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LuchaPalooza! Mascara Sagrada Tribute
Since the beginning of Lucha Underground the Lucha Kliq has gotten to know a young man by the name of Mascarita Sagrada. Though it hasn’t been smooth sailing for him and he recently was replaced by Dr. Wagner Jr. as Famous B’s prized client, Mascarita (the only mini in the Temple to this point) has gotten noticed by fans for his underdog nature, his high flying and a super cool look; a look that he inherited from a famous luchador of a boom period long gone. That’s why we’re here today folks because I’d like to talk about the man who was the inspiration for Mascarita Sagrada. Most of you probably don’t remember him. Those who do will remember a tall, fascinating creature who once upon a time was mentioned in the same breath as many luchadors we consider legends today. So grab a Pepsi, stop reading those BOLA and King of Trios preview I released (they aren’t going anywhere) and please; get comfortable. This is a Lucha Tribute for the legend you missed, the man with the sacred mask and the reason for Mascarita Sagrada and all the Mascarita Sagrada’s before him, Máscara Sagrada.
What You Already Know
If you’re new to lucha libre, a Lucha Underground fan only or none of the above the only thing you’ll know about Máscara Sagrada is that he exists. How else could there be a Mascarita Sagrada without a Máscara Sagrada right? Lifelong lucha libre fans however will recall Sagrada competed for every major lucha libre promotion available, including CMLL, IWRG, UWA and most notably AAA. His run in the latter, from the promotion’s beginnings to 1997, is where Sagrada achieved his greatest notoriety and at the time he was arguably just as big a star as the Konnan’s, Mysterio’s, La Parka’s, Guerrera’s and Gringos Locos’ of the world. It was also the place that nuked his career following a dispute with Antonio Peña that saw Sagrada leave AAA and watch his momentum slip away while he fought AAA in the courts for years. As far as I can tell, he’s the only luchador in history to have copyright issues with AAA that won in court. So there is that. Plus he didn’t need to interrupt an autograph signing with armed bodyguards to prove his point, unlike some disgraced luchadors we know.
What You Didn’t Know
As with seemingly every luchador to walk this mortal coil, Máscara Sagrada did not just become Máscara Sagrada. He would make his debut as a luchador in 1978 after training with several different luchadors, including Villano I and Antonio Peña’s uncle Espectro I, but not under the name Sagrada name. Instead he was known as Hecatombe, Spanish for “Disaster or “Massacre”. Depends on which translate site you use. Sagrada actually had a pretty successful run under the name, winning several titles in the Naucalpan area and even getting some spots on UWA and CMLL cards. The latter would bring him aboard in 1987 and Sagrada dropped his Hecatombe gimmick in favor of becoming Magico. Let’s just say Magico didn’t turn out quite as good as Hecatombe, as Sagrada failed to really make a mark under the name and ultimately lost it when Espectro’s nephew Peña brought in an indie worker who was also named Magico and gave him full rights to the name. The good news; at least Sagrada was kept around during this dark period under the name Hombre Sin Nombre, which is Spanish for “Man with No Name”, officially making him the second greatest Man with No Name in recorded history. Actually he might be the first now considering Clint Eastwood has lost his mind.
But Peña, at the beginnings of one of the greatest creative runs in history, wasn’t just going to let Sagrada disappear. Peña would in fact use the “Man with No Name” persona as a transition to Sagrada’s new character, one that was inspired by and created to empower the sanctity of the mask. And so Máscara Sagrada (Spanish for “The Sacred Mask”) was born and boy was he cool. Gone was…whatever Sagrada looked like as Hecatombe and Magico (I couldn’t find any pictures) and in its place was a costume that looked like a cross between the most bad ass space alien ever and the coolest Power Ranger ever. Those who have seen Mascarita Sagrada know what I’m talking about and the costume worked even better on Sagrada, helped even more so by him being taller than many of his peers. Needless to say the look, the character and Sagrada’s skill made him an instant success; he became one of CMLL’s top technicos and even a movie star for a time, starring alongside fellow breakout star and future autograph disruptor Octagón in Octagón y Máscara Sagrada, lucha a muerte (Octagón and Máscara Sagrada in Fight to the Death). The film would eventually lead to an alliance between the two and fellow budding movie star Atlantis, and the three would eventually go onto win the Mexican National Trios Championships as Los Moviestars in 1991 (they lost them a few months later). The best part of all this; Octagón y Máscara Sagrada, lucha a muerte is actually available on YouTube and you can watch the whole thing after you read this! Although perhaps you won’t want to if you go by the IMDB user review I read a few minutes ago.
Despite Sagrada’s success, he never quite got to the level you’d expect considering his popularity thanks to long documented power struggle between Peña (who was pushing for guys like Sagrada and Konnan to be top stars) and Juan Herrera, who preferred people like Sagrada’s partner Atlantis. Hence when Peña bolted CMLL to start AAA Sagrada was one of the first to follow him and instantly became one of the top attractions of the promotion. His biggest feud during this time was with the famous Los Gringos Locos stable, specifically Black Cat. While not as famous as Konnan, Eddie Guerrero or Art Barr (at the time or now), Black Cat was himself an amazing performer and he and Sagrada would go on to have numerous classic matches. The most notable took place at Triplemania II-B in the Estadio Olímpico Benito Juarez, where Sagrada defeated Cat in a mask vs. mask match. It’s considered to be one of the greatest mask matches ever (I talked about it some in my greatest mask vs. mask matches column) and Dave Meltzer absolutely loves it; I mean he loved the whole event but he really loved this match, giving it one of the highest ratings ever for a lucha libre match. The rivalry only helped to grow Sagrada’s popularity and he was soon so beloved that there were more versions of the character than there where Michael Keaton’s in Multiplicity. Peña had brought Mascarita Sagrada with him from CMLL and also created a Máscara Sagrada Jr., a supposed relative of Sagrada, earlier in AAA’s tenure. Everywhere you go there was a Máscara Sagrada. It was cool.
