Happy Halloween, readers! (Yes, I know Halloween is actually tomorrow, but I’m going to need at least a day to make sure I don’t screw up my Finn Balor face paint.) Last year, I went through some of wrestling’s lingering unsolved mysteries. In an attempt to top myself, I thought I’d look at some of the best Halloween-related masks in the wrestling world. In lucha libre and beyond, the mask has been just as closely related to wrestling as it is to All Hallows’ Eve, so let’s start with a cursory origin story. Where did wrestling masks come from?
Once Upon A Time In Europe
We usually think of masked wrestlers as distinctly Mexican. But according to the book The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling, the first sighting of a masked man in the ring actually occurred at the 1865 World’s Fair in Paris. And even after that, Mexican luchadores didn’t fall in love with the mask until Corbin Massey (an Irish-American wrestler known by the ring name “Cyclone Mackey”) crossed the border with a mask of his own. Audiences fell in love with the mystique of the enmascarados, and the tradition we know today was born. As any commentator will tell you, the mask is considered a sacred part of a wrestler’s identity, every bit as important as the name they were given at birth.
I know you’re all Pentagon Jr. fans here, so I promise we’ll get to the spooky stuff soon. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least briefly mention the first golden age of the lucha libre mask, led by the holy trinity of El Santo, Blue Demon, and Mil Mascaras. Santo became such a cultural icon that he went on to star in dozens of science-fiction B-movies in which he battled mummies, ghosts, witches, and mafia hitmen. That’s him up above, pictured just before someone steals the time machine he invented to search for the lost treasure of Dracula. Wrestling is weird, in case you hadn’t noticed. Now that we’ve covered all this, let’s take a look at the more ghoulish side of the mask, for better and for worse.
Come on, you know I had to start with the chairman! La Parka has been using the skeleton mask and bodysuit since 1992, soon after the creation of AAA. After a successful run in WCW, he returned to Mexico. Things got complicated when a second La Parka took his place while he was wrestling in the United States, however. To make a long story short, there was a match between the two La Parkas in 2010 for the definitive rights to the name, but there was a terribly messy finish. The match was thrown out by Mexico City’s athletic commission, and now there are two La Parkas. I believe I previously mentioned that wrestling is weird.
Los Psycho Circus
F*CK CLOWNS. Clowns are not a good idea, unless you’re intentionally trying to be creepy, in which case clowns are usually the weapon of choice. Believe it or not, they’re currently babyfaces in Mexico. Makes total sense! When I think of good guys, I think of Pennywise-looking dudes named Psycho Clown, Monster Clown, and Murder Clown.
God bless Lucha Underground for introducing me to this guy. With so much going on at the temple, it’s easy to forget that there’s a shape-shifting dragon running around with nunchucks. Also, he’s best friends with a spaceman because lucha libre is magical. By the way, I’m going to go on record and say that Drago’s black mask is the scariest. The blue one makes him look too much like a Polar Kraken. (For the record, that’s the only Magic: The Gathering joke in my arsenal. You’re all safe now.)
I think the eyes are what creep me out the most here. There are a lot of Rocky Horror jokes I could make, but I’m trying to have some respect for the dead. He was fatally shot while trying to break up an argument at a party in 2011.
Mil Muertes and the Disciples of Death
The Disciples got a big upgrade at Ultima Lucha. Their previous masks made them look way too much like they were chasing Ralph Macchio around a high school gym, if you get my drift. Muertes, on the other hand, has looked like a comic-book representation of death since day one. Forget Bray Wyatt, THIS is the new face of fear. It’s hard to believe that he goes unmasked in AAA as El Mesias, though.
The Spectral Envoy
I choose to believe that Chikara isn’t just giving you lip service when they call themselves a “fun-filled lucha super party.” They use lucha tag team rules, they have a yearly torneo cibernetico, and Jorge “Skayde” Rivera damn near won himself King of Trios a few years back. Oh, and there was also that time Los Ice Creams tried to beat up a Dippin’ Dots cart as a matter of honor.
Chikara is American lucha libre, and for my money, the most ghoulish masks belong to The Spectral Envoy. Ultramantis Black, Hallowicked, and Frightmare were cosmic couriers of disaster, and I really wish they were still a stable. Alas, Ultramantis looks like he may have suffered a career-ending injury, and Hallowicked and Frightmare are busy corrupting Silver Ant.
This is probably where Brandon would use that Fireworks Factory picture from The Simpsons. Pentagon is my jam and your jam, even if you don’t realize it yet. I’m trying to think of the last time a luchador rode such a wave of sudden popularity, but he might stand alone. Rey Mysterio’s ascent was much more gradual, as was Mistico’s. Anyway, the more I think about it, Pentagon is probably the modern parallel to La Parka in the late ’90s. Every generation needs a skeleton beating the crap out of dudes with a steel chair, and fittingly enough, our generation got a grindhouse reboot.
Dishonorable Mention: Jason The Terrible
And then there’s this guy.
From what I can find, nobody liked Karl Moffat. His first foray into wrestling was as a fan, when he attacked a wrestler in the ring at a Stampede show in Calgary. Naturally, this transitioned well into a career as an actual wrestler. He adopted a Jason Voorhees rip-off gimmick, he developed a reputation for bleeding too much during his matches, and the Hart family couldn’t stand him. After becoming something of a big deal in Puerto Rico, he retired and took up truck driving in British Columbia. Tell me to my face that a crossover movie with him and El Santo wouldn’t be fantastic.