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A wild brawler whose career spanned four decades, the rough and wild-style of Perro Aguayo helped change the image of lucha libre in Mexico and became one of the biggest box office attractions in the nation's history. Originally one of the final opponents of Mexican icon El Santo and synonymous with the Universal Wrestling Association, Aguayo would reinvent himself towards the end of his career, reaching new heights in Asistencia Asesoría y Administración as his career winded down.
Aguayo made his wrestling debut in 1968 and eventually found his way to the recently formed UWA, which was an off-shoot of the established Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre that was created when several regional promoters went into business on their own after being frustrated with the direction of the company. The UWA got over with audiences because they challenged the established order of EMLL and pushed younger talent. At the forefront of that youth revolution was the push of three new stars, El Canek, Dos Caras and Aguayo.
The UWA chose El Canek to be their big babyface (or technico) and booked him as their Hulk Hogan-esque super babyface. Throughout his career his top opponent was the wild and unpredictable Aguayo and became the top heel (or rudo) in the company for the entirety of the UWA's existence. While El Canek gets the credit for drawing huge crowds, it was Aguayo who emphasized what made the UWA different.
At the time, lucha libre was based in a very traditional style. Wrestling in Mexico has always been based on tradition, but at this point in history, the traditional style of EMLL was wearing thin. A lot of the characteristics about lucha libre, such as the colorful masks and high-flying maneuvers were prevalent, but after watching 40 years of largely the same product (and largely the same stars) the formula was not exactly endearing to a lot of fans. The UWA broke the mold by not only pushing new, younger wrestlers, but by emphasizing different styles.
The biggest feud in lucha libre history is El Santo vs Blue Demon, and while it was a huge success wrestling and business wise, El Santo and Blue Demon were largely the same types of wrestlers. Sure one was a babyface and one was a heel and Blue Demon was a much better worker than El Santo, but they mostly looked the same and wrestled similar styles. El Canek was the traditional Mexican babyface, with a great physique and colorful masks. Aguayo however, was something completely different in Mexican wrestling. He didn't wear a mask and he wrestled a wild, brawling style that emphasized violence over showy moves. Aguayo is one of the industries greatest bleeders, and his matches often involved foreign objects and action outside of the ring. The violence and the straight-laced style of Aguayo was very different from what traditional Mexican wrestling had seen, and it clashed beautifully with El Canek's customary babyface routine.
Despite the fact that Aguayo was El Canek's greatest Mexican opponent, he received very little championship success in comparison to his rival. His one and only reign as UWA World Heavyweight Champion came in 1988, only to drop the title back to El Canek a couple months later. In the early 1980s he did enjoy a successful run as the UWA Light Heavyweight Champion, working a long-feud with the popular wrestler known as Fishman.
In 1992 EMLL (which was now going by the name Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre) was dealt another big blow, this time with booker Antonio Pena breaking away from the company and founding the rival promotion, Asistencia Asesoría y Administración. Much like the UWA, AAA began to push new, young talent that saw the rise of a new generation of Mexican wrestlers, such as Konnan, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Psicosis, while also employing steady veterans who had left CMLL with Pena, like El Hijo del Santo and Octagon. Under the steady booking of Pena, AAA quickly became one of the top promotions and Mexico and hurt the UWA greatly, with the UWA continuing to spiral downwards until closing in 1995.
In addition to employing a bunch of new, young high-flyers, AAA also focused a lot on the style that Aguayo helped establish. This wasn't your father's lucha libre promotion, AAA focused on over-the-top violence, brawling and blood. As another top veteran to work with the younger talent, Pena and AAA brought in Aguayo.
Aguayo was a natural to work with the rising star, Konnan. Like Aguayo, Konnan wrestled maskless and worked a hard, physical style and used methods that were popular both in the UWA and in Puerto Rico. Konnan and Aguayo started off as a tag team before Konnan turned on his partner and mentor and formed the heel group Los Gringos Locos along with Eddie Guerrero, Art Barr and Madonna's Boyfriend (the wacky ring name for WCW talent Louis Spicolli). The heel turn by Konnan made Aguayo one of the biggest babyfaces in the world at the time and Aguayo ended up exacting his revenge on Konnan in the main event of the PPV "When Worlds Collide" by defeating Konnan in a Steel Cage match in front of a sold-out audience at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.
Another memorable feud in AAA was the continuation of a long-standing rivalry between Aguayo and Mascara Ano 2000 which had taken place on and off in various promotions for around a decade. The feud culminated in the semi-main event of the very first Triplemania event, which saw Aguayo take the mask of his rival in a Mask vs Hair match. The event took place at Plazo de Toros, the largest bullfighting ring in the world and drew 48,000 fans, the largest attendance for a wrestling show in Mexican history.
Aguayo would continue to be a big draw in Mexico throughout the 1990s despite the fact that he was in his 50s. Aguayo would enjoy his longest world title reign when he defeated Cibernetico for the Mexican National Heavyweight Championship in 1998, which he held for just under a year before dropping it to El Cobarde. In 2000 Aguayo returned to CMLL and remained in the main event, culminating in a Hair vs Hair match against longtime rival Cien Caras at the CMLL PPV Sin Piedad 2000.
In 2001, Aguayo was set to compete in a Mask vs Hair match against Universo 2000 in the main event of the CMLL PPV Homenaje a dos Leyendas 2001 when he announced that if he lost the match, he would retire. Aguayo lost, losing his hair and his career. He remained out of wrestling until 2005 when he came out of retirement to team up with his son, Perro Aguayo Jr. who was rapidly becoming one of the top stars in Mexico. Aguayo Jr. was feuding with Los Capos, the heel stable of Cien Caras, Universo 2000 and Mascara Ano 2000. Cien Caras had said that he couldn't retire until he avenged his loss to Aguayo Sr. and took out his frustrations on his son. The two Aguayo's teamed up at defeated the team of Cien Caras and Mascara Ano 2000 in a Hair vs Hair match in the main event of Homenaje a dos Leyendas 2005, and Aguayo went back into retirement.
Aguayo wrapped up his career as one of the longest careers spent in the main event in lucah libre history. His style and personality helped establish both the UWA and AAA as major promotions in Mexico and it introduced a new variable to lucha libre. No longer did it have to be all up colorful warriors bouncing off the ropes, it could be about squat brawlers duking it out in the ring. Aguayo's success and longevity allowed lucha libre to experience a boom period both in the 1970s and 1990s and earns him a spot on the list.
Next week, #38 on the list will be revealed, an American world champion who was one of the biggest babyfaces of the 1980s.
The Top 50 so far:
50.Ted DiBiase (click link for description of the qualifications of the list)
49. Superstar Billy Graham
47. El hijo del Santo
45. Bruiser Brody
43. Kurt Angle
42. Hiroshi Tanahashi
41. The Sheik
39. Perro Aguayo