There and Back Again, My Mask’s Tale

Spending so much time making gear for other people got me thinking back through the process of ordering my first mask and set of gear.

These are the original concept sketches I did in early 2012 when Coach José Gómez first let me know it was time to pick a name and order gear (read more about that here).

OG Avispa Drawings

Alas, I don’t have the full-sized photos handy on my computer or my phone. The originals are stashed at my parents’ place back in the States.

So, how did we get from there to my current mask & gear design? Well, that’s where Miguel (1) came in. I still have no idea how exactly José found Miguel, but I’m glad he did. Miguel has been making masks long enough to know what works as a design, and what will likely fall flat. He’s also got a great eye for design.

Anyway, flash back to my first time ordering gear. Through José, I sent these drawings and my measurements down to Miguel, and he responded with this:

mask design

As you can see, this looks nothing like what I sent…

I’ll admit that although I labored over my concept sketches for hours when I probably should’ve been dedicating my time to, say, chemistry… they weren’t exactly inspired. When I first saw his drawing, my mind was blown. Wasp? Tiger? Ancient diety? It was hard to make heads or tails of it, and I had no idea how he was going to make that into a mask. But it was awesome and I felt confident in my choice to jus let him take it from there.

After a couple weeks I got to see how that drawing was refined and translated into the mask design I proudly wear to this day. Miguel was able to take the idea of my character and some of the basic elements I wanted in a design and make it into… well… me.

531126_434829536576853_925960402_n

My first mask.

Bonus? The headpiece doubled as a built-in logo. Whether that was intentional or just a happy accident I still don’t know, but he blew it up and added it to the center of my chest on my first set of gear for an iconic Batman-esque look. From a branding & character recognition perspective, that was a genius stroke.

***

This mask design has been with me through three title reigns, countless matches, travel to three different countries, and numerous photo shoots and press events. Now, I’m on the cusp of a debut with CMLL. My mask is, quite literally, my public face.

I’m immensely proud of the mask I wear. The mask is still a bit of a sensitive topic for me (as I discuss here), so in many ways I continue to hold myself to a high standard of skill and professionalism in order to prove to myself that I should even be wrestling in a mask in the first place.

I’m even more motivated knowing it was an entirely original creation for me, and that I’m still friends with the man who created it. It’s simultaneously a work of art, a functional piece of equipment, and an expression of my personality (both in and out of the ring). And as he texted me the other day, Miguel is incredibly proud knowing that an original design of his will soon be visible on one of the largest lucha libre platforms in the world.

 

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NOTES:

(1) Fun fact: Miguel Ruiz, my current mentor/ boss has been my gear maker from the very beginning. Every set of boots, every mask, and every set of gear I own (aside from those I’ve recently made for myself) are his doing.

2 responses to “There and Back Again, My Mask’s Tale

  1. The Luchador/Luchadora mask has such incredible historical and cultural significance……that the meticulous care in design is actually a respectful salute to the past, while being the perfect guide for others in the present and future.

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