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Lucha Tribute: Paco Alonso
I’m short on time folks so this intro is going to have to be quicker than Speed Racer at the Grand Prix. Today I bring you lucha tribute for one of the most powerful men in the history of lucha libre, all without ever stepping foot inside the ring. He’s also one of the most mysterious, which makes him both an oddity in a wrestling world where the bosses are generally as well known and larger than life as the wrestlers are. Ladies, gentlemen, and aspiring luchadors everywhere; I give you the Lucha Tribute to CMLL’s head honcho and the reclusive mad genius himself, the one and only Paco Alonso.
What You Already Know
You mean aside from the numerous unprovoked shots I take at him painting him as a tyrannical overlord who imprisons people in Blue Demon Jr.’s Miami villa? I kid about those by the way. In reality Paco Alonso is known for being the owner and proprietor of the lucha libre promotion CMLL and its home base Arena Mexico, a company he inherited from his potential uncle/potential brother-in-law Chavo Lutteroth in 1980. Regardless of the relationship between the two it still makes Alonso a relative of CMLL founder and “Godfather of Lucha Libre” Salvatore Lutteroth. That’s some family connections right there. Aside from that the only thing sure about the master and ruler of the CMLL universe is nothing’s for sure. By that I mean Alonso is by far the most reclusive man in wrestling history, having chosen to give only a few interviews since taking over CMLL in favor of staying out of the public limelight. In fact the picture I have of him above is the only decent one I can find on the internet because the guy never shows his face. That would be the most shocking thing about it if not for the fact that every other wrestling promoter/owner in history has not only been a public figure but generally finds a way to work themselves into angles on TV. Paco is pretty much the only guy not to do so; this is why I’m forced to create fictional scenarios about him being a megalomaniac who hides luchadors out in the villa of a man who doesn’t even work for him. Well that and I’m a dude with way too much time on his hands.
What You Didn’t Know
Alonso can in many ways be compared and contrasted with WWE owner Vince McMahon. Unlike Vince Alonso is what we would describe as a “hands off” owner, more akin to how Ted Turner ran WCW back in the late 80s/early 90s. While he will get involved in creative discussions on the rarest of occasions, Alonso prefers to allow his creative team to have free reign over what you see in Puebla and Arena Mexico every week while he takes care of the business side of things. It’s again something almost unheard of in this day and age when you have wrestling higher ups like Vince, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, Dixie Carter, Billy Corgan and others not only running the company but having final say over creative decisions as well. Arguably Alonso’s detachment from the process has helped CMLL significantly. I’ll never claim that the CMLL creative team has done a great job (look no further than their insistence of keeping Shocker around long after his expiration date), but Alonso leaving them alone to focus on business has definitely been the best move. Since he took over it’s been estimated that CMLL has drawn close to (get ready for this) 80,000,000 fans. That’s nearly one billion wrestling fans in nearly four decades for a company whose biggest arena fits 16,500 people. Furthermore Alonso also correctly rebranded the promotion from EMLL to CMLL in the late 1991 after the promotion had split from the NWA in the late 80s. Ultimately his business acumen and ability to let his team run the show without interference (to mostly great success) is both why Alonso is looked so highly upon in lucha circles and why he was voted into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame in 2008.
But while Alonso doesn’t’ share McMahon’s thirst for the spotlight he sure as hell share’s his ruthlessness. In fact Alonso, at least in this department, makes Vince look like one of the nicest guys in the history of wrestling. Since taking over Alonso hasn’t been the slightest bit forgiving to people who have left CMLL for other companies, a slight he considers the ultimate betrayal. Those who have left CMLL, particularly those who have left for AAA, have been barred from returning to CMLL ever. The most notable of these stars to be kicked out for good are Konnan, Octagon, Antonio Pena and El Hijo del Santo. The first three were banned (and in the case of Konnan and Octagon are still banned) for leaving CMLL to form AAA in 1992, an action that irked Alonso so much that he refused to honor Pena upon his death in 2007 despite Pena’s strong influence on CMLL in the early 90s. The fall out with Santo has arguably been even worse; Alonso ordered all promotions in a working agreement with CMLL to end all relationships with Santo and made good on his promise by terminating any dealings with IWRG (the International Wrestling Revolution Group) when they refused. Yes he despises Santo, who may I remind you was one of Alonso’s biggest stars and the son of the greatest luchador in the history of both CMLL and lucha libre, that much. Vince McMahon may be diabolical, but he’s nowhere near the diabolical hater that Paco Alonso is. We’re talking so called Beautiful levels of diabolical hating here.
