Trying to figure out why I will never forget Jose Luis Rivera

Don’t ask me why, but I’ve had my mind on Jose Luis Rivera recently. Rivera was a jobber in the WWF in the 1980s, and even though he rarely won a match, he is easily one of the most remembered prelim wrestlers ever.

Why? I’m not entirely sure. I mean, he wrestled all of the time on Saturday morning wrestling back when all you got was squash matches. Some of the jobbers from back then were just as famous as the true stars — I’m sure the Unpredictable Johnny Rodz was recognized at airports.

But Rivera had little charisma, was unspectacular in the ring, and never seemed to be a crowd favorite. Back when I started watching in 1981, he was known simply as Mac Rivera. Sometime in late 1982, he started going by Jose Luis Rivera. I don’t know the details behind the switch in names. Did a promoter originally tell him, “You look like a Mac, so that’s your ring name” ? Or maybe instead someone thought the WWF would  better grab the Hispanic demographic if a Jose Luis wrestled?

Either way, I saw Rivera fight countless times on TV and watched him live at the old Boston Garden and other local venues, and I cannot remember a single match of his that stands out or who any of his opponents were.

I don’t understand how someone like that remains burned in my memory, yet I know for a fact I will never forget the name Jose Luis Rivera. Ever.

Why?

p.s. Rivera probably had his greatest run as one half of Los Conquistadores with Jose Estrada, but I’m not sure it was common knowledge at the time that Rivera was one of the golden masked men.

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7 comments

  1. Evan J Rodgers

    Upon further research about the great Jose Luis Rivera, I have begun to connect some dots and get a better overview of his career. Jose Luis Rivera’s real name is Marcelino Rivera Alicea. He was born on August 13,1960. He is from Bayamon,Puerto Rico. He was trained by Cuauhemos Velasco Vargas (who wrestled as Diablo Vargas). He did indeed wrestle for Gorilla Monsoon and Victor Jovicas’ WWC in 1978. There is one site that marks his pro debut as 1977. We know he debuted in 1978 or 1977- however some sources have errouneously stated that his debut was 1984- a fallacy that needs correction!! He had his best championship success in Puerto Rico’s AWF- winning the AWF America’s Heavyweight Title twice. He was known to wrestle in the WWF, breifly in the WCW, also at least one report indicates that he also wrestled on the independant circut in the 80’s. He will forever be known as Jose Luis Rivera but he also wrestled as Mac Rivera, Shadow #2, the Red Demon, Conquistador #2, and El Sultan. He was versitile, had good technical ring skills, stunning good looks and a great work ethic. Thats why so many people will NEVER FORGET Jose Luis Rivera. He could wrestle well masked, unmasked, single or in a team. In recent years there was a Facebook Fan Page in his honor, but it appears to be taken down. Thank you Boston Garden Balcony for remembering and acknowledging this great star. I do feel you underestimated his skills and legacy, but we can agree to disagree.

  2. Evan J Rodgers

    I recently discovered that Jose Luis Rivera held the A.W.F. (Americas Wrestling Federation) Americas Heavywieght Title in Puerto Rico TWICE. He defeated Ricky Sexton for the title in Comerio,Puerto Rico on 10/19/91. He lost the title to Jason the Terrible in Luquillo,PR on 01/31/92.Then he won the title back in Cagus,Purto Rico defeating Jason the Terrible on 2/22/92- becoming a two time AWF Americas Heavyweight champion!! He began his carreer in Puerto Rico in Gorilla Monsoons WWC. He made his WWF debut in 1980, his last match in the WWF was 1994. He presently promotes live wrestling in Latin America. He was loaded with talent and good looks. His work ethic was unmatched. Some sites say he debuted in 1984, this is inacurate – he started wrestling in 1978. Win, lose or draw- Jose Luis Rivera earned his way and is a true legend.

