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By Mike Johnson on 2020-01-23 10:09:00

The Cauliflower Alley Club issued the following sad news:

?We heard this morning that Ruben Cruz, better known to wrestling as Hercules Ayala, passed away last night due to heart issues at the age of 69. Born in Puerto Rico, Cruz wrestled all over the world, winning dozens of titles in his career. No one will ever forget his unique look, and we offer our condolances at this time ?to his family and his loved ones.

Ayala, originally born in Puerto Rico, was trained in professional wrestling by the late Angelo Savoldi while living in Boston, where his mother had moved to from the island.  After a chance meeting in a gym, Ayala was taken under Savoldi's wing and worked underneath matches for the World Wide Wrestling Federation.   Working as Ruben Ayala, a babyface, he would work undercard matches, losing to the likes of Baron Mikel Scicuna and getting put over Johnny Rodz and Tony Altimore on live events.

Although he worked a number of different territories in the United States, his major push and star power came from working in his native Puerto Rico, where he was a top performer for the World Wrestling Council in the 80s and 80s, feuding with Hercules Hernandez and Kevin Sullivan, among others.  He defeated Randy Savage for the WWC Championship in 1985 and was such a large star on the Island that he challenged Ric Flair for the NWA World title when Flair visited the terrtiory. 

After many years of being a signature babyface for the company, he turned heel and began carrying a chain with him, managed by Chicky Starr. Since he was based around power spots and brawling, the switch came natural to him and the turn led to a long, legendary feud with Carlos Colon Sr. over the WWC Universal Championship.  One major angle saw Ayala attack Colon's wife, Nancy, during a WWC Awards ceremony.  After two years, Colon drove Ayala out of the territory in a Loser Leaves Town Match.

Outside of Puerto Rico, Ayala was a regular partner of WWC official Victor Jovica and the two held the NWA North American Tag Titltes.   In 1978 he toured for the Otto Wanz' CWA, where he crossed paths with the Hart family, setting up his entry into Stampede the following year.   He worked Stampede in the late 1970s and early 1980s, working against the Hart Family as a heel as well as a pre-Junkyard Dog Sylvester Ritter and Jake Roberts, among others.  Ayala and Jim Neidhart teamed to win the Stampede Tag Team titles. 

Ayala also worked for Luttle Internationale in Canada, where he feuded with David Schultz and Abdullah the Butcher for that area's Canadian International Heavyweight Championship.  In St. Louis, he was billed as Crusher Ayala and worked there in the early 1980s against the late Bruiser Brody, Roddy Piper, Bulldog Brown and others.

Ayala returned to Puerto Rico to help run opposition to the Colons in the early 1990s for Gloria Uribe's American Wrestling Federation, where he held the promotion's top title and worked as the booker during its short run.  Hw would return to WWC after the AWF folded, feuding with Bronco I.  The 2011 WWC Anniversario event was dedicated to Ayala.

We are told Ayala had been in poor health for some time.  He was 69 years old at the time of his passing.

Our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Hercules Ayala.

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