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Lucha Tributes: King Cuerno/El Hijo del Fantasma
I know, I know, I know; this column was supposed to be out yesterday. What do you want me to tell you; the stupid football game distracted me, and it’s here now anyway so…I really don’t know where I’m going with this. What else is new?! Anyway, the Lucha Tributes series is rolling on, and I’ve got a good one for you tonight. This man here is one of the brightest young stars of Lucha Underground and AAA, a man many would consider to be a cornerstone of each company while also being a tad underrated. Indeed folks, this right here is a Lucha Tribute for a man of two masks, one of the most technically proficient wrestlers of the Temple and a man with a thrill for the hunt, the one and only King Cuerno, aka El Hijo del Fantasma.
What You Already Know
Say what you will about the man, but if there’s one thing King Cuerno isn’t lacking, it’s personalities. In Lucha Underground, Cuerno is, well, King Cuerno, a silent, bad ass hunting enthusiast who likes to wear deer antlers on his head during his entrance, has the greatest suicide dive in the history of the western hemisphere and takes his time devouring his prey. He’s also apparently a king, though what he is a king of is unknown. A group of hybrid killer deer that he harvests and then kills and then wears? You’d have to ask him. In any event, Cuerno’s season one was quite fun, as he had a nice little feud with Drago, an epic few encounters with Johnny Mundo and ended the season chasing after Fenix in a pickup truck that could’ve only come from a George Strait music video. That’s right, Lucha Underground and George Strait in the same column. We break new ground every day.
When he’s not living out Michael Cimino’s fantasies up in the LU, Cuerno is down in AAA working under his more well known name; El Hijo del Fantasma. Modeling his look after both his father and Lee Faulk’s classic character The Phantom, the only thing Fantasma and Cuerno have in common is that their suicide dives look terrific. Otherwise, Fantasma is a much more confident, splashy, sophisticated figure than his counterpart. He’s also arguably even more successful; Fantasma currently serves as the leader to AAA’s top rudo stable La Sociedad (a role given to him by Konnan) and is the AAA World Cruiserweight Champion, a title he won at Triplemania XXII. Basically, life is good for Cuerno/Fantasma. It kind of has to be if your nickname is the Chocolate Champion, which on the list of greatest nicknames ever is right between “The Inventor of Modern Lucha Libre” and “The Italian Stallion.” And yes, Italian Stallion is the highest of those three; basically, any nickname that has the world stallion in it is. Jack Evans is currently working on how to fit stallion into his next nickname.
What You Didn’t Know
I kind of gave it away in the last paragraph, but I’ll repeat it again here. In the shocker of all shockers, Cuerno/El Hijo del Fantasma is a second generation superstar, son of the luchador El Fantasma. His father was a pretty solid performer too, wrestling for CMLL, AAA, the Universal Wrestling Association (UWA) and countless other lucha libre promotions for almost forty years. The most impressive accomplishment of Fantasma Sr. however came out of the ring last year, where he helped push forth an initiative to make lucha libre a safer environment in the wake of Perro Aguayo Jr.’s death. What a swell, sharp dude Fantasma Sr. is. And yes, Cuerno/Fantasma has followed in his footsteps quite well outside of the ring too, having earned a degree in International Relations at Universidad Anahuac early in his wrestling career. I guess you can say he’s the thinking man’s wrestler.
Speaking of wrestling, let’s get back to that. Because Cuerno/Fantasma has been so successful in Lucha Underground and AAA, it’s easy to think that’s the only places he’s wrestled. Not so fast my friend! Believe it or not, Fantasma rose to fame as a member of the CMLL roster, working for lucha libre’s longest running promotion from 2008 to 2013. In a stunning development, he was also really, REALLY successful there too, winning the CMLL World Middleweight Championship once and the CMLL World Trios Championships (alongside La Mascara and the late great Hector Garza) twice among other accolades. That’s not all; while working for CMLL, Cuerno/Fantasma would have a few runs down in the Toryumon Mexico promotion, run by legend and hero of mine Ultimo Dragon. There, Fantasma would go on to win the prestigious Yamaha Cup in 2010, teaming with a young man known as Angelico to defeat Rey Bucanero and Ultimo Guerrero in the finals. That’s right kids; the guy with the Deer Antlers and the dude who jumps off El Jefe’s office for kicks were once a bad ass tag team that one a bad ass tag team tournament in a promotion run by official bad ass Ultimo Dragon. If you don’t think that’s the coolest thing ever, you must be someone that enjoys the Transformers movies. Or you’re Jim Nantz. Actually yeah, you’re probably Jim Nantz.
We’ll split the difference here and go one moment for Lucha Underground, one for AAA (note; this would’ve been a three part section if video of Angelico and Fantasma’s Yamaha Cup win were available. Get on it Ultimo!). Hey, both Cuerno and Fantasma deserve some love. For Cuerno’s best moment, I give the nod to his non cage match with Johnny Mundo from the February 25th episode. I know, I know; how could you not put the cage match in here? As much as I do enjoy that match, this one features several beautiful suicide dives from Cuerno (while the cage match features none), a whole lot of violence and dammit, I just like it better okay? It’s my column; I’ll pick what I want. Take your judgmental eyes to the cage match if you don’t like it!
As for Fantasma, it’s gotta be him winning the World Cruiserweight Championship at Triplemania XXII. Not only does it involve the biggest singles win of his career to date, but it was also a ten man match featuring guys like Angelico, Jack Evans, Drago, Fenix, Daga, Australian Suicide, Joe Lider, Bengala and Pentagon Jr. Do I need to say more about why you should check out this match?
Whether it’s as King Cuerno in Lucha Underground or El Hijo del Fantasma in AAA, the man behind both creations can be summed up in one word; brilliant. Yeah I know, that can be said about most of the guys and girls featured in this series, but Cuerno/Fantasma is a different breed, a performer capable of being a methodical killer or a brash playboy at the snap of the finger. It’s amazing to me that he was targeted by WWE at the same time La Sombra was, as he seems to have all the tools (charisma, in ring ability and the ability to speak English well) that would appeal to the wrestling mother ship, a company desperate to find a top Latin American star. Alas, their loss is lucha libre’s gain. Sometime in the next few years, King Cuerno and El Hijo del Fantasma will have been the Lucha Underground Champion and the AAA Mega Champion. Trust me; this man is that good, that reliable and just waiting to receive the opportunity. The only question will be whether he wraps the belt around his waist or mounts it on the wall next to those deer antlers? I mean, wouldn’t you do the latter?
And the rest is silence. I’ll be back tomorrow with two more of these bad boys, what with me being behind once more an all. Till then, only one week away from the X-Files return and the Lucha Underground mega marathon! This calls for DUCHOVNY meme!
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