Thanks to the creative genius of Lucha Underground and terrific Lucha Loot crates, I’m bombarded monthly – in the best of ways – with an array of wonderful luchadors and luchadores.
Of course, a key cog in the greatness of the lucha libre tradition are the unique masks its athletes adorn. The very image of a Blue Demon (and Jr.) mask incites feelings of nostalgia and pride for hordes of supporters both across Mexico and the world. It’s an iconic marker – in its simplicity but boldness – for all that is lucha libre. And dear God, those movies are atrocious in the best of ways!
Easily my favorite aspect of the lucha tradition is the story telling and non-verbals that a mask empowers and simultaneously highlights. Amazingly, the absence of a face means so much more can be expressed! Sexy Star’s determination. Kobra Moon’s nefarious undertones. Pentagon Jr’s vengeance. Killshot’s fearlessness. Once creatures such as Drago and Fenix are entered into the mix, the storytelling becomes legendary.
Each of these wonderful athletes and masks combine to present a gorgeous, artistic marriage not quite superhero, but told via a mythical character channeled by the masks they wear. Rudo Can’t Fail’s exceptional piece on Fish Man, accompanied by his mask in the same Lucha Loot, nailed this concept to perfection.
A mask, to me, is a luchador/es’ soul. It’s the inside out version of his/her self, one they have, however, on full and raw display to the world. Accompanied by a rudo or tecnico wrestling style that reinforces this disclosure.
In the past twelve months (per above), many a mask came to my door via Lucha Loot. Holding them, one can’t help but admire the nuances, the colors, the discrepancies in eye/mouth/chin holes, the stitching. They even feel different when put on.
For the holidays, Huracanrana gifted me a professional grade Pentagon Jr. mask directly from Mexico. (Nothing says ‘Feliz Navidad’ like ‘Cero Miedo!’) To witness the craftsmanship, feel the weight in your hands, tie the string to tighten…it’s an incredible experience to behold. The attention to detail on the mask interior is brilliant.
Most of all, I love the imperfections. Being handmade, some stitches are better than others, the glue not as perfect as it can be. I can picture the love being put into this imperfect yet wholly perfect encapsulation of lucha libre. Displaying it on a black colored mannequin head…and it’s as if Vampiro lurks around the corner with a chair and bad intentions.
There’s many gifts a pro wrestling athlete and/or fan can purchase. For me, none come as close to cherishing the experience of a ring ready, professional grade lucha libre mask. If you’ve got a favorite, I can’t recommend enough taking the purchase plunge. It’s a fantastic glimpse into something truly special.