It also became a problem, as Sagrada grew frustrated with the second Sagrada mooching off his good name. He also was mysteriously kept off some of AAA’s biggest shows, including the famous When Worlds Collide event that pretty much featured every big name luchador in AAA besides him. Sagrada rode it out for a few years before eventually learning that he was being screwed out of money thanks to a secret deal between AAA and Televisa that gave Televisa the rights to Sagrada’s name and all royalty payments that would’ve gone to him (Sagrada only learned of this info because he was made a controller of AAA by Peña, alongside Super Muñeco). That was the last straw and Sagrada hasn’t been seen in AAA since other than an AAA co-produced show that took place in Kansas back in 2007. AAA would use several different guys under the Máscara Sagrada gimmick (including current CMLL star Kráneo), but none ever approached the same level of success as the original. It’s unknown if Peña and Sagrada ever reconciled before Peña died in 2006 (their legal issues had ended a year before when Sagrada won the rights to his name) but I would guess not. It’s such a shame if they didn’t as Sagrada and Peña did so much for both lucha libre and each other. A sad fact of life I suppose.
Sagrada has kept busy since leaving AAA however. He was allowed back into CMLL and wrestled there on and off for ten years, notably having a feud with Fishman and his family that saw him unmask the legend and lose his hair to his son Fishman Jr. The loss of his hair to the younger Fishman is the only time Sagrada has ever lost a Lucha de Apuesta match and also serves as an oddity that Sagrada would lose his hair but not his mask. Through his time with CMLL he got involved in IWRG, then working as a developmental promotion for Paco Alonso and co. Sagrada would eventually find himself a home in IWRG and continues to wrestle there to this day, most recently taking part in a ten-way cage match this past April. He is joined by his son, El Hijo del Máscara Sagrada, who looks just like him during his younger days (only somehow taller) and judging from the quick clips I saw looks to be pretty good. It may not be what it used to be, but it seems as though Sagrada has found himself a nice place to wind down his career while continuing to do the thing he loves the most. He can also take comfort in the fact that he wasn’t the only Sagrada screwed around. Eventually the original Mascarita Sagrada would have the same issues with AAA as his larger counterpart, which has led to there being a total of five Mascarita Sagrada’s in recorded history (one of whom went on to become El Torito in WWE). I think the thing to take away from this folks is that everyone loved that Máscara Sagrada gimmick, and loved it just maybe a little too much.
The correct answer is the one Sagrada had with Black Cat at Triplemania II-B and I’d love to show it to you. Sadly I cannot, because there is no footage of the match out there at all aside from some brief clips in Rob Viper’s video montage of the show (I’ll include the footage, don’t worry). The match is otherwise lost or is waiting for someone to load it up onto the internet one day (looking at you AAA). Because those two had such a great rivalry though it would seem unfitting to go with another match, so in the Triplemania II-B match’s place I’m going to show you about between Sagrada and Cat just a few days before their famed mask vs. mask bout. I’m fairly certain it’s not on the same level as the one a few days later, but it’s really good and a great peek at the chemistry both men had together. It also features Art Barr and a very young and very not rudo El Tirantes as referee if you enjoy that thing. Oh and then there’s that ending that may or may not have played an important part on Sagrada’s condition going into the big Triplemania match.
I imagine there’s some alternate universe out there where Máscara Sagrada’s star doesn’t fade after those first few years in CMLL/AAA and he’s become one of the most recognizable legends in lucha libre. Instead he’s now remembered more so as the guy who was the inspiration for the gimmick that several of the greatest mini luchadors of all time held. What a shame because for a time Máscara Sagrada was one of the biggest names in lucha libre and one of its best performers. Hell he was a movie star! It just goes to show you how much that long legal battle with AAA hurt his career. And that’s with him being the only one who did defeat AAA in court. The truth is while he was victorious there the cost of him being left out of the spotlight for so long led to him becoming an afterthought, a guy who was once great but is now forgotten while his peers like L.A. Park have continued to grow their legacy. Again it’s just a shame. Here’s a positive though; at the end of the day Máscara Sagrada can look back and know that at least for a little while he was a huge star in and out of the ring, he had some memorable encounters and his influence lives on today thanks to the memorable character that he essayed all those years ago. I cannot speak for the man but I think he’s a-okay with that. Hopefully his son follows in his footsteps and has a long career, potentially with him bringing the Máscara Sagrada name back into the spotlight. You never know; stranger things have happened in lucha libre. You know, like Sagrada’s former co-star holding up an autograph signing. But I digress.
That’ll do it folks. I’m off to go watch Octagon y Máscara Sagrada, lucha a muerte and I might even review it later. Regardless you’ll see more work from me today whether it’s that or something else. Till then, how about a screenshot from the movie?! A little taste can never hurt.