With the impostor Sin Cara turning heel so the original Sin Cara can come back and confront him, WWE is attempting a feud of this type for the third time. It didn't go well the other two times, and there are certainly reasons (mentioned in the linked article) to believe that it won't go well this time, either.
WWE isn't the only wrestling promotion to have ever done this type of angle where a good guy and an evil impostor square off. Sometimes, under the right circumstances, it's gone well. Other times, it's been as big a disaster as WWE's previous attempts.
Let's take a look at some of them and see why they did or didn't work...
"Rubberman" Johnny Walker (named such for his flexibility) was a very talented journeyman wrestler whose aged, balding appearance kept him from breaking out as a star.
In the early '70s, he changed his look drastically when he started wearing a mask.
After a brief run as The Grappler, he worked as himself again while teaming with Mr. Wrestling (Tim Woods). Their chemistry was so good that it was suggested Walker become Mr. Wrestling II in 1973.
With his looks no longer an issue, his talent and charisma shone through.
His persona was designed as a contrast to that of Woods': Mr. Wrestling was a humble technician, while Mr. Wrestling II was more flashy and wild.
After 18 years in the business, II became arguably the biggest wrestling star ever in Georgia, regularly drawing strong crowds and huge TV ratings.
Governor Jimmy Carter's mother "Miz Lillian" was his biggest fan, and when Carter was elected President of the United States, Mr. Wrestling II was invited to his inauguration.
There was one problem: This was the inauguration of the President of the United States, so you couldn't have a masked guy as an invited guest. The Secret Service said II could come as long as he came unmasked. He refused.
Now a big star, II was able to headline in territories all over the south. In 1979, he was about to make the move from Mid-South Wrestling based out of Louisiana back to Georgia Championship Wrestling when a fake Mr. Wrestling II showed up on GCW television on TBS.
The fake II (Joe Powell) did an impressive job imitating Walker and looked just like him. There was one problem: Walker was very protective of the name, as was Woods, and resented that the angle was started without his input.
He ate up Powell (cutting off his offense and such to take advantage of him and make him look bad instead of cooperating) in their matches so badly that the feud was ruined and cut short. Walker won Powell's mask at the Omni in Atlanta and that was the end of it.
In 2009, a different John Walker ran for a city council seat in Georgia while claiming to be Mr. Wrestling II, only to be exposed. That's a different type of impostor, though, and if you want to read more about them, I did a rundown of a bunch of them at Cageside Seats in March.
In 1994, career babyface Tim Horner went in a new direction in Smoky Mountain Wrestling.
He donned pajamas and a mask to become the evil Kendo The Samurai, managed by the very wordy Daryl Van Horne (Jim Mitchell).
When Jake "The Snake" Roberts showed up in SMW as the new top heel, Kendo became his bodyguard.
Jake being Jake, he always talked about "playing mind games" with SMW Champion "Dirty White Boy" Tony Anthony, who he was feuding with. Eventually, Anthony decided to strike back.
One day, he came out and put his arm around his new friend Kendo. It turned out that Anthony had a fake Kendo (Scott "Studd/Riggs/Anton" Antol) at his side and they had tied up the real Kendo in the locker room.
Meanwhile, Kendo was the SMW Beat The Champ TV Champion. Each week on TV, the champion would defend the title against a "randomly drawn" opponent.
With each successful defense, he'd get $1,000. After five successful defenses, the title would be vacated and a new champion would be crowned in a decision match.
In his second defense, Kendo defended the title against Tracy Smothers. Kendo got knocked out of the ring, fake Kendo rolled into the ring and played dead, and Smothers won the title.
To make things more complicated, Horner had a very acrimonious split from SMW during all this (where he allegedly tried to steal the company tape library and video equipment) and had been replaced by Bobby Blaze (and sometimes Brian Keyes).
Unfortunately, I don't think real evil Kendo (any of them) ever faced off with fake good guy Kendo in a match.
In early 1994, The Undertaker needed time off. He was written out in one of the most infamous angles in WWE history.
During a casket match for the WWF Championship against Yokozuna, nine heels ran out to attack The Undertaker.
The ever-present magical urn was knocked over and green smoke leaked out, causing 'Taker to lose his powers or something. Then, the unthinkable happened and The Undertaker lost a casket match.
And then it got really weird (video here).
- The Undertaker's gong went off as more green smoke appeared, this time from the underside of the casket.
- A "live" wide shot(!) of The Undertaker inside the casket appeared on the big screen. It zoomed in and he woke up with another gong.
