Blue Panther was born on September 18, 1960 in Gómez Palacio. After getting trained first by Héctor López (a local wrestler that never made it to Mexico City), and later by El Halcón Suriano, he made his professional debut on October 8 of 1978 in his hometown at age eighteen.
The "panther" part of his name obviously comes from the animal, while the "blue" part is a tribute to his childhood idol Anibal who also had a blue mask. He actually designed his own mask, a hood that some journalists laughed at, saying that "a guy with a mask as ugly as that one will never get past the undercards". But seeing the way Blue Panther's career went, it looks like many of those writers had to eat their own words.
During his rookie year, Panther already was a better technician and smarter wrestler than many guys with more experience than him. A year after his debut he started to wrestle for René Guajardo, who was the booker of the Northern Mexico division. He went there with a recommendation from his coach Halcón Suriano.
Even though he was the Northern Light Heavyweight champion (he had defeated Chucho Mar in Gómez Palacio to get that title), Guajardo had never heard of him, but when he saw him in action he was nothing but impressed. Panther made his Mexico City debut on September 16, 1979. Guajardo saw all the potential and talent in the young boy and booked him regularly in Monterrey for several months and gave him a small mid-card push and the masks of two wrestlers called La Bestia and Oro (not the legendary Oro that died in 1993).
Due to his ties with Guajardo, who was a UWA associate, he got to work for Francisco Flores, and later Carlos Maynes for more than a decade. Panther made his Toreo de Cuatro Caminos (the main UWA building) debut on March 18. He started out his career as a técnico but now they made him wrestle as a rudo.
Panther's first big title match was when in 1982 he got a UWA Middleweight title shot against Centurión Negro in his hometown of Gómez Palacio. He actually defeated Centurión in the third fall via submission, but he "didn't know" that his opponent had already submit and the referee reversed the decision and Centurión kept the belt.
But it was 1984 when he finally got his big break. He had a good winning streak and he was promoted as number one contender for the UWA Welterweight title, and on December 16, 1984, he defeated El Matemático to win the first major title on his career. But that year Panther got other trophy's. He unmasked Gorila Infernal, Luzbel and Bull Power, and also Las Sombras de Plata (I/II) teaming with Black Man on November 20. Also on June 24, he got the hair of El Brillante at La Arena Querétaro in Querétaro, Qro. Years later, El Brillante would become popular as the masked Kendo.
Now he was getting booked more regularly un the undercards (first or second match of the night) of the weekly cards at El Toreo, mostly teaming with Negro Casas against other light weights like Black Man, Kendo, Ultraman or El Hijo del Santo. Even back then, Panther was one of the men that provided one of the most solid bases to the athletic flyers, making them look better than they are.
On February 9, 1986, Panther lost the UWA Welterweight title to Black Man in Mexico City, but a week later, he got his revenge in that same building after defeating Black Man in a mask vs. mask match. Panther moved on from the Welterweight division and on November 16 he defeated El Gran Hamada at El Toreo to win the UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Title.
On September 16 of the same year Panther lost the title to the indian chief Gran Cochisse, and around that time he started to wrestle regularly for EMLL as well, though he had already made spot appearances at Arena Mexico and Arena Coliseo in the past.
In 1990 he opened his own gym and became the youngest maestro of lucha libre at the time. A lot of the wrestlers who signed up for his gym were actually women, so he also became the first teacher that trained men and women at the same time. In that same year, Panther also had his first Japanese tour competing for Gran Hamada's Universal Pro Wrestling.
Panther jumped full-time to EMLL in July 1991 and his first feud there was with another great wrestler, Atlantis, who was the NWA Middleweight champion at the time. Both men had an excellent title match in August in which Atlantis retained his title but Blue Panther surprised everyone and even though he lost, he came off looking better than his opponent. This classic match MADE Blue Panther a big star. The plans of the EMLL staff was having them continue the feud and then have them battle in a mask vs. mask match. Supposedly, Panther had already agreed to drop the mask, but then the wrestlers' strike hit and when it finished the feud was dropped.
