For a Lucha Libre wrestler, or luchador, a mask goes far beyond decoration. It provides a symbol of his life and an extension of his personality. The longer a wrestler stays masked, the more legendary he becomes. On the other hand, an unmasking is the source of much trauma and generally results in switching sides from good to bad (or vice-versa).
The mask is what keeps a luchador (or luchadora) from being just another human who makes a living jumping eight feet in the air and landing horizontally on another human. It makes him, in the words of Mexico City native and New York restaurateur Carlos Beraza, "a superhero."
"As kids, you'll never be able to see Superman flying around the New York sky, but for me, it was a chance to see Santo at the supermarket," said Beraza, co-owner of New York's lucha-loving La Lucha taco joint. "They were real idols."
But instead of Superman's trademark "S," luchadors have their trademark masks. Of the tens of thousands of luchadors to fly around Mexican rings in the past century, there have been many spectacular, flamboyant and just plain bizarre masks. Click below to see 10 of the very best and make sure you watch "Lucha Libre: USA Masked Warriors" on Friday, July 16 at 10/9c on MTV2.
No. 10 Gigante Drako
Gigante Drako didn't have much success in the ring. But every so often style trumps substance (like in the 90's), and when you look like a character from a Flintstones nightmare, you make the list at number 10.
No. 9 La Rata, La Rata II and Raton Boy
Rats make Americans think of filth, disease and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' sensei. But to Mexicans, rats are about pain. These three luchadors aren't particularly badass, but they're grouped together here based entirely on how creepy their characters are. It's like somebody let that kid in math class who collects erasers choose a gimmick...three times.
No. 8 Pandemonium
The only way a human ends up looking like this is if he spends his childhood listening to nonstop heavy metal with his face pressed against the speaker, only taking breaks to headbutt a car battery. This is Pandemonium, he wrestled in the 80's and he's a scary, scary man.
No. 7 La Diabolica
As if we needed another reminder that, as Zeppelin howled in "Dazed and Confused," "[the] soul of a woman was created below." Diabolica has been Power Bombing, Bronco Busting and Gory Special-ing her way to belts since the mid-80's. Let the emasculation begin.
No. 6 Histeria
This mask actually belongs to the second (and still running) version of Histeria, after the original Histeria left the AAA circuit, changed his name to Super Crazy and donated the name to another wrestler who had been toiling under the moniker Quarterback II. Super Crazy didn't tell anybody. Quarterback II didn't tell anybody. Fans didn't suspect a thing. And a new Histeria was born.
Meet five more ferocious luchadors on page two.
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