Before the journey began for many WWE talent, their skills were honed in gymnasium and auditoriums, in front of crowds of a few hundred people. They never wavered in the pursuit of their goals, and those roads they traveled helped them achieve the success they have today. The “Before the E” series title is derived from ‘The E’ which is inspired by a common nickname for WWE. To understand where talent is today, it is essential to know how they came to be part of the Entertainment side of World Wrestling Entertainment. This week we present Santos Escobar before The E.
This second-generation luchador and son of El Fantasma was born Jorge Luis Alcantar Bolly and obviously had wrestling in his blood. He first earned a name for himself in his native Mexico under the name El Hijo Del Fantasma, or Son of El Fantasma (The Phantom). He started by working for Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, or CMLL, the longest-lasting wrestling promotion in the world. While he was there, he captured the World Middleweight championship and the World Trios Championship with La Mascara and the late Hector Garza. He eventually departed CMLL for their primary rival, Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide. While there, he captured the AAA Fusion, World Cruiserweight, and Latin American Championship.
– The Evolution of El Hijo Del Fantasma
A veteran of more than two decades, Escobar initially competed under the moniker ‘Top Secret’. But a few years later, he changed his mask and embraced his heritage by taking on the ‘El Hijo del Fantasma’ name, thus revealing El Fantasma was indeed his father. Much like his father before him, Escobar would wear a mask that would resemble Lee Falk’s The Phantom, an American comic strip hero that has been around since the 1930s. (SEARCH FOR PROOF)
Escobar’s wrestling linage isn’t just limited to his father; his uncle is ‘Angel de la Muerte’ (Angel of Death), and his cousin has wrestled as Fantasma Jr. It is a longstanding tradition in Mexico for multiple generations and branches of a family to be luchadors, and this family is part of that.
His first broad exposure to American audiences on-screen came as part of the El Rey network program ‘Lucha Underground.’ There, he competed under the name King Cuerno, appearing in all four seasons. Since his home was Lucha Libre AAA, he was also involved with programs and promotions in the United States that had a relationship with AAA, including Impact Wrestling.
Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre is The Home of El Hijo Del Fantasma
From 2008 and 2013, he was in CMLL, and there he stood across the ring from such legendary lucha libre names as Mistico, Ultimo Guerrero, and Negro Casas. As noted, as a singles performer, he won the CMLL World Middleweight Championship, defeating Averno. His reign was short-lived as he would lose to Negro Casas in his second title defense.
His successful trio with Garza and La Mascara eventually had a less than amicable split after what was believed to be an attack on Garza by one of his partners; Garza would still say that he was a tecnico (good guy/face) and not a rudo (villain/heel). However, since he teamed with the villainous Polvora, many would beg to differ with that statement. Later on, in what would be the final nail in the Trios Champions relationship, Del Fantasma, Garza, and La Mascara defended the title at Super Viernes (Super Friday). Still, Garza attacked the other two during the match, causing them to lose the titles.
El Hijo del Fantasma Becomes Rudo Now In Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide
In what was a shock to Mexican wrestling fans, El Hijo Del Fantasma would leave CMLL and join Lucha Libre AAA in the Fall of 2013. He would also transition from being a long-time Tecnico (face) to a Rudo (heel) and joined the El Consejo faction. As part of his entry to the AAA stage, he made it to the finals of the Copa Antonio Pena (Antonio Pena Cup, named after the founder of AAA). The following year, he won his first gold in the promotion, emerging victorious from a ten-way elimination match that unified the AAA Cruiserweight and Fusion titles as the inaugural AAA World Cruiserweight Champion. He held that title for almost three years before losing it to Johnny Mundo (John Morrison).
Success continued to follow him. A couple of years after making it to the Copa Antonio Pena tournament’s finals, he would win the tournament. This win led to him being awarded the vacant Latin American Championship. This also led to a feud over the title with Texano Jr., which culminated with Texano Jr losing and having his head shaved as a result.
The Tradition of The Mask
As many are aware, the mask is a treasured traditions in lucha libre. To lose one’s mask results in disgrace and shame. It was announced shortly before Triplemania XXVI that El Hijo del Fantasma would team with Pentagon Jr, Psycho Clown, and LA Park in a match known as Poker de Aces, wherein the losers would lose their masks. However, shortly before the event, he once again became a rudo. He turned on his partners, becoming leader of a new faction, Los Mercenarios (The Mercenaries), AAA’s version of CMLL’s Los Ingobernables (The Ungovernable) faction.
So, as a result, at TripleMania XXVI, El Hijo del Fantasma lost to the legendary L.A. Park (best known as La Parka in WCW) in a Poker de Aces match, and as a result, was forced to unmask. At this point, his true identity was revealed, and reveal his actual name, Jorge Luis Alcantar Bolly. Shortly after losing the Latin American Championship to El Drago (The Dragon, also well known from ‘Lucha Underground’), he would depart AAA in the Spring of 2019.
El Hijo del Fantasma had the opportunity to perform for several years in each of Mexico’s two biggest wrestling promotions and has discussed their history.
There is a real rivalry. CMLL is the lucha libre tradition company. They founded lucha libre in Mexico in the 1930s. Something went wrong, and Antonio Peña created AAA. They became huge, huge enemies. There is still a rivalry of sorts. If you work for one company, you shouldn’t talk about the other. I worked for both of the companies. They are two different, diametrically opposite styles. I’m glad to have done well in both companies, but there is still a huge rivalry.
Santos Escobar on the animosity between CMLL and Lucha Libre AAA
With no ties to any promotion, El Hijo del Fantasma would be able to explore new opportunities. His history as King Cuerno was behind him as he was released from his Lucha Underground contract around the same time as he announced his departure from AAA. He would look to WWE for a new opportunity.
While he initially competed under a mask when he joined WWE, relinquishing the mask in order to emerge as Santos Escobar wasn’t unfamiliar to him.
“I first started wrestling with a mask 20-plus years ago. As you know, the mask is a huge tradition in Mexico that has existed throughout generations. I was obliged to do it as a second-generation wrestler. After a number of trials and examinations from my father, I inherited the mask. For the first 19 years of my professional career, I was wearing a mask. That comes with a very different style and a very different responsibility. When I lost my match in a high-profile match in Mexico City [at Triplemania in 2018], I was at a crossroads. In Mexico, when you put your mask on the line and lose, you face two different options. One is to retire. The other is to reinvent and repackage yourself. That’s what I did. At first, that was very difficult. It felt like I was wrestling naked. That’s how I felt. After a while, I got used to it. Then I got to WWE. I call myself The Emperor of Lucha Libre. I want to show the world my culture, my tradition, which is lucha libre. That’s why, when I first got to WWE, I asked to wrestle with a mask. That was actually more difficult for me, if you can imagine, to go back and wear a mask again. Then the story unraveled, and here we are.”
Santos Escobar on competing without a mask
Now without his mask, Santos Escobar leads El Legado del Fantasma (The Legacy of The Phantom) . His leadership qualities have been evident throughout his career. There is nothing but opportunity ahead of this talented young Luchador, and what he will become is all due to where he came from and who he is. After all, a great deal of his professional success can be attributed to what he achieved during his time before the E.