Steve Yohe talks Enrique Torres and the Hall of Fame
Thursday, 13 September 2012 10:28
I'm working on a Enrique Torres record, but it's very long and I'm not going to finish before this years voting is done. I see Torres as a very strong candidate, much stronger that I thought before starting.
1- He started in July 1946, and Tony Doyle pushed him in LA from day one. They created a world title for him & he won it on Dec 11, 1946. How many wrestlers have been pushed so fast so early in his career. (Sonnenberg & O'Mahoney?) He was over during one of the greatest periods in the history of wrestling and LA. There is nothing written anywhere that says he wasn't a fine performer & champion.
2- His stature & look rivaled the two other great looking champions Lou Thesz & Frank Sexton. He had the classic wrestling style, much like a Mexican Lou Thesz and used most of Thesz's moves. He had title unification matches with Sexton & Thesz in LA & did well. (Unlike many wrestlers I write, I saw Torres many times in 62 & 63 and he was very good.) Torres just had the look & skill of a champion and it was easy to see why promoters booked him as one. If they didn't have a strong reason or a guy they need to push, they didn't want Torres doing jobs.
3- He kept the title in LA for almost 4 years, while in the rest of the country his was a major contender for Thesz's NWA title. It was a hot match that played all over the mid-west. And Torres got a lot of draws.
4-He became the 3rd biggest star in Thesz's St Louis promotion. Behind only the owners Thesz & Longson.
5-He lost the Calif WC to Baron Leone, who became a huge star at the time. All of this was build up into the largest gate in wrestling history. In this period, Leone's biggest rival was Torres. There was many rematches with most being draws. Torres also played a part in getting Antonino Rocco over during this period. (In my research, I've found Baron Leone to be a strong candidate for the hall. He was a huge draw & his push played a major part in drawing the largest gate in history vs Thesz. LA TV was showed all over the mid-west, making guys like Leone, Torres, George, and Snyder stars in many places far from the West Coast. Leone was so big they gave him the JHC and he toured with it. His draw back in a short career.)
6-Torres then moved to San Francisco where he was the every day top face all thru the 1950's, doing very few jobs in singles matches. Leo Nomellini was the biggest star in town, but he would miss much of the year playing football. When Leo was in town, his major partner was Torres. The only singles title in SF was the Pacific Coast Title and it was Torres who had it all thru the 50's. But SF was a Tag Team city. Everything was worked off tag matches and major singles matches were rare. The Sharpe Brother are considered the top team of the 50's and holders of the NWA World Tag Title most of the time. Enrique Torres was their most famous challenger with partners like Ronnie Etchison, Bobo Brazil, Johnny Barend, Rikidozan, Nomellini, & Ramon Torres. He & the Sharpe Brothers wrestled 100's of times over a number of years. When I'm done, I'll count up the number & it will be crazy. The Sharpes usually came out on top in tags, altho Torres took titles from them at times. In singles, Torres won.
7-I would bring up the Gorgeous George argument again. During George's greatest period, when he was such a great draw....he couldn't beat Enrique Torres. When I'm done, I'll state the record between the two & Torres comes out looking very good. Torres also beats Danny McShain a million times.
8- In the 60's Torres returned to LA and was a major help in getting Fred Blassie & then the Destroyer over. This was another great period in LA history.
9-In San Francisco, when the young Rikidozan worked the territory his partner was Rikidozan. The Japanese style of using tag teams as a booking tool came from SF, a tag team city. In May 1959, Torres was brought to Japan to be in the first World League Tournament. During the tournament, Torres wrestles two draws with Rikidozan but lost a match to Jesus Ortega, so the tournament ends in a three way tie with Torres, Rikidozan, & Ortega. They flip a coin to see who would be in the final match. Riki and Ortega win, and Dozan wins the first ever tournament that goes on to be the base of Japanese booking to this day. Rikidozan had so much respect for Enrique Torres that he wouldn't beat him. Torres & Rickidozan also teamed up during the tour.
10-In the 60's, Torres moved to Atlanta and was a majors star, winning major tag titles. He retire in 68 to take care of his mother.
11-During his career he wrestled four times in MSG and never loss a match.