Written By Alfredo Esparza
Hazaña El Deporte Vive: “Mascaras y Cabelleras”
Hazaña was a TV documentary series that came out back in March 2002 in Mexico covering a variety of sports. They ended up doing over 190 documentaries covering sports, rivalries, personalities, etc. They did several on lucha libre. This episode was on the importance of masks & hair matches in lucha libre. They showed several highlights throughout while also interviewing several personalities within lucha libre.
Show starts with brief clips of masks & hair matches before going into the show intro. They bring up how the masks and hair are the most important things for a luchador. They show a clip of Negro Casas biting La Fiera’s nose and Martha Villalobos getting her head shaved after losing a match. More highlights from the Negro Casas and La Fiera hair match with La Fiera tossing Casas into the seats. Casas is shown bloody. They go to Rambo (Jose Luis Mendieta) talking about the importance of the mask. He says the mask hides a luchador’s identity and that sometimes one has to change his voice when they see someone who might know them. More match clips including Perro Aguayo vs. Cien Caras.
Escorvicon (Jaime Alvarez better known as Jaque Mate) mentions how the mask is a part of a luchador’s life and they cannot just abandon it. It is mentioned that imagination is the key to creating the perfect identity for a luchador by combining name, gear, wrestling name, and the fans reaction.
Rambo mentioned how in Panama he wrestled as both Rambo and Jose Luis Mendieta. When he would wrestle as “Rambo”, he wouldn’t speak to anyone including other wrestlers. He would show up, dress, wrestle and wouldn’t even say goodbye as he left the building. As Mendieta, he would show up and they talk trash about Rambo to him.
More highlights are shown including when Konnan beat Perro Aguayo in a hair match and Ringo Mendoza & El Faraon winning the hair of MS-1 & Masakre. They show a clip of Villano III beating Mascara Año 2000. Jesus Reyes (Mascara Año 2000) talks about losing his hair in the cage match to Villano III and said it was more humiliating to lose his hair than his mask. More clips including Atlantis winning the mask of Tierra, Viento y Fuego (Earth, Wind & Fire).
Highlights of Rayo de Jalisco Jr. beating Cien Caras in a mask match are shown. They mention how once a luchador loses his mask, he sometimes shows a different personality unmasked and his hair becomes valuable. They talk about Jose Luis Barajas, El Faraon, losing his mask 3 years into his career to Fishman and go into showing clips of the next big mask match for Fishman a year later where he was in a triangular match with El Cobarde and Sangre Chicana and within one week won both their masks. (Fishman beat Sangre Chicana for his mask on 9/23/1977 & then won El Cobarde’s mask on 9/30/1977) After Sangre Chicana lost his mask, his look and reaction became so popular with fans that they accepted him as a star. El Faraon had more charisma without the mask and he became a bigger star. They show highlights of him against Pirata Morgan that look really great while the narrator praises his work in the ring. They show highlights of a hair match (March 7, 1986) between Sangre Chicana and El Faraon which the narrator says had a ton of build-up since both were opponents who lost their masks to Fishman. Sangre Chicana is shown throwing a stack of chairs at El Faraon. Bloody highlights as they brawl in the crowd and toss chairs at each other. (This match looks amazing!) Match ends when El Faraon fouls Sangre Chicana in the corner and ends up getting disqualified and gets his head shaved. They continued to fight after match.
Back from break and they go to highlights of Atlantis unmasking Mano Negra. Rambo (Jose Luis Mendieta) tells his story as narrator mentions how he got the name for his masked character from the Rambo movie. He mentions being the son of luchador Pepe Mendieta. He said his father had a distinct style and was very athletic. He said fans compared him to his father when he wrestled unmasked, but he thought his father was a better wrestler. Once he starting wrestling as the masked Rambo, people stopped making those comparisons. Mendieta said that when he would wrestle as Rambo, he’d get very excited and his style was more aggressive since that’s when he became a rudo. He said to be a good rudo, one has to be a good tecnico as well. He lost his mask to Villano III on October 25, 1987 and the comparisons to his father came back. He liked wrestling as the masked Rambo because he became a star and was worried that after losing his mask, he might lose that success but instead he continued as a star with fans accepting him. They show highlights of Rambo vs. Brazo de Oro in a hair match. Rambo mentions that what he would do unmasked was he’d do “llaves” (holds) that were combining a dive and then including a hold with them got over with the fans and other wrestlers would later use them. (Rambo was one of the more underrated luchadores of the past 30 years.) They show a clip of him bumping from chops in the corner and keeping himself on the tope rope with one leg and then bouncing back up to get chopped again. Really cool spot. Narrator mentions how Rambo has won as many hair matches as he’s lost.
Next, they talk about luchadores who lost their masks and later regimmicked under new masked characters. They show clips of Talisman after he lost his mask to Atlantis. After years wrestling unmasked, Arturo Beristain, went back to wearing a mask as Hijo del Gladiador. He lost that mask to Rencor Latino (Averno) on August 4, 2000.
