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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Best of the Worst Masked Angles Ever
September 16, 2005 by Christopher Guido


The mask, in America the mask meant something different than it does south of the border. In Mexico it was part of the wrestler, part of the tradition and a symbol that from time to time could be put on the line in the most extreme circumstances. It meant as much or most times more than a title. In America it seemed more times than not it was used to repackage a character so that people didn't realize who it was. I bet at some points promoters used it so they didn't have to pay as much to two different wrestlers and marched the same guy out there twice. Thinking back on it there have been so many, some good and some bad. For me there were three masked angles that make me smile with wonderful nostalgic feelings. All three had one thing in common, they were meant to be fun. In my opinion these are the best of the worst. Angles so bad they were sheer merriment.

Let's start off first with the Eighth Wonder of the World. Andre cannot and I mean CANNOT be mistaken for anyone. He is Andre, and no one else even came close. The voice boomed and the body moved with the force of a Mastodon.

I've never in my life had anyone ask me (fan or not of wrestling) "Who's that guy"" They never asked because they all knew. So how ridiculous could it have been when a man called The Giant Machine came onto the scene looking just like the person no one could possibly look like. There was a tag tam called the Machines, the Super Machine (Bill Eadie) and the Big Machine (Robert Windham), who were two large masked men in the then WWF. When the Giant Machine joined the ranks I remember a hilarious interview with Bobby Heenan. Andre was supposed to be suspended, and once he was this new member of the Machines came along. In the interview Bobby said that this masked man was of course Andre and had to unmask to prove otherwise. When ever Bobby turned away towards the interviewer Giant Machine would walk off set and the Super Machine would step back on in his place. Then Bobby would turn back around and give one of his priceless faces and double takes. Then he'd turn back around again and Giant Machine would enter again. Back and forth it went until Bobby couldn't take it anymore. How comical to think we could mistake Andre for anyone else, but that was why it was fun.

This next one wasn't great on its own, but the moment it happened it made me think of what will be my number one best of the worst masked angles. Say what you will about Hulk Hogan but Mr. America was so utterly preposterous I laughed out loud. To me it was so old school. The friend I was watching with wasn't a fan from way back, so he just thought it was dumb. I can see his line of reasoning though. From his point of view, he was used to the modern day wrestling of ECW, Attitude and hardcore in general. He is used to a shoot interview and doesn't suspend disbelief like we had to. He doesn't remember back to the days of innocence, being a young kid watching these characters on TV and following storylines for months or years and not weeks. Having the moustache showing, the famous frame Hulk walks around in and the utter unabashed ignorance to even try to hide his vocal mannerisms was part of the joke. It was great to me, mostly because it made me think back to my favorite bad masked angle of all time.

And that had to be Dusty Rhodes as the Midnight Rider. I just thought that was the worst thing I ever saw, making it one of my favorite memories. If the one thing about Andre was his size, that being it cannot be distinguished from anyone else, Dusty had one indistinguishable feature also. No one in wrestling sounded like Dusty. The lisp, the southern drawl, the timing, the pitch and the song like quality of what he was saying and how he said it. And somehow, the Midnight Rider just happened to sound exactly like Dusty Rhodes. To be honest, most wrestlers didn't look like Dusty either, so the big body with the voice and the mannerisms added up to some of my favorite times. When I was younger I thought it was brilliant what they did with that character. I know I'm a sucker for old Dusty stuff. Having him suspended for accidentally hitting then NWA President Jim Crockett and then suddenly the mysterious "Rider" comes on the scene to right the wrong done to Dusty was great. Since the old days of the original Four Horsemen was so enjoyable I'm sure it adds to my fond memories. The Rider would interfere with the Horsemen's matches just like they did to everyone else, and as a kid I liked that kind of justice. If memory serves me correctly I think the storyline ended with a title defense against Ric Flair who put his belt up against The Midnight Rider's mask. Not in the normal stipulations though, this time the Rider only had to unmask if he won. So even though the Midnight Rider won the match, he didn't unmask because if it was found out Dusty was the Rider he was going to be banned for life, so he handed the belt back and never officially won it. People can criticize Dusty all they want, but at the time I thought it was genius.

Many times my friends and I would guess who we thought were under the masks, some people I was never able to tell until years later. The most fun though was when you couldn't not know.

by Christopher Guido ..


Aaron Tolles wrote:
I will have to agree with you on your choices,they were pretty bad yet fun.But lets not forget these one...Yellow Dog(Brian Pillman),Dos Hombres(Ricky Steamboat and what was supposed to be Shane Douglas),and The Screaming Eagles(The Freebirds).We knew who all of them were because nothing changed,well except Steamboat's goofy dance.But I think most masked gimmicks are fun,especially when we know who it is.We haven't seen it happen in awhile,I think Spanky as the Pittsbirgh Penguin was the last,but I think that soon enough we will see the fun of the obvious masked man.
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