EMLL created its own CMLL titles, and on December 18, Panther made Satanico submit to la tapatía in the tournament final for the vacant title, held in Acapulco. Panther was never defeated for that title but vacated it on May of the following year when he jumped to AAA.
Panther's last money match in CMLL was the first big battle of perhaps his most memorable feud ever, the one against the cocky American wrestler Love Machine. They had been feuding basically since the end of the strike in late 91, and the first stage of the feud culminated on April 3, 1992 when both men battled in a mask vs. mask match that sold-out Arena Mexico. As we can guess, Panther won that match after Machine was disqualified for using a martinete (Tombstone piledriver). The angle here was that Machine didn't know that the tombstone is a banned move, because in his country you can use it freely without being DQ'd.
Going into the business side of things, that match sold-out the building as mentioned - drawing 18,000 fans to the arena, and with 8,000 more fans waiting outside. CMLL had an awful past experience with the Rayo de Jalisco Jr. vs. Cien Caras mask vs. mask match as the enraged fans that couldn't get into the arena broke through the gates and damaged everything they could, causing damage that took around a month to repair. The building was overcrowded enough (Arena México "officially" holds 17,678 fans) but management set up a closed-circuit set of giant screens so everybody could watch the match.
Panther was one of the first to jump to AAA as soon as it was born (May) because when in EMLL he was in Peña's "clique". Love Machine jumped shortly thereafter and he resumed his feud with Panther, culminating in a mask vs. hair match held on July 18, 93 in Tonala, Jalisco. Before that one, Panther also had a rivalry with "El Comandante" Vulcano, the leader of the Los Destructores Del Ring trio, with Panther taking Vulcano's hair in a disappointing match.
Most of his AAA stay was based around him holding a title (National Middleweight) and getting all kinds of talented tecnicos to challenge him for it. To nobody's surprise, many of those matches (especially the ones against Angel Azteca, Mariachi/Solar and Super Astro) rank among the best lucha title matches of the 90s.
In 1995, when the peso went down and there was less work in AAA Fuerza Guerrera and Panther created the independent promotion PROMELL, and got some AAA guys to jump, plus they used old UWA stars and independent talent including some big names like Mascara Año 2000, Universo 2000, Vampiro, Villanos and Brazos. AAA and PROMELL co-promoted until December of that year, so Panther obviously stopped working for AAA as well.
Panther and Fuerza wrestled briefly for EMLL in 1996, but then they left as soon as they re-started PROMELL that eventually became Promo Azteca. After lots of problems, Promo closed as well, so Panther returned to AAA on July 11, 1997. As soon as he arrived, he was put in a feud with Máscara Sagrada Jr.
Panther didn't like Sagrada (as a wrestler) and felt that he was not the a good opponent so three months later (October 17) he went to EMLL again. Shortly thereafter he participated in EMLL's Copa Victoria tournament and lost the finals against his old enemy Atlantis on December 5.
Blue Panther just kept wrestling in EMLL without a really hot feud or anything, but he was always on top of the cards due to his charisma and incredible wrestling ability.
On December of 1998, he formed a rudo dream team with his nephew Black Warrior and Dr. Wagner Jr., and the 18th they defeated Zumbido, Bestia Salvaje and Scorpio Jr. in the finals of a 2-week tournament for the vacant CMLL Trios Titles. "Los Laguneros" (name of their team) from then started having excellent matches against teams like Santo, Casas & Felino, or Charles Jr., Niebla & Atlantis.
On April 2, 1999, Panther teamed with Ultimo Guerrero (a guy he discovered) to win the one-night Gran Alternativa (a youngster and a veteran) tournament at Arena Coliseo, defeating Mr. Niebla and Atlántico in the finals.
During 1999, Panther put over talented youngsters like Mr. Niebla and Olímpico in clean scientific matches. So it's not that he's got a big ego and he doesn't like youngsters like many other veterans do, he just refuses to put over in singles matches wrestlers he thinks that don't deserve it, or he wouldn't have a big feud with somebody without a real amateur background that can't work a matwork based match.
