Little Bits of History

September 21

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 21, 2017

1933: Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL) holds its first show. Salvador Lutteroth was a Mexican professional wrestling promoter born in 1897 in Mexico. At  age 17 he joined the Mexican Revolution, attaining the rank of captain. After the war, he got a government job and moved to Ciudad Juarez in 1929, where he was first exposed to professional wrestling on a trip to Texas. Wanting to bring this same thrill to Mexico, Lutteroth and his financial backer, Fracisco Ahumada, created EMLL, today called Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) and one of the longest running wrestling events in the world.

For their premiere event, they tried to book Arena Nacional, the elite boxing venue in Mexico City. They were turned away and forced to rent a rundown venue, Arena Modelo. The event was wildly successful and as the one year anniversary rolled around, they created the EMLL 1st Anniversary Show and drew a sellout crowd of 5,000 paying fans. In 1934, an American wearing a black leather mask was on the ticket – the mask was something of a promotional mid-level stunt in America at the time, but new to Mexico. By including El Enmascarado, the tradition of the sacred position of the mask in Lucha Libre became the ultimate status symbol for luchadors.

In the early days, most of the top names in the shows were American, but as time marched on, more Mexican wrestlers were included. At the time, the promotional system inside Mexico was an issue, but Lutteroth wanted local talent and worked around the system. In 1942, a masked wrester dressed in silver appeared. He was called El Santo or The Saint. He was a huge hit and became synonymous with Mexican wrestling. He is often called the greatest Mexican wrestler of all time. With his popularity, other Mexican wrestlers were also elevated in status and became stars in their own right. Lutteroth financed the building of Arena Coliso and moved EMLL to that venue.

By the mid-1980s, Lutteroth’s grandson, Paco Alonso, was at the helm of EMLL. Although associated with the National Wrestling Alliance since the 1950s, they distanced themselves due to infighting. In 1991, they changed their name to CMLL. During the next two years, they created eight CMLL World titles over which they had control along with three NWA titles they still controlled. Their matches were televised and interest increased. They retain control over nine major promotions and the CMLL Anniversary event is the longest premiere event of the season. Lutteroth became the most powerful booker and promoter of wrestling in Mexico as well as top tier worldwide. He died in 1987 at the age of 90.

We, as a wrestling community, better remember it is more than one individual that makes a winner. – Dan Gable

Wrestling is ballet with violence. – Jesse Ventura

To me, wrestling is therapy. No matter how bad my personal situation is, when I step into the ring, all my troubles disappear. My baggage stays in the back where it belongs. – Eddie Guerrero

Wrestling was like stand-up comedy for me. Every night I had a live audience of 25,000 people to win over. My goal was never to be the loudest or the craziest. It was to be the most entertaining. – Dwayne Johnson