Real name: Merced Solis
Date of birth: May 10, 1953
Billed height: 6’2”
Billed weight: 234 pounds
Major Titles Held
2-Time WWF Intercontinental Champion
2-Time WWF Tag Team Champion- with Ivan Putski (1 time) and Rick Martel (1 time)
2004 Hall of Fame
Life Before Wrestling
Tito Santana played college football for West Texas State University. He was on the same team as Tully Blanchard, who was their quarterback at that time. Besides Santana and Blanchard, West Texas State University has produced many future players that went into wrestling that also included Bruiser Brody, Ted DiBiase, Terry Funk, Stan Hansen, Dusty Rhodes and Barry Windham, all of whom wound up in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Early Career (1977-1979)
Tito Santana started wrestling in the NWA, first for Georgia Championship Wrestling in February 1977 as a mid-card talent under the name Richard Blood. He then left in January of 1978 for Jim Crockett Promotions in the same role until March of 1979. He made a stop in the Western States Promotion for a few months before leaving in May for the WWF.
In May of 1979, Richard Blood went to the WWF with his first push. It was here that he was given the name of Tito Santana. In November of 1979, he teamed with Ivan Putski to defeat Jerry and Johnny Valiant for the WWF Tag Team Championship. While defending the titles, he was also used as a singles star to put over a young heel, Hulk Hogan, who was managed by Fred Blassie. Putski and Santana lost the titles in April of 1980 to Afa and Sika, The Wild Samoans.
Tito Santana debuted in the AWA in June of 1980. Santana got a decent push and was eventually a challenger to the AWA World Champion Nick Bockwinkle. Santana was not able to capture the title. Santana formed a tag team with Rick Martel to go against fellow babyfaces, AWA Tag Team Champions Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell for the last month he was in the promotion, but the champions retained their titles.
Georgia Championship Wrestling (1982-1983)
Tito Santana made some appearances for Georgia Championship Wrestling in July and August of 1982 while still in the AWA. He started full time with Georgia in September. He also made some appearances for Mid South wrestling and the WWF from March-June of 1983. The booker for Georgia, Ole Anderson, did not see much in Santana and used him on the lower part of the card.
Tito Santana made his return to the WWF in April of 1983, but started back full-time in June and got a good push. He defeated The Magnificent Muraco in February of 1984 for the Intercontinental Championship. He lost the title to Greg Valentine in September of 1984. The two continued to feud and Valentine injured Santana’s knee, putting him out of action until December. When Santana returned, he started using the figure four leglock, the same finisher Valentine used. Santana opened the very first WrestleMania by defeating The Executioner (Buddy Rose under a mask). Santana would go on to be on the next eight WrestleMania shows. The Valentine-Santana feud sold out many arenas throughout the country for the next year before finally recapturing the title in a steel cage match in July of 1985. He lost the title to Randy Savage in February of 1986. In November of 1986, Santana joined forces with Tom Zenk to form the Can-Am Connection. In July of 1987, Zenk left the promotion unexpectedly and Santana reformed his tag team from his AWA days with Rick Martel. Together they were known as Strike Force. In October of 1987, Strike Force defeated The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart). They lost to Demolition in March of 1988. When Strike Force went against the Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard) at the Royal Rumble in 1989, Santana accidently hit Martel with his flying forearm smash. Martel walked out on Santana and turned heel. Martel took on Slick as his manager and wrestled Santana all over the country for the rest of the year. In late 1991, Santana was given a new gimmick as “El Matador”. He finished up with the WWF in August of 1993.
Post WWE Career
In 1993, Santana went to the upstart ECW, then only known as Eastern Championship Wrestling. He won the ECW title from Don Muraco, but forfeited the title late in the year to Shane Douglas. Santana became part of the Spanish broadcast team from 1997-1998. He made one appearance for WCW in 2000. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. He has an autobiography entitled, “Tales from the Ring” which was released in 2008.