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El Santo

Santo, el Enmascarado de Plata [1]


"The true luchador wears, on his head, a mask. On his body, a sequined unitard. On his feet... disco boots!"
Rikochet, Mucha Lucha

In lucha libre, the Mexican sport of pro wrestling, it is far more common to see wrestlers wearing a mask and never revealing their true identities to the public, much like real-life superheroes and villains than in the American version of the sport. Bear in mind that many Mexican pro wrestlers don't ever wear a mask at all. To be unmasked by a rival wrestler, or indeed anyone at all, is usually an irredeemable dishonor to the athletes, but there have been cases where they continue to fight even after having been beaten in this way. The stock characterization for a luchador is a kindly Gentle Giant who loves kids, which is probably based on the story of Fray Tormenta (Friar Storm), a Catholic priest who started wrestling to earn money for the orphanage he worked at (see Nacho Libre for a more honest homage). Pretty much the only time a villainous or evil luchador appears in a series is when it's about wrestling to begin with.

Over in Fiction Land, the Mexican luchador has become a sort of stock character used when the author needs a strong, muscled hero (or mook) with some exotic, foreign flavor in their cast of characters.

The plural for luchador is luchadores.

Examples of Masked Luchador include:


Anime

  • Lucha Master from Airmaster.
  • Lala's dad in School Rumble is a luchador.
  • In Historys Strongest Disciple Kenichi, a villanous luchador shows up to be trashed by Kenichi's masters a few times. Later the Manga introduces the much more dangerous Smiling Fist Diego Carlos and his student Rachel Stanley.
  • Jesus Burgess from One Piece is a masked luchador pirate, introduced standing on a building and challenging an entire city to fight. Later on, he shows his strength by hurling a hotel at an opponent. He's actually one of those rare luchadores who are evil.
  • In Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?, Ayumu goes to eat at "MaskDonald", a burger joint where the staff are all dressed as luchadors, complete with masks. Masks are also included in the meal, and during a conversation scene, a high school girl can be seen in the background putting on her mask and doing wrestling poses.
  • Kaoru's father from Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z.
  • While strictly speaking much of the cast of Kinnikuman is made up of wrestlers who wear masks, the only actual luchadores are Skyman and Kinnikuman Mariposa. Mariposa is the only one with any story significance -- surprisingly enough, he's a dishonest thief and cheater.
  • In Bleach, one of these is a member of the Vandereich and this pannel shows him sneaking up on Renji.


Comics

  • Examples from Hellboy and related series:
    • In Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus, it's mentioned that, in the 50's, Mexican director Eduardo Fernandez created somewhere between nine and twelve low-budget films about Lobster Johnson, portraying him as a luchador hero. In fact, these were the source of the name "Lobster Johnson." Previously, all the fictional portrayals just referred to him as "The Lobster."
    • In the Hellboy in Mexico one-shot, released on Cinco de Mayo, Hellboy teams up with three luchador brothers in 1950s Mexico to fight vampires. It's exactly as awesome as (and in the end, far more touching than) it sounds.
  • Titan from La Cucaracha.
  • Jaime Reyes, the third Blue Beetle, wears an armor with a faceplate that just happens to look like a luchador mask to go with his Mexican heritage. Done intentionally and explained as the mask being modeled after its creators' faces.
  • In the Swedish comic De Äventyrslystna Karlakarlarna - "The Adventuresome He-men" - one of the eponymous Bash Brothers is the (appearently Swedish) luchador El Fjongo.
  • Examples from Batman:
    • Latin crimeboss El Sombrero in Batman. Oddly, though, we never see him do any actual wrestling
    • Bane is partly luchador-inspired, though his mask and fighting movies may or may not closely resemble a luchador's Depending on the Creators.
  • Sonic X has a mysterious masked wrestler who looks a bit like Dr. Eggman.


Film

  • There's an entire luchador genre in Mexico where the hero is a real luchador playing himself. The most popular series (52 films!) starred El Santo, El Enmascarado de Plata (Saint, The Silver-Masked Man). In these, El Santo has to rescue his love interest du jour from some fantastic threat, such as zombies, vampires, or mad scientists. While the movies are pretty crude, many Mexicans from the time, to current college students to even a few children still consider these movies an important part of Mexico's film history and actually pretty entertaining.
  • El Santo wasn't the only prominent luchador film star. Other prominent series stars (some of whom would team up with each other and El Santo on occasion) included:
    • Blue Demon, who starred in 25 films.
    • Mil Máscaras ("A Thousand Masks"), who was specifically created for the movies during a contract dispute between El Santo and producer Enrique Vergara. He starred in 20 films.
    • Las Luchadoras were a female tag team (Lorena Velázquez and gringa actress Elizabeth Campbell) who starred in six films, some of which made it into the English-language market (e.g., Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy). The stars were actresses, not professional wrestlers. Lady luchadoras did exist at the time, but few had movie-star good looks.
  • El Santo is a character in 3 Dev Adam ("Three Big Men"), aka Turkish Spider-Man or Turkish Captain America (Spider-Man is actually the villain of the movie.)
  • The fun Captain Ersatz of El Santo in Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter is named El Santos to avoid lawsuits. Barely
  • Jack Black's character in Nacho Libre, which is loosely based on Fray Tormenta.
  • Wrestlemaniac had a homicidal mutant luchador, whose MO was to Tear Off Your Face.


