El Día Del Cambio
by Daryl Daman, ProLucha.com

September 15th 2005: Lucha Libre experiences El Día Del Cambio!

As followers of Mexican wrestling know, the business has been in a serious slump since 2002, with many long-time fans who remembered the "Golden Era" declaring that this was the worst time for Lucha Libre in living memory. Little did they know that the summer of 2005 brought with it the seeds that would lead to one of the most famous days in Mexican wrestling history - El Día Del Cambio, "The Day Of Change".

The story begins in February, With a new government having come to power in Mexico. They had promised to take on the widespread corruption in the country by overhauling the legal system. Over the next few months, this new system was implemented, with the first major impact on wrestling felt in June - it was discovered that the contracts that the three wrestling promotions in the country were using were actually illegal, as they used a certain loophole to avoid tax laws. The decision from the government was swift, and all the contracts were declared void on July 1st 2005. This sent shockwaves through the industry, as this meant that literally overnight all three promotions had lost their entire rosters.

Realising that this could be catastrophic, the three owners (Joaquin Soler of OLLIE, Domino of MPWF, and Jorge Ibanez of SOTBPW) held secret talks the very next day. After three days of negotiations, they hammered out an agreement that would change the face of Mexican wrestling. They decided that they would hold an event called El Día Del Cambio, "The Day Of Change". For the first time ever, all three major promotions would work together to hold one inter-promotional show. As well as matches to keep the fans entertained, the major part of the night would be a live "draft", in which the three promotions would take it in turns to pick wrestlers from a pool of free agents. Only the owners themselves would be excempt from selection. At the end of the night, they would all sign a non-aggression pact, guaranteeing that they would not try to steal talent from each other, and then they would go back to running their separate companies. Their hope was that by uniting for one spectacular, never-before-seen event, they could inject new life into the business.

El Día Del Cambio happened on September 15th 2005, at Mexico's largest stadium. The night began in spectacular and surprising fashion - as the three owners stood in the ring making their speeches, Pablo Rodriguez came out to a huge ovation. Rodriguez, a Mexican wrestling icon, had not appeared in his home country since 1998, having left to wrestle in Japan, Europe, and most notably with DAVE in the USA. The now global superstar announced that he had decided to return full time, and was entering himself into the draft. He then proceeded to have an excellent match with Champagne Lover to kick off the show.

The draft itself happened at the end of the night. The rules were simple. The first round would consist of 15 picks, with one selection per turn. The order of selection was decided by coin toss, with it coincidentally ending up in the order of promotion seniority: OLLIE, then MPWF, then SOTBPW. All the major tag teams took the option of being counted as one pick in order to stop them being broken up. Every active competitor was eligible to be drafted, with the exception of Domino given that he owned one of the promotions. The second round would consist of 5 picks each, with selections in the reverse order of the first round. Every wrestler not signed by the end of the night would be a free agent, and would be eligible to normal contract offers.

The story of the first round was one of strategy. OLLIE, the most traditional promotion, went mainly for proven veterans. MPWF chose to take a different route, looking to sign wrestlers who had strong characters. Most surprising of all was SOTBPW, who seemed to completely eschew big names (with the exception of Pablo Rodriguez), and instead look for youngsters who had the potential to be break out stars. The first round selections ended up as:

OLLIE: El Leon, El Critico, Marcos Flores, Nicolas Lopez, Championa Jr, Manuel Prieto, Mastericco, Phoenix I, Oceano, Dos Phoenix (Phoenix II and Phoenix III), Los Academia (Hexx and Decimalo), Leonardo Cortes, Los Dominguez (Miguel and Julio), Luis Montero Jr, Rafael Ruiz
MPWF: Soul Taker, El Bandito, Blue Sky, Electo, Spanish Superfly, Magnifico, Mayan Idol, Atlantis Jr, Inca Jr, The Continental Connection (Asiatica and Europea), The Magnificent Mark, Jungle Jack, Apprentica Jr, Cique Jr, El Guardiano Jr
SOTBPW: Pablo Rodriguez, El Demonico, Charron, Mario Heroic, Axxis Jr, Champagne Lover, Mexican Beast, Los Heartbreakers (Junior Youth and Masked Rebel), Torque, Los Sickness (Enrique Merino and Tijuana Vampire), Cyclone, Los Destructores (Hugo Garrido and Grue Slugg), Magik, Dark Magik, Los Fury

The second round proved less surprising, as all three promotions scrambled to add the "best of the rest" to their line-ups.

SOTBPW: Del Muerto, Mexican Ghoul, Blood Raven, Pirrato, The Gatekeeper
MPWF: Daniel Cano, Javier Cano, Antonio Nieto, Crazy Miguel, Guillermo Marcos
OLLIE: Luchadore Originalic, Angelico Del Mexico, Raul Sanz, Mr. Lucha II, Slayyer

Following the final draft pick, Slayyer, the three owners shook hands to honour their agreement not to steal each other's talent, and left to give their opening speeches to their new rosters. The draft seemed to work, as there were reports of 25% increases in attendance levels directly following El Día Del Cambio, a trend that has continued in the following months.