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Rito Romero (1927-2001)

Real NameRito Romero Loza

Lifespan - 3/19/1927 - 1/17/2001

??? - Tepatitlan, Jalisco, Mexico

Athletic Background - n/a

Teacher(s)Diablo Velazco

Aliases - Fideo Romero

Peak Years`47-`63

Place in HistoryRito Romero came from Guadalajaro lucha libre tradition, learning under Diablo Velazco as a teenager.  He developed into a highly respected technical wrestler with a reputation as legitimately tough.  Upon this foundation, Romero built himself into the complete package.  His signature hold, La Tapatia (sometimes referred to as the “Rito Romero Special”), was perfect for a technico and is still a staple of lucha libre to this day.  He formed some successful tag team with Jack O’Brien and had memorable match on EMLL’s 14th Anniversary show where he challenged Gory Guerrero for the NWA World Middleweight Title.  At this time, the up-and-coming Rito Romero seemed like he was poised to be a top luchador in coming years, but his career took a very different path.  Black Guzmán, one of the top luchadors of the day, helped Rito Romero get booked by Morris Sigel in Texas.  Romero, not unlike his contemporary Enrique Torres, had an appealing look for the female fans as well with his bronze skin and pencil mustache.  Some of his publicity photos from his youth really make him to look like a movie star.  He was also an impressive talent in the ring in terms of his athleticism and his performance ability.  Guzmán and Romero became a popular tag team and following a draw with NWA Champion Lou Thesz, Rito Romero was a made man in the US and Mexico.  Battles with the hated Duke Keomuka over the Texas Heavyweight title continued to raise Romero’s stock.  He was soon traveling the world and added Los Angeles to his regular stopovers.  By the early 1960s, Rito Romero became a regular challenger to the NWA Heavyweight Championship when the champ, be it Buddy Rogers or Lou Thesz, was in Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio or El Paso.  Romero was a reliable drawing card and unlike many of luchadors, Thesz held Romero in high esteem as both a wrestler and a performer.  An injury ended his career without much fanfare, but he ended while still at a professional peak.  Rito Romero’s legacy is different than many other luchadors.  While revered within Mexico, he was special in that prior to Mil Mascaras, Rito Romero was the most successful Mexican outside the country.  He was a top babyface throughout the Southwestern United States and had successful tours of Europe, Canada and beyond.  He had more NWA Heavyweight Championship matches than any other Mexican wrestler (Mexican-Americans Pepper Gomez and Enrique Torres did have more) and that is based entirely on his skill in the ring and popularity with the fans.  However, the most curious part of Rito Romero’s legacy is his trademark hold.  There are a many holds and moves that are associated with a specific individual, but few carry the name of that person and even fewer maintain that name over time.  The Rito Romero Special, like the Frankensteiner, the Fujiwara Armbar or the Asai Moonsault will live on even if people know little to nothing of its namesake.