Live Action TV

  • An episode of The Middleman featured a gang of luchadores obsessed with killing The Middleman's martial arts trainer and mentor, Sensei Ping (who also, incidentally, wore the mask of a luchador).
  • One of these works for Wolfram and Hart in Angel, and is the focus of one of the more interesting Season 5 episodes.
    • Specifically he is a disgraced hero whose four brothers died to save the world. Also, before his brothers died they had become famous for defeating a robot built by the devil.
    • El Diablo Robotico!
  • In Los Luchadores, watch Lobo Fuerte and his plucky sidekicks Turbine and Maria Valentine fight evil in Union City.

Music

  • The Masked Luchador is a particularly popular character in modern surf music. There are several bands that wear Mexican wrestling masks and adopt mexican-sounding names as part of their stage shows, or even write songs about lucha films and luchadors (the song Los Campiones Del Justicio by The Ghastly Ones). It is believed that the American surf band Los Straitjackets is responsible for this, as they adopted the masks early in their career and subsequently made the genre popular through Mexico because of this, spanning bands like Sr. Bikini or The Blue Demons, all adopting the masks and hiding identity. There's even a FRENCH surf band adopting the masks, called The Bikini Men.
  • Strangely enough, the Mexican wrestling masks have been also adopted by several goregrind and grindcore bands, most notably Gut from Germany. Even more strange, the porno-grind bands seem to have an affinity for the masked luchador : Gut of course, but check guys like Ultimo Mondo Cannibale or Spasm.
  • One member of the superhero-rock band The Justice Force 5 is a vampire luchador. Well, not really, but that's his gimmick.


Professional Wrestling

  • Mexican wrestling, of course. Removing an opponent's mask is cause for disqualification and one of the worst things a Heel can do. (Unless the mask was removed after losing a "Mask vs. Mask" or "Mask vs. Hair" match.)
  • El Santo, Mexico's most famous luchador.
  • Appears occasionally in American wrestling particularly in the "cruiserweight" divisions. WCW and WWF/WWE each had a few wrestlers take on the style. The biggest name currently would be Rey Mysterio, although WWE is also promoting Sin Cara heavily.
  • Not uncommon in Japanese wrestling either, with famous wrestlers like Tiger Mask, Jushin Thunder Liger, and Ultimo Dragon.
  • Lucha-inspired promotions have been becoming more popular in the United States independent scene. The most prominent is CHIKARA, though Lucha Libre USA and Lucha Va-VOOM are also increasingly well-known.
  • ECW helped to popularize the style in the United States, with alumni including the aforementioned Rey Mysterio Jr., Psicosis, La Parka, and Juventud Guerrera. Most of ECW's luchadores ended up getting poached by WCW for their cruiserweight division.
    • Psicosis lost his mask in WCW in 1999, and has wrestled without it since then. When he appeared on the first ECW One Night Stand, he wore the mask to the ring and took it off before the match. The fans then proceeded to chant "Put the mask on!"
  • Ring of Honor has El Generico, The Generic Luchador. The twist is that he's Canadian. While he's billed as being from Tijuana, and speaks very little English when in character, what makes it funnier is that even if you don't know anything about the man under the mask, you can tell at first glance that he's really a white guy; he's kind of pale, and he also sports a red goatee.
  • It's also not uncommon for non-luchadores to pretend to be one as a trick. If a heel does it, like when Kurt Angle became "El Gran Luchador" during his feud with Eddie Guerrero, it's a sign of them being a devious wang, whereas if it's a face that pulls it off, like when Kaz Hiyashi became "El Gringo" for a night, it's usually so they can get their hands on a cowardly heel who has been ducking them in straight-up fights.
  • TNA has an interesting example in Sangriento, a luchadore played by established X-Division wrestler The Amazing Red, who continues to appear unmasked as a different character.
  • WWE Hall of Famer Mil Mascaras is arguably the one to pave the way for some of the most prominent Mexican superstars like Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero.

Tabletop Games

  • Lucha Libre Hero from Hero Games, is based off the lucha films mentioned above.


