Name: Mil Mascaras
Year Inducted: 2010

Mil Mascaras

From his native Mexico to the rest of the world, the man of a thousand masks wielded an enormous influence. Mil Mascaras helped to popularize the lucha libre style in the United States and Japan, and spawned a generation of spinoffs from Jushin Liger to Ultimo Dragon and beyond. "When I was in eighth grade, I wore a mask that I designed for an event during a school festival. I designed it after Mascaras," Satoru Sayama, the original Tiger Mask, told Weekly Gong in 1995. "The reason I started wrestling was [Antonio] Inoki-san, but Mil Mascaras was always on my mind." Aaron Rodriguez Arellano, who grew up in Mexico idolizing El Santo, wrestled as an amateur before he became Mascaras in 1964 and emerged as a movie and cultural hero. In 1968, he ventured for the first time to Los Angeles, which became one of his strongest cities in North America. He also appeared regularly in Texas, where he had an enormous Latin fan base. "I could put Mil in the [Dallas] Sportatorium, or the Houston Coliseum, or the [Dallas] Reunion Arena, and put him with a top guy, and the Mexicans would turn out in droves, and the Anglos liked him too," said Gary Hart, who helped to book those cities for years. Among his top U.S. achievements were holding, and never losing, the International Wrestling Association world title, and working as the first fully masked man in Madison Square Garden. In Japan, the immortal Destroyer (Dick Beyer) was perhaps his greatest foe. "He was the best competitor that I ever wrestled," Beyer said when the Cauliflower Alley Club honored Mascaras in 2006. "He never gave you anything “it's true“ but I didn't give him anything either." Now 67, Mascaras has showed few signs of slowing down. He took on the Aztec Mummy in a 2007 movie, and a sequel is in the works.

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