Don't Call Me Chico by Tito Santana
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Don't Call Me Chico is the biography of WWF wrestler Tito Santana.
One of my early wrestling memories is Randy Savage cheating to win the Intercontinental belt from Tito Santana so I had to snap this up.
Tito seems like a class act so you'd think his story wouldn't be that interesting but not so. Tito, aka Merced Solis, grew up the son of migrant workers and became a wrestler after his would-be football career hit the rocks. He knew Tully Blanchard from college and Tully was his foot in the door.
Tito is pretty humble when it comes to telling his story but has a good sense of humor so the book is pretty engaging. It talks about Tito's stints in George, Texas, the Bill Watts territory, Japan, the AWA, and finally the WWF. Tito wasn't a big partier with a wife and kids at home but there are still some great road stories in here.
Did anyone like working for Ole Anderson? I thought it was interesting that one of Tito's early names was Richard Blood, the real name of Ricky Steamboat, given to him as a way to connect him to Steamboat after he left the territory. I also thought it was interesting that when Jimmy Snuka had some legal woes, Santana got tapped to replace him high on the card on house shows before he was even a regular in the WWF. Tito also gives his account of backstage events such as Danny Spivey handing Adrian Adonis' ass to him and various ribs.
It gets a little sad after the Strike Force run when the WWF was running out of things to do with him. The Matador gimmick is covered. It's interesting to think about the WWF pushing into Mexico instead of Canada and pushing Tito Santana instead of Bret Hart.
The end has a silver lining, though. Tito got out of the business before it destroyed his life and left with enough money to start a new life as a teacher that also owns a hair salon.
Like all wrestling books, there's stuff that wasn't mentioned that I wouldn't have minded hearing about, like Tito teaming with Pedro Morales or Tito teaming with Danny Spivey. There were a good amount of road stories but I'd always read more. I really liked that the pre-wrestling chapters were interesting and not Tito patting himself on the back, though he doesn't seem like the type to do that anyway.
Four out of five stars.
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