They then talk about El Enfermero Jr. Jaime Alvarez Mendoza (El Enfermero/Jaque Mate) tells the story of how he lost his mask as El Enfermero Jr. It was on the June 24, 1983 Arena Mexico show where he had just wrestled in the opening match. On that card there was a mask match programmed between Solar II vs. El Crucero I. After the opening match, he goes to the back and hears everyone talking about how El Crucero I had no-showed. He’s then told that if El Crucero I doesn’t show up then, he’s going to take his place. He agreed to do this. He knew that win or lose, he was a winner because that wasn’t a rivalry that was established and that people would speak of what he did forever. Highlights of that match are shown. They had a bloody match with Solar II’s mask getting ripped apart. El Enfermero in the heat of the moment, fouled Solar II and lost the mask match. Alvarez said that he didn’t want anyone to remove his mask and instead he ripped it, but it stayed hanging on his neck. Alvarez continued wrestling without his mask before disappearing and then a masked luchador named Jaque Mate would emerge. There were some similarities in how he moved and some holds that he was using as Jaque Mate that were very similar to what he used as Enfermero Jr., but the fans accepted him as a rudo anyway.
Segment on Anibal showing highlights of him in some matches. Narrator said he was so impressive when he first started that many thought he would be the next big star since El Santo. They also mention how his appearance on shows alone back in the ’70s would guarantee a sell-out event. They name several that lost to him including Tigre Colombiano, El Marques, Sandokan, La Momia, Jungla Negra, Gran Hamada, Gran Markus and Pirata Morgan. They recap his mask match against Mascara Año 2000 on December 13, 1991. Jesus Reyes (Mascara Año 2000) told story about when his friend invited him to go train for lucha libre. Before they went to train, they attended a show that featured Anibal as the star. Reyes couldn’t believe years later that they would have a mask match. Reyes wasn’t sure he would win but said that win or lose, he would have won because in the ring with a “maestro”. He said by the third fall, he knew he could beat Anibal. Highlights of their mask match air as Reyes told stories and we see that Cien Caras got involved and hit Anibal with a bottle outside of the ring. Match continued and Mascara Año 2000 won. Reyes said it was an honor to be in that match. Reyes said that Anibal lost when he fouled the referee but said rudos shouldn’t care how they win as long as they get the win. They gave an update on both Mascara Año 2000 and Anibal. Narrator (Leo Magadan) mentions that Mascara Año 2000 lost his mask to Perro Aguayo. Anibal two years after losing his mask died of cancer.
They then do a segment on El Santo and El Solitario who died never being unmasked.They show highlights of El Solitario. Narrator mentioned that at one point had told his closest friends that he would die one day and he died very soon after. El Santo highlights from wrestling and movies followed. They show an interview clip where El Santo said that without his mask he probably would have never become a star. He said that there are times where being masked was difficult and mentioned being at a son’s wedding and having to wear sunglasses and covered his face with his hand. Highlights of El Santo vs. El Espanto mask match are shown. They then show the infamous episode of Contrapunto in 1984 were there was a debate on what lucha libre really was, El Santo briefly unmasked on live TV. Ten days later, El Santo died. They show highlights of El Santo’s funeral. They play another clip of El Santo being interviewed. He hoped that the character would continue after he died. (It continued with his son of course.)
They discuss the mask losses of El Matematico and Rayo de Jalisco. Clips are shown of El Matematico who if you are not familiar with was very athletic and had a very interesting background outside of lucha libre as he was a gymnasts, stuntman, a man of many trades. Matematico mentioned that when he once wrestled Dr. Wagner Sr., he was told by Doc that he doesn’t have to worry about trying to come up with wrestling holds when he wrestles Matematico and that he should instead bring in a butterfly net because he can never catch him. Matematico said that he struggled a lot because when he was wrestling, he was a high-flyer and everyone called him a “circus act”. He said to his surprise that’s now the style more common now & said he wasn’t the innovator, but was a part of that style developing. They show highlights of the Matematico vs. Blue Demon mask match. This match happened days after Blue Demon won Rayo de Jalisco’s mask. Matematico said he couldn’t believe he was going to be in a mask match against someone he grew up idolizing. Matematico known as “the Wrestling Calculator” said that he really did win the mask match but the referee was knocked out when Matematico went for the pin. Matematico then attempts a tope suicida at Blue Demon and as he goes flying to the outside, Rolando Vera moves Blue Demon out of the way and Matematico hits a tope right into the fans. He ends up losing via countout to Blue Demon and drops his mask. He said that the mask was the most important thing for him. He said he slowly left lucha libre, but fans still recognized him when he first loss. He said now most don’t because he’s much older. He has his wife remove his mask for the camera.
SHOW THOUGHTS: I wish there were more documentaries like this covering lucha libre and not always so repetitive trying to explain for the hundredth time what lucha libre is. There are so many good stories out there and this show had several especially the last one about Blue Demon winning El Matematico’s mask. This show also had stories on two luchadores who are very underrated and gave them a chance to tell their stories, Rambo and El Matematico. The highlights of the Faraon vs. Sangre Chicana hair match are great! I really wish they would have kept doing more of these shows but I think they did about a dozen. I’ll likely recap them all. If you understand a little Spanish, you should watch it.