The wrestler who would later be known as Máscara Sagrada was trained for his professional wrestling career by Espectro I, Villano I, Shadito Cruz, and Antonio Hernández before making his debut on September 2, 1978. He initially worked as the enMáscarado (masked wrestler) Hecatombe, which is Spanish for "Disaster" or "Massacre". In the early-to-mid 1980s Hecatombe won both the Texcoco Welterweight Championship and the Naucalpan Middleweight Championship while working for various local promotions. In 1987 he briefly worked as Ecatón before adopting the name "Magico" in October 1987, as he began working for Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL). In 1988 he briefly worked as El Alimaña II ("The Pest II") but soon returned to wrestling as Magico. In 1989, EMLL booker Antonio Peña brought in another wrestler who had worked as Magico in a local promotion, leading to the local Magico winning the rights to the name. Subsequently the future Máscara Sagrada worked as "Hombre Sin Nombre" ("Man with no name") for a short while in 1989.
EMLL booker Peña used the "Hombre Sin Nombre" storyline to create a new character, a character inspired by the sanctity of the mask in Lucha Libre, called Máscara Sagrada ("Sacred Mask"). Máscara Sagrada made his debut in June 1989. The vibrant colors of Máscara Sagrada's full bodysuit and mask, coupled with a very innovative mask design for the times made Máscara Sagrada a character the fans took notice of, and coupled with Máscara Sagrada's wrestling skills and charisma, he soon began moving up the ranks of EMLL. On March 21, 1991, Máscara Sagrada's climb up the ranks was rewarded with the Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship, which he won from Pierroth, Jr.. Two months later he participated in a tournament to crown the first ever CMLL World Heavyweight Champion (EMLL had been renamed to Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre in the winter of 1990). He lost in the first round to Cien Caras. His popularity led to CMLL creating a Mini-Estrella version of Máscara Sagrada called Mascarita Sagrada.
During this time Máscara Sagrada starred in a movie called Octagón y Máscara Sagrada, lucha a muerte ("Octagon and Máscara Sagrada in Fight to the Death" in the US) alongside fellow luchador Octagón. The movie led to Máscara Sagrada and Octagón teaming up on a regular basis, with Atlantis being added to form a trio. Since all three wrestlers had starred in movies they were dubbed Los Moviestars. Los Moviestars won the Mexican National Trios Championship from a team called "Los Thundercats" (which was patterned after the ThunderCats animated series) on April 29, 1991. The team's reign as Trios champions came to an end on August 11, 1991, when Los Capos (Cien Caras, Máscara Año 2000 and Universo 2000) beat them for the championship.
In 1992 CMLL booker Antonio Peña decided to leave CMLL and create his own promotion, Asistencia Asesoria y Administracion, later known simply as AAA in order to carry out the vision he had for how wrestling should be promoted. When Peña left CMLL a lot of young wrestlers left with Peña, staying loyal to the man that had advocated that they should be featured more. One of these wrestlers was Máscara Sagrada, who in addition to leaving CMLL also took the Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship with him when he jumped. On May 29, 1992, Máscara Sagrada lost the title to Universo 2000; with the title change the Mexico City Boxing and Wrestling Commission officially recognized AAA's control of the title.
Máscara Sagrada wrestled on AAA's inaugural Triplemanía show, teaming with Love Machine and Mascarita Sagrada to defeat the team of Jerry Estrada, Blue Panther, and Jerrito Estrada. Following Triplemanía I Máscara Sagrada became involved in a storyline feud with AAA's main rudo (bad guy) group Los Gringos Locos of Eddy Guerrero, Love Machine, Konnan and Black Cat. Máscara Sagrada's main opponent was Black Cat, building to a Lucha de Apuesta, mask vs. mask match between the two at Triplemanía II-B. The match was the semi-main event of the show and saw Máscara Sagrada defeated Black Cat two falls to one, forcing Black Cat to unmask and reveal his real name. A few weeks later Máscara Sagrada also appeared at Triplemanía II-C, teaming with Hijo del Santo, Lizmark and Perro Aguayo to defeat the team of Black Cat, El Satánico, La Parka and Psicosis two falls to one. At Triplemanía III-C, he teamed with Konnan, Aguayo, and Latin Lover, losing to the team of Cien Caras, Máscara Año 2000, Fishman, and Jerry Estrada as one of the featured matches. On September 20, 1996 Máscara Sagrada defeated Pierroth, Jr. to win the Mexican National Heavyweight Championship, a title he held for 275 days in total before losing it to Cibernético. At Triplemanía IV-B Máscara Sagrada appeared in the main event, teaming with La Parka and Octagón to defeat Killer, Cien Caras, and Heavy Metal in a Lumberjack match.