The kill has long been called The Moment of Truth in bullfighting cycles and there are varied reasons why.
First, the kill is the grand finale’ of a matador’s performance. The kill makes or breaks him. A swift kill will bring applause and even awards. A poor kill will bring jeers and derision
Second, most contend the kill is the most dangerous part of the bullfight, for when the matador goes over the head of the bull to deliver the thrust, he momentarily loses sight of the horn..
Third, the fact remains. An alarming total of toreros; received fatal gorings while delivering the sword.
The case of Varelito remains an odd one, for he had been hassled by the crowd during his final Sevillian bullfight and as he placed the sword, he was caught and tossed. The bull delivered a major goring in the rectal area and as he was been carried to the infirmary he knew his time had come.
“This is what you really wanted,” he shouted back into the crowd. :Now you have given it to me.”
Manolete died from a goring while facing his Moment of Truth in Linares, Spain, in what has become the most celebrated bullfight in Spanish history. Challenged by an upcoming Luis Miguel Dominguin, Manolete rose to the occasion and delivered a performance winning ears and tail, but as he climaxed his work with a deadly thrust to his bull, the animal hooked to the side and drove a horn into his right groin, He died some hours later, claiming he was unable to see though his eyes were wide open.
The kill was considered his specialty, but on this one afternoon he made a fatal flaw. He did not cross properly, that is move the muleta in the right way as he went in with the steel and it came to cost him.
Master swordsmen have not been just related to Spain, however, like the late Rovira of South America and Eloy Cavazos, now retired, from Mexico, were two of the most devastating killers in history.
Surprisingly, not every top torero was a great killer. Antonio Bienvenida would generally kill on the first thrust or take forever if his trial attempt failed. Manolo Martinez of Mexico was the same way, where it was all or nothing. This flaw ended a hyped up tour of Spain here during his Madrid presentation, he was all but booed out of the plaza due to his weak kills.
There have been other matadores who were good at the Moment of Truth, but did not like it. Hemingway remarked in Death in the Afternoon that the great Chicuelo hated to kill.
No one seems sure just who started the whole Moment of Truth thing, but it certainly sounds fitting and that is why it has stuck.
Others outside the bullfighting world thought so too. Italian director, Francesco Di Rossi became famous for a bullfight movie, carrying the Moment of Truth title and with real matador, Miguelin, as his star.
The Moment of Truth has become so catchy it has been taken from the original bullfighting realm to be used as a general term for any difficult task, in a multitude of languages.