The Myth Of The Mask
August 11, 2005 by Cody Stoots
The masked wrestler. A staple in the lucha libre style of wrestling as well as many wrestlers in Japan. The question posed by many is, where have they gone" Most wrestle in Mexico where eight out of every ten wrestlers are masked. Japan also has many masked wrestlers. America for some reason has usually rejected the mask.
The masked wrestlers are perhaps the hardest wrestlers to find gimmicks. Many wrestlers from Mexico and Japan simply explain the mask as culture. Kane had a good reason (the burns from the Undertaker) but then his mask was taken away. One of the over used gimmicks for masked wrestlers is the pride of one's country. These wrestlers always must defend the honor of their country. More often than not a wrestler without a mask could pull off the same gimmick. Most masked wrestlers that are "patriotic" so to speak are usually face. A nice change would be a heel national pride wrestler. This wrestler would attack people that are not very American. Even the most American of wrestlers. That gimmick as well would get old too.
Perhaps a masked version of a former wrestler" If that who would it be" Usually masked wrestlers are light weights. What current or former wrestler would benefit from a mask" Chris Benoit has already had a mask and is too marketable without one, even in his current situation. Maybe Rob Conway, that would be better than his current gimmick. Rene Dupree or Sly don't have the ability in my eyes to do it. Funaki seems to be a measuring stick for prospective talent and perhaps is headed nowhere. The only person from SmackDown I could see wearing a mask could be Hassan and Daivari coming back with masks and new names. RAW has a lot more star power and not as many potential masked wrestlers. Especially with the super-heroes there a masked wrestler there is unlikely.
The current masked wrestler would be Rey Mysterio. I like his stuff and he is a great lucha wrestler. I still am confused about why the Mexicools were asked to unmask. Perhaps to be more marketable" If a person were to switch channels over to a WWE show on mute (as I often do) no one would be able to identify with those three unmasked. Masked however many more people are likely to recognize them.
Now don't think that I am just picking on WWE. All of wrestling in America have a lack of masked wrestlers. To my knowledge the only masked wrestlers in TNA are Sharkboy and Abyss. I think that a reasonable amount of masked wrestlers for a promotion is four. Possibly two larger guys and two smaller guys. A masked wrestler is not a must for a promotion but I think it adds a wrestler with a secret or a deep tradition to the roster. I certainly think that a masked wrestler is a good way for a wrestler who has been out for a while to make his way back in to feud. The masked wrestler is a lost art in wrestling. Many greats have come through many promotions. A masked wrestler may be hard to promote but the right gimmick, the right time, and the right support can make one a superstar.
by Cody Stoots ..
Jesse Lee wrote:
So true. I enjoy watching masked wrestlers while thinking, "how the hell can they wrestle with those on"" I'm talking about masks like Jushin Liger and Psicosis. While Rey's mask is actually on his head and pretty basic, the others have masks that look about ten times their head size.
Most of the time, it's to hide a wrestler's nationality. Say you're in Japan and you're portraying a Japanese wrestler, but you're american. You need a tan and a mask. Also, speaking the language helps. Other times it's for tradition, cultural pride, and country patriotism. Rey Rey for example, is following his uncle's legacy and actually became a bigger star than his uncle (which is why he is now Rey Mysterio and not Rey Mysterio Jr.) Other times you see a masked wrestler is due to having possible multiple people playing them. Example; Doink the Clown and Tiger Mask. While one may think the gimmick would be embarassing they put on a mask in hopes to escape national face recognition, that way, if the gimmick fails, they can unmask and start anew.
Yes, the mask is a very difficult thing to make philosophies out of. Some say it's full of tradition and mystifies the person wearing it, others say it's for patriotism or keeping off face recognition for privay, and others claim that it's for already know former stars returning as someone anew or trying to live off another's legacy. It is truly a natural part of professional wrestling.
I've always liked masked wrestlers. The mystique adds character to them without ever having to say a word. Mysterio is a shining example of this, but he has in-ring moves that also add to his character. The first masked wrestler I ever liked was Tiger Mask. I was a big fan of his as a kid and unfortunately he did not last long in the then-WWF. I think a lot of today's wrestlers could benefit from use of a mask. Kane is an example of someone I liked better in the mask than without it. Mankind was a great masked wrestler combining Mick Foley's hardcore style with a creepy/funny/strange character.
Not to say that every wrestler who needs a new gimmick should don a mask, but a good example of someone who could use a mask is Chavo Guerrero (sorry I won't ever call him Kerwin White). Imagine what he could do in a mask and a nice costume ala Rey Mysterio. I thought it was a rather dumb move to remove masks from Psicosis and the "Mexicools" (which is another dumb WWE gimmick). Personally I'd like to see Kane with the mask back on as well because he was much more interesting and fun to watch with it on. He has lost a lot of his appeal for me since losing the mask, but I can see how wearing a mask would get tiring with it interfering with sight and breathing. WWE's portrayal of masked wrestlers is often silly and dumb outside of Mysterio and Kane.
Look at the Conquistadors, Ultimo Dragon (who has a cool costume and mask but was completely wasted in the WWE) Mr America (Hulk is rolling over in his grave on that one and he's not even dead yet) Vader who was largely wasted and misused, sounds like Kane doesn't it"
Sure a mask is a large risk for a wrestler to take because the mask becomes more important than the wrestler and anyone can put on a mask, but when a mask enhances someone's character and adds mystique and interest to a wrestler it helps. Imagine Rey Mysterio without the mask. Sure masks are largely for kids, but when used right it can be a cool thing for everyone to enjoy.
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