In a tragic incident at London’s Roundhouse perfomance venue Saturday night, a famous Mexican wrestler best known for his role as a villain in the Jack Black comedy “Nacho Libre” (2006), died in the ring. Due to the highly orchestrated nature of the event, “at first no one knew anything was wrong,” the Associated Press reports.
Cesar Cuauhtemoc Gonzalez Barron, whose ring name is “Silver King,” appears to have died of cardiac arrest during a match against Juventud Guerrera (“Youth Warrior”), the group that promoted the event, Lucha Libre World, confirmed Sunday morning.
After Gonzalez, 51, was knocked to the mat by Juventud Guerrera, the famous wrestler struggled to get back to his feet, AP reports. Gonzalez was then hit again by his younger opponent and fell forward, at which point he lay motionless on the floor. Juventud Guerrera pinned him then stood up to celebrate his victory, but Gonzalez didn’t move. Initially, witnesses said, they weren’t sure if the moment was “staged,” but as efforts to revive him failed, what had actually happened became clear.
“All of us were really shocked. It wasn’t clear what was happening,” attendee Roberto Carrera Maldonado told the BBC. “I had the impression they didn’t know what to do.”
After a few minutes, the audience was asked to clear the venue. “The London Ambulance Service said medics arrived five minutes after they were called to the Roundhouse on Saturday, but the patient was pronounced dead at the scene,” AP reports.
Gonzalez’s family has been heavily involved in the wrestling scene for decades. Both his father (stage name “Dr. Wagner”) and his brother (“Dr. Wagner Jr.”) were likewise well-known wrestlers.
Lucha Libre World issued a statement Sunday morning on “the tragic loss of Silver King last night at the Roundhouse.”
“We are sorry to confirm that last night at ‘The Greatest Show of Lucha Libre’ at Camden’s Roundhouse, Cesar Cuauhtemoc Gonzalez Barron (AKA Silver King) suffered what we believe was a cardiac arrest while performing in the show and sadly passed away. We have truly lost one of Lucha Libre’s greatest wrestlers and our thoughts and condolences are with Cesar’s family and his fans across the world,” the group tweeted. “We will be able to make further announcements when more information becomes available.”
On Sunday, Roundhouse also issued a statement on social media confirming that the star wrestler had died and expressed their condolences. “Last night Silver King sadly lost his life during an event at the Roundhouse. At this stage the details are still being investigated so we don’t have more information we can share. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and all of the Lucha Libre team,” Roundhouse tweeted.
The WWE has also posted a statement lamenting the famous wrestler’s tragic death and celebrating his contributions to wrestling.
“WWE is saddened to learn that Lucha Libre legend and former WCW star Silver King has passed away at age 51,” the organization wrote. “A champion luchador in his native Mexico, Silver King, real name César Cuauhtémoc González Barrón, entertained audiences across the globe, and was a standout in WCW’s Cruiserweight division in the late ’90s. Outside the ring, he appeared under a mask as the villainous Ramses in the popular 2006 comedy ‘Nacho Libre.’ WWE extends its deepest condolences to Silver King’s family, friends and fans.”