- The Undertaker gave a speech about his eternal soul ending with "I will not rest...in peace...."
- 'Taker passes out or dies or something.
- Electrical shock noises are heard as the screen flashes a photo negative image of 'Taker in the casket and cuts to the wide shot.
- An explosion on the screen turns into a different photo negative image of The Undertaker, this time standing against a plain black background.
- The image rises out of the top of the screen and an "apparition" of The Undertaker (well, Marty Jannetty dressed as him) "levitates" out of the screen to the top of the arena (or maybe Heaven) as Bearer celebrates with the urn and his entrance music plays.
And so The Undertaker was gone for the next few months.
In May, "fans" started to report Undertaker sightings (and they weren't at the shows in Japan and other parts of the Pacific that he worked even though they contradicted storylines). Meanwhile, Ted DiBiase, who originally brought The Undertaker to the WWF, promised to buy him and bring him back.
A few weeks later, he appeared on Shawn Michaels' "Heartbreak Hotel" interview segment and delivered The Undertaker, who even cut a promo.
Later, when Bearer tried to compel this Undertaker with the urn, it didn't work, as DiBiase won him over with a wad of cash. It became clear that this wasn't the real Undertaker.
That's because it wasn't. It was the genuine article's good friend Brian Lee.
With some hair dye and styling, the costume, and some great production (especially the lighting and dubbed in promo), it was made as hard as possible for casual fans to notice something was amiss until they were supposed to.
Paul Bearer made contact with his Undertaker and The Undertaker vs. The Undertaker was announced for Summerslam '94. After a light show with the new urn, the real Undertaker (now sporting purple gloves and boots instead of grey) came out.
He easily dispatched of Lee in a terrible match with a silent, bored crowd.
Whether the match came off as planned and what was supposed to happen afterwards has been the stuff of legend for years.
It seems like there's some agreement that there were supposed to be special effects during the match itself, but what exactly they were and why they were nixed are more mysterious.
I know I've read in the past that lightning was supposed to strike the ring when the Undertakers first touched and that maybe the co-main event (Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart in a cage match) running long caused issues with doing the match match as planned.
There may have been a plan for the two Undertakers to merge into one. There have also been contradicting stories that there were plans for the two Undertakers to form a tag team.
The vast majority of the "Underfaker" storyline was actually pretty good. What led to it and how it ended have stained it with a terrible reputation.
In 2006, Kane had been unmasked for years and completely changed his character when suddenly, an impostor Kane ambushed him.
Wearing Kane's original mask and ring gear (as well as a hideous wig at first) while coming out to his original music, he beat the hell out of Kane for a few weeks.
Kane claimed that the impostor was some scary guy he knew as a child. This led to a match on PPV at Vengeance, which Impostor Kane (that was all they called him) won.
The match was so bad that the angle was dropped. The next night, Kane beat the hell out of Impostor Kane, unmasked him, and threw him out of the arena.
It's never really been clear what they had planned. It was so out there that it was weirdly entertaining, but it wasn't very good.
Impostor Kane went on to improve greatly as a performer and return to the roster as Festus/Luke Gallows. For no apparent reason, he was separated from mentor CM Punk and then released from WWE not long thereafter.
The AAA promoter/booker decided to put new wrestlers in many of the masked gimmicks he created.
The most popular replacement was Karis La Momia as the new La Parka.
As the original gained fame in the U.S. as the most popular luchador in WCW without a real push, legal action soon prevented him from using the name in Mexico.
Eventually, the AAA version was seen as the genuine article while the original had to change his name to L.A. ParK ("La Autentica Parka" or the "authentic Parka"). After a while, Park also changed his mask design from a skull to Darth Maul's face paint pattern from "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace."
To hardcore fans, Park was not only the genuine article, but a far superior performer. AAA Parka was never really much of a straight-up in ring worker, while L.A. Park could blow the roof off the building in both technical matches and brawls.
Parka did rival Park when it came to their trademark comedy spots, though.
Last year, the unthinkable happened: L.A. Park went back to AAA to feud with La Parka over the rights to the name. At Triplemania XVIII, the biggest event of the year, Park won a tremendous brawl to win the rights to the name. Still, he declared that he was now L.A. Park and he didn't need the La Parka name.
That was probably a good idea, since the decision was eventually reversed. Both wrestlers still use the names they went into that match with.
Park has stuck around in AAA, mainly feuding with Mesias in a series of brawls that rivaled the Park vs Parka match as some of the best of the last year or so.