efforts in the Memphis wrestling promotion that included the birth of "the gimmick table" and many other merchandising concepts. This time around our spotlight is on an individual star. From his look to his charisma, both of which were shrouded in mystique, it's no wonder why the man became one of the first big merchandising stars of the wrestling business. That man is Mil Mascaras.
The Man of 1,000 Masks is said to have begun his career simultaneously as a Mexican movie star and luchador. With that being the case, one could argue that his merchandising began as soon as his career did. With his colorful masks and costumes plastered on movie posters and lobby cards, the Mexican public was already becoming enamored with the man formerly known as Aaron Rodriguez. Though this took place in the mid-1960's, it was the following decade when Mascaras became a true worldwide name in wrestling.
Domestically, Mascaras became best known in the '70s for his work in the IWA and the WWWF. It was in the latter promotion that wrestling magazine editor and photographer Bill Apter shot so many iconic photos of the masked star. For decades now, Apter has deemed Mascaras as his favorite wrestler and can be seen at ringside for many of the masked star's matches in old Madison Square Garden films. It's no coincidence that in 1979, Apter chose Mascaras along with Dusty Rhodes to star on the cover of the first issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
In 1983, Mascaras along with Bernie Lopez Enterprises released "Mil Mascaras Pro Wrestling Game." The board game is a complicated early wrestling "simulator" that can even be played solo. Using dice, numbers, and many, many rules, players can "promote matches in the wrestling capitals of the world--New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Hong Kong, etc." according to the box. The game is certainly an interesting novelty, probably the first of its kind, and features two box photos credited to wrestling's other top photographer, George Napolitano.
Mascaras is just one third of a trio of brothers who became stars of lucha libre. Dos Caras and Sicodelico (who in my opinion had the coolest mask of the three) also ruled rings around the world, although never with quite the amount of fame as Mascaras. In 2012, Mascaras was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his nephew, Alberto Del Rio, the son of Dos Caras.