US wrestler promotes anti-illegal immigration agenda on Mexican wrestling tour

US wrestler promotes anti-illegal immigration agenda on Mexican wrestling tour

Credit: Lucha Libre USA

Professional wrestler RJ Brewer, whose real name is John Stagikas, is an unlikely anti-illegal immigration crusader on "Lucha Libre USA," a Mexican-themed wrestling tour.

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by ABC News' Linsey Davis & Ben Newman

WHAS11.com

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 10:16 PM

(ABC News) --  Professional wrestler "RJ Brewer" is El Mero Malo, the chief bad guy on "Lucha Libre USA," a Mexican-themed wrestling tour.

Unmasked and unapologetic, RJ Brewer is an unlikely crusader against illegal immigration on the tour who has become a metaphorical punching bag for U.S. Latinos frustrated and outraged over immigration policy. Holding an Arizona flag over his head, Brewer's job as the anti-immigrant character in the ring is to heckle the crowd. But for him, it's not all an act.

"If you don't have documentation, if you don't have paperwork and if you don't go through the proper steps to get here to work, then you shouldn't be here," Brewer said. "It's a pretty simple statement that I am trying to spread and I have been deemed a bigot because of it."

Brewer's real name is John Stagikas, a 33-year-old who made the leap from real estate to wrestling. While he is from Boston, about 2,000 miles from the Mexican border, he is a one-man campaign with a platform based solely on building fences, not bridges.

Such political spectacles in the wrestling arena aren't new. The WWF's Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff famously played off American fears of communism and Islam in their bouts with "Army hero Sgt. Slaughter." But Brewer said El Mero Malo isn't a character for him.

"Obviously, it's pro-wrestling and I turn it up for the cameras," he said. "I'm pretty soft spoken and I'm not screaming or yelling or beating my chest, but my message is real and this is how I feel."

One of the most popular entertainment events in Mexico, pro-wrestling is known there for its striking acrobatics and colorful masks. Unmasking a luchador, as professional wrestlers are known, in the ring is viewed as the final act of victory and the ultimate humiliation for the loser, and it has special meaning for Brewer.

"The mask, in my opinion, symbolizes evil," he said. "In the United States, if someone puts on a mask, it's either for one, Halloween, or two, to commit a crime. So this mask to me, it represents a great advantage to them and maybe they're hiding their identity."

The stars of "Lucha Libre USA" are typically unknown, but not in Brewer's case. His unwavering intensity resembles that of another anti-illegal immigration advocate: The in-your-face, finger-pointing-at-the-president Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, the woman he jokes is his mother.

In the past, the governor has declined to comment on the matter. ABC News reached out to her office today for comment, but our request was not immediately returned.

"Jan Brewer is obviously, in my opinion, she is the only politician that has the guts to tell our president, 'Hey, secure the border and do your job,'" he said.

RJ Brewer insists that he is not a bigot, that he just wants people to follow the law of the land, in particular, Senate Bill 1070, the contentious immigration law in Arizona and Gov. Brewer's brainchild.

While striking down most of the law last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the most controversial part of the law's provisions, which allows for police officers to ask for immigration status during stops, is constitutional.

"Nightline" was with RJ Brewer when the decision came down, of all places, at a Mexican restaurant.

"I don't think it's all right," he said. "The main goal of SB 1070 is to keep the state clean, to keep the illegal immigration and the crime that comes with it out, and the main provision has stayed for now the police officers can still check for documentation but some other important provisions were left out."

But Brewer believes that the law that allows officers to check for identification is not racial profiling.

"The constitution clearly states, 'We the people' but it's 'We the people of the United States,' not 'we the people of Mexico,'" he said.

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