by Daniel Johnson
In lucha libre, luchas de apuestas are matches where two wrestlers agree to put something on the line prior to a match so that the loser ends up having to make a significant sacrifice. Typically, these matches are mask vs. mask matches, hair vs. mask matches or hair vs. hair matches. For the purposes of this list the stipulation will be limited to a wrestler only putting his or her mask or hair on the line. Sure, WWE has had some of these types of bouts before. Heck, Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash and CM Punk all lost their hair after each came out on the short end of his respective lucha de apuesta. Even Vince McMahon has gotten in on the action! Still, a decent length of time has passed since WWE has showcased any luchas de apuestas or at the very least any that have mattered. So let’s look at the best options they have.
5. Any Hair vs. Hair Match Between Two Women
With the quality of women’s wrestling in the WWE we won’t exactly get Faby Apache/Mari Apache no matter what two women go at it. Still, being a bald chick is a way to stand out among a group that WWE seems hellbent on making all look the same. Serena Deeb and Molly Holly managed to pull it off in the past with varying success. As for which two women from the current roster would be suited to wrestle this match the obvious choice might be AJ Lee and Kaitlyn. If AJ Lee actually lost she might even earn some respect from her more vocal critics. After all, defying conventional beauty or to put it simply “playing ugly” has worked wonders for women in entertainment. Just look at the list of winners for the Academy Award for Best Actress! At the very least a match like this could allow us a way to tell The Bella Twins apart.
4. Damien Sandow Loses His Beard
Damien Sandow is a wrestler who has “potential main event player” written all over him. The problem with Sandow is that he came in (or back) to the WWE with an incredibly cartoonish gimmick. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t Lord Tensai bad and Sandow played it to absolute perfection. Still, I’ve heard some variation of the statement “the best character is a wrestler playing himself with the volume turned way up” enough times to make me vomit all over my keyboard. Of course, the reason I’ve heard it so many times is because there is plenty of truth to that statement. If Sandow put his hair on the line or even just his beard it would require him to adapt his gimmick, ideally into a less cartoonish version of his current character and get that much closer to the main event player that he is more than capable of being.
3. Daniel Bryan Loses His Beard
Okay so I used the same joke twice and pointed out that Bryan could also stand to lose his beard. However, I thought they warranted separate spots on the list based on how each is currently positioned on the card. While Sandow should be destined to main event, Bryan essentially already is a main event player. Additionally, while Sandow’s hypothetical lucha de apuesta would cause a fundamental change to his character Bryan losing his beard would best be used for storyline purposes. Perhaps Bryan could lose his beard, snap and go full psycho. Alternatively, Bryan could go the other way and fight to avenge himself after being cheated out of his hair. In doing so he would become both a literal and figurative baby face.
2. Rey Mysterio Loses His Mask
There were two reasons I posted a photograph of Rey Mysterio sans mask at the top of this list. First, to prevent anyone from writing to me something along the lines of, “Hey idiot! Rey Mysterio already lost his mask once and it sucked!” After all, I’m sure I’ll get plenty of e-mails starting with “Hey idiot” so I might as well prevent a few. The second reason was because I acknowledge that Rey is more marketable with a mask and to sound like my former 13-year-old self imply “looks cooler.” Rey benefiting from losing his mask instead would have to be handled with some care. I keep reading reports that Rey’s knees are held together by spit and bubblegum. If this is true then while Rey still has a little gas left in the tank, WWE might as well get the most out of him and do something at least sort of new. I’m sure a good chunk of Rey’s pre-teen fans have no knowledge of Rey previously losing his mask in WCW so this would be a completely fresh angle for them. Again, Rey looks nowhere near as “cool” without the mask so minimizing his loss of the mask and showing his face only for a glimpse may work best. For example, someone like Alberto Del Rio could cheat Rey out of his mask, yank Rey’s head covering off and Rey could disappear and rest those knees for a while. The masked man could then return for revenge later on and use some loophole to explain why he is masked again. For example, Rey could say since his opponent didn’t defeat him in an honorable way he is not honoring the wager. This could be a way to move Rey into one last victory lap before he retires.
1. Sin Cara Puts His Mask on the Line
The reason Sin Cara tops this list despite not receiving anything close to a push for what seems like ages now is because of just how tied to his identity Sin Cara’s mask is. He has essentially been promoted as nothing more than that masked guy. Okay, sometimes he is that masked guy who also points, but that isn’t much better. To bring some seriousness to this list prior to coming to the WWE, Mistico aka Sin Cara was a legitimate international star. Not only did Mistico tear the scene up in Mexico, but he wowed audiences in Japan too. Instead of just promoting him as that guy with the mask, Sin Cara should instead be pushed as a wrestler who really gives it his all and is willing to put his very identity on the line. Notice, how while I mentioned Sandow, Bryan and Mysterio should all lose their hypothetical matches I simply said Sin Cara putting his mask on the line would be enough? Something as synonymous with lucha libre as luchas de apuestas should be used to elevate a former lucha star in the world’s biggest wrestling promotion. He could wager his mask against his opponent’s titles, for qualifying opportunities, anything really. The message would be that Sin Cara is putting his all into it and is just that sure of himself…rather than weakly pointing to make a statement. After all he never lost his mask before and he damn sure won’t ever let that happen! Well, except that one time, but we’ll forget about that.
Photos 1-6: en.wikipedia.org
Categories: Wrestling Lists