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Lucha Tributes: Pólvora
Before Valiente won the CMLL Universal Championship a few weeks ago I was heavily considering doing a lucha tribute on the pant less wonder. Why not right; the guy was about to take part in the biggest match of his life and I felt it be cool to profile him for people who only knew him as the third wheel of the Sky Team versions one and two. Alas something came up and that idea was just that; an idea. I promised myself however that when another guy who more or less lurked in the shadows came along and got a shot that I’d give him the profile I intended to give Valiente. With a big title shot coming up this Monday, that time is now. Today we pay tribute to a luchador that many long time lucha fans will know and recognize as a pretty decent name but many others may only know as a decent sidekick. That’s what I thought before writing this and I was wrong. As it turns out this luchador has a pretty great story and a pretty decent history of doing some cool things in the ring with some of your favorite luchadors today. Who is he? None other than the man taking on Dragón Lee this Monday night in Arena Puebla. Ladies, gentlemen, disgruntled lucha fans still mad about Sexy Star, I give you the Lucha Tribute to the man whose name translates to “Gunpowder” in English, the one and only Pólvora.
What You Already Know
Pólvora is well known to lucha libre fans as a stalwart for CMLL, appearing at least once a week between the Monday, Tuesday and Friday shows. Unfortunately most of his appearances revolve around him being the partner of the more famous and more renowned Dragón Rojo Jr., the last two remaining members of Los Revolucionarios del Terror (Spanish for The Revolutionaries of Terror. Who could’ve possibly guessed that?!). Honestly it’s not that big a gig for Pólvora; he and Rojo get to enter every week with toy rifles, rounds of bullets strapped to their chest and huge Three Amigos esq sombreros on their heads, all while they dance around like Alex Wright and Disco Inferno. You look me dead in the eye and tell me that’s not something you’d be down for. I’d trade the chance to make a live action film of Akira to do what Pólvora is doing the rest of my life. Okay maybe not, but everything else I would!
What You Didn’t Know
I’m sure it’ll stun approximately none of you to know that Pólvora is part of a lucha libre family. There’s a twist here though; unlike most, Pólvora’s father wasn’t a luchador. Instead the lucha gene was passed down to Pólvora from his uncle, the lucha legend El Texano. That’s right sports fans; that would make Pólvora cousins with current AAA Mega Champion, Lucha Underground star and potential evil god Texano Jr., which is sure to make certain female readers of this column quite happy. Together Pólvora and Texano Jr. currently are the two biggest stars of the extended family, which includes lucha legend El Dandy (Pólvora’s third cousin), current AAA star Super Nova (Texano’s brother and Pólvora’s cousin), lower card CMLL luchadors Mictlán (another cousin) and Pólvora’s big brother Inquisidor. Ironically neither Pólvora nor his brother used the family connections to break into lucha libre, choosing to be trained by Franco Columbo and legend Terry Salazar instead (with Pólvora later receiving addition training from Shocker and Virus). Pólvora would later team up with Texano Jr. on two occasions in 2009 and would serve as an opponent for Mictlán and Super Nova numerous times during the early stages of his career.
When it comes to family though no one has been closer to Pólvora than his brother. Inquisidor was the first of the two to break into lucha, first debuting in the late 90’s as Vaquerito. He worked as a mini for both Promo Azteca and CMLL for two years before Pólvora debuted in 2000. Vaquerito moved up a division, changed his name to Vaquero and the two formed a tag team. I’d like to say the rest was history but unfortunately it’s not. Though Pólvora and Vaquero would get numerous shots on CMLL spot shows before finally being signed full time in 2005, success eluded them. Hell pretty much everything eluded them; the best the two did as a team was lose in the first round of a tournament to crown the then vacant CMLL Arena Coliseo Tag Team Championships in June of 2008, a blow only softened by the fact that Mictlán was one of the guys who beat them. That was pretty much the last straw for the team, as Vaquero would soon be repackaged as the Inquisidor and Pólvora set out on his own. The two remained tight though and Inquisidor has gone on to second Pólvora numerous times during big singles matches since. That’s cool, but it’s not nearly as cool as the two brothers once claiming Inquisidor was the third, younger brother of the two and that Vaquero/Inquisidor had retired. Why did they do this? Beats me. Just another reason you got to love lucha libre.
The end of the team with his brother was just what the doctor ordered for Pólvora. By the end of 2009 he found himself rising up the card, with appearances in a cibernetico for the then vacant CMLL World Lightweight Championship, the 2009 Gran Alternativa tournament (where he teamed with Averno) and a twelve man steel cage Lucha de Apuesta match on October 18th. The latter can be seen as the turning point of his career; Pólvora found himself among the final two men in the match alongside journeyman luchador Tigre Blanco and his mask in serious jeopardy. This was a big moment folks; if CMLL’s head honchos had gone the other way than Pólvora would’ve wound up unmasked here and probably repackaged ala many other veteran luchadors prior to him. Who knows what happens. Instead he ultimately unmasked Blanco for the biggest win of his career at that point, a victory that ultimately took Pólvora out of the lower card doldrums and brought him to the big dance.
