So, I started watching in 1990, and it seemed like Tito had pretty much descended into JTTS hell by that point. As I learned more about the history, I became aware of the two IC reigns and the tag run with Martel, but even then, he lost on every Wrestlemania I rented…and yes, I never got around to watching the first one. My question is: what exactly happened that Tito wound up falling so far down the card? Do you think it would have gone the same way if Tom Zenk hadn’t screwed up whatever it was that he screwed up? Or was he a bigger star than someone who only watched Wrestlemania from that era would have figured, with a bunch of TV and house show wins and such? All I really saw were his JTTS years and the one-sided feud with Rick Martel.
That’s just how the business used to work. You got your run at the top (or as near the top as you were gonna get underneath Hogan and Savage) and then you dropped down and put guys over while someone new took over your spot. Besides, Tito was bulletproof anyway, a guy who they could stick in just about any position on the card and fans would buy into his comebacks and accept him in the role. Need someone to work a long match with a top guy on a house show? Tito Santana! Need a tag partner when someone flakes out and leaves? Tito Santana! Want to do a miracle jobber angle against the tag champs for fun? Tito Santana! I would bet you money that if they had stuck Tito into a World title match against Randy Savage leading up to Wrestlemania V, they would have torn down the house in a 20 minute match and had everyone in the building thinking that Tito might just win the belt. Tito was good people. He knew exactly what his role was and played it to perfection.