|Birth name||Aaron Rodríguez|
|Ring name(s)||Mil Máscaras (A Thousand Masks / Man of a Thousand Masks)|
|Billed height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Billed weight||111 kg (240 lb)|
July 15, 1942 |
San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí, Mexico
|Trained by||Diablo Velasco
|Debut||July 16, 1965|
Mil Máscaras (born Aaron Rodríguez, July 15, 1942) is one of the original "Big Three" of the lucha libre tradition in Mexico (the other two being El Santo and Blue Demon). He is considered to be one of the most influential wrestlers of all time for enhancing and popularizing the lucha libre style around the world both in the ring and as the star of over 20 films. He is also an accomplished artist and cultural ambassador from his native country and has appeared on three of its postage stamps. He is a member of one of Mexico's most prominent wrestling families—his brothers José and Pablo respectively wrestle as Dos Caras and Sicodélico, José's son Alberto wrestles as Alberto Del Rio, and Pablo's son Aaron is better known as Sicodélico, Jr. Mil Mascaras has been inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in New York and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012.
Professional wrestling career
Mil Máscaras made his professional wrestling debut in April 1965 in Guadalajara. Máscaras became popular in Mexico for being one of the best conditioned luchadores in the heavyweight division, which was dominated by foreigners at the time. It was also his size which permitted him to wrestle in the US and Japan under the heavyweight division. Máscaras was one of the first masked luchadores outside of Mexico to play a non-heel role. He rarely resorted to rule breaking, instead relying on his repertoire of moves and counter-moves. Máscaras was also one of the first wrestlers to introduce the high-flying moves of lucha libre, such as the plancha and tope suicida, to Japanese fans. This brought him international fame as one of the first high-flyers, something he was not considered in Mexico where he fell under the mat-power category.
Máscaras made his international wrestling debut in 1968 at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, getting involved in great rivalries against the likes of Ernie Ladd, John Tolos, Black Gordman, and Goliath. In Mexico City, he unmasked El Halcon in a triangular tournament that included Alfonso Dantés in the 1970s.
Máscaras performed for All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) during the '70s. In his Japanese debut on February 19, 1971, he defeated Kantaro Hoshino in Tokyo. It was during this time that he had his best known international feud with American masked wrestler The Destroyer. During the '70s, Máscaras also had feuds with Mexican wrestlers such as TNT, El Canek, El Halcon, and Angel Blanco. These feuds took place mostly in Mexico and the US, and were broadcast on Spanish language stations in the U.S. Mascaras was also the heavyweight champion of the IWA wrestling promotion, which was founded by Eddie Einhorn, and still holds the title to this day.
In 1974, Mascaras was World Champion for a short-lived but very exciting promotion, the IWA (International Wrestling Alliance), which promoted in the New York City area. Mascaras had major title defenses at Roosevelt Stadium, in Jersey City, NJ, against top competitors such as Ivan Koloff and Ernie Ladd.
Mil Máscaras appeared in World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now called WWE). He performed at Madison Square Garden several times after a ban on masked wrestlers was lifted for him, making him the first masked wrestler in the Garden, he defeated The Spoiler (who was not permitted to wear his mask). During this time, he feuded with "Superstar" Billy Graham over the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.
Máscaras made many apparences during the 80s and the 90s at the World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico.
Mascaras also wrestled in World Championship Wrestling (WCW), where his most notable match was a match with Cactus Jack at Clash of the Champions X: Texas Shootout on February 6, 1990 in the Memorial Coliseum in Corpus Christi, Texas.
On September 10, 1991, at the age of 49, Máscaras won his final title, the WWA (Mexico) World Heavyweight Championship. He held the title until 1994 and assumed a state of semi-retirement after his final reign.
Máscaras' first American pay-per-view appearance was competing in WWF's 1997 Royal Rumble match. He eliminated himself, diving off the top rope out of the ring onto Pierroth, Jr., whom he himself had just eliminated. Such a move is common in lucha libre but it is technically a mistake in the Royal Rumble as it leads to elimination.
