One of my heroes (Dr. Wagner Jr.) lost his mask on Saturday night at Triplemania XXV. Losing your mask in the world of lucha libre is a huge deal and probably difficult to understand if it’s a subject you’re not familiar with. Therefore, in tribute, here is a loosely connected lucha libre themed tale for your pleasure. Originally written on the 27th February 2017.
“The Devil Knows Lucha“
In his infinite quest for happiness, Satan had tried it at. He’d been a satanic mechanic, an MMA fighter, a baker. Hell, he’d even taught stump painting to the amputee demons. But in all his endeavours, he’d never experienced the true sensation of happiness. He’d never known genuine bliss. That is until the day he discovered lucha libre.
“That’s it!” he’d shouted to the demonic parasite sucking cheese out of his toenails. “That’s my calling, I can feel it in my bones!” The parasite was promptly crushed into a decidedly hellish paste and Satan shifted closer to his six hundred and sixty six inch LCD screen. Through the mesmerising power of 666K HD, the lord of the underworld watched in glee as L.A. Park nailed Cibernetico with a Parkinator off the top rope and put him away for the three count. “This…is…gold!” barked the devil, foaming at both the mouth and nipples. “I have found my one true calling at long last. I shall become…a luchador!”
And so it was decided, Satan would try his hand at his new-found passion, Mexican professional wrestling. The devil didn’t thank God for much, but in his head he thanked him now for the ability to receive a decent television signal this far underground. First thing was first, he must acquire himself a mask and costume. For everyone knew that the most successful luchadors are the ones with the sweetest aesthetics and Satan intended to blow everyone away with his mad sewing and visual arts skills.
For six hundred and sixty six days and nights he toiled away in the seclusion of his satanic sewing room, during which a revolution broke out in Hell and several of his archdemon generals were blood eagled and gibbeted. Satan cared not for the distractions of the outside, he was focused on creating the single most awesome luchador costume and mask the world had ever seen, and at the conclusion of his seclusion he had achieved the ultimate goal in mascara manufacturing: the most awe-inspiring use of spandex, sequins and leather of all time.
After leaving his sewing chamber and thwarting the hellish revolution by clicking his fingers and turning the revolutionists into screaming puddles of viscera, Satan set about his second task: coming up with a suitably epic name for himself in the lucha world. He went to his personal place, that one special area of Hell in which he found solace and peace. It was a place of contemplation and soul-searching, a place no one else was allowed but him. It was his downstairs toilet. There, upon his throne of porcelain with its seat made out of petrified livers, the master of all that is evil considered his choices. “How about…” he drummed his fingertips upon his thigh. “El Diablo”. After staring into the framed picture of his deceased pet goat Carl for a few moments, he scrunched his face up and decided against it. “A little on the nose,” he reasoned. A few other names soon came to mind: Demonio Maligno, El Chico Rojo, Señor Miedo. They were all decided against in the end for the crime of being far too bland and boring.
It took some time for Satan to eventually come up with a suitable name to match the vision he had for himself. It was pretty lucky that he hadn’t had a bowel movement in over a thousand years and so had plenty of time to mull it over. As he finished off his thirty seventh roll of sentient toilet paper, it finally hit him like a steel chair to the face. The devil had his luchador name. And it was glorious.
* * * *
“Nombre?” asked the clerk at the National Lucha Office in Mexico City. Satan was all dressed up and feeling somewhat self conscious as he stood in front of the glass panel, staring at the diminutive middle aged man on the other side. Satan didn’t like the look of him, he looked like a paedophile. In fact, he was a paedophile, and Satan knew it because he had a knack for smelling that sort of thing on people. He wondered if he should smite him right there and then, send his infernal soul to the pits below. Maybe he’d sentence him to an eternity of getting his fingers caught in a window hinge.
“Nombre?!” barked the man, a little louder than necessary.
“It is I, the one and only scourge of lucha libre, the single greatest luchador to ever walk the face of the planet. I am… Estrella de la Mañana! Fear me!”