Video Games

  • MASK de Smith, a character in Killer 7. Easily the most powerful character in the game.
    • You can also collect luchador trading cards in No More Heroes, Killer7's Spiritual Successor.
    • In fact, Suda 51 has a thing for Masked Wrestling, and includes them in his games.
    • It's quite possible that theTiger Motif that appears throughout the game associated with Travis Touchdown, are a subtle Homage to the Japanese wrestler Tiger Mask. Interestingly enough, Tiger Mask appeared in Fire Pro Wrestling D. Suda51 began working on videogames with the Fire Pro Wrestling series.
  • On a more obscure note, in Total Overdose there is a super move that summons a luchador named Mysterioso.
  • On an even more obscure note, an old Midway racing game called Freaky Fliers had a character named Cactus Rose. If I remember correctly, her backstory included a brief stint as a masked wrestler.
  • El Fuerte from Street Fighter IV is one of these.
  • Psychonauts has a quartet of minibosses who are all gimmicky luchadores based on both animals and card suits. This despite the fact that the level they're found in is based on Spain. Huh.
    • Justified. You are not in Spain, you are in the subconscious world of a institutionalized famous artist.(And later you learn that he is not an artist nor of Spanish descent. He was a wrestler though.)
      • He did start eating lunch in the art room after The Incident, though.
  • Crasher Wake in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.
  • There's a luchador in Tenjou Tenge.
  • King and Armor King from the Tekken series.
    • King (and King II) even follow in the Fray Tormenta mould (King was listed as an actual priest; King II was one of the original orphans. I haven't seen if he's been ordained yet.)
    • However, King I, King II and Armor King I follow the more conventional wrestling style. Armor King II has some luchador-based moves, but not all. Then in Tekken Tag Tournament 2, there's a female luchador named 'Jaycee'. Who's actually Julia Chang.
  • El Blaze, a newcomer to the Virtua Fighter series.
  • The NES game Tag Team Wrestling featured a pair of masked wrestlers called the Strong Bads. Yes, they were the inspiration for that other Strong Bad.
  • Animal Crossing has a luchador costume available as one of the many "costume themes."
  • Masked Wrestlers and Underground Monkey variants called ___ Gigas are common foes in Persona 3 and Persona 4.
  • The Soccer game Sega Soccer Slam featured the character El Diablo, a massive powerhouse who only refers to himself in the third person.
  • Shadow Hearts 2 features this in Joachim Valentine, who first appears as the masked Grand Papillion. One of his special abilities is that every now and then he'll don the mask in a fight and receive a massive stat boost.
  • F-Zero story wise is much like lucha libre, only with racing instead of wrestling.
  • We Heart Katamari includes a cousin named Lucha, who appropriately enough has the appearance of a luchador.
  • Tiger Mask, the Japanese wrestler appears in Fire Pro Wrestling D.
  • Saturday Night Slam Masters has El Stinger/Stingray and Astro/Scorpio, whose designs are a nod/ripoff to real wrestlers Lizmark and Tinieblas respectively.
  • Greco from Chrono Cross (meaningful since his ward's name is 'Romana'-wrestling pun). He's also both a psychic and a priest. Did we mention Chrono Cross is kind of weird?
  • What Could Have Been example: Hideo Kojima's first draft for the war-based game he was told to design was a game called Lost Warld, starring a masked luchadora (a female luchador). Tragically, the game got canned, and now all we have is this boring Snake guy instead.
  • Evil Rose should fit the bill pretty well.
  • There is a videogame based on the AAA (One of the 2 major Lucha Libre associations in Mexico) coming soon. The tagline? No es wrestling, es Lucha Libre (It's not wrestling, it's Lucha Libre).
  • La Mariposa (a.k.a. Lisa) from Dead or Alive 4 is a Fragile Speedster variant. Her name is meaningful because it means "butterfly" in Spanish, and she wears a butterfly shaped mask.
  • Masked Muscle from Super Punch-Out!!. Yes, in a BOXING game.
  • The Heavy from Team Fortress 2 has a luchador mask called the "Large Luchadore", and in Poker Night At the Inventory, he asks Strong Bad if his mask means he wrestles, like Iron Sheik. Strong Bad snubs the idea, saying he's a wrestle man, not a hack wrestler.
  • Saints Row: The Third has The Luchadores, an entire gang made up of luchadores led by one Killbane, the Walking Apocalypse.
  • "Ringside" from Rhythm Heaven Fever involves a masked wrestler answering interview questions and posing for the cameras after a big match. Notably, he doesn't seem to be actually listening to the questions - both the English and Japanese versions have the questions as gibberish, to which he responses with "Yeah".


Web Animation

  • Strong Bad's look is based on this, although the mask is apparently his actual face.
    • He actually wrestles in a few toons, although he makes it clear in one of them that "Being an awesome wrestler has nothing to do with awesome wrestling moves." Furthermore, in the same toon he goes through a variety of gimmicks none of which are the straight Masked Luchador gimmick - the final one even involves facepaint!


Web Comics


Western Animation

Notes

  1. Saint, the Silver-Masked Man
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