By ROY LUCIER – For SlamWrestling.net
It is truly impossible to list every single reason why myself and many lucha experts are unified in our belief that Jose Leonardo Carrera — Damian 666 — is deserving of this year’s Cauliflower Alley Club Lucha Libre Award.
While I’ve personally known him and seen him wrestle since 1992 in the Los Angeles area, his career goes back much further than that, to his hometown of Tijuana, Baja California, in the early 1980s, where he was trained by legendary “maestro” Luis Canales.
The funny thing about his upbringing was he wasn’t a fan of lucha libre. He was brought to the events, mostly in Guadalajara at Arena Coliseo, by his mother. But what stuck with him from those days was the iconic Anibal, who had a bodybuilder physique that stood out.
Carrera was actually a star soccer player in his youth. However, a random fight involving a knife got him to go to wrestling school to learn basic protection, and incredibly enough, 40 years later, he’s at this position in his career.
He had a couple early names, Caballero 2000 and Ultraman II, having good success in Northern Mexico. In 1991, Tijuana promoter Benjamin Mora ran a show along with Red Bastien that featured Japanese hardcore icon Atsushi Onita on it. It was on this show that Onita saw Carrera wrestling, and was impressed enough to bring him to his promotion in Japan, FMW (Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling). After a couple years in the promotion, Onita knew it was time to elevate Amigo Ultra into something more special, so he transformed him into the more darker and demonic “Damian 666”. On top of this gimmick change, he also paired him with one of the biggest names in the history of the business, The Sheik, along with his nephew, Sabu, who was also starting to make big waves in pro wrestling at the time with the promotion. His career blew up worldwide as the new dark character (as a note, Carrera is a devout Catholic, and the character is not a devil worshipper). Damian learned a lot from The Sheik, and even had the final match of Sheik’s career with him at the annual Kawasaki Stadium event on May 5, 1995. He had multiple tours with FMW during this time, even representing FMW in the second Super J Cup in December of 1995, which many consider to be one of the greatest tournaments ever in pro wrestling.
Back in Mexico, Carrera mostly still worked the Ultraman II gimmick, eventually losing a mask match in 1996 to Psicosis (the original one who wrestled in WCW) and stopped using the gimmick completely, sticking with the Damian character moving forward. He even made some appearances in ECW this year, challenging Raven for the ECW title. But later in the year, Konnan was in WCW and was starting to bring over the luchadores he felt would revolutionize pro wrestling as a whole. One of those names was Damian. It was in WCW where he was a member of the group led by Eddie Guerrero, the Latino World Order. He would be a regular in WCW for three years. Once his WCW run ended, he would again travel the world, wrestling back in Japan, this time for the All Japan promotion for multiple tours.
In late 2001, Carrera would make his debut at the most famous arena in Mexico, Arena Mexic,o for the CMLL promotion, as the company brought in Damian, Psicosis, Halloween, and Lady Victoria as “La Familia de Tijuana”. With WCW no longer in business, several of the luchadores that were well known there finally wrestled there, with Damian having huge success at this time, looked at by the fans and fellow luchadores with a lot of respect due to his travels worldwide. This group had amazing success in the company, even winning the countries most prestigious trios title, the Mexican National Trios title in mid 2002. They held onto the titles for quite some time until the group disbanded, which again, led to Damian joining one of the most prestigious factions of all time.
Perro Aguayo Jr. was one of the hottest stars in all of Mexico around the time frame, and in 2004, he decided to create his own name — his father is one of the most iconic figures in all of lucha libre — so he created the group “Los Perros del Mal”. One of the first members was Damian 666, who would remain one of the most essential members, even decades later. While lucha libre is known for six man groups, known as trios in Mexico, factions like Perros del Mal are not common. In many expert eyes, Los Perros del Mal may be the most successful faction of all time in Mexico. The group won multiple titles in CMLL, even branched off and became their own promotion at one point, and eventually made the jump to the rival promotion, AAA, in 2010, debuting at its biggest event each year, Triplemania. The group was the first to end the long winning streak of the Psycho Circus, with Damian being one of the luchadores in the match.
The list of titles that Damian has won in his career goes into the dozens, but another thing in Mexico is the factor of the “apuesta” or the “bet” match, where someone puts up their mask or their hair on the line, the biggest money making type match in the country. He has had huge mask or hair matches with the best of the best in Mexico over the decades, from the legendary El Satanico, to Chavo Guerrero Jr., to the original Psicosis, the Psycho Circus, and dozens more.
Even today, Damian 666 is still an active wrestler, and often times gets to team with his son, Bestia 666 (who happened to currently be half of the NWA World Tag Team champions with Mecha Wolf in the team known as La Rebelión).
While preparing his Cauliflower Alley Club program biography, I reached out to Damian, who I have personally known since 1993, when he was working in Compton, California. I asked him to name his career highlights. He named four:
1) When I got my professional wrestling license because of how hard it was to get it
2) My first trip to Japan
3) When I got a contract in WCW
4) Being able to share the ring with my son Bestia 666
Another thing about Damian 666, is the random stories about him that truly influenced multiple generations of big names throughout the business. I got in touch with Bret, the most knowledgeable superfan who follows the FMW promotion in Japan, and he sent along these tidbits about Damian, most I didn’t even know
1) He actually started off as Ultra Man in FMW but then Tsuburaya Productions found out so that’s when he had to start going by Amigo Ultra.
2) Eiji Ezaki (Hayabusa) actually lived at Damian’s house with his family for a couple of months when he first came to Mexico. Damian is also the one to suggest to Ezaki that he had to have another ring name before he begin working matches in Mexico which would result in Ezaki deciding on the name Hayabusa.
3) Damian also would bring Lucha Libre VHS tapes on the foreign bus which Mike Awesome would watch and go “I can do these” which resulted in Awesome including aerial moves to his offense.
I am thrilled to see someone as deserving as Damian 666 get this award from the Cauliflower Alley Club for the Lucha Libre portion of our Club. A nearly 40-year career, being a part of two of the most legendary factions of all time in pro wrestling, Los Perros del Mal and the original LWO, not to mention hundreds of overseas trips, along with thousands of matches, many being iconic in the world of Lucha Libre, is why Damian 666 will be honored with the Cauliflower Alley Club Lucha Libre award this year.
2023 CAULIFLOWER ALLEY CLUB HONOREES
- Iron Mike Mazurki Award: CM Punk
- Lou Thesz/Art Abrams Award: Ron Simmons
- Women’s Wrestling Award: Mickie James
- Tag Team Award: Brian Knobbs, Jerry Sags “The Nasty Boys”
- Men’s Wrestling Award: Koko B. Ware
- Lucha Libre Award: Damian 666
- Men’s Wrestling Award: Joe Malenko
- Posthumous Award: Killer Karl Kox
- Independent Wrestling Award: Riea Von Slasher
- Charlie Smith Referee Award: Kevin Jefferies
- REEL Award: Al Burke
- James C. Melby Historian Award: Koji Miyamoto
Roy Lucier is a long-time pro wrestling fan in California who frequently has traveled to Mexico for lucha libre shows. He runs the royswrestlingvault.com wrestling website, and you can follow him on Twitter.