On December 5, 2002, Mascaras defeated Manny Fernandez at the inaugural show for Legacy Wrestling Enterprises in Fort Worth, TX.
Máscaras also achieved fame outside of the ring, starring in a series of 19 luchador action films beginning with his self-titled debut in 1966 to the present. In 1966, Mexican movie producer Luis Enrique Vergara was looking for a new "enmascarado" to star in his wrestling/horror movies which were then the rage of Mexican cinema. Mil Mascaras was the first Lucha Libre personality that was created specifically to be a movie star, since his whole persona and flashy look was designed initially for the movies. (His real life wrestling career grew out of the excitement generated by his film appearances.)
Vergara's two regular movie stars had suddenly become unavailable. Santo had walked out on him over a contract dispute, and Blue Demon was injured unexpectedly and would require a prolonged time-out. Not wanting to stop making his successful cinematic quickies, Vergara decided to transform Lucha Libre newcomer Mil Mascaras as the star of his next two movies, and the rest was history. Mil began a movie career that has continued to this day, appearing in a total of 19 Mexican horror/wrestling/action films.
The first film, simply entitled Mil Mascaras (1966) was shot in black & white, the producer Vergara paired Mil Mascaras with beautiful and curvaceous women, such as Altia Michel and Isela Vega the combination of the powerful mysterious super hero with the femme fatal produced a version of Beauty and the Beast and made Mil out to be a sort of super-hero. The film gave Mil Mascaras a comic book-style origin story, which seems to have been somewhat swiped from the then-popular Doc Savage pulp novels that were selling very well in science-fiction bookstores in the mid-60's. According to the script, Mil was an infant who was found clutched in his dead mother's arms in a war-torn area of Europe during World War 2 and was sent to an orphanage. A group of scientists (not affiliated with any particular country) adopts the boy, secretly using him as a guinea pig, subjecting the child to an intensive regimen of physical exercise and mental training as he matures.
When he reaches adulthood, Mil is something of a superman (although without actual super powers); both his mind and his body have been developed to perfection. The scientists then send him out into the world to help downtrodden people everywhere, to fight criminals and to right wrongs, and just basically help make the world a better place.
The plots of the first two films were rather lackluster. In both Mil Mascaras (1966) and its sequel Los Canallas (also 1966), Mil gets to fight a rather ordinary gang of thugs and a crooked fight promoter who are bullying the locals in some backwater burg in Mexico. Mil's second film Los Canallas and all of them thereafter were shot in Color.
Federico Curiel directed Mil's next two films in 1968, both of which feature American horror star John Carradine as a bad guy. Mil's missions were becoming a bit more meaningful by this time. In Enigma of Death, Mil faces off against Carradine who plays the leader of an underground Nazi organization, while in Las Vampiras, Mil goes up against a secret cult of female vampires led by Carradine.
In 1970, Curiel directed Mil in two of his greatest team-up movies. The Mummies of Guanajuato teamed Mil up with both Blue Demon and El Santo in what became the highest-grossing Mexican wrestler film of all time, pitting the three enmascarados against a group of re-animated mummies.
The Champions of Justice (also 1970) saw Mil in action with fellow wrestlers Blue Demon, Tinieblas, El Medico Asesino and La Sombra Vengadora (who all joined together as sort of a super-team to fight monsters, mad scientists, criminals, evil dwarves or whatever else crossed their paths.)
Over the next few years, a number of other team-up movies were made, most co-starring Mil Mascaras, who by this time was becoming the King of the Team-up Movies. Champions of Justice Return (1972) was very similar to the first Champions film, only with El Fantasma Blanco sitting in for El Medico Asesino, El Rayo de Jalisco replacing Tinieblas, and El Avispon Escarlata replacing La Sombra Vengadora. (Mil didn't appear in the third and final "Champions" film.)
However in 1973, he teamed up again with Tinieblas and El Fantasma Blanco in two more films, Macabre Legends of the Colony and The Mummies of San Angel (which both resemble "Champions Of Justice" films, in spite of the Blue Demon's conspicuous absence from the casts). Theft of the Mummies of Guanajuato (1972) teamed up Mil with the Blue Angel and El Rayo De Jalisco.
