B. Dangerous, Brian Damage and Lowlife Louie Ramos
This week’s top five will be top five favorite masked wrestlers. Not necessarily the greatest of all time, just your personal favorites through the years. It could be luchadors like Rey Mysterio, career masked wrestlers like Mr. Wrestling II, wrestlers who wore a mask for a spell like Kane or a wrestler who briefly wore one for an angle like the Midnight Rider. Again, not the greatest of all time…just personal faves.
I’ve historically been a huge fan of Lucha Libre, so I immediately jump to some of the great luchadors for my Top 5 Favorite Masked Wrestlers, but I’m going to try to create a little variety here just to see how well-rounded of list I can make.
They basically wore black stockings over their heads with no eye, nose, or mouth holes. They were managed by Luna Vachon and they made a high-pitched shrieking sound. What’s not to like? Also, they reminded me of that great line from the Nicholas Cage classic, Raising Arizona where a truck driver declares to Cage’s character, “Son, you’ve got a panty on your head.”
5- The Masked Superstar
Decent mask. Pretty simple, if you really think about it. But the Masked Superstar just had a very believable heir of mystery about him. Not to mention, the man who would later have a whole career rebirth as Demolition Ax, was just smooth as silk in the ring. To this day I’ll go back and watch his matches and just be in awe!
4- Jushin Thunder Liger
The first time I ever saw Liger was in a program with Brian Pillman for the WCW Light-Heavyweight Championship in the very early ’90s and I was hooked!
Great in the ring? Sure. But it was more about his presence to me. The mask, the suit, the cape. He looked like a real-life superhero and at that time, he was something America had not seen before.
3- The Patriot
Del Wilkes. Not Tom Brandi. Tom Brandi is a dork. Del created a great character in the GWF with his gimmick being that he wore a mask not to hide his identity, but as a way to represent every American from sea to shining sea! He was even billed from a different American city every week. They didn’t really carry that aspect of his persona into WCW and the WWF, but they probably should have. It was a great concept and had it not been for his own unfortunate vices, he would have made a great WWF Champion if ever given the chance.
2- Pentagon Jr. /Penta El Zero M
Pentagon Jr. is one of the coolest looking masked wrestlers in history due to his skeleton face-paint worn beneath his already awesome looking masks. It took him a few years to nail-down his look and get away from that of the original Pentagon, but now it’s easily one of the best looks in the entire wrestling industry. It’s also one of the most easily identifiable looks anywhere. All that and the dude is a beast in the ring! His arm-breaker spot is fantastic and would be even better if more of his opponents would sell it as causing them serious injury.
1- Dr. Wagner Jr.
Even though he’s been unmasked for a handful of years now and somewhat reinvented himself as Rey Wagner, I have always been a huge fan. From his use of Bon Jovi’s “Bad Medicine” to his starting each of his promos with his trademark line, “Bien, bien, bien!”, I would rank Dr. Wagner as not only one of my favorite luchadors of all-time, but as one of my favorite wrestlers universally.
Such a promising, but short WCW career for this dynamic high flyer. Blitzkrieg got lost in the shuffle with all the luchadors like Rey Mysterio, Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera that were there at the same time. Injuries eventually did him in and he quietly walked away from wrestling. Those few short years that he was wrestling, to me were extremely underrated.
4 The Machines
While not wrestling’s greatest kept secret, I actually loved the Machines. They consisted of The Giant Machine (Andre), the Super Machine (Masked Superstar) and the Big Machine (Blackjack Mulligan) managed by Lou Albano. I guess this gimmick started my early education on Japanese wrestling as the WWF announcers speculated that the Giant Machine was a wrestler named Giant Baba. As a kid, I never heard of Baba, but it certainly generated an interest to seek out more info about him from wrestling magazines.
3 The Love Machine
I didn’t get to watch ‘The Love Machine’ aka Art Barr in his prime down in Mexico….but my days of tape trading I got see enough to make me enamored with the entire persona. A truly innovative wrestler and character for its time. Unfortunately, Barr ran into a number of legal issues and ultimately died…but a great character this was.
2 El Generico
I am a big fan of Sami Zayn, but when I was first introduced to him…it was his El Generico character that really got me to notice him. A sorta comedic play on lucha libre…he played the role to perfection. A great masked character in my opinion.
1 Jushin Thunder Liger
The GOAT as far as I’m concerned of all masked wrestlers. Liger to me, was my favorite masked man of all time. A true legend that could wrestle, brawl and dazzle with aerial maneuvers. His mask was pretty cool looking too.
Many masked wrestlers have come and..from the original masked man aptly named the masked wrestler, to the 2 giant monsters on WWE TV this past Monday masked wrestler have been a tv staple, and in Mexico an institution.
Mil Mascaras, Blue Demon, Kane, The Machines, Mr America, Konnan.
5) The Masked Superstar.
Bill Eadie was most famous for playing Ax of the legendary Demolition tag team. But to previous generations he was the masked Superstar. A dastardly heel masked man . Superstar toured the world, battled every big name imaginable and popularized the loading of the mask as a foreign object.
4) Jushin Thunder Liger..
The recently retired, hall of fame inducted Liger was one of the most popular and influential masked men ever. A staple of cruiserweight and light heavyweight divisions and tournaments. Liger ,with his distinct mask and attire and a tremendous areay of high flying attacks became an attraction around the world, and a household name in his native Japan..
3) Great Sasuke.
Funny I am wearing a Great Sasuke shirt as I write this. Another tremendously influential name from the 90s and turn of the century cruiserweight boom,. Sasuke could truly do it all. Delving into tournaments such as the Jcup..to putting it all on the line in exploding barbed wire matches. Sasuke would parlay his popularity into a seat in the Japanese version of parliament. Still active and performed an amazing match vs Joey Janela here in the USA just 2 years ago.
2) El Santo..
The most famous wrestler in the country of Mexico, Santo was also popular around the globe thanks to a series of action movies and comic books depicting him as a hero. Santo would only reveal his true identity a mere days before his death. Still revered for what he meant to his country. His son still carries the legacy to this day.
1) Rey Mysterio Jr..
The one and only man who could topple Santo off the top of this list. Rey’s accomplishments are way to numerous to list here. A recognized world champion on 3 different occasions in the largest wrestling company in the world helped him achieve tremendous success despite of his stature. Mysterio’s matches in his prime, (especially vs Psychosis and Eddie Guerrero ) are classics that hold up to this day. Now in the twilight of his career, he is guiding the early steps of his son..Dominick Mysterio.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.