Long before JBL was doing the “anti-immigrant” angle in his feud with the late, great Eddie Guerrero, and long before Eddie and his tag partner Art Barr were inciting riots among wrestling’s Mexican fans in the early 90’s, Black Gordman had become a genius in generating heat from Mexican wrestling fans in the Southwest and in Southern California. And he wasn’t alone. Along with long time partner the Great Goliath, who would both make a point to claim to be from “New Mexico” rather than Mexico, he became a part of the 70’s tag team that was greatly successful in both raising the ire of the fans, and in winning multiple tag team titles in various promotions.
Born Victor Manuel Barajas on October 5, 1936 in Mexico, as a youth Black Gordman spent some of his time as a vendor in the wrestling arenas of Mexico. Little did he know that he would eventually be working in those same arenas as a prominent Luchador. Debuting in the early 60’s as Victor Mendoza, he would wrestle under different identities before setting on Black Gordman, and he would soon find success, defeating Pantera Negra for the Mexican National Heavyweight title on September 6, 1966. Gordman had gained enough attention for his success in the ring to have also been given an acting part opposite Lucha Libre legend El Santo in the movie “El Tesoro de Dracula”, which was released in 1969.
Soon he would quickly gain success in the U.S. as well. Black Gordman would begin working for Mike LeBelle’s Los Angeles wrestling promotion in 1969 and quickly displayed his ability as a tag team wrestler winning the America’s Tag Team titles along with Pepper Gomez on February 7, 1969. It would be only the first of what was to be a record 27 titles reigns that Black Gordman would have with various partners and he would also be a co-holder of that title when the LaBelle promotion eventually closed at the end of 1982.
And while he was most identified by his prowess as a tag team competitor, Gordman was no slouch in the singles division either. He would begin a long rivalry with Mil Mascaras which saw him lose his hair in a mask vs. hair match against Mascaras on September 9, 1969 at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. Undaunted, Gordman would continue his feud with Mascaras and earn his first America’s Heavyweight singles title by defeating Mascaras on November 5, 1971. He also won the “Beat the Champ T.V. Title” while wrestling singles in L.A. and engaged in notable feuds with other wrestling greats such as John Tolos, Porkchop Cash, and Victor Rivera. And on January 18, 1974, he would add to his list of accomplishments a victory as the last man standing in the prestigious Los Angeles Annual Battle Royal.
For all his accomplishments as a single wrestler, without a doubt, it’s his pairing with the late Great Goliath for which wrestling fans have the fondest memories. For together, they held the America’s Tag Team titles 18 times in addition to winning the NWA Western States Tag Team titles, The Georgia Tag Team titles, The Texas Tag Team titles, the Central States tag team titles, as well as the San Francisco version of the NWA World Tag Team titles. And their abilities were not only recognized stateside, as they would also be invited to tour Japan as well.
Black Gordman and the Great Goliath displayed a good working ability in the ring, displaying great timing and wrestling with bursts of quickness and great tenacity. And while their out of the ring chemistry has been in dispute, there is no doubt about their in-ring chemistry.
Besides their ability to execute moves (with Gordman performing the “DDT” years before Jake “The Snake” claimed to have invented it), their ability to get the crowd involved was also apparent, as they resorted to cheating tactics while in the ring and to insulting the Mexican fans while on the microphone. They had a great way of balancing the way they executed their offense as well as “selling” for their opponents. It wasn’t unusual to see them flying out of the ring, really selling their opponents prowess.
They also had a unique way of being tenacious while on offense, yet often comical in the way they’d scream in agony while their opponents cranked up the pressure while performing a wrestling hold. Gordman would do this in particular, blurting out expletives and verbal expressions of pain, many of which were in Spanish, to the delight of the fans and particularly to those who understood what he was saying.
Gordman who currently is retired in Guadalajara, Mexico, would continue to wrestle after the closing of the L.A. promotion, particularly in Texas, where he would wrestle for Joe Blanchard’s Southwest Championship wrestling promotion as well as a few shots in Fritz Von Erich’s World Class Championship wrestling. But for those of us in Southern California during the 70’s and early 80’s, it was here that we considered the rightful place of Black Gordman and in our hearts and minds, he will always have a home.
– Rock Rims (The Flying Body Press)
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