[WWE] Miguel Perez Passes Away

WWE.com posted the following news about the passing of former WWE superstar Miguel Perez:

Remembering Miguel Perez
By Keith Elliot Greenberg

The news from Puerto Rico was very unsettling. Miguel Perez, the proud Puerto Rican warrior who headlined Madison Square Garden in the ’50s, was dead at just 68 years old.

I’m sad to say that I don’t really remember seeing Miguel Perez wrestle. I probably watched him on TV when I was very young in the early 1960s, after he and legendary partner, Antonino Rocca, had gone their separate ways. Once – on a show promoted by Carlito’s father, Carlos Colon, I think in 1986 — at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, I saw Miguel Perez storm the ring, flinging off his suit jacket, when his son, Miguel Perez, Jr. – later a member of WWE’s Boricuas — was in some kind of trouble.

“Who’s that?” I asked the guy next to me.
“The papa.”

I felt a tinge of excitement. This was the Miguel Perez I’d heard and read about. This was the Miguel Perez my mother mentioned, when she spoke about those glorious days before my birth when the man billed as “Puerto Rico’s Greatest Wrestler” and Rocca ruled the Garden.

I compare the experience to watching Frank Sinatra in the Meadowlands on his 75th birthday. His voice was limited, and he seemed too tired to run with the Rat Pack, but he was still Sinatra.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to witness a moment when an old fire rekindled inside of a wrestling legend. It wasn’t 1957, and it wasn’t the Garden. But it was still Miguel Perez.

From what I understand, Perez and Rocca headlined almost 30 cards in Madison Square Garden between 1957 and 1960. Rocca, of course, was one of the greatest showmen of the decade, springing around the canvas, twisting foes to the mat with flying headscissors, hopping on a rival’s back for a victory roll, slapping a man across the face with a bare foot.

The Italians loved Rocca because he shared their ancestry. But the Latinos loved him, too, because he’d been raised in Argentina. And in this age of ethnic heroes, Miguel Perez stepped into the spotlight. Handsome with a pencil mustache and flowing pompadour, he was a salsa king with muscle – in white trunks and boots. In New York at least, he and Rocca were a team for the times.

A few days ago, a neighbor of mine recalled how the fans invested their hearts in Perez because he was unafraid to go into the lion’s den, and take a beating from the Fabulous Kangaroos (Roy Heffernan and Al Costello) or Eddie and “The Good Doctor” Jerry Graham. But like Chris Benoit or Rey Mysterio today, Perez didn’t quit. Somehow, he’d find his way to the corner, tag Rocca, and the building would shake.
When Lou Thesz passed away, his wife was quoted as saying that she never imagined that the master ring technician would ever die. Some fans felt the same way about Perez. The fact that a heart attack took the life of a soldier who never seemed to give up the fight is unconceivable.

When I’m backstage at a WWE event, I’m frequently impressed that today’s Superstars pay tribute to the men – and women, such as Mildred Burke, Penny Banner and the Fabulous Moolah – who built the foundation for them. Kurt Angle talks about Thesz, RVD about the original Sheik, Ric Flair about Wahoo. I’ve even heard Triple H mention Ricky Starr.

Those headliners of old also wrestled with injuries, sacrificed their personal lives and compromised their sanity for us.

Miguel Perez, we owe you our gratitude.