Herodes (Victor Góngora, 1950 - ) is one of the great forgotten rudo workers of the 80s.
As a kid, he wanted to be a torero (bullfighter) and at age 8 he'd fight yearling bulls at his grandfather's ranch, but stopped doing so when a cow almost ran over him trying to protect his child. He picked it up again and at age 12 he even was a "Niño Torero" at a circus show, but soon after that he left bullfighting for good.
When he was a bit older he trained boxing in Monterrey and competed in the amateur bantamweight ranks. He won four straight four round fights, and then he moved on to six round fights where he won two more fights. He still wasn't ready, but one day he had to cover for a no-showing fighter in a 10 round fight where he was given such a beating that he decided to give up.
After trying out cycling and baseball, at age 16 he finally settled on lucha libre, training during three years with Príncipe Judas and Antonio Cruz, and even at some point with Diablo Velazco, debuting on February 24, 1969 at age 18.
He made a name for himself locally and made it to Mexico City in 1977, competing for La Empresa (EMLL) and working at Arena Mexico preliminares from the start with other heavyweight veterans like El Nazi or Raúl Reyes. He was considered to be a very good asset, because he was a heavyweight who could move and bump like a wrestler 30 kilos lighter. He had a "Tijera de Oro" gimmick he'd been carrying from Monclova, claiming something like 30 straight "cabellera" wins (the most important one being on November 18, 1977 against Enrique Vera at Arena México) until losing to Halcón Ortiz on September 23, 1981, during an Anniversary show.
On February of 1981 he went to Japan with El Cobarde to work for IWE, against the likes of Mach Hayato, Mighty Inoue, Higo "Animal" Hamaguchi and Isamu Teranishi. He definitely caused a good impression, as he looked like a Butcher Vachon or Killer Tim Brooks type but moved like a luchador. However, IWE closed down soon thereafter, NJPW only dealed with UWA, and AJPW wasn't interested in junior heavyweights, so he never returned to Japan.
During the 80s he had both the benefit and the problem of being a heavyweight. The benefit was that he'd have a main event spot as long as he showed high quality work or charisma, and he showed both. The drawback was that in EMLL the heavyweights weren't pushed as much as other lighter weights.
Also around this time he started promoting cards in the north of the country in a partnership with Sangre Chicana, and acted as a talent scout for the company, sending Jerry Estrada and Halcón Negro to Mexico City. The Halcón story is a good one, because Herodes was a good friend of his father (Dr. Kronos) and was even there helping the family during his childbirth.
Herodes could make anyone look good, and his forte was working with young flyer types like Stuka, taking major bumps and being a great catcher for their top-rope moves and dives. His back and knees were shot after a few years, like it happens with all the overweight wrestlers that work that style, but he kept good slots in the carteleras at both Arena Mexico and Arena Coliseo.
When Antonio Peña took over the EMLL booking in 1991 he gave him a crazy man gimmick. He'd wear strange hair cuts and dye his hair with different colours, while showing up dressed like a roman emperor or a boxer and acting like he believed that was what he was. That gimmick failed, but Peña must liked it so much, because he took him to AAA in 1992 and gave him a second chance. On November of 1992 he was put in a team with Chavo Guerrero and Sicodélico that was supposed to be the top heel trio in the promotion, building feuds with Los Hermanos Dinamita, Perro Aguayo and Konnan (who was supposed to be taking Sicodélico's mask). Herodes' best days as a worker were a thing of the past, nobody remembered Chavo and Sicodélico was just so terrible (and eventually not willing to drop his mask after pressure of his brother Mil Máscaras) that the team was disbanded quickly and Herodes was the only one they kept around. He was still kept in a respectable position until he was let go in 1994.
In year 2000, out of nowhere, he got a last main event run as El Boricua (a character copied after the original El Boricua, David Sierra, who was never brought back after 1998 since Paco Alonso broke his business relationship with Víctor Quiñones). He was part of Pierroth's Puerto Rican army, which is funny because Pierroth actually unmasked the original Boricua, and by this point his work so terrible that it was difficult to fathom that at one point he was one of the best working rudos of the country.
With that character he was involved in one of the biggest fraude scandals in the history of modern lucha libre. On August 13, 2001 he lost his mask to Atlantis at the Plaza de Toros Lauro Luis Longoria in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas unmasking as "Big Von Hamemberg". Two days later he dropped the same mask to Atlantis at Arena Celaya in Celaya, Guanajuato and by this point a lot of people knew because of the magazines, which stopped him from losing the mask a third time, now against Máscara Sagrada at the weekly Monday show at Arena Isabel in Cuernavaca, Morelos. The reaction of the crowd, clued in by Luchas 2000 that had come out that same day, was so negative that Boricua just unmasked and they had a regular singles match.
After that, Herodes' name would eventually pop up from time to time at arenas in Monterrey, Puebla or Naucalpan, but we can pretty much affirm that he's now out of the main event scene for good, and his career will be sadly remembered for his big fraude rather than his amazing 80s work.
Luchas de apuestas record
|Date||Apuesta||Winner(s)||Loser(s)||Arena and/or Place|
|??/??/??||hair||Rayo de Jalisco Jr.||Herodes||unknown|
|77/11/18||hair||Herodes||Enrique Vera||Arena México - Mexico City|
|79/??/??||hair||El Faraón & Ringo Mendoza||Tony Benetto & Herodes||Arena México - Mexico City|
|81/09/23||hair||Halcón Ortiz||Herodes||Arena México - Mexico City|
|82/12/10||hair||R. Mendoza, C. Curiel & Rey Salomón||Tony Benetto, Herodes & A. Rubí||Arena México - Mexico City|
|83/09/18||hair||Tony Salazar||Herodes||Arena México - Mexico City|
|83/10/03||hair (1)||Tony Salazar||Herodes||Arena Coliseo - Mexico City|
|88/04/15||hair||MS-1||Herodes||Arena México - Mexico City|
|00/02/05||hair||Máscara Mágica||Herodes||Edificio del PRI - Monterrey, N.L.|
|01/08/13||mask (2)||Atlantis||El Boricua (Herodes)||Plaza de Toros Lauro Luis Longoria - Nuevo Laredo, Tamps.|
|01/08/15||mask (3)||Atlantis||El Boricua (Herodes)||Arena Celaya - Celaya, Guanajuato|
|(1) According to the Halcon 1983 annuary, Salazar and Halcón had 2 matches in just weeks; (2) Unmasked as Big Von Hamemberg (fake name); (3) Unmasked as Big Von Hamemberg (fake name)|