The Delco Elbow Drop

Monday, April 28, 2014

Masked Mania brings lucha libre to Philadelphia

Even though I’ve been watching professional wrestling since I was a little kid, I’d never experienced a wrestling match where chants of “U-S-A!” mark the heel wrestlers but before Sunday, I’d never seen a real lucha libre show before either.

Masked Mania, held at the 2300 Arena (formerly the ECW Arena) in South Philadelphia, treated fans to an amazing lucha libre performance on Sunday, marking one of the first – if not the first – time the city has hosted a true lucha show. With 8 matches on the card, each offered something unique for wrestling fans and those looking to familiarize themselves with Mexican lucha libre. Fast-paced tag team wrestling, rudos vs technicos, trios matches and amazing displays of technical prowess were all in store at Masked Mania. Perhaps most impressive was that the nature of the show was perfect for people of all ages to enjoy – whether you’re a grizzled, jaded smark like me or a wide-eyed kid on a family outing, Masked Mania presented an exciting show for all.

The teams of Latin Dragon and Ultimo Panda versus Incoherence (Hallowicked and Frightmare) opened the show in spectacular fashion. Incoherence played the roles of villains, using their intimidating masks to strike fear into the crowd while their foes Dragon and Panda won over the crowd with impressive dance moves. Latin Dragon got the pin on both Hallowicked and Frightmare with a splash from the top rope.

I should also note that ECW alum Joel “The Quintessential Studmuffin” Gertner was performing the job of ring announcer for the evening. And, it being a lucha libre show, Gertner did the entire show in Spanish.

Next up, the trio of “3 Live Gringos” Chuck Taylor, Papadon and Orange Cassidy took on The Osirian Portal and Green Ant. Taylor, Cassidy and Papadon came out to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” and played the part of rudos, marking maybe the first time ever American wrestlers were booed for being American in America. Regardless of that chicanery, this match was really fun and let the technico team pull off some impressive double team maneuvers like the Portal hypnotizing their opponents or pulling off a tandem top rope splash/leg drop combo for the win.

Following the trios encounter was the first title match of the night where Solar battled Negro Navarro for the Campeonato de Maestros in what could only being described as a technical wrestling clinic. I think it was 10 minutes before the first strike was thrown between the two as they traded position and holds before a captivated audience. Eventually, Negro Navarro made Solar submit to what looked like a Kimura lock to retain his championship. After the match was over, the fans showed their appreciation for the wrestling wizardry they had just witnessed by showering the ring with coins and dollar bills, as is apparently the tradition in Mexico when two wrestlers engage in a particularly intense, back-and-forth contest.

Next up was a minis match for the PWR Campeonato de Minis between Pequeno Pierroth and the champion, El Mini Mariachi. Pierroth and Mariachi battled inside the ring and out of it and after Pierroth hit a big powerbomb, it looked like we were in for the first title change of the night as Pierroth picked up the three count. It wasn’t long before a Masked Mania official came to ringside and restarted the match, asking the fans if they wanted five more minutes. I couldn’t really tell you why the match was restarted (in my best Ron Burgundy, “You know I don’t speak Spanish”) but Mariachi soon rolled up Pierroth with a Victory Roll and the show went to intermission.

After the break, Christina Von Eerie was set to defend the PWR Campeonato de Feminil against Japanese wrestler Sumie Sakai. Despite Von Eerie’s punk rock look, she played the part of the technico in this match as Sakai tried every underhanded tactic in the book to win. Even with the help of her manager, Sakai couldn’t defeat Von Eerie, who left Philadelphia with her championship.

Following the women’s championship match, “The Spartan” Matt Cross (formerly MDogg20) was set to take on Cassandro. While most lucha libre matches are between a rudo and technico, there exists a third alignment in lucha wrestling – the exotico. Dressed in flamboyant fashions with spectacularly styled hair, Cassandro made the perfect foil to the ultra-tough Spartan character portrayed by Cross. But even though his appearance isn’t typical for a professional wrestler, Cassandro proved that his skills in the ring are unparalleled, ultimately earning the victory with what looked like a Victory Roll off the top rope.

The second-to-last match of the night was another trios match, though a much more hard-hitting contest than the first that the crowd witnessed. In this match, Blkout (Ruckus and Sabian) teamed with Homicide to take on Sabu, Damien 666 and Bestia 666. There wasn’t much order in this match as all six wrestlers battled inside and out of the ring, using whatever they could get their hands on to batter their opponents. Despite his age and the wear from many years in the ring, Sabu can still put on a great show, eventually earning the win over Homicide with an Arabian facebuster through a table. (Also, Homicide was sporting a “Nick Gage mugshot” t-shirt which, as a former CZW mark, I got a kick out of.)

In the final match of the night, Mexican wrestling legends Dr. Wagner Jr. faced La Park (formerly La Parka) in a classic show down. This match featured just about everything you could want – hold for hold wrestling, hard strikes, unmasking dramatics (losing your mask is akin to death in lucha wrestling) and even referee shenanigans when La Park threw the ref into a sunset flip on Wagner and counted the pin, followed by the ref celebrating – only to be brought back down to earth by a chop from Wagner. La Park even took off his belt and lashed Wagner with it a few times, eliciting gasps from the crowd, though Wagner was able to battle back and earned a win from a quick rollup.

Without a doubt, Masked Mania was one of the most fun indy wrestling shows I’ve been to in a long time. Every match had something special to offer fans and there was never a dull moment in any of the action. I was also very pleased with how efficiently the show ran, starting on time without any big derailments or distractions and kept everyone in attendance on the edge of their seats, despite the show running almost four hours long.

I’m pretty sure that Masked Mania was broadcast on iPPV through and you should be able to purchase a replay from them as well. I’m also hoping that a DVD will eventually be produced of the show because it was definitely a show I would want to experience again.

(I took some pictures with my phone but they’re probably terrible. If they aren’t terrible, I’ll update later with some pics)

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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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