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El Solitario

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Roberto González Cruz (May 22, 1946 – April 6, 1986) was a Mexican professional wrestler who wrestled under the name El Solitario. During his career he held both the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship and the NWA World Middleweight Championship. After achieving stardom in Mexico's oldest promotion, Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre, Cruz joined the breakaway promotion, the Universal Wrestling Association, where he held four more world championships in the early 1980s.

Early life

Cruz came from a working-class family and was the youngest of seven children. At the age of twelve, his older brother Jesús, who was also a professional wrestler, began teaching him basic wrestling moves. In 1959, Cruz's brother was killed in the ring while wrestling as Othon Banzica, but rather than becoming deterred, Cruz drew inspiration from his death and dedicated himself to lucha libre. He began training under the tutelage of Joe el Hermoso and made his wrestling debut in 1960 at the age of fourteen.

Professional wrestling career

Cruz was initially billed as being the son of the legendary wrestler El Santo but later changed his name to El Zica II in honor of his deceased brother.

Cruz moved to Tijuana to pursue his career as a luchador but had a difficult time finding regular work as he was young and still small at the time. He continued working local arenas until he began making a name for himself as he grew physically and refined his wrestling skills. Cruz realized that in order to take his career to the next level, he would have to select a more crowd pleasing name and character. He chose the name El Solitario, derived from the popular comic book character El Llanero Solitario ("The Lone Ranger"'). He also adopted his now trademark gold and black colored costume and golden mask with a fringe around the eyes representing the Lone Ranger's mask. After the change, promoters and fans took notice of the new dynamic wrestler.

On November 16, 1965, El Solitario faced Panchito Ramirez in Arena Coliseo located in Guadalajara. He would make his debut in Arena Coliseo Mexico City on September 6, 1966, when he defeated Tony Reyna. In 1966, El Solitario defeated and unmasked Águila Tapatía, that was followed by a win over Mano Blanca. He won his first world title when he defeated Occident Welterweight champion Luís González.

El Solitario was now working for EMLL, Mexico's largest promotion company. He was catapulted into stardom within the lucha libre world when he defeated veteran Rey Mendoza in a mask vs hair match on December 13, 1968. A few weeks later, he defeated another legend, Rene Guajardo, and also took his hair in another wager match.

El Solitario formed a wrestling trio alongside Dr. Wagner and Angel Blanco; the group was known as "La Ola Blanca" (The White Wave). He was wrestling as a rudo at this time but when his partners Dr. Wagner and Angel Blanco turned on him, he became one of the most popular tecnicos of his era. It also started a legendary rivalry between himself, Wagner and Blanco. He continued wrestling as an individual during this time, and in 1969, won the NWA Middleweight world title by defeating El Rayo de Jalisco. In 1970, El Solitario won the NWA Light Heavyweight title by defeating Ray Mendoza. In 1972, he unmasked his rival, Angel Blanco, in the ring.

El Solitario was one of the first stars to leave EMLL to join the Universal Wrestling Association (UWA) promotion, which was run by Francisco Flores and Ray Mendoza. He won the UWA's first Junior Heavyweight title in 1982. He also toured Japan in 1972, 1979, and 1981, where he would face and team up with premiere stars such as Tiger Mask and Tatsumi Fujinami, along with other Mexican wrestlers such as Chavo Guerrero and El Canek. He was unable to fully exhibit his wrestling skills during his tours, as the junior's division formula in Japan consisted of popular Japanese wrestlers facing off against foreign heels. However, he gained a following outside of Mexico as a result of those tours.

While in Mexico, he remained one of the most popular headlining stars throughout the country. In the early 1980s, he formed a short lived trios team with Anibal and Villano III, the group was known as Los Tres Caballeros. He won the NWA Junior Light Heavyweight title in 1980 and 1981. In 1982, he won the NWA Light Heavyweight title. That same year, he participated in El Santo's final career match when he teamed up with legends El Santo, Gory Guerrero, and Huracan Ramirez to defeat El Signo, Negro Navarro, El Texano, and Perro Aguayo. Perhaps his biggest match took place on December 1, 1985, when he defeated and unmasked Dr. Wagner in a mask vs mask match.

Death

El Solitario had suffered injuries during the latter part of his career, resulting in several infections and illnesses. During a match with Fishman, he re-injured himself and was taken to the hospital while complaining of abdominal pain. His doctors initially misdiagnosed his condition, and it was later discovered that he was suffering from internal bleeding that required immediate surgery. On April 6, 1986, at the age of 39, El Solitario died while on the operating table as a result of a cardiac arrest.

Although El Solitario's life was fairly short, his professional career spanned over twenty-five years and he is regarded as one of the greatest Mexican professional wrestlers of all time. He was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996.

His son, El Hijo del Solitario, made his wrestling debut in 1990.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

Lucha de Apuesta record


Wager Winner Loser Location Date Notes
Hair El Solitario Karloff Lagarde Unknown Unknown  
Hair El Solitario Coloso Colosetti Mexico City, Mexico Unknown  
Hair El Solitario César Valentino Mexico City, Mexico Unknown  
Hair El Solitario Alfonso Dantés Mexico City, Mexico Unknown  
Mask El Solitario Águila Tapatía Guadalajara, Jalisco 1966  
Mask El Solitario The White Hand Guadalajara, Jalisco 01966-06-17June 17, 1966  
Hair El Solitario Luis González Mexico City, Mexico July 1966  
Hair El Solitario Ray Mendoza Mexico City, Mexico 01968-12-13December 13, 1968  
Hair El Solitario René Guajardo Mexico City, Mexico 01968-12-25December 25, 1968  
Hair El Solitario David Morgan Mexico City, Mexico 01972-04-07April 7, 1972  
Mask El Solitario Ángel Blanco Mexico City, Mexico 01972-12-08December 8, 1972
Hair El Solitario Ángel Blanco Guadalajara, Jalisco 01974-02-03February 3, 1974
Mask El Solitario El Cardenal Monterrey, Nuevo León 01975-03-02March 2, 1975  
Mask El Solitario Atila Mexico City, Mexico 01975-11-19November 19, 1975  
Mask El Solitario Destroyer Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua 01975-12-05December 5, 1975  
Mask El Solitario El Audaz Mexico City, Mexico 01976-04-12April 12, 1976 Relevos suicidas match vs. Aníbal & Rayo de Jalisco
Mask El Solitario Ku Klux Klan Mexico City, Mexico 01977-02-09February 9, 1977  
Hair El Solitario Perro Aguayo Mexico City, Mexico 01978-09-10September 10, 1978
Mask El Solitario Máscara Roja Unknown 01978-09-24September 24, 1978
Mask El Solitario Bestia Roja Unknown 01979-11-25November 25, 1979  
Mask El Solitario Nakamura Tijuana, Baja California 01981-03-25March 25, 1981  
Hair El Solitario El Faraón Guadalajara, Jalisco 01981-04-06April 6, 1981  
Mask El Solitario El Olímpico Mexico City, Mexico 01982-06-20June 20, 1982
Hair El Solitario El Signo Tijuana, Baja California 01983-06-12June 12, 1983  
Mask El Solitario Dr. Wagner Monterrey, Nuevo León 01985-12-01December 1, 1985  

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