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Lucha Tributes: Melissa Santos
And we’re back with Angels manager George Knox…whoa, why am I quoting Angels in the Outfield? A quick lesson in writing kids; never write a column while listening to a lucha libre show while also thinking about terrible sports films from the 1990s. You’ll either get nothing done, or it’ll be the weirdest thing ever. Thankfully, this Lucha Tribute is well done and just weird enough where it’s not too weird and not weird enough. Good lord, I’m losing my mind. Let’s move onto other stuff, like who this Lucha Tribute is for. Well, it’s for yet another unsung hero of Lucha Underground (there’s a lot of those, isn’t there?) and arguably someone who, along with Matt Striker and Vampiro, could be considered the voice of the promotion. Pretty big spoiler there guys. If you still don’t get who it is, sit back and prepare because you’re about to; this right here is a Lucha Tribute for the talented and lovely Melissa Santos.
What You Already Know
More than Dario Cueto, more than Marty Elias and more than anyone not named Matt Striker and Vampiro, Melissa Santos was the most consistent presence of Lucha Underground’s first season. Appearing in every single episode, she serves as the promotion’s Howard Finkle, which is wrestling for ring announcer and has established herself (in my opinion) as the best ring announcer in all of wrestling. That’s right, move over Lillian, move over Chimmel and move over very loud ring announcer guy from CHIKARA (somewhere, mizfan is seething at me right now!); when it comes to ring announcing, Melissa is what Randy Savage would call the “CREAM OF DA CROP! YEAH!”. And I say that as someone who both admires her work and admires how she no sells Marty the Moth every time he creepily tries to hit on her with his wing flap taunt. Well played Melissa, well played.
What You Didn’t Know
You mean aside from the fact that she was the ring announcer for Night 1 of Pro Wrestling Guerilla’s Battle of Los Angeles event this past year? Alright, here are some other things. It probably won’t shock you to know that Melissa is an actress. Though she isn’t a movie star (yet), she’s had a steady acting career since breaking in back in 2006, including a role in the 2009 indie thriller Detached. Perhaps the most important part of her acting career is that it led her to Lucha Underground; in an interview with Baltimore’s Under the Mat radio show, Melissa revealed that her acting agent was the one who discovered the opening for a ring announcer; a year or so later and here we are! Without Melissa’s acting career, who knows who the LU would have in the role. Thankfully it worked out for everyone, and appears as if it will continue to for Melissa, as she is set to star in the film Muerto Amor and (if IMDB is to be believed) will be playing the role of Gilda Dent (the wife of Two Face for those who don’t know) in a small scale Batman film called City with Two Faces. Look at all the doors that open when you come from a wrestling background!
And that’s where the juicy part of this section comes in. You see, Melissa isn’t just someone with behind the scenes experience in wrestling; she’s also has in ring experience. That’s right, Melissa is a trained pro wrestler, and she wasn’t just trained by anyone. Her trainers were Peggy Lee Leather, a former WWE star from the 80s who wrestled the legendary Fabulous Moolah and teamed with Wendi Richter, and Selina “Bambi” Majors, who had a short stint with WCW during the early 90s. The two would eventually go on to be trainers for the Woman of Wrestling promotion (an offshoot of the legendary Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling promotion from the 1980s), where Melissa would find herself when the promotion was re-launched in 2012. It’s unclear how many times she wrestled for WOW, but I can tell you she wrestled under the name La Nina, was part of a tag team called Tropical Storm (great tag team name) and was victorious against a team known as The Bully Busters during WOW’s Pandemonium Tour back in 2013. This experience was big for several reasons; first, Melissa actively believed her wrestling background helped her be so good at her announcing gig with the LU, this making it extra important she had experience prior. Secondly, this could potentially mean she’s going to have a match in the Temple sooner than later! I don’t know if we can put odds on it, but I’d be down. What would be a more inspiring story than a dastardly rudo bullying Melissa, only for her to rise up and show the world what she can do? You hear that? That’s the sound of you emptying your wallets at the thought of that story. Well, that and Son of Havoc wiping away the tears because his underdog story is no longer the best. Sorry Havoc!
It’s tough to pick out the best moment of a ring announcer, mainly because no one posts videos of a ring announcer unless they’re involved in something silly or they’re getting attacked. As such, the video you’ll find of Melissa the most is her being attacked by Pentagon Jr., followed by Vampiro teasing making the save, followed by Sexy Star actually making the save. It’s not a straight up Melissa moment obviously, but it was a big one in the history of the show, and she played her role quite well both then and the week after where she announced Pentagon’s name with even more disdain than I have for TV shows created by Ryan Murphy. Thus, we’ll go with that, and as a bonus, I’ll add the internet exclusive video of Melissa discussing her role for the company. It’s quite good; I put it right behind the Jack Evans ego overdose and Vampiro beating up noobs as the best internet content Lucha Underground has produced!
Every wrestling generation has a ring announcer that everyone flocks to. For much of the Wrestlemania era, Howard Finkle was that guy. For WCW fans, Michael Buffer (despite his long list of long winded intros and botches) was the guy. Hell, even though she’s made fun of a bit these days, I’d argue Lillian Garcia was someone fans loved. Soon I think we’ll be saying the same thing about Melissa Santos. I can’t even begin to describe how good she is in this role. I know, she’s just saying the names of wrestlers, but it’s more than that. The way she sounded so hyped announcing the arrival of Alberto El Patron or Cage, the fear in her voice when she had to announce Pentagon Jr.; this is a performer who understands the wrestling business and knows when to use what tone and expression to help get the audience into the match that’s about to take place. Combine that with the fact that she’s a friendly personality who can be a great spokesperson for the company (case in point; she’ll be on SportsCenter next week!) and Melissa Santos is someone Lucha Underground will want to hold onto for a long time. And again, I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing her lace up the boots and showing the Temple what she can bring in the ring. Feisty underdog Melissa vs. a dastardly, cocky rudo is MONEY. You heard it here first peeps.
And that’ll do it! I’ll be back tomorrow with another Lucha Tribute AND a preview of Friday’s Super Vierda show for CMLL. Till next time, look at this lovely mask I made for Matt Mortensen on the LU’s cool new site? Shouldn’t remind you of anything at all!
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