The camera loves SoCal Pro Wrestling champ Ricky Mandel, 23, 6'0", 186#, but maybe not as much as the mirror does. Before winning the heavyweight belt back in April, Mandel's gimmick was a faux championship belt sporting an oval mirror he used to check himself out from time to time, sort of like the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Such narcissism earned him the nickname "The Mirror Image." Under the management of classic heel manager C. Edward Vander Pyle, Mandel's ring savvy and good looks have served only to make audiences hate him more.
Mandel is scheduled to defend the title next month against the new top contender, a crowd pleaser, who is (who else?) his former tag partner, Hector Canales, inch for inch and pound for pound Ricky's equal. Hector is not hard on the eyes either. Plus his red tights show off his thighs, a bit of exhibitionism Ricky shies away from. Hector is dubbed "El Chido," which, if you don't have your Spanish-English dictionary handy, means "El Cool Guy" in Mexican.
Ricky and Hector had a run-in at the chaotic end of Ricky's successful defense of the belt last Saturday against Johnny Yuma. The foreshadowing being as conspicuous as it is, my gut feeling is that we're going to see Canales end Mandel's five-month reign on September 18th--Mandel has been such a bold and magnificent asshole lately that the fans must be chomping at the bit to see Hector rip him a new one.
(All photos credited to R.P. Strickland)