The paedophile didn’t look up. He hadn’t actually looked the devil in the eye once during their brief meeting. Even if he had, he’d probably have no idea the man dressed up like an immaculate luchador before him was actually Satan himself. The man stamped some forms and slid a receipt under the glass, not saying another word.
Satan, now also officially registered as Estrella de la Mañana, was annoyed at this lack of respect. How easy it would be to turn you inside out and paint the building with your juices, he thought to himself as he took the receipt. Satan wasn’t going to do that though, he didn’t want to blow his cover. No, he’d made up his mind to do this properly. The devil was walking the Earth to achieve his relatively-recently forged dream; becoming a grand lucha libre superstar. If the people found out that he was the devil in disguise this soon he’d never make it far. No promoter would book him. No kids would buy his t-shirts or replica masks. No, the middle aged Mexican paedophile would live to see another day. Although Satan did use his demonic magic to secretively turn his cup of coffee into chupacabra urine.
Out in the bustling streets, Satan basked in the glory of becoming official. Now all he had to do was get himself on a card and prove to the world how awesome he was. He’d watched all the lucha libre TV he could in Hell and he knew he had it in him to be the very best. To Hell with starting out small and paying your dues, Satan was better than bingo halls and carnivals. He’d go straight to the big leagues and dominate the competition. A second later and he was asking passersby for directions to Arena México.
“I am Sat– ahem, Estrella de la Mañana. Book me on your show or you will regret it for the rest of your miserable life and beyond!” boomed the sequins-bequeathed eyesore to the man behind the ticket booth. The arena’s atrium was cavernous and made Satan’s words echo just like they did back home.
“Qué?” replied the spotty teenager, picking a scab on the back of his lumpy head.
“What don’t you understand, peasant? I am demanding that I am placed on this show in a match of high billing or I will destroy you and all of your beloved luchadors and I’ll probably even steal their t-shirt merchandise money!”
The employee didn’t reply this time, only stared. For one, he didn’t speak English, and even if he did he wasn’t in any position to call the shots of the wrestling event happening that night. The teenager farted nervously. Satan was not pleased. It was very hard for the exquisitely attired deity not to put the teenager through a world of hurt that would be incomprehensible to the human mind, or at the very least take his legs off and throw them through a wall. But somehow he controlled his displeasure and simply marched past the man and headed straight for the locker room. The employee probably would have tried to stop him, especially considering the luchador hadn’t paid for admission, but thought better of it on account of being stunned into submission by the thrilling lucha mask he’d been wearing. It was so beautiful that the teenager pulled out his mobile and immediately tweeted about it to his seven followers.
Upon kicking down the locker room door and flipping a few benches, Satan was promptly beaten over the head with a steel chair and powerbombed through the drywall into the public restroom next door. “Well that didn’t go so well,” mumbled the devil as he brushed pieces of broken toilet off himself. “Take two”.
“Okay you bunch of taco eating cloth heads! My name is Estrella de la Mañana and I demand to be put on this card immediately”. Once again, Satan found himself upside down in the public restroom.
The third time good old Mañana attempted to gain acceptance into the luchador’s locker room went a little better. He made a quick detour to the concession stand first and brought with him a caseload of cervezas and a bunch of foam fingers, attempting to bribe the grapplers into accepting him into their exclusive brotherhood. Surprisingly, it worked. Somewhat. For a large man in a silver and white mask who identified himself as the legendary Ángel Santo Jr. took all the beers, downed them in a oner and beckoned the brash newcomer to sit beside him.
“I’m Estrella de–”
“You already said that,” said Ángel Santo Jr.
“You speak pretty good English, Mexican,” replied Satan, eyeing the other luchadors as they shot dirty looks at him beneath their own vibrant, tasteful and undeniably majestic luchador masks.
“Of course I do, I’m the greatest luchador in the world. I’m good at everything. Now tell me, stranger, why should we put you on this show when we’ve never heard of you before?”
“Because,” said Satan, slapping his thigh as if he’d just told a joke but hadn’t and instead looked kind of ridiculous doing it, “I am the greatest luchador of all time, not you. In fact, now that I’ve gotten you drunk on cheap beer, I hereby challenge you to a match tonight. I will build my legacy off your misery!”
