Lucha Libre and NWA Star Raul Mata Passes Away at 71

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The Mexican wrestling community suffered a loss on Thursday with the passing of Raul Mata, the longest reigning Mexican National Heavyweight Champion in EMLL (the precursor to CMLL). Mata was 71 years old.

From Guadalajara, Mexico, Raul Mata began training under Cuhatemoc “Diablo” Velasco in the 1960’s and by the end of the decade became of the top young stars in Empresa Mexicana De La Lucha Libre (EMLL). In 1968, he defeated the original Dr. Wagner for the Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship and held it an astounding 735 days before losing it in 1972.

In 1971, he moved to the United States, where he began working for territories in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), primarily with NWA Hollywood, Big Time Wrestling (WCCW) in Texas, Big Time Wrestling in California, and Championship Wrestling From Florida. He continued to be a big star on the West Coast, where he won the NWA Pacific Coast Heavyweight Championship (the top singles title in NWA Hollywood) on five occasions, as well as an 8x NWA Americas Tag Team Champion (NWA Hollywood’s tag titles). His tag team with Chavo Guerrero Classic won two of them.

Although he’d become a top West Coast star and NWA journeyman in his American relocation, he still remained a top star in Mexico. In 1978, he returned to defeat El Halcon for the Mexican National Heavyweight Championship, holding the title for 195 days. In 1987, he worked some enhancement matches for the WWF. He retired from the ring in the early 1990s. Mata was an innovator of offense, creating the standing hurricanrana called the Mata Roll (or Mata Roll Up), which would later be popularized by Scott Steiner as the Frankensteiner.

 

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Jamie Greer is the Managing Editor and lead writer for Last Word on Pro Wrestling. A lifelong wrestling fan who started with the WWF in the early 80's, he now follows everything from the smallest indie to WWE. He's also written for WrestleZone, The Windsor Star, Windsor Independent and other publications. He lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, with his wife and son.

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