  3. Evan J Rodgers

    Jose Luis Rivera did win some matches and he did have very real scientific werstling skills.He also had great facial expressions when he was in pain.He
    used to just get KILLED by folks like the Samoans, but later he really held his
    own.I’m not sure if it has been confirmed that he was the same Jose Luis Rivera that had so much success in WWC in Puerto Rico, we really need more
    information.Mr. Rivera was VERY handsome and in GREAT shape- that is always a plus,especially with female fans.There really should be a monument
    to Rivera around DC because he gave so much to fans on the East Coast in
    the Maryland-DC area and up into the far northeast. Guys like this dont get
    enough credit.Think of the traveling involved and not on jet planes- driving
    night to night-arena to arena-from Baltimore one night to Boston the next and
    always to Pennsylvania for the TV tapings.All of this took alot of heart, and
    the money wasnt so hot.Bravo for the honorable Jose Luis Rivera, mucho respecto and grcias por la mucho requerdos! -Evan James Rodgers, Maryland

  4. J.Cee

    I remember seeing a Johnny Rivera rassle here in the WWWF in the mid-70s who went on to have a successful career in Puerto Rico along with Jose Gonzalez, but I don’t know if he & Jose Luis are one in the same. Yes, it was good for house shows to have any hispanic wrestler on the card; the undercard draws them in the seats earlier in the show. On the mid-card you had Victor Rivera (face & heel),Tito Santana, and Pedro Morales was immensely popular in the NY market as champion in the early 70s. So being the IC champion in the early 80s wouldn’t be a step down necessarily in his case because the name recognition was already established.

  5. modew's manager

    Now this is funny: Obsessed with Wrestling lists Rivera’s “notable feuds” as:
    René Goulet, Charlie Fulton, Tiger Chung Lee, Les Thornton, The Moondogs. I swear, Rivera-Fulton is what they used to call “a main event anywhere in the world!” But I think Rivera was constantly employed because he was good at making others look good.

  6. Chuck Mullen

    Not much to say about this one, as I would only think that PERHAPS (big guess here) that as you may know Gorilla Monsoon owned a part of Capital Sports Promotions (WWC in Puerto Rico) not to be confused with the Capital Wrestling Corporation of the then WWWF. (not sure of the date he sold out though!, I will check on Wikipedia!)

    Anyway prior to Rivera being in the WWWF, and WWF, he was a big star down in the Caribbean. In the 70’s. And I believe, (its really hard to get records of this, even if I can read and speak SOME SPANISH!), he was called Jose Luis Rivera in WWC. I maybe WRONG.

    And then if I recall properly, when he returned to this name, WWF, did not have much of a roster. And I think the idea may of been to have a “known” Hispanic talent on the roster for the house shows. I recall seeing him a lot around the horn, and he was on tons of house shows. For a guy that was considered a “jobber” at the time to be on the loop and on the house shows, I think meant he was more than a JOBBER. Don’t you think?

    Regardless I do recall him, along with Rocky King in the NWA, then WCW, and countless others. For some odd reason, the one I remember the most is LEE SCOTT. Remember him? He was basically Sid Vicious’ personal bump machine. I recall weekly watching him take the “whirlly bird” from Sid and seriously and seemingly BUMP further and further each time. Also Barry Horowitz (funny he was called Brett Hart in 1984… true story, see below).

    I just recently watched the ENTIRE 1983 and 1984 years of Crockett Promotions TV show World Wide Wrestling (Mid Atlantic) and I got to say that basically a lot of guys went from no names to something due to the expansion of the WWF, and the need to create “stars”. And then when Id see these beaten up, over the hill guys on WWF, Id think WOW, Blackjack Mulligan, or Angelo Mosca, or someone of this nature, they was a lot of times introduced hot and then boom into JOBBER land. But while watching this, I started to see where the idea of it all come from, meaning the enhancement talent was just as important then, to the big stars, as anything… and now, enhancement talent is called the “MID CARD SHUFFLE” in WWE.

    And people wonder why no one is getting over. Jesus its not ROCKET SCIENCE man… and what if a guy like Magnum TA (whom was a huge star in Mid South for Bill Watts) did not have the jobber squashes to get over the belly to belly in 30 seconds?? This is why we remember guys like Rivera, because he made the guys we remembered as the stars the REAL STARS in our eyes.

    • bostongardenbalcony

      It’s a good point about Rivera working so many shows — it seems he had a full-time job. To me, that indicates a level of respect for his abilities from the locker room.

      And I do remember Lee Scott for the exact reason you mentioned with Sid Vicious. That guy made it look like he was getting his ass kicked by the big wrestlers.

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