Ángel Santo Jr. stood up – almost falling over in the process – and slapped Satan right across the masked face. “How very dare you, cabrón! I shall beat respect into you. This is not how we go about things in lucha libre. I will take your challenge and make you wish you’d never put on that highly impressive and admittedly spectacular mask. In fact, let’s make things interesting. I hereby challenge you…to a Luchas de Apuestas!”
The entire locker room gasped in unison and several pre-match hotdogs were dropped onto the floor. A Luchas de Apuestas was the single biggest challenge a luchador could lay down in all of wrestling. It was a match where each competitor would put their mask on the line, with the victor taking their opponent’s, thus revealing their true identity and shattering the image all the little merchandise-buying kids had of their beloved idol. It was the ultimate challenge. As soon as the words had left Ángel Santo Jr’s lips, Mexico City was rocked by an earthquake, such was the devastation infused in such a powerful challenge.
Beneath his awe-inspiring mask Satan unrolled a sly grin. He’d gotten what he wanted already. And all it had taken was a few stolen beers.
* * * *
To the sounds of his well chosen theme music (“Don’t Give Me Your Life” by Alex Party), Estrella de la Mañana made his way through the curtain and into a baffled crowd of lucha libre fans. They’d never heard of this flamboyant individual before, why was he main eventing one of the biggest shows in Mexico against none other than Ángel Santo Jr. in no less than a mask versus mask match? What insanity was this? Satan let them all know by pirouetting, back flipping, somersaulting and handspringing his way down the ramp and into the ring like something not even a ecstasy-fuelled firework would be capable of, let alone an unknown luchador with a sweet mask.
A minute later and his opponent was in the squared circle, circling Satan in a circular motion which was apt because even though it’s called a ring, it’s actually square-shaped and not circular and so his circular movements contrasted well with the physical dimensions of the ring and looked quite artful, even if that wasn’t the intention. The bell soon rang and Satan immediately went for a running dropkick, a move he’d seen performed on TV countless times before and therefore obviously knew how to do himself without the need to practice.
With a mighty right hook, Satan was floored by Ángel Santo Jr. The crowd erupted. Seconds later and Satan had been German suplexed over the top rope and into the fourth row, wiping out a family of holidaymakers from Zimbabwe. The realisation dawned on him in an instant – much like an actual dawn at the equator where it happens rather quickly –, Satan wasn’t anywhere near as good as he’d previously thought he was. Before the newcomer could gather his thoughts of bitter revelation, Ángel Santo Jr. was flying through the air with the grace of a donkey falling off a pier and landed a thunderous elbow right onto Satan’s forehead. The devil was in trouble in Mexico City.
For forty five minutes Satan, the supreme lord and master of all that is evil and horrific, was subjected to an absolute beating from a near-fifty year old man in silver spandex. He was kicked and punched from pillar to post, thrown around like a rag doll and beaten to within an inch of his eternally infernal life. Never had the Mexican people seen such a one-sided affair, not even the time El Hijo Del Fontanero was utterly owned by Pato Verde in an Evening Gown Match. The pro Ángel Santo Jr. crowd were utterly enthralled and loving it, watching their beloved legend decimate this brash neophyte. They’d all get to point and laugh at his unmasked face soon, it was only a matter of time.
After yet another clothesline to the throat, Ángel Santo Jr. locked in the El Pulpo finishing manoeuvre which had won him countless bouts throughout his illustrious career. Satan was in a world of hurt, he’d never know true pain such as he felt now. It was quite the eye-opener actually, suddenly giving him a glimpse at what the worthless wretches below the surface went through on a daily basis at his command. Pain sucked. The referee asked if he was ready to give up and submit. Ángel Santo Jr. cranked back on his opponent’s spine even harder. Pain really sucked. That’s when Estrella de la Mañana gave up on his lucha libre dream and reverted back to being good old Satan: scourge of the damned.
