Twelve years. Twelve years is all it took for a sixteen year old to follow destiny, preordained by family rite.
This is the legend of Bandido.
Born in Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico in 1995, Bandido would train and grow in Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) before trying the identity of Magnifico II and CIelito before going by what we know him as today. Since the tradition of wearing masks in Mexican wrestling is so important, the identity of Bandido is a well-kept secret, due to the cultural and important nature of a mask. Luchadores live, breathe, and sleep by the mask, and only those close enough may gain visage unto the bare face. To lose your mask is to lose your identity. It is an emotional tradition, respected by many in Mexico.
So, that’s why Bandido is largely a mystery. The bulk and importance of his story comes from his arrival as Bandido in 2016, and he hasn’t looked back since. In his time in Lucha Libre Elite and Crash Lucha Libre, he would share this with his peers – but the outside world is where he shines and is where he stays as decorated.
He has, of course, won gold in almost every promotion he has performed in. From Ring of Honor to Pro Wrestling Guerilla to Progress Wrestling to the World Wrestling Association, he has won world championships and tag team champions. Bandido has had the distinction of winning PWG’s The Battle of Los Angeles, performing in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Best of the Super Juniors, and in the trios tag team match alongside Rey Fenix and Rey Mysterio against The Young Bucks and Kota Ibushi – a card that would see the rise of what would shift the wrestling industry in All Elite Wrestling.
For AEW fans, we’ve seen few matches of Bandido thus far, with his debut featured opposite of Chris Jericho during the Lionheart’s ROH World Championship reign and during a qualifier tournament with Rush, but everyone sees what he brings to the table, and we salivate for more of it. That’s why the prospect of his upcoming match with technician Bryan Danielson is mouth-watering, tantalizing at the prospect of the magic at what the two can bring on the January 18 episode of AEW: Dynamite.
If you are not sold on how important and high-caliber a star he is, given his heritage and accomplishments, perhaps a description of the lucha libre wrestler is in order.
Let’s take a trip to the metaphorical ringside to understand what makes Bandido, Bandido.
You’ve seen The Lucha Bros in AEW and Rey Mysterio in WWE/WCW/ECW. The lucha style demands a fast-paced style, with the utmost of precision. Among the few who can do this solidly and superfluously, Bandido is one of them. His mask hangs low, like a bandana wrapped around his face and his hair flows through the breeze in his every movement. The ropes and turnbuckles are guidance, like obstacles for a parkour performer, and your eyes must stay fixated, for every move in the blink of an eye can give him leeway. Not only is he a master of the wind, as his dropkicks and agility may prove, but his stamina as well. Who else could stand on their head?
Stamina and endurance – this leads to a staple of his matches, where, if trapped, then may your suffering be quick and painless.
Hoisting opponents upon his shoulder upside down, Bandido maintains this posture, as the blood flows from the legs to the torso, until it all rushes to the head, disorienting his opponent. It’s enough to make one dizzy, to grab for a bag or run for the toilet to vomit. That pounding headache and warm rush of red would weaken anyone. And Bandido boisterously consistently keeps this going, counting with the fans as the seconds that feel like five minutes pass. If you can last past this once finished, you’re lucky. If you can beat him after that, you’re phenomenal. That is the power of Bandido.
One need only look at his WxW match with Mike Bailey or his PWG war with Daniel Garcia to see the level of intensity and action that Bandido delivers. Once Ring of Honor folded in 2021, Bandido’s fate remained a hot commodity, with the two biggest Western cats in town, AEW and WWE, vying for him.
Inevitably, Bandido chose AEW, for the freedom to stay home more often, but to also wrestle in local Mexican promotions.
However, there is something missing from the talented mystery man when it comes to wrestling in the United States. That is more time and opportunity. Matches need to be won by Bandido to make him.
The barrier of human language being broken through the verbiage of competition and combat speaks loudly enough to the passion that lies behind his mask. We don’t need an impassioned promo, adorned with subtitles. We just need to see him win or do his damndest to try.
Give me Bandido vs Konosuke Takeshita, with the stakes that both men need a win to rise. Show me Bandido wrestling for television titles, maybe even winning one. Display his strengths and you could have matches the likes of Dynamite Kid vs Tiger Mask, the WCW Cruiserweight Division, or the TNA X-Division times ten. That’s the appeal of a Bandido match. You know you’re getting a star who can do it all.
We are given very few stars in wrestling to take advantage of while they are with us, and with as young as Bandido is, such an opportunity cannot be wasted. It can pass by like a gentle breeze if not allowed to bolster into a cyclone.
Wrestling is in his soul, and it is his lifeblood. See how he fares with Bryan Danielson, and you will know the wind that is Bandido.