He spent most of the 2000 having great trios matches with Wagner and Warrior, and having a singles feud with El Hijo del Santo trading the WWA Welterweight Title with him, and he was also used as a challenger in several championship bouts (vs. Ringo Mendoza for CMLL Middleweight, vs. Villano III for CMLL Light Heayvweight, vs. Super Parka for WWA Junior Light Heayvweight) because the promoters know that he excels at that kind of matches.
There is no doubt that Blue Panther is one of the best wrestlers to ever grace lucha libre. He is able to carry any green luchador and make him look good, he can have great matches with average opposition, and he always has excellent or classic matches when facing a great opponent. He's one of the smartest minds in all of wrestling and probably the best mat based wrestler in the business, he's versatile (excellent rudo, excellent tecnico) and undoubtedly a young legend and a future hall of famer.
Overview of Candidacy For The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame
1. Was he ever regarded as the best draw in the world? Was he ever regarded as the best draw in his country or his promotion?
No to both.
2. Was he an international draw, national draw and/or regional draw?
He never was an international draw (even when AAA drew big in LA and he main evented, he was not the draw). On the national level, while he had some short periods where he was drawing really well in singles matches, he had the benefit of working in hot promotions with super draws (Cien Caras, Perro Aguayo, Konnan). He was a main event player during his whole AAA stay, but a lot of the time in a "supporting role" as a guy who you could stick in a team with Cien Caras and Fishman (a team we saw often during the early years of AAA) so he'd carry the workload of his team. But his program with Love Machine worked great in two different promotions, and his run in a trio with the Guerreras, or Fuerza and Psicosis, were very productive on the house show level. But that was the tale of AAA's "Konnan era" as almost anything you threw on top would draw great numbers for the "regular" shows, and you had Konnan, Aguayo, Cien, sometimes Jake Roberts, and sometimes huge mask matches, bringing in the big crowds for the special shows.
3. How many years did he have as a top draw?
He never was a top draw.
4. Was he ever regarded as the best worker in the world? Was he ever regarded as the best worker in his country or in his promotion?
He was never really regarded as the best worker in the world. On the other hand, he's been consistently regarded as the best worker in his promotion and country from 1991 to perhaps year 2000, except for a couple of years in the mid 90s where many would position Eddy Guerrero, Rey Misterio Jr., Psicosis or Juventud Guerrera above him in terms of work. The only ones I'd consider better than him are Guerrero in 1994 and Misterio and Guerrera in 95-96 (Eddy was not working in Mexico). Also there's a strong case for Negro Casas and Dandy in 1991 and 1992, but it's still very close and opinion more than anything else. I'd not argue much with anybody defending either side.
Nowadays he doesn't have the benefit of a huge TV push at Arena Mexico, which hurts his visibility, so most people would place Shocker and Ultimo Guerrero over him, as well as Santo and Black Tiger, and probably Rey Bucanero.
5. Was he ever the best worker in his class (sex or weight)? Was he ever one of the top workers in his class?
In the 80s he was a middleweight and there was some better guys in Mexico alone, such as El Dandy and Emilio Charles. If we are counting as classes the "heavyweights" and the "junior heavyweights" only, several Japanese like Takada would rank above him, not to mention Mexicans like Negro Casas, Fuerza Guerrera or Hijo del Santo in lower weight classes. 1990 probably was the year when he started getting noticed by "the hardcores", but the usual suspects still were better. In 1991 he got noticed by the "mainstream" audience and I'd say he arguably was the best in Mexico for single matches, but Negro Casas (a middleweight by then) had better night-in and night-out output. In 1992 and 1993 he definitely was the best in Mexico (though some, like Steve Sims, would probably make a strong case for Fuerza in 1991-92). Whether he was or wasn't the best the rest of the years, as said, is more debatable. However, that he was one of the top 2-3 workers in his class is something almost universally agreed.
6. How many years did he have as a top worker?
Blue Panther could be considered excellent from 1984 to 1990, and a top worker from 1991 to 2000. As said, the last couple of years he hasn't been on TV as much and that has hurt his visibility, but quality has not dropped, and does not look to be dropping.