Mil then co-starred with super-star strongman Sergio Oliva in Black Power (1973). He fought alongside the then-famous Superzan in Vampires of Coyoacan (1973) and later joined forces once again with El Santo and Blue Demon in 1977's Mystery in Bermuda, which most Mexi-cinema fans consider to be the last real entry in the then fading Mexican wrestling/horror genre.
Mil also appeared in a solo movie of his own, A Rose in the Ring (1972) and years later, he even teamed up with Santo's son El Hijo del Santo in The Lawless Frontier (1983), making Mil Mascaras the only Mexican superhero to ever co-star with both Santos, father and son.
In 2007, Máscaras starred in Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy (also known as Mil Mascaras: Resurrection), the first lucha film featuring any of the so-called "Big Three" stars of the genre (Máscaras, Blue Demon, Santo) to be produced in English. The film screened at festivals around the world garnering awards and award nominations along with positive critical reviews. The film enjoyed almost continuous popularity and publicity for several years after its debut, including two magazine cover articles as late as 2012. He is currently working on his 20th film, which is slated for a 2013 release.
Multiple wrestlers have publicly complained of Mascaras' unwillingness to sell moves and put opponents over. One of the most vocal critics is Mick Foley who, in his book Have a Nice Day!, complained about Máscaras' refusal to sell moves in their match. In his book, A Lion's Tale, Chris Jericho describes the stories of Máscaras' large ego and states that, if anything, "The tales were toning it down." In a 2007 shoot interview, "Superstar" Billy Graham confirmed that during his series of matches with Mascaras, Mascaras was unwilling to sell properly. In September 2012, while announcing an Alberto Del Rio match at WWE's "Night of Champions" pay-per-view, John Layfield called Del Rio's uncle Mascaras "the most egomaniacal, selfish human being that ever lived."
Mascaras has attributed these claims to cultural differences in the sport:
One problem is that in the U.S. some wrestlers focus more on their image than their skills. I understand because I understand the business. I don't criticize them for that, but they should understand that for me wrestling means something more. If a guy doesn't execute a move, I don't pretend that he did. If I miss a move, then I don't ask anyone to make me look good.—Mil Mascaras, Filmfax, pp.51–52, issue 1, 2012
In 1975, Máscaras was voted "The Most Popular Wrestler of the Year" by the company that now publishes the US magazine Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Satoru Sayama, the original Tiger Mask, has described Máscaras' impact on Japanese professional wrestling, "If it weren't for Mil Mascaras, there would be no Jushin Liger, no Último Dragón or the Great Sasuke today,". Mascaras' success in the US also paved the way for other luchadores such as Rey Mysterio, Jr., who has become one of the most popular luchadores in US wrestling. Even after reaching the age of 70 Máscaras continues to perform sporadically. In 2001, he was inducted into the Southern California Pro-Wrestling Hall of Fame.
In 2006, Máscaras was honored by the Cauliflower Alley Club, a fraternal organization of both retired and active wrestlers. The Destroyer, one of Máscaras legendary rivals, presented him with an award at the event. The Destroyer also commented on Máscaras' wrestling style, "He was the best competitor that I ever wrestled. He never gave you anything – it's true – but I didn't give him anything either. You talk about a shoot or a half-shoot, and that's the kind of match that it was."
On October 7, 2011, Máscaras returned to Japan to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his debut in the country. He teamed with Dos Caras and the original Tiger Mask to defeat CIMA, Último Guerrero and Tiger Mask IV in a six man tag team match.
On December 4, 2013, Máscaras, along with Dos Caras, took part in a Tokyo Gurentai event in Tokyo's Korakuen Hall. In the main event, the two defeated Mazada and Nosawa Rongai to win the Tokyo World Tag Team Championship.
