Lucha Libre Masks
Mexican wrestling and masks as a symbol of identity and mystery
Around Mexican wrestling or Lucha Libre, there are so many myths and urban legends that we would need volumes to talk about each one of them. This is time to deal with a very distinctive element though: the wrestling masks. More than a piece of clothing or mere sport gear, a lucha libre mask is a symbol of honor and identity.
Five curious facts about these masks
- Every mask embodies a character: A Mexican wrestler needs to create an identity so he can spawn a large fan base by doing so. The easiest way to do it is by representing himself as a wild animal, an ancient God, a fantasy character or any other symbol powerful enough to conquer the audience. That is why it is so important to choose the right mask.
Its uniqueness and color will guarantee success and – who knows? - maybe this will be the beginning of a national and even international legend, like El Santo and Blue Demon, two of the most famous Mexican wrestlers ever.
- It also represents honor: There are some matches announced as mask VS mask. This means the wrestler losing the game might be unmasked at a certain point so the audience knows his real face and identity. By lucha libre standards this also means losing all honor related to the character, so the athlete might retire forever or create a new character to carry on his career.
- Never unmask an opponent during a match! The mask represents honor as much as it holds some kind of legendary status. That’s why any wrestler who dares to unmask the opponent fighter during any competition could be disqualified for good, or at least several seasons.
Even when lucha libre is some kind of sport extravaganza meant to entertain the audiences, it has some tight rules every wrestler must obey with no exceptions. The most important one might be the “never unmask your rival” policy to ensure a cleaner fight.
- A wrestling mask is one of the sought-after souvenirs for fans: As in any other sport, marketing is very important in Mexican wrestling. Hence you will find them in most flea markets, brick & mortar sports stores, as well as all over the internet with prices ranging from a couple of dollars to several hundreds, depending on the type of mask, material or collector’s item status (you might find some original masks that belonged to some famous wrestler from time to time on eBay).
- Some wrestlers have found success after losing their masks: Even when losing their mask is a big deal for most masked wrestlers, some of them have become even more popular after going through that shameful moment. Among them are Cien Caras, Cibernético and Satánico.
Actually, Cibernético turned into a gossip show star by appearing in several TV shows during the mid 2010’s, created an aggressive public persona with outrageous added elements, such as an artificial blind eye and curled long hair.
Mexican wrestling masks are part of national culture. Even in this digital era, kids everywhere still enjoy wearing them to fight in their yards and schools for a while. Now it is time to enjoy an “El Santo” movie marathon to keep this tradition alive.
Shop handmade lucha libre masks here