Sam Adonis struts around Arena Mexico, resplendent with a garish mane of bleach blonde hair, but if Negro Casas has anything to say about it, the American born star will be without those luscious locks for long when they clash on New Year’s Day in Arena Mexico.
Adonis, a professional wrestler in Consejo Mundial De Lucha Libre, Mexico’s longest running wrestling promotion, hearkens back to a time when almost cartoonish levels of dissidence was the perfect recipe for a heel. During his time in the promotion, Adonis has donned a gimmick as a brash American braggart-something that has been done before. What makes this different is his use of Donald Trump as a lightning rod for garnering heat. During his campaign, Trump infamously characterized Mexican immigrants of largely being criminals and drug dealers, immediately positioning himself as an actual wrestling heel. Wrestling in Mexico, Adonis was smart enough to use this to his advantage to create what has become a despicable character that the fans love to hate, which has translated to broader coverage abroad and in Mexico.
“It was definitely a great opportunity because any time you get that kind of coverage outside of wrestling it is clearly to add to your reputation. So any time I have those situations, I do what I can to make it work. CMLL has connections to all the major media-it’s a major league operation. So I’ve been able to branch out to TV series and radio and what not. The opportunities continue to grow and I couldn’t be happier.”
Throughout the heyday of professional wrestling, an easy trope to exploit was that of the foreign invader. Exuding a jingoistic pride that doubled as disdain for the United States, many wrestlers in the 80’s followed the same blueprint to great success. The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff and others were examples of those who simply refused to assimilate, the greatest crime. While stars like Bruno Sammartino, Tito Santana and Superfly Jimmy Snuka were embraced for their immigrant status, the unruly immigrants who spoke about their mother countries being stronger than their current home, were vociferously derided for insinuation that the good old USA was not number one. Adonis has channeled that into one of the most popular rudos in Mexico because of his love of wrestling of yesteryear.
“Well, that’s kind of what I am going for. I am a big fan and supporter of classic wrestling. I feel like wrestling has gone in a different direction these days and I really wish it would return to those roots. The fact that people can make comparisons [between what I’m doing and what they did] is a pretty big compliment to me.”
Although he certainly is not the first wrestler to try this tact, Adonis’s work in CMLL does play to a simpler crowd dynamic. Before each match, the wrestlers are openly referred to as technicos or rudos and no one is more of rudo than the self-professed “Rudo De Las Chicas,” a moniker and persona he created to stand out.
“It was something that I had thought of before. Most rudos here are demons and wear black, so this was just something different. I have a bit more color a bit more-not quite technico, but I bring something different to the table.”
After months of disrespecting Blue Panther, Adonis faced off against the Mexican legend in the most serious of a battles, with both men’s coifs on the line. In a result that appalled the fanatics in the audience, Adonis walked away unscathed, watching as Panther had his head shorn in the middle of the ring.
“It was awesome because Arena Mexico was absolutely silent,” recalled Adonis. Anyone who has ever been there knows that is not a normal thing to happen. Some people were in shock because I actually beat him, but from that point on my career pretty much skyrocketed.”
Since then, Adonis has found himself embroiled in conflict with yet another CMLL legend, Negro Casas.
“Right now we have the hottest feud in Mexico, which is absolutely awesome because Negro Casas is a big star, not only in Mexico, but worldwide. So for me, this is a great opportunity and it’s great to be a part of it. And now it looks like we are heading towards a hair vs. hair match.”
Just two days after we spoke, Adonis and Negro Casas did indeed sign a contract for the apuesta match. During the signing, Casas intimated that he hoped Adonis would leave Mexico altogether, but the brash American pointed out that that was not an agreement in the contract, not that he plans on losing anyhow.
“It’s bound to happen I’m sure, but I want to try and keep the odds in my favor and keep collecting them before I lose mine. Maybe I can get out of town before I have a chance to lose mine.”
Although his bout with Casas looms large, Adonis still looks to the future and working with other legends as well.
“I would love to work with any of these guys, Ultimo Guerrero, Atlantis. The good thing is, I am such a strong force right now and the heat is so strong that the people look to their legends and heroes that are dependable to vanquish the villain’ I don’t know where this is going and what’s going to happen, but I know I am very confident in what I am doing and I think it will continue a little longer.”
Adonis started his training in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before working in England and then heading down to Mexico, learning different styles and techniques throughout his journey.
“I’ve done what I could to be the best wrestler on the planet- that’s kind of what I’m going for. I really like to learn every style and bring something to the table that no one else has. So I’ve been able to incorporate that classic 70’s and 80’s style wrestling while meshing it international styles.”
Despite the language barrier, Adonis was able to assimilate quickly, adapting to his new environment.
“Well I was lucky enough that I was able to learn it pretty quickly. I adapted and really took to Mexico and Mexico has taken to me as well. It’s all been part of sacrificing to be one of the best and do whatever to succeed to become a success in this industry.”
On September 19th, Adonis changed roles, going from irritant to fellow citizen. After the 7.1 magnitude earthquake, CMLL did not run show and it’s wrestlers took the time out to distribute food, water and other supplies to the people of the affected areas, with the Arena Mexico serving as a hub. Despite normally goading the denizens of Mexico into a frenzy with his antics, Adonis lend his hand to help those that live in the very same area that he does.
“I think that the people of Mexico realize that I live in Mexico, that I respect the Mexican culture and really do my best to fit in. It was definitely a scary situation and everyone needed to come together-the city needed support at that point in time.”
As CMLL has partnerships with companies like Ring of Honor, New Japan and RevPro, Adonis has set his sights on appearing there and anyone else he can in quest to further himself in the industry.
“I would absolutely love to. It is just a matter of time and opportunity. I am sure if I continue doing what I am doing, the possibilities are endless. I want to continue making my name stronger, branching out to other markets and continue to be someone know about and talk about in wrestling.”