7. Was he a good worker before his prime? Was he a good worker after his prime?
Blue Panther's prime would be something like 1991-93, though some would say his 94-95 AAA work was better. Either way, he always was not only good, but a great worker. His first "real" exposure was 1984 in El Toreo in preliminary or welterweight/lightweight matches (he was a welterweight) usually teaming with people like Negro Casas, Black Terry, Jose Feliciano and facing people like El Hijo del Santo, Black Man, Matematico and Kendo. His work back then was already getting rave reviews in the magazines. Three years later he was having a really hot run in El Toreo and Tijuana carrying athletic guys with Kato Kung Lee/Super Kendo gimmicks that couldn't work a lick, to very good technical matches. In 1990, he was often the second worker of the team whenever he teamed with Negro Casas and Fuerza Guerrera (quite compliment, since Casas was an unbelievable worker then and Fuerza wasn't too bad either). After his prime, he's steadily been a top 5 worker in Mexico.
8. Did he have a large body of excellent matches? Did he have a excellent matches against a variety of opponents?
Definitely. Excellent singles matches with Solar I in three different decades, Hijo del Santo, Super Astro, Angel Azteca and Atlantis among others. His only disappointing big profile singles matches that I can recall have been with Octagon (loaded) and Vulcano (pretty good rudo brawler, but couldn't work the technical style).
9. Did he ever anchor his promotion(s)?
Not really. He was featured in the "main program" of the promotion once in his career, vs. Love Machine in CMLL. When they did it in AAA, they headlined, but there was other feuds drawing the big show money. He was never put in a real position to anchor his promotion.
10. Was he effective when pushed at the top of cards?
I'd say so. He was always carried the work when he was thrown in as a support main event player, always got his opponent (and himself) over when he had to in singles matches, drew when he was in a position to and was effective working angles both as a rudo and as a tecnico. Problem is perception, and he isn't big enough (size) to be like an Universo 2000 or Rayo de Jalisco figure, so he sometimes was relegated to semi-final or third match of the card positions.
11. Was he valuable to his promotion before his prime? Was he still valuable to his promotion after his prime?
Yes in both cases. Somebody with his name value, charisma and work quality is always a valuable player. He's an eternal favorite of the hardcore fans anywhere in Mexico, who happen to be the louder ones, too. He's somebody who can be thrown in at any moment in a main event and deliver even if the opposition is not good.
12. Did he have an impact on a number of strong promotional runs?
The first stage of his feud with Love Machine was during the CMLL TV boom, and it the second stage caught AAA's even bigger success. Since so many people saw it and it was a brilliantly booked feud, it caught so much fire that within short time it was elevated to legendary status, and it's a wonderful nostalgia moment to any fan that watched Mexican wrestling in the 90s.
13. Was he involved in a number of memorable rivalries, feuds or storylines?
The already mentioned Love Machine feud is the most famous one, but he's also been involved in several other great feuds. His run with the Guerreras, or Fuerza and Psicosis, against Santo, Rey Misterio Jr. and Octagon provided so many excellent matches, several of them getting ****1/2 to ***** ratings in the Observer. Panther has also had an eternal feud with Solar I. Based on some great matches they had around 1987, they gained so much respect for each other's mat wrestling ability that they have been feuding on and off since then, but in the last 8 years the feud has been pretty much relegated to the independent level. His feud with Atlantis gave him his big break and they have had several great matches during the years. Also, the feud with Hijo del Santo started in El Toreo when Panther started to make a name for himself, and it has been carried in for almost 20 years now but I have never seen anybody complaining about being tired of seeing them against each other.
14. Was he effective working on the mic, working storylines or working angles?
Mic work is pretty much non-existant. Working angles and storylines, he's ranged from effective to excellent. The double turn during the Machine hair vs. mask match was so beautifully done, and while Machine had the hardest task to perform in the turn, Panther played his role perfectly. I don't really think anybody will consider this one legendary or anything, but his on and off feud the last few years with Mr. Niebla has had him playing the "tricky veteran bastard role" really well. One of the coolest moments in CMLL TV of the last couple of years was Blue Panther (in a cast, playing an arm injury) put Mr. Niebla (who tried to attack him) in a quick, masterfully executed Fujiwara armbar that made everybody think he'd snapped Niebla's arm.
