Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Project 33" - Match #140: LA Park vs. Black Tiger

LA Park vs. Black Tiger III
4 February, 2006
Auditorio Municipal; Torreon, Mexico
Mascara vs. Mascara

Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 - there is a gap in between 3 and 4, but it isn't significant

Silver King is the oldest son of the legendary Dr. Wagner.  Like many wrestlers in Mexico who were second generation, King started out wrestling in 1985 without using his father's name, wanting to make a name for himself.  However, before he ever had the option of using the name "Dr. Wagner Jr.", his brother began using that name, and wrestling with their father's mask.

In 1987,Silver King lost his mask to El Hijo del Santo in Tijuana, and after that Silver King made a name for himself as a tag team partner to Texano.  This team proved quite popular, and King was established as a top star in Mexico thru the success of this team.  In the mid 1990's he had a solid run in CMLL, winning the Heavyweight and Tag Team championships, before jumping ship to WCW as part of the new Cruiserweight division.  Although King gained much exposure from this in the US, he was essentially a preliminary guy there to work the lucha style and make guys like Rey Misterio Jr and Juvi Guerrera look good. 

After leaving WCW, King caught on with New Japan Pro Wrestling, as the third incarnation of Black Tiger.  When not touring with NJPW, King would wrestle in CMLL and independent shows in Mexico - as Black Tiger. 

So.... how does a guy that lost his mask in Mexico end up wearing a mask again?   

Well, a wrestler losing a mask and years later donning a different mask is not really an uncommon thing.  However, usually it is a preliminary type guy that will lose a mask in one part of Mexico where he was a "local competitor", and then will remask after moving to another promotion and switching gimmicks. In many ways, this is no different than a wrestler in the WWE changing their name when they go back on the indies or to another company.  Sometimes it is just a change of gimmick.  Sometimes, it will be a situation where someone is being brought in to feud with a particular person over a mask.  A great example of that would be how different wrestlers, such as Espanto, were remasked as "Pentagon" in order to be an evil doppelganger for Octagon.  

However, occasionally you get a situation where a well-known wrestler just wants to remask after a few years. Occasionally these are veteran guys who try to wrestle under a different name, such as when Volador, after suffering a number of injuries and leaving AAA, remasked as "Super Parka", a relative of the original La Parka (which he actually was) and began working the independent promotions on the border. Usually when enough time has elapsed, the commission doe not make a big stink about such remaskings, as the understanding generally is that this is how the actual business works.  The problem with the various wrestling commissions in Mexico tends to come into play when a well-known wrestler loses his mask, and then quickly and blatantly remasks.  

It seems that the blatant remasking was popularized when a handful of UWA affiliated wrestlers lost their masks, and their popularity decreased because of it, as being maskless killed their gimmick.  Wrestlers such as Black Man, Kato Kung Lee, Kendo, Avispon Negro all did high-flying Japanese martial-arts gimmicks, and when they unmasked and were found out to not be Japanese, they proved less popular.  So, many of them started remasking.  Some tried to pull of different gimmicks, and then others just used a slightly different name and mask (such as "Super Kendo").  Eventually some of the other top names working the Northern Independents, such as Super Astro and Ultraman, just started wearing their masks again.  However, the practice was generally limited to the northern independents, and it didn't creep in to Mexico City and CMLL/AAA.  

Soon, Rey Misterio Jr, who was unmasked in WCW, returned to Mexico and began to wrestle for CMLL unmasked after the folding of WCW.  In 2002, Misterio returned to the US, wrestling for the WWE.   In 2006, right around the time King lost the Black Tiger mask, WWE began to tour Mexico, and Misterio - masked - wrestled in Mexico City.  Soon, Silver King would start rocking the boat in Mexico City as well.  

After this match with Park, King would wrestle unmasked occasionally, but he was actually working as a consultant and as one of the stars of the 2006 film "Nacho Libre", where he played the Santo-like character "Ramses". 

After about a year of popping up in various places as Silver King or even wrestling masked as the Ramses character, King started appearing quite often with his brother, wearing matching gear, and often being billed as Dr. Wagner II, or as El Hermano de Dr. Wagner Jr."  This was obviously being done to capitalize on his brother's popularity, as Dr. Wagner Jr. was riding a wave of popularity and was perhaps the top tecnico wrestler in the country, aside from Mistico.  However, something funny started to happen - reports from spot-shows and events started saying that Silver King was wrestling under that name, but was wearing a Wagner-ized version of the old Silver King mask.  

In 2008, Silver King returned to AAA, this time fully masked and wearing his Dr. Wagner gear.  A few months later, Wagner would jump over to AAA as well.  When AAA put on Triplemania in Mexico City in 2009, the wrestling commission publicly came out and said that it was not going to allow Silver King to compete with a mask.  King made the argument that he lost his mask in 1987, and that enough time had passed that he should be allowed to remask - as many others had.  The argument that the commission made was that he was remasking using the same name and mask, not to mention that he had already remasked as Black Tiger, and lost that mask not even three years ago!  So, for Triplemania that year, King wore facepaint rather than a mask, but after Triplemania the issue seemed to be dropped, and King returned to wearing his mask.  

Oh, right, yeah - the match!  

This match is what I personally expect out of an apuesta match - violence and brutality, but not going to the point of a "deathmatch".  When you think about it, an apuesta match is supposed to be the ultimate match between two men that simply do not like each other.  The idea is that you are risking your own public shame (by renouncing your identity), for the opportunity to take your enemies dignity.  An apuesta match should be all about the loser feeling shame - so it shouyldn't be a gentlemanly contest between two grapplers.  I think it should be all about two guys trying to do everything in their power to shame the other man; it should be a match fought with total desperation.  

This match really got that aspect of it over very well I thought.  Park just seems to have another level that he can step to for a big match, and King totally rose to the occasion here.  I actually like the ring work of Silver King (and I have ever since I saw him in WCW), I just wish he hadn't turned into a fraud.  This match was a fun brawl that didn't get out of hand, and you really got the sense that these two guys wanted to kill each other. 

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