When Merced Solis was a star tight end at West Texas A&M University, his quarterback was Tully Blanchard. This was certainly a sign of things to come.
Cut by the Kansas City Chiefs during training camp, Solis went on to play a season with the B.C. Lions in the CFL. After his season in Canada, Solis entered the world of pro wrestling and became Tito Santana.
Santana entered the WWF (now WWE) in 1979 and stayed there for over 14 years. During his lengthy stay, Santana carved out a career as a solid performer and a definite fan-favorite. Santana is one of just a few wrestlers who stayed on one side of the good-evil fence throughout his entire career in the WWF. Santana never turned to the dark side.
Santana won the WWF Intercontinental Championship twice, the WWF Tag-team Championship twice and the King of the Ring Tournament once. Santana had several big feuds and wrestled near the top of the card on many occasions, but he was never seriously in the WWF Championship picture. After his retirement from the WWF, Santana did win several Heavyweight Championships with smaller, independent organizations and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
Santana is now a teacher at a middle school in New Jersey, while his wife owns Santana's Hair Salon. By all accounts, he seems to be living a perfectly normal life. Santana may have never risen to the very top of his profession, but he has avoided the depths that so many have experienced.
It was nice to meet Santana. He was pleasant, talkative and relaxed. My friend looked at the picture and joked that we could have been a tag-team. Well, I certainly could have had worse partners in the ring. Arriba!