No sooner did he win this match was Pólvora put into his first stable; Los Cancerberos del Infiernos (The Infernal Hellhounds), a stable fronted by one of Pólvora’s trainers, the legendary Virus. Euforia, Cancerbero and Raziel would ultimately round out the group (Demus 3:16 would join and quickly leave over a year later) and the stable would go on to have some minor success, largely feuding with the Los Ángeles Celestiales faction. Ultimately the bulk of Pólvora’s success came outside of the stable. He would return to the Gran Alternativa tournament in 2010 and this time win it alongside Hector Garza Jr., defeating Delta and Volador Jr. in the finals. Even bigger than that was Pólvora getting more opportunities in singles competition, culminating in him winning the Mexican National Welterweight Championship from a then fully clothed Valiente in July of 2011. He held the title for the next year and in the process revealed a luchador who was exactly what CMLL looked for in a rudo; someone who could work as an excellent base for high flying wrestlers while also delivering high quality offense of his own, including power moves like the Pólvora Driver (a Canadian Backbreaker into a facebuster) and La Explosiva (a Wheelbarrow Driver), two devastating moves that would’ve been Pólvora’s best if not for a crossbody plancha so pretty that Maxim is upset they didn’t write a feature about it. This was proven in many high caliber matches, most notably against the up and comer Titán, who would go on to become Pólvora’s biggest one on one rival and the luchador who would take the Mexican National Welterweight title from him (more on that later).
Pólvora would quickly recover from that loss, winning the CMLL World Welterweight Championship two months later from Máscara Dorada in one of the best matches of 2011. It was around that time Pólvora left Los Cancerberos as well and formed that alliance with Dragón Rojo Jr. we all love today. The twist was that it wasn’t just the two of them, as Rey Escorpión was along for the fun, making Los Revolucionarios a trio. Unlike Los Cancerberos, which was less successful in spite of the singles success of its members, Los Revolucionarios was super fun, super over and even somewhat successful, earning their way to a CMLL World Trios Championship match at the 80th Anniversary Show, where they lost to the original Sky Team (Mistico, Dorada and Pólvora’s old rival Valiente) in a short but memorable spat. Pólvora continued to defend the CMLL Welterweight belt during this time against the usual suspects like Titán and Valiente before dropping the title to Mistico in early 2014. Things have been so-so for Pólvora since then; while he has challenged for his old Mexican Welterweight, CMLL World Light Heavyweight and CMLL World Middleweight Championships (the latter held by his pal Rojo), he’s mostly been relegated to trios action, paling around with Rojo and Escorpión (who would later leave Los Revolucionarios for Los Ingobernables and then later leave CMLL altogether in 2016) and the occasional Lightning Match. He’ll get his chance to break the monotony this Monday when he faces Dragón Lee for the CMLL World Lightweight Championship, the same title that gave him his first singles opportunity back in 2009. Look at how I tied all that in huh?! I’m a wizard like that.
There’s actually quite a bit to pick from here, as Pólvora had many really, REALLY good matches with the likes of Valiente, Mistico and Máscara Dorada during his golden run from 2011-2014. But his best matches, in my opinion, were always with Titán. The two delivered stand out match after standout match against each other over that period of time, with their best work coming down to two encounters; their September 4th, 2012 encounter where Titán ended Pólvora’s Mexican World Welterweight Championship run and their January 1st, 2013 match where Pólvora gained his revenge and successfully defended the CMLL World Welterweight Championship. You should most definitely go out of your way to see both of them, but if we’re picking for this column then I have to go with the latter. Yes it has Pólvora losing, but the match is so good that I can’t help it. It might be one of my favorite matches ever honestly; just a whole lot of nonstop action, a great pace and some of the best offense ever from both guys. It’s an eye opener, especially when you see both guys work in CMLL circa 2016 where the restrictions are at an all time high. The freedom here is profound and thus so is the match quality. A tour de force of lucha was this contest.
I look at Pólvora and it makes me realize just how great the talent pool in lucha libre is these days. Before doing this column and looking into him my thought was that Pólvora was a nice, solid luchador to have around but not someone on the level of such rudos like his partner, Euforia, Hechicero and others. I was wrong. Yeah he may not be Hechicero good (who is really?) but hot damn; Pólvora is a friggin grade A talent when given the opportunity. Watch his matches with Titán, Dorada, Valiente and Mistico and you’ll see. This is a luchador who can not only hang with these guys, catch these guys and even fly with them occasionally but can deliver crushing offense all along the way. And hot damn that crossbody; I’ve seen some crossbody’s in my day but Pólvora’s is devastating when the technico is in the right position, almost like something out of the early days of Shawn Michaels (and no, I’m not saying Pólvora is HBK good). Maybe it’s because he’s always been stuck behind more charismatic, more notable stars in stables or maybe it’s because it’s been awhile since Pólvora really got a shot to be this fun, exciting rudo in the same way others are. Hopefully this Dragón Lee match serves as a way to remind people, or at least makes people want to go watch Pólvora when he was having these awesome matches back in the day. I know I did and I was pretty blown away at times. You’re pretty cool Pólvora! Be cool this Monday night for us all alright?
That’s a wrap sports fans. Hope you enjoyed this look at an underrated luchador. I’ll return tomorrow to break down his match with Dragón Lee and the rest of the CMLL Puebla card airing this Monday on YouTube. Till then, stop; DUCHOVNY time!