All wrestlers have to start somewhere on the path to making their dreams a reality, whether it be a wrestling school, church basement, bingo hall, etc. From there, those wrestlers work their way up to the pinnacle of their dreams. For many, that’s a career in WWE or more recently AEW, IMPACT! Wrestling or even NJPW. But sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination. In LWOPW’s newest feature, “Before They Were Famous,” we take a look at the pre-WWE careers of some of the company’s top current stars, following along on their road to superstardom. This time, we take a look at “The King of the Ropes”, WWE Superstar Gran Metalik, and his international journey to the WWE.
This past Friday on SmackDown, Lucha House Party‘s Gran Metalik had the biggest opportunity of his WWE career when he faced AJ Styles for the WWE Intercontinental Championship. But long before he joined WWE in 2016, as an entrant in the Cruiserweight Classic, he was a highly decorated grappler in Mexico and acclaimed for his ring work in Japan.
The man under the mask began his wrestling career in 2005, learning under the mentorship of lucha veterans Gran Cochisse and El Satánico. He initially began his career as Plata II, a copy-cat character based on mid-90s star Plata. But his run as the second Plata was brief, and he was soon repackaged under the name Metalik when he began working for Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) in 2007. In April of 2008, he got his first taste of gold in CMLL, winning the Occidente Welterweight Championship.
In November of 2008, he underwent another repackaging in CMLL. Earlier that year, CMLL had signed mini (little person) star Mascarita Dorada (who was previously known as Mascarita Sagrada in AAA). Usually in lucha libre, minis are smaller versions of regular lucha stars, but in this case, CMLL went the opposite route and wanted to create a “full-sized version” of Mascarita Dorada, with Metalik now becoming Máscara Dorada (in 2013, Mascarita Dorada would join the WWE Universe, as the bovine inspired El Torito, the mascot for Los Matadores). In April of 2009, he had his first taste of gold as Máscara Dorada, winning the CMLL World Super Lightweight Championship, a title he would hold for an astonishing 730-days. But he was still working primarily in multi-man tag matches at first, and in 2010, he would capture the Mexican National Trios Championship alongside Metro and Stuka Jr.
That September, he would once again win singles gold, this time the legendary Negro Casas for the CMLL World Welterweight Championship. He would also make his New Japan Pro Wrestling debut in May of 2010 and returned in November alongside La Sombra (now WWE’s Andrade) in New Japan’s Super J Tag League. He won trios gold once again, winning the CMLL World Trios titles alongside La Sombra and La Mascara. Máscara Dorada was on top of the world in CMLL in 2010, holding four titles simultaneously – the World Super Lightweight, Mexican National Trios, CMLL World Welterweight, and now the CMLL World Trios. He briefly lost the World Super Lightweight in April of 2011, but regained it in June, holding it for another 512-days. Máscara Dorada had become a huge singles star in Mexico and now Japan was beginning to take notice as well.
In June of 2013, he won the NWA World Historic Welterweight Championship, and in the spring of 2014, he was invited to take part in his first Best of the Super Juniors in NJPW, in Block A that also featured KUSHIDA, TAKA Michinoku, Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger, Ricochet, BUSHI, and The Young Bucks‘ Matt Jackson. Despite huge wins over KUSHIDA and Liger, he failed to advance out of his block. He would join NJPW full time in 2015, competing in 2015 Best of the Super Juniors. That April, he would face Kenny Omega for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship at NJPW Invasion Attack but failed to win the gold in Japan. He would become enemies of Los Ingobernables de Japon, particularly BUSHI, whom he lost his third CMLL World Welterweight Championship to in December of 2015. Máscara Dorada would get his revenge a month later in Tokyo as part of Fantasica Mania, defeating BUSHI to claim his fourth CMLL World Welterweight title. Shortly after his victory, his contract with NJPW expired.
It wasn’t soon after his departure from NJPW, that he was announced as an entrant in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, although under a name more tied to his past, in Gran Metalik. He had been recommended for the tournament by a former ally and enemy in New Japan, Prince Devitt, who was now working for WWE as Finn Balor. Initially just working as a one-off for the tournament, after his impressive showing in the Cruiserweight Classic, he was signed by WWE and became a part of the new Cruiserweight division and its show, 205 Live. By 2018, he was paired with two other masked luchadors in the WWE, Kalisto and Lince Dorado, to become the popular trio, Lucha House Party. And now Gran Metalik, “The King of the Ropes”, is starting to finally see his star begin to shine in the WWE Universe.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.