Mascaras has never been unmasked in the ring, and like most masked luchadores, he goes to great lengths to conceal his true appearance and personal life. Máscaras has two brothers who wrestled, Dos Caras and Sicodélico. He has two sons and two daughters with his first wife, who died in 1975, and two daughters with his second wife, whom he married in 1995. His nephews are Alberto Del Rio, formerly known as Dos Caras, Jr, Sicodélico, Jr, and Hijo Del Sicodelico.
Mascaras is an avid golfer and plays in many charity golf tournaments around the world, including annually at the Los Angeles Police Memorial Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament
Along with pro wrestling, Mascaras is a big fan of Japanese martial arts, and has practised judo, aikido, jujutsu, karate and kendo, among others. He trained jujutsu under a Mitsuyo Maeda student, and also trained under Professor Tanaka. Mascaras started learning martial arts as a counter to shoot attemps, and recalls several wrestlers who tried to shoot on him and whom he had to legitmately submit.
- Signature moves
- Double arm suplex
- Headstand Headscissors
- Monkey flip
- Plancha suicida
- Scoop slam
- Standing Indian deathlock / Double underhook combination
- Suicide dive
- Multiple surfboard variations
- Vertical suplex
Championships and accomplishments
- Alianza Latinoamericana de Lucha Libre
- ALLL World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- Commission de Box y Lucha Libre Mexico D.F.
- International Wrestling Association (Georgia)
- IWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time, current)1
- NWA Big Time Wrestling – World Class Wrestling Association
- NWA Hollywood Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (1975)
- PWI ranked him # 94 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003.
- PWI ranked him # 128 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the PWI 500 in 1993.
Lucha de Apuesta record
|Hair||Mil Máscaras||Benny Galant||Mexico City, Mexico||April 22, 1966|
|Hair||Mil Máscaras||Black Gordman||Los Angeles, California||September 19, 1969|
|Hair||Mil Máscaras||Bull Ramos||Los Angeles, California||October 10, 1969|
|Mask||Mil Máscaras||Barón Escarlata||Unknown||January 2, 1971|
|Mask||Mil Máscaras||Frankenstein||Tijuana, Baja California||1974||Triangle match that also included Texas|
|Hair||Mil Máscaras||Alfonso Dantés||Mexico City, Mexico||February 22, 1977||Triangle match that also included El Halcon|
|Mask||Mil Máscaras||El Halcón||Mexico City, Mexico||July 29, 1977|||
|Mask||Mil Máscaras||El Halcón||Japan||September 13, 1978|||
|Hair||Mil Máscaras||Popitekus||Tijuana, Baja California||August 1988|
|Hair||Mil Máscaras||Principe Battu||Dallas, Texas||November 20, 1994|
|Mask||Mil Máscaras||Gran Markus, Jr.||Naucalpan, Mexico State||June 29, 1997||Triangle match that also included Tinieblas|
|Mask||Mil Máscaras||Venom||Reynosa||March 17, 2007|
|Mask||Mil Máscaras||El Yuma||Reynosa||March 20, 2007|
- Mil Máscaras (Mil Mascaras) first appearance and origin of Mil Máscaras; the only B&W film in the series
- Los Canallas (The Scoundrels); aka "The Swine", "Hell's Angels" or "Angeles Infernales"; made in color
- Las Vampiras (The Vampire Girls) (co-starring John Carradine)
- Enigma de Muerte (Enigma of Death) (co-starring John Carradine)
- Los Campeones Justicieros (The Champions of Justice) (co-starring Blue Demon, Tinieblas, El Médico Asesino, and La Sombra Vengadora)
- Las Momias de Guanajuato (The Mummies of Guanajuato) (co-starring Santo and Blue Demon)
- El Robo de las Momias de Guanajuato (The Theft of the Mummies of Guanajuato) (co-starring The Blue Angel and El Rayo De Jalisco)
- Vuelven los Campeones Justicieros (The Champions of Justice Return) (co-starring Blue Demon, El Fantasma Blanco, El Rayo de Jalisco, and El Avispón Escarlata)
- Una Rosa Sobre el Ring (A Rose in The Ring) (co-starring Crox Alvarado as "The Black Mask")
