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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 11:48 AM Thread Starter
The Loose Cannon
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Finally Classic wrestling!!!

Introducing: TITO SANTANA

I used to love Tito Santana, Arrriiiiiba, he was a top notch performer.

His career "heydey" spanned 3 decades and Tito is still performing on the independant circuit aged nearly 60!

Vince was so high on Tito Santana that he put him on first at the first ever Wrestlemania and he won his match.

Interesting fact: Tito Santana, along with Hulk Hogan was the only performer to be at all of the first 9 Wrestlemanias.

He was instrumental in transitioning the WWE from its Glory days of the Rock and Wrestling connection 80's into the new era of the 90's.

Then in a cross roads moment of his career, Tito was in line for a WWE championship run as they were considering expanding into central America. Having Tito, who was a huge latino star as champion would aid there cause. But, they decided to expand into Canada and the title was put on Bret Hart.

It goes to show that if you're not in their plans, you will be given a lame gimmick and become a jobber.

Introducing "jobber to the stars" El Matador.

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 11:52 AM
The legend never dies
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god i miss old wrestling, rick rude, rick the model martel, earthquake, hulk hogan, mr perfect, lod, demolition, powers of pain, ricky steamboat, savage, warrior, so many great names

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by legendmaker2 View Post
god i miss old wrestling, rick rude, rick the model martel, earthquake, hulk hogan, mr perfect, lod, demolition, powers of pain, ricky steamboat, savage, warrior, so many great names
I hear ya, man. Now, we have been reduced to nothing but electricians and sidewalk junkies fighting for the WWE championship.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 02:43 PM
Bossing Around Jobbers
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Tito claims that they considered putting the WWF title on him in 1992 (instead of Bret). By 1992, though, his career was in the shits and there was no fucking way they were gonna put the belt on him. He was jobbed out so severely, so frequently, and so convincingly that he looked like the second biggest loser on the roster (just behind Virgil).

It's a shame because I kind of enjoyed Santana when they actually used him.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 02:49 PM
Making James Ellsworth GET MY BAGS
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Tito Santana was a great ring worker, but I don't think he was ever good enough on the mic to carry the world championship. I do think its sad he was reduced to "El Matador" though, it was an awful stereotypical gimmick that was way below what he deserved. I think Tito is one of those guys like Perfect, Piper, Roberts & DiBiase that just came along during the Hogan Era and regardless of how over or awesome he was Vince was never going to move in their direction with the strap.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 03:05 PM
Making James Ellsworth GET MY BAGS
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I found an interesting story on the NY Times (2/21/2009) about Tito Santana:

IN “The Wrestler,” Mickey Rourke plays Randy (The Ram) Robinson, a big-time pro wrestler from the 1980s who has bought himself a one-way ticket to Palookaville. By the time we see him in the 2000s, Randy the Ram is: middle-aged, divorced and alone; estranged from his only daughter; working part time at a supermarket; living in a trailer in New Jersey that he’s constantly being locked out of because he can’t make the rent; and shooting up his battered body with steroids so he can continue wrestling weekends on a local circuit.
I loved Mr. Rourke’s performance, which has made
him a front-runner for the best actor Oscar tonight.
But it made me wonder. Is this how big-time
wrestlers wind up in middle age?

And so, I went looking for a real-life star from the
1980s, and in the very same state, found Tito
Santana, who at 55 still wrestles on the local circuit.
One recent Saturday night, I watched him fight the
Kodiak Bear at St. Patrick School in Bay Ridge,
Brooklyn, before 600 fans happily downing $2

It was a long way from Mr. Santana’s heyday, when
he won the World Wrestling Federation’s
Intercontinental title, and ranked close behind Hulk
Hogan. In 1987, he wrestled before 93,000 during
WrestleMania III, at the Silverdome in Michigan. He
toured Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, England,
spending 340 days a year on the road.
He saw “The Wrestler” and found it true to life.
Drugs? “We’d get a pay advance every night, and it
was such a grueling job a lot of guys turned to
drugs. When we flew to a new place, the dealers
were waiting for us — pain pills, steroids, pot,
cocaine.” Loneliness? “I spent 12 years on the road,
visiting and stopping over at my home when I
could. Christmas, New Year’s, we wrestled. My wife
raised our sons. I’d say 90 percent of wrestlers I
knew were married a second time or more. Lots of