That said I will point out that recently Alonso has appeared to be more forgiving. Guys thought to be banned from Arena Mexico for good, such as Caristico and L.A. Park, have both come back in the past year while current CMLL star Máscara Dorada was allowed to go compete in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, something Alonso never would’ve allowed years before. Perhaps even more surprising is that Alonso brought back Sharlie Rockstar, a luchador who once left CMLL for AAA right after being put over CMLL top star and loyalist Negro Casas. How that man was allowed back in is a mystery I need to solve. Whether or not this is simply a case of Alonso mellowing out as he gets older or him justifying these signings by claiming they’re Lucha Libre Elite guys (a valid argument as Caristico and Rockstar have primarily appeared there and Park has yet to make a CMLL appearance since his return) can be disputed, but it’s definitely clear that the CMLL boss is more open that previously to working with people he felt wronged him. The true test to see if he’s changed will be if we see either Konnan or Santo brought back any time soon. Let the record show that both those things need to happen. A world with Konnan as Elite commissioner and Santo challenging Atlantis to a mask match is the only universe worth living in. Also it’s a place where Alonso can jump into a money pool like Scrooge McDuck.
I suppose you could consider this the best moment section as well, but we’ll go with decision. It sounds more businessy and Paco is a business man after all. Aside from the name change from EMLL to CMLL I think this comes down to two calls Alonso allowed to go through. The first is allowing his team to turn El Hijo del Santo into a rudo for the first time in 1996. We forget this now because it followed the two year boom period brought on by AAA but that move was a huge deal. Santo’s turn and his reignited feud with Negro Casas ended up producing several great matches (including a triple threat hair match with El Dandy and a mask vs. hair match at the 64th Anniversary Show) and also helped CMLL recover financially following the 1994 peso crisis. Who knows what happens to the company if Alonso doesn’t allow his team to do the turn. The second decision is headlining the 81st Anniversary Show with the Atlantis-Último Guerrero mask vs. mask match. It may not have been a match that saved the company from financial peril but it also is the only CMLL event in history to draw over $1 million at the gate, making Alonso only the second wrestling promoter ever to accomplish such a feat (the other; Vince McMahon. Like you even had to ask). You know what; both decisions were so important and resulted in such huge results that I think we might as well call it a tie. Yeah let’s go with that.
It’s no accident that I kept mentioning Vince McMahon’s name in this column because Paco Alonso is very much the Vince McMahon of lucha libre and vice versa. Sure maybe Alonso doesn’t share the same drive to be a public persona that Vince does nor perhaps the lofty ambitions to bring CMLL outside its comfort zone. But it’s hard to fault Alonso for that when he’s a) so interesting due to his reclusiveness and willingness to step aside when most wouldn’t and b) because of all the success he’s had. It hasn’t been perfect but Alonso has kept CMLL alive and thriving by knowing what he and the promotion can and cannot do and not trying to stretch any further than that. It may not be the most exciting route, but as Jim Crockett would attest the exciting route isn’t always the way to go. And there’s honestly still plenty of time for Alonso to change his ways. Still in his early 60s and appearing to be at least in decent health there’s no evidence that Alonso will be relinquishing his throne any time soon. It will thus be interesting to see whether or not Alonso continues the same practices that have helped maintain CMLL as one of the three biggest promotions in the world or if he chooses to become ambitious and take the company places no one has ever dreamed of. At worst, hopefully he softens up and allows certain luchadors who have been ostracized from CMLL to come back home.
That’s it sports fans. I’ll see you tomorrow for a CMLL Tuesday preview and a review of the Mistico-Cavernario headlined Puebla show. Till then, a picture of Blue Demon Jr. screaming at Chavo Guerrero Jr. about how he’s Mexico. What can I say, we needed a Blue Demon Jr. reference after he and his villa disappeared early in the proceedings.