15. Did he play his role(s) effectively during his career?
Yes. His most famous role is that of the "veteran rudo master" who is a better technician than the tecnicos themselves, and he has played that one perfectly during all of his career. He played that role even when he wasn't that much of a "veteran" (in his early 30s). He also made the perfect switch to tecnico and showed tons of charisma, which was natural because he always was a "cool rudo" that people like to cheer (like Fuerza Guerrera and currently Dr. Wagner Jr.).
16. What titles and tournaments did he win? What was the importance of the reigns?
Panther has got a pretty nice collection of titles, including singles and trios, but none are truly relevant to make them an argument for him to be a HOF'er. Then again, no title has been used well long term in Mexico in the last 20 years, not counting the UWA World Heavyweight and UWA World Light Heavyweight Titles. He's had really hot short term programs for the National Middleweight Title (w/ Octagon, but it eventually bombed because Octagon would show up loaded every time and Panther could do nothing with him) or WWA Welterweight (w/ Hijo del Santo). All in all, Panther's most important reigns were the two times he held the National Middleweight Title in AAA because of the great title defenses he had, but he had little impact as a champion. People would have problably showed up even if Panther had had a phony title, simply because they'd get to see his trademark "Panther title match" which means a hell of a technical match.
17. Did he win many honors and awards?
Awards matter so much in Mexico that nobody keeps track of them. I can't recall him winning a WON year end award either.
18. Did he get mainstream exposure due to his wrestling fame? Did he get a heavily featured by the wrestling media?
He got some mainstream exposure in the early days of AAA, because Pe?a and Televisa did a hell of a job of promoting their wrestlers sending them to tons of shows, but nothing past that. He's always been featured by the media, but not as a cover superstar kind of guy like Aguayo, Vampiro, Santo or Octagon.
19. Was he a top tag team wrestler?
He was a top trios wrestler. Teams with the Guerreras, Guerrera and Psicosis, Guerrera and Casas, Wagner and Black Warrior, Guerrera and Signo have had runs as regular partners where they'd have really great matches on a regular basis. He's never really been a tag team wrestler except for his early fame days in the mid 80s, but he didn't have a regular partner then, either.
20. Was he innovative?
Not really. Nudo Lagunero is his creation, but it's not stolen often. He's one of the last great old school rudos left, with an style as close as Tarzan Lopez (the pioneer technical master) as you will get in Mexico.
21. Was he influential?
His work is definitely influential in the way that tons of young wrestlers start wrestling wanting to be as good on the mat as him, but that's about it. That's probably more inspiring than influential.
22. Did he make the people and workers around him better?
That's his strongest point, making everybody around him look better. Some months ago, Dave Meltzer said (I'm paraphrasing) that he's so good that he makes everybody look so awesome that the average lucha fan doesn't notice him as much, and this business it's all about being noticed. He could carry loads to decent matches and spotty flashy tecnicos to great matches. You can definitely see how people like Mr. Niebla improved so much by working often with Panther.
23. Did he do what was best for the promotion? Did he show a commitment to wrestling?
He's always done what he's best for the promotion. Love Machine and him didn't like each other (there's a story of Machine sucker punching Panther in front of Peña at his office) but Panther respected Machine's ability and they could do business together so he put him over like a best friend. The only time he did the best for Panther and not for the promotion was when he left AAA in 1997 because he didn't want to put over Mascara Sagrada Jr., who Panther didn't respect because he couldn't wrestle (and he's right on that one). He's prided himself for years in his reputation to have excellent singles matches and it's pretty much his trademark, so he didn't want to ruin his reputation. I don't see what's so bad with that, though.
As for showing a commitment to wrestling, yes he showed a commitment. He's lazy when everybody else in the match is lazy and he's not expected to save the day, but otherwise, he works for six if needed. He's a total pro and I haven't heard anybody ever complaining about him.
