Peña, a tournament in honor of Peña. From 2009 onwards the annual event has been known as Héroes Inmortales ("Immortal Heroes").
Championships and accomplishments
- Brady, Hicks. "2006: The year in wrestling". PWI Presents: 2007 Wrestling Almanac and book of facts (Kappa Publications). p. 26. 2007 Edition.
- Ocampo, Ernesto (October 7, 2006). "El fin de una era: Adiós a Antonio Peña". SuperLuchas (in Spanish). issue 182. Retrieved October 14, 2009.
- AAA Staff (October 1, 2009). "Kahoz y Espectro estuvierno en Monterrey" (in Spanish). Asistencia Asesoría y Administración. Archived from the original on 4 October 2009. Retrieved October 14, 2009.
- Various (2005). "Kahos". Lucha Libre: Masked Superstars of Mexican Wrestling. Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. pp. 110–119. ISBN 968-6842-48-9.
- Enciclopedia staff (August 2007). "Enciclopedia de las Mascaras". Espectro, Jr. (in Spanish) (Mexico City, Mexico). p. 24. Tomo I.
- Ocampo, Ernesto (October 7, 2006). "El fin de una era" (in Spanish). SuperLuchas Magazine. Retrieved October 14, 2009.
- "TripleMania: Mexico's answer to WrestleMania". SLAM! Sports. July 5, 2000. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
- Madigan, Dan (2007). "La Parka". Mondo Lucha a Go Go: the bizarre and honorable world of wild Mexican wrestling. HarperColins Publisher. pp. 120–124. ISBN 978-0-06-085583-3.
- Enciclopedia staff (August 2007). "Enciclopedia de las Mascaras". Histeria (in Spanish) (Mexico City, Mexico). p. 39. Tomo II.
- Ocampo, Ernesto (October 5, 2009). "Falleció Antonio Peña" (in Spanish). SuperLuchas Magazine. Retrieved October 14, 2009.
- Ocampo, Ernesto (October 7, 2006). "Peña recordado en Japón" (in Spanish). SuperLuchas Magazine. Retrieved October 14, 2009.
- "AAA Misc. Cards – Pena Memorial show 2007". Pro Wrestling History. Archived from the original on 25 March 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
- "AAA Misc. Cards – Pena Memorial show 2008". Pro Wrestling History. Archived from the original on 25 March 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
- Ruiz Glez, Alex (September 19, 2009). "AAA Héroes Inmortales III – Arena Monterrey (26 de septiembre) – Charly Manson vs Chessman por las Cabelleras –" (in Spanish). SuperLuchas Magazine. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
- "Lic. Antonio Peña H.". Asistencia Asesoría y Administración. Archived from the original on 19 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-18.