It all happened so quickly. So quickly in fact that most of the fans in the arena didn’t realise what had actually happened until long afterwards. Afterwards, when Ángel Santo Jr’s molecularly compromised organs had plastered themselves all over the walls and rafters. Afterwards, when the ring had been vaporised and replaced with a steaming crater in the shape of a pentagram. Afterwards, when the first fifteen rows had been replaced with smouldering wreckage and charred human remains. Yes, it was only after all this that the surviving fans put the pieces together and actually acknowledged what they were looking at. Estrella de la Mañana was standing alone where the ring had once been, holding his opponent’s severed head in his hand. Despite the carnage surrounding him, Estrella looked immaculate. As did his sweet mask. That’s when the fans noticed it.
There was a forked tail protruding from Estrella de la Mañana’s spandex tights, and it was red. “Sweet Santa Muerte!” screamed an elderly lady in a commercial grade replica Ángel Santo Jr. mask she’d bought at the concession stand mere hours before. “That’s no luchador! That’s Satan!”
All Hell surely would have broken loose right there and then but the devil froze them all to the spot with an icy stare. He enjoyed misery and panic in the masses, and he’d let them get to that in a moment, but first there was something important to take care of. Something he wanted them all to witness. Something he simply had to do on account of his obsessive-compulsive disorder. He’d started this journey to become a lucha libre legend, and by Christ (or a suitable underworld equivalent) he’d finish it too. Slowly raising the head of Ángel Santo Jr. into the air, Satan pointed to it.
In his devilish mind, he was the winner of this Luchas de Apuestas and he’d earned the mask of the legendary luchador. In one fluid pull, he yanked the silver and white mask off the severed head and revealed the bulging-eyed face beneath. Satan roared with laughter as he allowed the capacity crowd to resume their panicking and freaking out. “I did it, you old fool! I told you I was the best. Now look at you!” the devil jeered at the severed head.
That’s when it winked at him.
Satan dropped the head and jumped back aghast. No mortal was capable of that, as far as he knew, and he knew a lot because he had an IQ of six hundred and sixty six which is pretty high. No, he was pretty sure severed heads weren’t supposed to do that. If the winking had shocked him, then what was about to happen next would make him wish he’d never turned his giant LCD television on and watched the Lucha Channel in the first place.
The head lying in the smoking crater in the centre of Arena México started glowing like an angelic pumpkin, with beams of blinding white light shooting out of its eyes, nose, mouth and ears. It levitated – quite un-head-like indeed – and began emitting a loud hum, one unlike anything anyone had ever heard before. The stark raving mad fans in the crowd had utterly lost their innocent little minds by this point, a lot of them were just bugging out on the floor, flipping and twitching and just generally losing the plot. Satan took off his own sweet mask and stared in slack-jawed disbelief at what was unfolding before him.
The floating head suddenly exploded in a shower of gleaming sparks and vibrant lights, and when the light show had cleared, none other than God himself was stand before Satan.
“You?!” blurted the devil in disbelief.
“Yes me!” retorted God, hands on his hips. “You’ve really upset me this time, Clive,”
“Don’t call me that!”
“Oh that’s right, it’s Lucifer now isn’t it?” mocked the Divine Father as Mexicans fainted so hard they went to Heaven.
“No it’s not! I stopped using that name years ago and you know it. It’s Satan now. What are you doing here, you righteous old fool?”
“You’ve discovered my secret pastime, and you couldn’t leave well enough alone, could you now Clive?”
“I told you not to call me–“
“Shut up!” commanded God, silencing Satan with a thought that sewed his mouth shut.
“I’m sending you back to Hell, and I’m taking your TV away too. No more lucha libre for you. I will not have you ruin this hobby for me. Now begone!” God fired his magical finger of celestial wonderment at his old foe and teleported him back to the fiery confines of the underworld.
“Right,” said the divine deity, surveying the carnage of Arena México around him. “A quick click of the old magic fingers here and we’ll be right as rain. And I think it’s high time to retire the Ángel Santo Jr. gimmick and start afresh”.