I am a huge pro wrestling fan, most notably of the Mexican lucha libre variety.
If you’re a lucha libre fan, you may have noticed that CMLL is currently running their annual Copa Junior competition, a lucha tournament that brings in sixteen luchadors, puts them in two separate eight man ciberneticos, and has the winners battle it out for a prize. It’s pretty simple and effective, especially since there’s a lot of talented young luchadors who can use the break and the notoriety of competing in these bouts. The first cibernetico is already in the book, with Soberano Jr. picking up the victory to go to the finals. This Friday will feature the second cibernetico, and with that in mind I thought it would be a good idea to profile a few of the guys in the match. Of course this is me we’re talking about, which means instead of talking about the guys who will win, I thought it might be a great idea to talk about the dudes who won’t win, despite being insanely talented. And thus here I am, about to tell you the story of one of the Copa Junior’s biggest underdogs, a cult hero to lucha libre fans and yet another luchador sprung from a very large lucha libre family. Boys and girls, I give you the story of one of CMLL’s best kept secrets, the one and only Magnus.
What You Already Know
This first factoid is actually something some people may not know, but it needs to be said for the sake of not confusing first time readers. Ladies, gentlemen, disgruntled Arsenal fan who’s okay with one hour of meaninglessly good wrestling TV every week; Magnus is not that British guy who used to wrestle in TNA a lot. They may share the same name but that’s pretty much the only difference between Magnus and the dude who married Mickie James. Our Magnus is a luchador who lucha fans will recognize as a CMLL lifer who has thrilled fans in the lower to midcard for several years, a really cool, accessible dude on Twitter and the cousin of former lucha star turned WWE star turned lucha star again Carístico.
As you can see, lucha Magnus is nothing like that British dude who worked/works for TNA. Then again we’ve never seen them at the same time and I’ve never seen Brutus Magnus with a mask… hot damn, maybe they are the same guy! Magnus, you didn’t tell me you were married to Mickie James you lucky man!
What You Didn’t Know
You mean besides the fact that Magnus isn’t a jacked, 240 lb British dude? As I’ve already hinted by revealing Magnus’ relationship with Carístico, Magnus is yet another luchador who comes from a long line of proud luchadors. His father is Tony Rivera, a former 1970’s EMLL star and CMLL lifer who has since taken on the hat of being a booker, trainer, road agent…whatever it is CMLL has given him to do since he retired. Both his brothers, Ulises Jr. and Alexis Salazar, are involved in the business, with Alexis notably working as one of CMLL’s top photographers (those awesome pictures from matches you see on CMLL’s Twitter; Alexis probably took them). His uncle, Dr. Karaote, was a lucha star in the 1960’s and 70’s. And good Grodd look at all the cousins. In addition to Carístico, Magnus finds himself cousins with well known luchadors such as former CMLL/AAA luchador Argos, AAA and Lucha Underground star Argenis, former AAA luchador Mini Murder Clown, Dr. Karaote Jr. and the late Astro Boy. That’s a huge ass lucha libre family, and quite frankly one of the best when you consider Salazar’s longevity on and off screen, Alexis’ cult popularity with the US lucha fans, Carístico’s star power, Magnus’ ability and now even Argenis’ rise in fame. All of which just goes to show you; man that Argos can’t catch a break can he? The way he’s been overshadowed by the rest of his family he might as well just change his name to Argos Fredo Canelo. How many will get that reference I wonder?
Now seeing as Magnus had a shit ton of CMLL connections back when he was starting his career, you’d think he just started with CMLL right away. not so fast my friend! Instead Magnus started out working for Último Dragon’s Toryumon Mexico promotion around 2010 under the name Astro Boy II (a tribute to the original Astro Boy, who died sometime in the 90’s). He spent a year there before joining CMLL, where he changed his look to more closely resemble his famous cousin and adopted the name Magnus as a reference to the famous Roman emperor Magnus Maximus. Despite this Magnus retained some loyalty to Último Dragon and Toryumon, and has worked at least one show for the promotion every year. Well except this year but it’s only April; plenty of time for Magnus to go and scratch that itch! Besides CMLL and Toryumon, Magnus has also kept busy working for several indie promotions in Mexico, and worked several matches for Lucha Libre Elite the past few years before their relationship with CMLL went south.
