February 11, 1984 marked the start of one of the best Intercontinental champions runs when Tito Santana beat Don Muraco. Tito Santana was a performer that prowled the ring like a giant cat, looking for a way to wear down his opponent for a figure 4 leglock or pin. He wasn’t a lot of flash and dash, but a steady, hard working wrestler that gave his all every night and was part of one of the best tag teams (The Can AM Connection with Rick Martel) and some of the best feuds in history (his feud with “The Model” Rick Martel after they broke up lasted for years and was simply awesome.)
What made this victory even more impressive wasn’t that he beat one of the mainstays in the WWE championship chase for years in “The Rock” Don Muraco, but what it meant to him on a personal level and to Hispanics everywhere.
In his words
Special thanks to @awrestlinghistorian for the quote.
“I’ve always felt really proud to be a Mexican-American and I represented all Hispanics from South America, Central America, and Spain. The thing I was proudest of was just being a good role model. I knew I was a person who wasn’t ever going to make the front page for getting busted for drugs or doing something illegal. I was so proud to be who I was and a role model for my heritage” – Tito Santana CultofWhatever.com interview March 27, 2013
In an era where boundaries were being broken, he stood out through his skill, work ethic, and intention to be someone others could be proud of. While his Intercontinental Championship run ended too soon at the hands of Randy Savage, Santana would remain in the hearts of fans the world over.
He switched to announcing, working through the Attitude Era and having the distinction of having his Spanish announcer’s table destroyed more often and regularly than any other. There was a time when it seemed like a miracle he wasn’t left with just a chair.
We all have our favorites for one reason or another. Maybe they’re the first ones we saw, or they just did something unexpected and drew us in right from the beginning. Whatever the reason, we hold them in a special place in our hearts and memories.
For me, I first watched Tito Santana in the very first professional wrestling match I saw was. It was the start of WrestleMania 1 and he faced the Executioner. It was a fast match that ended with the Executioner submitting to Santana’s figure 4, if memory serves.
It was a cool way to get hooked on sports entertainment, but even better given what WrestleMania has become since then.
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