During my time in the wrestling business I had plenty of opportunities to work as a masked wrestler.
Working in a mask is something that I really enjoyed. A mask conceals not only your face, it conceals your whole identity and gives you an aura of mystery.
There is one element to maintaining that mystery. You never cut a promo. You never talk on the microphone, and you never grant the media an interview. Silence is the key! One excellent example of maintaining mystery and keeping kayfabe was Kendo Nagasaki. He would drive to a secluded spot near the venues where he used to wrestle, and put his mask on. He would enter and leave the buildings with his mask on, and he would never talk to anybody.
I know that the masked lucha libre wrestlers talk over the microphone and cut the odd promo, and I’m cool with that because it’s their culture. Their style. Even in the USA masked men talk over the mic, cut their promo’s, and shout insults to the fans. I get it – it’s the superhero alter ego thing, and I’m fine with that …but in the old days, here in British pro wrestling masked men never said a single word. It was all about the mystery.
Everyone knew it was Ron Simmons and Bucth Reed in those masks. A bit pointless really…
In recent years I’ve noticed dozens of so called masked “professional” wrestlers walk into a building full of fans with their case full of wrestling gear in hand and walk to/ from the dressing room before, during, and after a show …and they can’t be bothered to make the effort to keep the mask on. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist to work out that he/ or she is the masked wrestler. No wonder the job is so screwed these days. If you are one of these individuals – please do yourself and the business a favor – either wise up, or retire and burn your boots, and please close the door on your way out. Thank You!
There were masked men who were blue eyes (baby faces) and some who were villains (heels). Back in the day most masked men were villains. The mystery created suspicion. Think about it. The armed bank robber in the balaclava. The terrorist with the tea-towel over his head. The scrotes who wear scarves and hoodies. They are doing something criminal, and they wear a mask to avoid being identified.
Whenever I wrestled a masked man I would take him to the ground, secure him with a submission or restraining hold, and try to unmask him. If you get the mask pulled up to his mouth the punters would be shouting and cheering me to rip his mask off. If I got it further up to his nose they would be standing up out of their seats screaming. Cheap heat as we used to call it, but it was minimum effort – maximum effect. It’s easy. Simple. You would get massive amounts of heat from the audience without taking a single bump.
Less pumps. Less injuries, and probably the best heat you’d ever get for doing next to nothing. You see, everybody in the building really want to see that mask ripped off someone’s head. They want to see what that person looks like. That’s good psychology.
I always tried to go that extra mile whenever I wrestled in a mask. I would do things like wear a pair of ladies stockings under the mask – just to black the eye holes out. I would visit fancy dress/ costume shops and buy fake pony tails and have them sewn to the inside of the mask. It was all to deceive the punters into thinking that I had long hair. Anything to throw them off the scent. Fake ponytails and stockings – makes me sound like some cross-dressing sexual deviant. Let’s move on…..
To Know. To Will. To Dare. To Keep Silence.
I’d never take someone’s mask completely off. I’d lift the veil of secrecy just a little, but I’d never open that veil completely. Tease the audience, and always leave them wanting more. Somehow they managed to scramble to the ropes and the referee would have to break it up. Spoilsport…
Sometimes I could successfully unmask someone, but the victory could be short lived as they could be wearing another mask underneath. Occasionally I would chase them back to the dressing room and run back into the audience with the mask. The idea was that I had ripped their mask off backstage, and I’d come back to the ring to show it to the audience. However, they never got to see who’s face was behind that mask. Maintain the mystery…
Sometimes it’s best to leave the fans in suspense. Then they will happily buy a ticket to the next show just to see that bugger get unmasked. It’s good for business. It’s worked for decades. Generations. If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it!
Enjoy your wrestling.
P.S. Old School “Assassin” style masks made by EBay seller: Bobepins Mask Shoppe.