Mr. Santana knew wrestlers like Mickey Rourke’s
character, but he did not turn out that way. He has
been married 27 years and is close to his sons.
One’s a Princeton grad doing human rights work;
another is about to graduate from law school; the
youngest is finishing at James Madison University.
The family lives in a handsome home here on three wooded acres atop a hill. He teaches Spanish at Eisenhower Middle School and coaches boys’
basketball, while his wife runs their hair salon,
Santana’s. He is, in short, the antithesis of “The
Wrestler.” Through the craziness of the pro circuit,
he hung on to a set of values — family, education,
frugality, hard work — that enabled him to reach
middle age whole. This story doesn’t have the
edginess to be a major motion picture coming soon to a theater near you. Battered middle-aged men may provide filmgoers with a much-needed
catharsis. But if you’ve seen Mr. Rourke in “The
Wrestler,” or Anthony Quinn in “Requiem for a
Heavyweight,” or Marlon Brando in “On the
Waterfront” and wondered if they really coulda
been somebody, the answer is: yes, Tito Santana.
Born Merced Solis in Mission, Tex., to Mexican-
American migrant laborers, he started working at
age 7, picking asparagus in Illinois, cherries in
Wisconsin, cotton in Texas. Until ninth grade, he
never attended school full time, but that year, his
mother stood up to his father so her son could get
an education. He finished high school, won a
football scholarship to West Texas A&M and after
graduating, played pro football in Canada for two
years. A former teammate got him his first wrestling job.

He reached the top circuit in 1979, averaging $
300,000 a year for a decade, although, he said, he
never had a written contract. “You couldn’t take a
day off. If you did — they could get rid of you.”
He said Vince McMahon Jr., chairman of what is
now called World Wrestling Entertainment,
controlled the scripts, deciding “who will win and
who will make the millions.” As Tito Santana, he was cast as a good guy, always ranking between the middle and top. Asked why he was given such a good role, Mr. Santana said: “I was a very
dependable person. In the 12 years, I missed just
twice, once when I asked permission to be with my
wife for the delivery of our second baby, and once I
was snowed in. They knew I wouldn’t get busted for drugs. I wasn’t involved the way a lot of wrestlers were. I had a good attitude, I was agile, plus, I was Hispanic, and they needed ethnics.”

Robert Zimmerman, a spokesman for the wrestling
organization, called Mr. Santana “an incredible
performer and even better person.” As for drug
use, he said, there has been a screening program
for the last decade.

Tito Santana wasn’t as flashy as some. Randy
(Macho Man) Savage had a signature move where
he’d climb to the top of the turnbuckle, jump and
land on his hip. “Now he has hip trouble,” Mr.
Santana said. “I always took educated bumps.”
After matches, “if I was within 300 miles, I drove
home. I wanted to wake up in my bed and see my
kids. That’s probably what saved my marriage.”
“Tito called me and the boys three times a day,” said his wife, Leah. “I understood his business.”
“She knew every dime was accounted for,” he said.
“He was very frugal,” Mrs. Solis said.
“I got home, I wasn’t Tito,” he said, “I was Merced
with my kids.”
“He did the diapers, the baths, he took over when
he was home,” Mrs. Solis said.

