Francisco "Paco" Alonso, one of the most powerful players in the pro wrestling industry for more than 30 years passed away yesterday at the age of 67.
Alonso, who was the only person voted into the Hall of Fame in 2008, had been running CMLL, then known as EMLL, its original name, since taking over from his uncle, Salvador "Chavo" Lutteroth Jr., in 1987, who preferred working as a boxing promoter. Alonso's grandfather, the original Salvador Lutteroth, founded EMLL, the first major pro wrestling company in Mexico, in 1933.
Alonso took over in the middle of a wrestling war with the UWA promotion, and through wrestling getting on television, presided over a huge boom period almost immediately built around new stars like Konnan, Octagon, Atlantis, Rayo de Jalisco Jr. and veterans like Perro Aguayo and Los Hermanos Dinamita.
At the time, both companies were doing great business, but then Alonso's booker, Antonio Pena, made a deal with Televisa, the largest network in Mexico, to start a wrestling company in 1992, and suddenly EMLL had even stronger and more heated competition. In the EMLL vs. UWA war, the sides were at times at odds and at other times had a relationship to a degree that the biggest stars were able to work for both companies simultaneously.
But with the CMLL vs. AAA war, it was very different. For the most part the companies have always been at war.
Alonso was a quiet major player. He largely kept himself out of the public eye and gave no public interviews. He was able to forge a working relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling, which had previously worked with AAA, and led to the New Japan/CMLL/ROH/Rev Pro alliance.
He had great advantages as a promoter since the company itself had built its own arenas, so he paid no rent meaning it was relatively easy to break even, as well as making money renting the arenas for other events.
Chris Jericho, who was really broken up about Alonso's death, noted that Alonso was the first promoter to give him a big push, giving him the name Corazon de Leon, meaning Lion Heart, in 1993 and putting him in main events during a boom period.
Over the decades the company has had many boom periods, notably 1988-1992, and a second boom period behind Mistico (now Caristico), Dr.Wagner Jr., El Hijo del Santo, Negro Casas and Ultimo Guerrero in the mid-00s.
In 2008 when he was voted into the Hall of Fame, it was estimated conservatively that Alonso's company and top talent from 1975, when he became a key player in the office, to 2008 had drawn more than 80 million fans to live events.