The Greatest Heel Many Never Knew
May 1, 2006 by Terry Russell
How someone achieved SO much, and yet so little will remain a sad question many have been asking for nearly 12 years. The impact and ascension of this man to the top of the Mexican wrestling ladder was one of the most incredible feats wrestling has ever seen. Son of wrestler & booker Sandy Barr, Art Barr initially made his name in 1989 in Don Owens Portland territory as Beetlejuice (a gimmick taken from the film), and quickly became a big fan favourite, especially with children. An 'issue' with the law however soon made it difficult for him to stay in Portland and he went to try his luck in WCW. As previously, he got over quick (again the kids loved him) but soon after many publications criticised WCW for allowing a convicted sex offender to act as a hero to children, and he was released just weeks later.
The next chapter of Barr's career took him to EMLL in Mexico in April 1991, where he was given a mask and name Love Machine. A year later he lost a mask vs. mask match to arch enemy Blue Panther, and surprisingly jumped ship to Antonio Pena's young AAA promotion, in which he turned heel, and joined forces with renowned talent Eddie Guerrero to form La Pareja Del Terror. For the next two years Guerrero and Barr dominated AAA, and became the blueprint of every future cocky, talented, heel tandem. So good were they at gaining heat that on many occasions there were attempts on both his and Guerrero's life.
Barr even found time to make his New Japan debut as 'American Love Machine' in the summer of '94, during which NJPW made him a lucrative offer to jump full time to the Orient, an offer he turned down. He was also wanted in the US, as ECW boss Paul Heyman had plans on bringing Barr and Guerrero in to feud with his top team The Public Enemy. Adding to that, he then signed a 5 year contract extension to remain with AAA, and took part in one of the greatest matches of the '90s in AAAs 1st ever PPV - November 6th 1994s When Worlds Collide. He and Guerrero clashed with El Hijo del Santo & Octagon in a double hair vs. mask match. The match, the undisputed highlight of an incredible card was simply phenomenal. Barr & Guerrero lost the match, and were shaved bald but it caught the eye of many promoters and Barr was once again being courted by wrestling's big guns.
Tragically the match would be last. On November 23rd his body was found by his mother at his home in Springfield, Oregon. He was just 28 years old. An autopsy carried out two days later could not find out what killed him. Suicide, heart attack, drugs overdose and brain aneurysms were all ruled out, though there were traces of prescription drugs in his system. Barr's death shocked Mexican wrestling, so much so that many point to the tragedy as being a main reason that business in Mexico started to wane. Before the start of an AAA house show on November 25th Barr received a ten bell salute. Like the scenes that followed in the wake of Owen Harts death, many wrestlers wept openly. Guerrero especially took Barr's death very badly.
Barr was buried on November 30th. He left behind a five-year-old son, and a pregnant fiancÚ who gave birth to Barr's second child in 1995.
Barr, whose trademark was the American flag tights & the frog-splash finisher (Guerrero later took the move as his own as a tribute), was a heel who went to all lengths to incur the wrath of the Mexican public and did it in a fashion no heel had done before or any has done since. When one thinks of the wonderful contribution he could've have made to mainstream wrestling - WWF or WCW especially it really galls. Even now he would only have been 39 years old and more than capable, in WWEs current state, to have been a top draw heel. Much like Eddie Gilbert and Brian Pillman, Barr is one died far, far too early, and just when he seemed likely to take that big step to super stardom.
R.I.P. Love Machine
Dedicated to Eddie Guerrero.
by Terry Russell ..
Lindsay O'Connor wrote:
A good article on a wrestler whom many had forgotten, he had the complete package when it came to being an artful heel. Art Barr was a rare find and a diamond in the rough just waiting to be found. The only thing you made a mistake with is that Eddie Guerrero and Art Barr were known as Los Gringos Locos, not as Pareja Del Terror throughout their career. They were a phenominally skilled team that I hope have finally reunited, those Gringos were Locos!
Colm Kearns wrote:
A very good column. I saw Barr and Guerrero wrestle EL Hijo Del Santo and Octagon in the match you mentioned and was really impressed by him. Not only the quality of the match but also how he strove so hard to draw heel heat. I loved it when he'd hit a dropkick and say "thats made in America." He oozed charisma and had a lot of in ring talent from what I saw of him. His death was a tragedy but your article is a good tribute to him, well done.
Terry Russell (Original Author) wrote:
Lindsay, don't think me petty for this but I feel compelled to reply to your feedback. You wrote that Barr and Guerrero did NOT wrestle as La Pareja Del Terror as I said, but instead wrestled under the name Los Gringos Locos.
They infact DID wrestle as La Pareja Del Terror (The Terror Pair). The stable of which they were a part of which included Konnan & Louis Spicolli AKA Madonna's Boyfriend amongst others WAS called Los Gringos Locos. The obvious comparison to make would be Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, together they were The Outsiders, but their stable which included Hogan, Savage, Giant etc was called the nWo.
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