24. Is there any reason to believe that he was better or worse than he appeared?
Repeat the Meltzer quote here. Only the older fans, the ones that attend arenas weekly, the Mexican "hardcore" fans/newsstand magazine reader (the closest there is to the WON-fan, I guess) and the WON reader kind of fan appreciate him as one of the best wrestlers ever in Mexico. Nowadays the average fan sees him as a guy that is "a good wrestler", and is not pushed much on TV.
Dates are actual match dates. Airing dates may differ a bit.
|91/08/09||Arena Mexico||NWA Middleweight champion Atlantis vs Blue Panther|
|92/01/31||Ultimo Dragon vs. Blue Panther|
|92/09/04||Cancun||National Middleweight champ Blue Panther vs. El Angel Azteca|
|92/10/09||National Middleweight champ Blue Panther vs. Super Astro|
|93/07/18||Tonala||Blue Panther vs. Love Machine mask vs. hair|
|Not outstanding but must see for the double turn|
|94/10/30||Torreon||National Middlewight champ Blue Panther vs. El Mariachi|
|00/04/09||Monterrey||WWA Welterweight champ Hijo del Santo vs. Blue Panther|
|00/05/28||Monterrey||WWA Welterweight champ Blue Panther vs. Hijo del Santo|
|this was not as good as the previous one but still real good|
Luchas de apuestas record
|Date||Apuesta||Winner(s)||Loser(s)||Arena and/or Place|
|??/??/??||mask||Blue Panther||Misterio de Oro||unknown|
|79/01/28||mask (1)||Blue Panther & El Matemático||La Bestia & Simio Blanco||Monterrey, Nuevo León|
|80/??/??||mask||Blue Panther||Oro (not the 90s Oro)||Monterrey, Nuevo León|
|84/02/23||mask||Blue Panther||Gorila Infernal||Jalapa, Veracruz|
|84/06/24||hair||Blue Panther||Brillante||Arena Querétaro - Querétaro, Querétaro|
|84/09/07||mask||Blue Panther||Bull Power||Puebla, Puebla|
|84/10/18||mask||Blue Panther||Luzbel (Original)||Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas|
|84/11/20||masks||Blue Panther & Black Man||Las Sombras de Plata I & II||El Toreo - Naucalpan, Mexico State|
|86/02/16||mask||Blue Panther||Black Man||El Toreo - Naucalpan, Mexico State|
|86/03/16||mask||Blue Panther||Avispón Negro||El Toreo - Naucalpan, Mexico State|
|88/05/??||mask||Blue Panther||Kendo||Auditorio de Tijuana - Tijuana, Baja California|
|92/04/03||mask||Blue Panther||Love Machine||Arena México - Mexico City|
|93/04/09||hair||Blue Panther||Vulcano||Gimnasio Juan de la Barrera - Mexico City|
|93/07/18||hair||Blue Panther||Love Machine||Auditorio Rio Nilo - Tonala, Jalisco|
|00/02/03||mask (2)||Blue Panther||El Nuevo Huracán Ramírez Jr.||Arena Isabel - Cuernavaca, Morelos|
|07/09/28||mask (3)||Blue Panther||Lizmark Jr.||Arena México - Mexico City|
|08/07/05||mask (3)||Blue Panther||Tigre Universitario||Arena Monterrey - Monterrey, N.L.|
|08/09/19||mask||Villano V||Blue Panther||Arena Mexico, Mexico City|
|08/12/18||hair (4)||Blue Panther||Diluvio Negro II||Arena Monterrey, Monterrey, N.L.|
|11/12/16||hair||Blue Panther||Felino||Arena México - Mexico City|
|12/03/02||hair (5)||Blue Panther drew Negro Casas, both lose||Arena México - Mexico City|
|13/09/13||hair||Averno||Blue Panther||Arena México - Mexico City|
|17/08/04||hair||Sam Adonis||Blue Panther||Arena Mexico - Mexico City|
|(1) Torneo de la Muerte; (2) Relevos suicidas - Santo & Fuerza Guerrera vs. Blue Panther & Huracan; (3) Cage Match w/Perro Aguayo Jr., Mistico, Ultimo Guerrero, Dr. Wagner Jr., Atlantis, Villano V; (4) Three way with Tigre Universitario;(5)draw both loss their hair|