But you don’t want to hear about that; you want to hear more about Magnus in CMLL and how he’s reached the same heights as his cousin. Well unfortunately that hasn’t happened, though it’s been an interesting run. Upon debuting in CMLL Magnus was introduced as part of a class of new luchadors called Generación 2011. Intending to serve as a call back to the very successful 75th Anniversary class CMLL debuted a few years ago, Generación 2011 featured future stars like Magnus, Bobby Villa (then Bobby Zaeta), Drone (then under his Hombre Bala Jr. name) and a luchador by the name of Dragón Lee. This isn’t the Dragón Lee you’re thinking of though; this was in fact the luchador who would become the second Mistico, a gimmick originally inhabited by Magnus’ cousin. Turns out the Mistico we know and love today had the Dragón Lee gimmick before the Dragón Lee we know and love today took it over. And this was no small thing; at the time this group debuted Carístico was either on his way out the door or already was, leaving CMLL without a luchador to fill the Mistico shoes. Because of his family ties to Carístico, not to mention his ties to some in the CMLL office AND his similar appearance, it was at the time speculated that Magnus could be the one to take up the Mistico mantle.
Instead, Magnus spent most of his first year in CMLL wrestling on the lower card while working indies and appearing in the CMLL produced “reality” show El Luchador. I say “reality” because, like all reality shows, El Luchador had a way of blurring the lines of reality and fiction. Regardless, Magnus was one of the key figures on the show along with Felino, Rey Bucanero, the new Mistico and Shocker (can’t have a lucha libre documentary series/film with Shocker!), where he was portrayed as an aspiring young luchador who’s interests included watching futbol with his friends (while roughhousing and drinking huge bottles of Pepsi) and collecting all the tiny elephant figures he could possibly collect. More notably was that Magnus was presented in the show as really, really arrogant, so arrogant that it ultimately “got in the way” of his potential. In case the quotations didn’t give it away, that’s the part where reality and fiction started to do the tango on this show. All this led to Magnus both being outed as Tony Salazar’s son in the final episode of season one, with a nice storyline suspension to boot while Magnus went off to recover from injury. He would work the indies for a bit upon returning (notably winning the Toryumon Torneo Copa Dragon during the time) before returning to CMLL right around the time El Luchador returned for season two. Naturally season two featured a kinder, humbler Magnus who had learned from the error of his ways; he also wanted to challenge the new Mistico to a mask vs. mask match, playing off their friendship during season one AND the fact that Mistico was now rocking the gimmick Magnus’ cousin made famous. That teased match never ended up taking place and El Luchador ended after season two, though you can still find clips of it on YouTube. Like this one of Magnus right here!
Unfortunately the show has done little for Magnus, as he’s remained a lower card performer on the Arena Mexico circuit ever since. How low? Try not even being able to snag a Lightning Match since El Luchador ended. Yes, with the exception of some singles matches on the Saturday Arena Coliseo show and one cibernetico that took place on, you guessed it, the Saturday Arena Coliseo show, Magnus has pretty much been restricted to lower card trios and tag matches, often teaming with other underappreciated second generation luchadors such as Flyer, Oro Jr. and Robin. Alright maybe Robin is properly appreciated but still, you catch my drift. All of this makes it that much more impressive that Magnus has been able to stand out with fans despite his lower placement, and makes it all the more exciting that he’s getting a great opportunity with the Copa Junior match.
As there haven’t been a lot of opportunities for Magnus over the years there aren’t that many candidates for this category. Luckily he’s so good that I was able to find some matches anyway, with the winner being a trios match between our hero, Stigma and Starman against Cancerbero, Raziel and Virus from a CMLL Puebla show back in 2013. You won’t confuse it for being an all timer, but as far as Puebla matches go it’s an above average match with a great pace, some great dives from Magnus and Stigma, Starman looking good and the always great teamwork from Los Cancerberos del Infierno. Trust me on this too; not only are you going to come away thinking Magnus is great, but you’re going to come away thinking that Stigma is a world beater too. Shocking considering today’s Stigma works and moves nothing like the one from this match. As always, injuries are the devil.
When I first got into lucha libre, Magnus was one of the few names I knew on account of him being related to Carístico. Because of that I had a little bit of a bias against him; surely he can’t be that good if Carístico really isn’t that good (keep in mind, this is WWE fan only Cult at the time. He was a stupid, stupid man). Then I saw Magnus work and I was absolutely blown away; he’s the type of luchador who jumps off the screen despite the fact that CMLL gives him so little to work with. And while CMLL’s unwillingness to push Magnus has left him with few opportunities to have great matches, his work ethic and ability have made it very easy for him to become a cult favorite with fans, particularly the American lucha libre fan base such as myself. I do not stutter when I say that Magnus is great, and at only 24 years old he still has plenty of time to convince CMLL that they should be doing more with him. Perhaps it starts with this Copa Junior match. Maybe it’s hyperbole to say this but considering how little CMLL has given Magnus since 2012, this might be the biggest match of his career. Even if he doesn’t win, this is a huge chance for Magnus to show people who don’t see what the rest of us see what he can do. All the more reason to think this match, and this Friday’s show, is going to be something to watch.