Recently, C.M. Punk found himself on the losing end of a match which stipulated that he must shave his head. So we all wondered just what he would look like when he showed up on Smackdown without his long oily hair. But Punk threw us a curve ball. He pulled the famous, hide under a mask trick. Now the Irony that Punk is now sporting a mask, after calling Rey Mysterio a coward for doing the exact same thing, is not lost on anyone. But it did get me thinking about all the great masked Wrestlers that I have watched over the years. So I compiled a list of what I feel is the top 10 best masked Wrestlers. Now granted, I could have done a separate list just for Japanese, Mexican, and American Wrestlers, but I decided to just pick my favourites from all of the above. Naturally some will be missed, or forgotten, but hey its MY list. I of course welcome comments, and additions. So here we go.
10) The Spoiler. I know what you are saying right now. Who? The Spoiler is a very little known wrestler who started his career in the mid 1950’s, at the age of 15. His real name is Don Jardine. I remember watching this guy way back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. And there was one thing about him that made him stand out, which I will explain in a moment. Why is he in the top 10? Well, for two reasons. The first, is that he, along with King Kong Bundy, joined forces with a then unknown tag team called The Road Warriors, and Jake “the snake” Roberts, to form the original Legion Of Doom. The second reason is for a certain move that he was famous for. In the mid 80’s, the Spoiler was famous for walking the top rope. A move he taught to a certain Mark Calaway…aka, The Undertaker ! I guess “Old School” is even older than most people know.
9) Abyss. The Monster of TNA, may be a lot of things. A Mick Foley (as Mankind) rip off. a very big Hulk Hogan Fan, and even a gluton for punishment. But one thing he is not, is somebody to be messed with. Abyss has evolved in many ways over the years in TNA, and I look forward to seeing him dominate again as a true monster, but as far as masked men go, Abyss is slowly carving out his own legacy.
8) Kane… In the early days of his career, when he actually wrestled under a mask, Kane really was a walking nightmare. Billed as the younger brother of The Undertaker, he tore through competition like a buzzsaw. Now of course he no longer wears the mask, and some will argue that he just isn’t the same without it, but for the time that he did have it on, he was a fearsome sight.
7) Mankind….Yes, Mick Foley has had a bad case of multiple personality dissorder in his career. Cactus Jack, Dude Love, Mick Foley, and of course…Mankind. But while he was under the mask, there really was something special going on. He seemed to delve into a dark side of his personality and bring it out in the ring. Not to mention the fact that he did some really great interviews.
6) Vader… Leon White…aka, Big Van Vader, was a whole different class of masked man. A Super Heavyweight, who could pull off moves such as a moonsault, as easily as something as devastating as a powerbomb. In fact Vader delivered a powerbomb to Mick Foley on a concrete floor outside the ring, which resulted in a concussion and temporary loss of feeling in his left hand and leg.
5) Ultimo Dragon… Dragon is certainly one of those wrestlers you have to watch to really appreciate. Probably not know in the U.S. as much, unless you watched WCW, he is a huge personality in Japan. Real name…Yoshihiro Asai, he is responsible for popularizing the “Asai Moonsault.” Not to mention being the only professional wrestler in the world to hold 11 Titles at the same time.
4) Tiger Mask …..Actually, Tiger Mask began as a Japanese Manga in 1968, which was adapted into a series in 69. In real life the name has been used by a succession of wrestlers over the years as a gimick. And to this day, the mask, which is made to look like a Tigers head, is one of the most instantly recognizable trademarks in Japan.
3) Jushin “Thunder” Liger…Really, I could do an entire post on how many organizations this guy has competed for, and fill pages with his accomplishments. Seriously, if you haven’t heard of Liger, or seen him wrestle, then you really aren’t a wrestling fan. Even if you do know him though, do yourself a favour and look him up, it makes for an interesting, if not long, read.
2) El Santo…Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta….aka…El Santo (The Saint) along with Mil Mascaras, is easily the most famous and iconic of all Mexican Luchadores. So much so that he has been refered to as one of greatest legends in Mexican Sports. He had a career that spanned nearly five decades, during which time he became a folk hero, who appeared in comic books and movies. When Santo died, he was buried with his mask, and his funeral was considered one of the biggest in Mexican History.
1) Rey Mysterio Jr……Yes, I used the Jr, so we know which one I’m referring too. But of course I can only be talking about the one and only, Rey Mysterio. WWE superstar, future hall of famer, and easily the most popular masked wrestler ever in North America. But because his popularity is Worldwide, I rank him as the #1 masked wrestler of all time. And again, if you don’t know who he is, or if you haven’t seen him wrestle, then shame on you for calling yourself a Wrestling fan.
There you have it. My top 10 masked wrestlers list. Feel free to add any comments you like.