R. Bruce Tharpe, the former President and owner of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) who sold the brand to Billy Corgan, announced on his Twitter today that NWA Legend and trainer Jose Lothario, best known to newer fans as the original trainer of Shawn Michaels, has passed away. No details have emerged of his cause of death, but Lothario was 83 years old.
Sad news today. The great JOSE LOTHARIO has passed away. So thankful that I had the opportunity to induct him into the NWA Hall of Fame while I served as President. He was so happy and it was my pleasure to induct him. God bless you Jose Lothario and may you Rest In Peace.
— R. Bruce Tharpe (@rbtharpe) November 6, 2018
Born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1934, Jose Lothario got his start in Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL) in the early 1950s (EMLL would go onto become CMLL in 1991). By the early 1960s, he had relocated to Texas, working with the Funk family’s NWA Western States territory. By the mid-60’s, he was working with Championship Wrestling From Florida as well, and by the end of the 60s, he had added Fritz Von Erich‘s Big Time Wrestling (which would become WCCW) to his circuit. He would continue with Big Time/WCCW for the remainder of his in-ring days, as well as working with other NWA territories as booked, such as NWA Mid Atlantic, Mid South and many more. During his time with Joe Blanchard‘s NWA Southwest Championship Wrestling out of San Antonio, he would meet his wife, women’s wrestler Jean Robledo. A Texas favorite, he was also a star with Paul Boesch‘s Houston Wrestling for much of his career.
His most famous feud was against Gino Hernandez in the late 1970s, culminating in a hair vs hair match where he won, forcing the vain Hernandez to shore his locks. In the 1980s, he took under his wing a young San Antonio man who dreamed of becoming a professional wrestler named Michael Hickenbottom. Through Lothario’s tutelage, that boy would become Shawn Michaels, becoming one of the greatest in-ring performers in the history of the sport. By the end of the 1980s, Lothario had all but retired from in-ring competition to focus on a training career.
In 1996, Lothario began to accompany Shawn Michaels to the ring as his manager in the WWF, and was in Michaels’ corner for the legendary Iron Match at WrestleMania XII that saw “the boyhood dream come true” and Shawn Michaels defeat Bret “Hitman” Hart for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. Lothario would remain with Michaels for nearly a year, even competing with the WWF that fall at In Your House 10: Mind Games, in a match where he handily defeated Jim Cornette. He remained with Michaels until Royal Rumble ’97 before departing the company.
A consummate professional in and outside the ring, with a love and life that revolved around wrestling – his son, Pete Lothario, was also a pro wrestler – Lothario was 83 years old.