EDMONTON, AB: Another Albertan wrestling legend is gone too soon.
The WCSN is sad to report that Ruben Cruz, better known as Hercules Ayala, has passed away at the age of 69.
Ayala was a world-renowned wrestler with over 30 years of in-ring experience. After meeting and receiving training from former NWA star Angelo Savoldi, Ayala made his wrestling debut in 1974 for the then-WWWF. In December of 1976, Ayala and then-partner Victor Jovica won the Puerto Rican/WWC version of the NWA North American Tag Team Championships. The duo proceeded to hold the championships until December 25th, when they lost their titles to the Jim Starr and Tom Andrews.
In 1977, shortly after losing the NWA Tag Team titles, Ayala met Albertan wrestling legends Bret Hart and “The Dynamite Kid” Tommy Billington through a chance meeting in Germany. Shortly after, the pair introduced Ayala to Hart family patriarch Stu Hart, kicking off an eight-year run with the legendary Stampede Wrestling. In his time with the promotion, Ayala teamed with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart to claim the Stampede International Tag Team Championships in September of 1980.
In 1985, Ayala moved back to Puerto Rico, where he began perhaps the most prominent run of his career. Not only did Ayala feud with wrestling luminaries such as Kevin Sullivan and Hercules Hernandez, but true-blue legends in the forms of “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Ric Flair. In fact, in March 1985, he defeated Savage to win the WWC North American Heavyweight Championship, as well as Flair himself for the NWA title.
In 1987, Ayala shockingly turned heel, kicking off a monumental two-year feud with Carlos Colon over the WWC Universal Heavyweight Title. However, Ayala began to wind down his in-ring career after being defeated by Colon in a “Loser Leaves Town” match in 1989.
Not only was Ayala a prominent professional wrestler, but a valued member of the Albertan independent wrestling community. In 2001, Ayala was instrumental in the founding the Prairie Wrestling Alliance alongside Kurt Sorochan and Ivan Thomsen. Today, the PWA is Alberta’s longest-running independent wrestling promotion. In fact, Ayala was the first booker for the promotion.In 2008, Ayala was the second inductee to the PWA Hall of Fame.
The WCSN sends its condolences to Ayala’s friends, family and loved ones.
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