Arturo Diaz Mendoza, best known as Villano III, passed away today at the age of 66.
Diaz was considered one of the biggest stars in the history of Lucha Libre, and was the son of Hall of Famer Rey Mendoza.
Mendoza's sons all used the Villano name, and he was Villano III because he followed his two older brothers into pro wrestling in 1970.
Arturo was considered the best wrestler in the family and the second biggest star, behind his father.
He was one of the biggest stars and top draws during the mid-70s and 80s run of the UWA promotion, where he held World titles as a junior heavyweight, junior light heavyweight, light heavyweight. and welterweight.
He was actually best known for his run as WWF Light Heavyweight Champion, a title that was never defended in the WWF, but was a major title within the UWA as well as New Japan Pro Wrestling.
His mask match loss to Atlantis on March 17, 2000, is generally considered one of the greatest matches in Lucha Libre history. It was voted Match of the Year in the 2000 Wrestling Observer awards, which is even more impressive since it is the only match in Mexico ever to win that award.
Prior to the loss to Atlantis, he had retained his mask in at least 58 consecutive matches, which has to be among the most wins of that type in Lucha Libre history. Among the people he retained his mask over were Colosso Colosett, El Medico, Babe Face, El Signo, Alberto Munoz, El Texano, Perro Aguayo, Rambo, Pegasus Kid (Chris Benoit), and Super Astro. When the top junior heavyweights from around the world came to the UWA, like Benoit and Owen Hart, Villano III was used as their Mexican rival because he had both the big name and the technical ability to work with them and have some of the best matches at El Toreo of the era.
While not voted in, Villano III has come close to being voted into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame almost every year.