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José Lothario (1934-2018)



At WrestleMania XII, the figure who walked out to the ring didn't seem to fit the bill for "The Heartbreak Kid" at first glance. He was an old man in a Mexican-themed cardigan; walking out to the tune of "Sexy Boy," the "sexiest" thing about him was the gold Rolex watch round his left wrist. He then stood at the corner of the ring, and pointed to the upper balconies of the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim: from the rafters descended Shawn Michaels, and the rest was history.

Yet there was rich history behind that old man, José Lothario: NWA Hall of Famer, Mexican wrestling legend, and the trainer of Shawn Michaels.


Lothario was a wrestling legend of the territory era, making his name in the National Wrestling Alliance. A decorated champion, Lothario started his career at the middle of the 20th century. He was a constant Tag Team Championship contender with other wrestling legends like Wahoo McDaniel, Ivan Putski, Mil Mascaras, and Rocky Johnson.

Unlike many wrestlers from the Mexican tradition, Lothario was a brawler, and his style made him a very popular figure in the Texas territories. Michaels himself would reference the popularity of Lothario in an interview with WWE Magazine in 1996: how "every young boy who lived in Texas knew who José Lothario was."


Despite not winning a WWE championship—and competing only once against Jim Cornette in In Your House 10: Mind Games—fans of HBK saw Lothario as one of the forces who legitimized Shawn Michaels as a main event player.

Stories have it that much of Shawn was born out of Lothario's influence: from his ring name to his in-ring style, and even down to his finisher. From the commentary booth, Vince McMahon and Jim Ross often referenced the real-life—almost larger-than-life—role that Lothario played in molding and shaping HBK to be the superstar that he became between and outside the ropes. As Shawn's manager and trainer, Lothario played the important role of transitioning Michaels from a womanizing seducer trying to break the glass ceiling of the midcard to becoming the face of the company following the New Generation era.

After Michaels won the WWF Championship in 1997, Lothario rode away to the sunset into retirement, briefly returning in 1999 for a storyline. He was also one of the two inductees to the NWA Hall of Fame in 2017, ending his long and storied career that saw him have five NWA American Tag Team title reigns, five reigns as the NWA Brass Knuckles Champion, and holding the NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship seven times.

The legendary José Lothario died today, at the age of 83, leaving behind a lasting legacy to professional wrestling that, like that picture-perfect moment in WrestleMania XII's main event, will never be forgotten.

Photos sourced from Last Word on Pro Wrestling and WWE.com

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