- Leyendas Macabras de la Colonia (Macabre Legends of The Colony) (co-starring Tinieblas and El Fantasma Blanco)
- Las Momias de San Ángel (The Mummies of San Ángel) (co-starring Tinieblas and El Fantasma Blanco)
- Los Vampiros de Coyoacán (The Vampires of Coyoacán) (co-starring Superzan)
- El Poder Negro (Black Power) (co-starring Sergio Oliva)
- Misterio en las Bermudas (Mystery in Bermuda) (co-starring Santo and Blue Demon)
- El Hijo de Santo en la Frontera Sin Ley (Son of Santo in The Lawless Frontier)
- La Verdad de la Lucha (The Truth About Wrestling)
- La Llave Mortal (The Deadly Wrestling Hold)
- Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy (aka Mil Mascaras: Resurrection)
- Academy of Doom (filmed in Missouri, USA)
- 2013 (scheduled release)
- Mil Mascaras: Aztec Revenge (in progress)
- General sources – Championship Information
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Mexico". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 389–402. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- General sources – Career
- Madigan, Dan (2007). "Los Enmascarados (the masked men): Mil Máscaras". Mondo Lucha Libre: the bizare& honorable world of wild Mexican wrestling. HarperColins Publisher. pp. 93–99. ISBN 978-0-06-085583-3.
- "Lucha Libre: Conoce la historia de las leyendas de cuadrilátero". Mil Máscaras (1942) (in Spanish) (Mexico). 2008. p. 38. Grandes Figuras de la Lucha Libre.
- Aguierre, Antonio (1992). "Colosos de Colosos". Mil Máscaras: Anatomia de una gran luchador (in Spanish) (Nextitla, Mexico: Fanqueo Pagado Publicacion Periodica). pp. 1–66. 2.
- Foley, Mick (2000). Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks. HarperCollins. p. 511. ISBN 0-06-103101-1.
- Filmfax (1). 2012. pp. 48–52.
- Madigan, Dan (2007). "Mil Mascaras". Mondo Lucha Libre: the bizare & honorable world of wild Mexican wrestling. HarperColins Publisher. pp. 93–99. ISBN 978-0-06-085583-3.
- Mil Mascaras
- Interview: Mil Mascaras and Satoru Sayama
- Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p.169)
- Slagle, Steve. Photos & Bios – Mil Máscaras WrestlingMuseum.com (2000). Retrieved December 8, 2007.
- Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p.169-171)
- Jericho, Chris. A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex
- Wrestling Information Archive – Pro Wrestling Illustrated Award Winners – Most Popular Wrestler of the Year
- The Wrestling Gospel According to Mike Mooneyham
- CANOE – SLAM! Sports – Wrestling – Race & Hennig go over at Cauliflower Alley Club banquet
- CIMA @ Mascaras Anniversary – 07 Oct 2011
- Caldwell, James (October 17, 2011). "WWE News: First inductee into 2012 WWE Hall of Fame announced at Smackdown TV taping (w/video)". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- "マスカラス兄弟で日本最後の編隊飛行と思われたが、まさかのタッグ王座奪取！ドス・カラスは現役続行に意欲!?". Battle News (in Japanese). December 4, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
- Interview between Satoru Sayama and Mil Máscaras, Puroresu Dojo, August 3, 1995
- "Finishing Moves List". Other Arena. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
- Csonka, Larry (2009-06-09). "NWA Class of 2009". Retrieved 2009-02-22.
- "Mil Mascaras to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame". WWE. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
- "International Wrestling Association International/World Heavyweight Title". Puroresu Dojo. Retrieved 2012-10-15.
- Boutwell, Josh (2012-10-13). "Viva La Raza! Lucha Weekly". WrestleView. Retrieved 2012-10-15.
- "Enciclopedia de las Mascaras". Mil Mascaras (in Spanish) (Mexico). October 2007. p. 33. Tomo III.
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Profile
- Mil Máscaras at the Internet Movie Database
- Official "Mil Mascaras Vs the Astecm Mummy Page
- PopMatters Review of Mil Mascaras vs. The Aztec Mummy
- Profile at InternationalHero