COLUMN: OS #22 – Hair Vs. Mask Match In WWE

Kevin McElvaney


Hey there Shenanifans. Thanks for once again opening your browsers and pointing them in my direction. I hope this edition (the 22nd) of Offbeat Shenanigans finds you well. Today Iâ<80><99>d like to take a look at a possible storyline WWE could use and whether or not it would work. Itâ<80><99>s a time-honored tradition of many Mexican wrestling promotions and, after an email from a reader a while back, I got to wondering if, just maybe, WWE might be able to pull it off today.

Of course, Iâ<80><99>m talking about the famous Hair vs. Mask match. Hair vs. Hair matches have been fairly common in modern American pro wrestling. WWE, for its part, has produced three of them since 2002. All three times, the storyline was played off for comedic effect. Thatâ<80><99>s fine, of course. I mean, what else would one expect?

Hair vs. Mask matches, however, are different territory. Those of you who know anything about Mexican wrestling know that the mask is a sacred and honorable thing and that, to luchadors, the loss of oneâ<80><99>s mask is a devestating and humiliating event. In the event that one wrestler is already unmasked, matches are sometimes made where the unmasked wrestler risks his hair. Itâ<80><99>s a matter of pride, and itâ<80><99>s one of the most intense storylines which can take place in lucha libre – far more intense, in fact, than most title matches could ever be.

For the heck of it, Iâ<80><99>ve batted the question around in my head: could WWE pull off an unmasking angle successfully? (Keep your Kane comments to yourselves, please.) Seriously, could they?

Obviously, when pressed to think of a wrestler who could be unmasked – or at least risk his mask – Rey Mysterio was the first and only one who came to mind. Yes, Rey lost his mask in WCW, along with all the other masked wrestlers… all thanks to some ill-advised and spit-in-the-face-of-tradition booking decisions. With that said, itâ<80><99>s been almost six years since Rey appeared on Smackdown, once again donning a mask. There are, legitimately, some fans who donâ<80><99>t know or have forgotten what he looks like underneath. Also, there are a couple instances where Reyâ<80><99>s mask has partly or totally come off (without his face being shown), and the drama level during those segments was through the roof.

Any unmasking match with Rey involved would need to feature another wrestler with something equally precious on the line. No, weâ<80><99>re not talking titles here because, anymore, titles mean a little less and, frankly, do not equate to the level of pride they once did. Hair will be the thing on the line, since there are no other masked wrestlers in WWE at the moment. (Keep your Charlie Haas comments to yourselves, please.)

Now, the question is: whose hair should be up for grabs? My original inclination was to have Rey take on Edge, with Edgeâ<80><99>s hair on the line. Surely, Edge has had a full and proud head of hair for the entirety of his WWE run. Heck, even when it was short it was still pretty long! With that said, I have the feeling that Edge is too slimey of a heel for his hair being sheared to amount to much besides laughs. Who then? Take a guess.

No guesses, really? Okay then, Iâ<80><99>ll tell you. Ready? Okay, because Iâ<80><99>m telling you. The guy facing Rey should be none other than…

TRIPLE H.

Yes, Triple H. The guy who, according to backstage rumors I donâ<80><99>t believe, demanded that he be the only long-haired dude in the company. That’s right, for a time, no one in WWE except Triple H was to be allowed to grow their hair long – although, oddly enough, Edge, Jericho, and a few others had long hair at the time. Anyway, Triple H and long hair go together like holidays and embarrassment. How appropriate that I mention embarrassment here…since thatâ<80><99>s exactly what the loss of hair would mean to Triple H!

Thing is, I donâ<80><99>t see Triple H getting his head shaved as something to get laughs from the crowd. Triple H would look beaten, humiliated, but, above all, PISSED OFF! The build wouldnâ<80><99>t be centered around Triple Hâ<80><99>s loss of hair, but around pride and the obsession Trips has with relieving Rey of his mask. Pure grudge feud…no humor needed or intended.

My vibes that Triple H would be able to pull off this storyline convincingly are just that, vibes. I could be very wrong, of course. But my main concern lies in how WWE would be able to pull off such a complex storyline. In his more dramatic turns, Rey has experienced more than a bit of fan backlash. Going up against a talented wrestler such as Triple H would do him no favors in this department. Furthermore, reversing the roles, with Rey playing the heel, would do Triple H no favors. Honestly, how can you have a heel Rey go over Triple H? Plus, the loss of hair seems to mean so much less for a face when he could be taking a heel luchadorâ<80><99>s mask and, thus, very identity. Where’s the sympathy for our beloved hero?

If a Hair vs. Mask storyline were ever to work, though, in WWE, the company would really have to educate its fanbase as to the importance of a luchadorâ<80><99>s mask, as well as really, REALLY build up the hair of his heel opponent. (Bah Gawd, King! I’ll bet he shampoos that luscious mane twice a day!) Fans do have a basic understanding that Reyâ<80><99>s mask means a lot to him, but, in order for this match to work, WWEâ<80><99>d really have to go the extra mile. Little mentions from Michael Cole here or there (read: every freakinâ<80><99> week) about how much Reyâ<80><99>s mask means to him as a luchador. Even a video package about that very thing would work.

So, in summation, no…I donâ<80><99>t believe a Hair vs. Mask match would work at this point in WWE. At least not without a huge build and copious attention to detail. Back in the early 1990’s, though, this idea wouldâ<80><99>ve cleaned up. Itâ<80><99>s a true shame we didnâ<80><99>t see anything like this circa 1992-94 with Shawn Michaels and umm…I donâ<80><99>t know…Max Moon.

The Best Moments in Wrestling History

I’m looking for your favorite wrestling moments of all time: matches, title wins, debuts, returns, skits, feuds…anything wrestling!

Submit your favorite moments. Up to 10 (or a few more) will be fine. Rank them yourself, or I’ll rank them in the order you submit them. Using a weighted point system, I’ll be calculating the top vote-getters and posting the top moments on WrestleZone sometime during WrestleMania weekend. Votes must be submitted by March 27 – the night of TNA’s first live, two hour Impact.

A fair warning to fans of old school wrestling – particularly the NWA, WCCW, AWA, and the various territories – your favorite moments are going sorely underrepresented in the voting. Also, moments from around the globe (Mexico, Japan, Europe, etc.) are garnering very few votes. Want to change that? Be sure cast your votes to get your favorite moments on the list!

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Kevin McElvaney is also a contributing writer for Pro Wrestling Illustrated and The Wrestler / Inside Wrestling. Send questions or comments to kjmcelvaney@yahoo.com.

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