Though he thought he had many years left, he
retired from World Wrestling in 1993. In his heyday,
they wrote scripts for him with long-running feuds
against Mr. Wonderful, Rick Martel, Greg (The
Hammer) Valentine. “They weren’t giving me good
feuds anymore, they wouldn’t give me a story line,”
he said. “A lot of my friends had been let go. They
were bringing in new characters. I went to Vince
McMahon. I said, ‘It’s time for me to go.’ He said, ‘I
think you’re right.’ ”

He wrestled weekends on a smaller circuit and was
a substitute teacher. Then he earned his
certification, and for 12 years has taught full time.
He works out, is in great shape and still does a
dozen matches a year. “I enjoy it,” he said. At the
recent Brooklyn event, he set up his briefcase at a
table in the back of the hall beforehand, selling
hundreds of dollars of Tito paraphernalia, including autographed photos for $10.
Many performers were half his age, and the man he was wrestling, the Kodiak Bear (actually Tom Casola, a computer technician from New Jersey) kept calling him “sir.”

Just as in “The Wrestler,” Tito, Kodiak and the ref,
Vincent Romano, worked out a scenario for the
match. “His manager’s going to hit me with a
foreign object,” Mr. Santana said. “But I’m going to
beat him with my flying forearm. I’ll hit the opposite ropes, I’ll fly across the ring, and catch him in the neck with an elbow. Some nights I get up in the air better than others — sometimes my elbow only reaches the guy’s belly button.”

Before going out, the wrestlers were examined by
Dr. John Sayad, a cardiologist, whose eyes widened
when he read Mr. Santana’s blood pressure: 110
over 84. “You’re the coolest one here,” the
cardiologist said.

“Making his way to the ring,” cried the announcer,
“the legendary Tito Santana.”
“Tito! Tito! Tito!” The match lasted 15 minutes, with Kodiak pulling every dirty trick in the book, including a head butt tothe groin — totally illegal, as the crowd pointed out.

Somehow, when things looked darkest, Tito pulled
himself off the canvas, bounced off the ropes, and
with that flying forearm, stunned and then pinned
his opponent, jumping to his feet to the ding, ding,
ding of the final bell, and shouting his signature
victory cry, “Arriba!”

In “The Wrestler,” Mickey Rourke is so spent after a
match, he collapses from a heart attack.
After this match, Mr. Santana said: “I didn’t break a
sweat. I don’t work that hard anymore.”
In “The Wrestler,” Mr. Rourke takes his pay and
heads to a topless bar, where he tries to pick up
Marisa Tomei, a good-hearted pole dancer.
After this match, Mr. Santana took the $900 he
made from souvenir sales and the bout, and before midnight, was home to his three acres on the hill and his wife of 27 years.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 12:37 AM
I hope Neil Young will remember......
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Honestly I never liked Tito...he did not have the charisma to be anything more than a mid card face.

His career singles highlight was probably his Don Muraco fued, or maybe his Butch Reed fued? Am I forgetting a fued? Did he have a run with Valentine? The thing about Tito was that everytime he wrestled I found the heels much more likable.

Of course he did have his run in "Strikeforce", which was a snorefest....

To each his own, one of my best friends in high school loved Tito.

His claim that the WWE almost made him champ is laughable. He was only really over as a contender for a short period of time...like I don't know 82? But 10 years later he was already a glorified jobber.

I will give him his due he was a great worker, and popular with an element of the fanbase,but not WWF heavyweight champion material.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 12:40 AM
Tag Teaming With James Ellsworth
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Wrestlemania VIII was the show that made me fall in love with wrestling at the age of 5. The first match on that card? Shawn Michaels vs. "El Matador" Tito Santana!
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 12:48 AM
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I never was a big TITO fan but his 07/28/1990 SNME IC title match with Mr. Perfect is very good. Thing is I really like the match because of Perfect. Perfect bumps all over the place for Tito. There are several false finishes and each one totally worked for me. It still works after watching three or four times later. The match is built on not only keeping the audience on the edge but also for Perfect's title reign. I never got a connection with Tito's character or work as an individual talent. I find myself having to love the other guy's work more to get into a Tito match like his matches with Savage.

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 12:13 PM
Bossing Around Jobbers
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I always liked the guy, think if it had not been for Hogan's massive face run during the 80's the guy could have been a world champ. Shame his WWE run ended with him doing the El Matador gimmick.

Courtesy of yours truly
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