Asskickin4u vs LS Powerhouse, Rec Pro Wrestling
Unmasking in lucha libre is a big deal. The luchador enmascarado's mask represents his honor, his soul, the sum total of his character. Its removal is a loss of self. William Finnegan summarizes its significance in a must-read 2014 New Yorker article:
Unlike most sports, pro wrestling is unconcerned with numbers. Nobody seems to have a win-loss record. In lucha libre, the truly important matches, the bouts that make up one’s official record, are not even world championships. They are, rather, Mask vs. Mask matches, or Hair vs. Hair, or Hair vs. Mask. Luchadores wager their masks or their hair on the outcome of a fight. The mask is the more serious wager. When a wrestler is defeated and unmasked, his face is seen by the public for the first time. His name and his birthplace are published in the papers. His mask, which symbolized his honor, is retired and cannot be used again.I don't doubt that this symbolism carries over to underground or fetish wrestling to a certain extent, but I think there are added layers of significance for the gay male wrestler. The obvious one would be that the unmasking represents an involuntary outing. As more gay and bi men feel more comfortable being identified as such in public, the force of this indignity would diminish, one might think, but the closet has a long history in the homosexual subculture, and that history still haunts us even in an era of unprecedented (at least within the past thousand years or so) openness about man-on-man sex. Shame in who we are has not been vanquished altogether, as is made clear in this article on "bottom shaming."
The more subtle significance would be that unmasking plays into the dominance-submission divide that is the crux of a lot of gay wrestling fantasy (mine, at least). The unmasked man is the weak man--the bottom, the femme, the chubby, the over-40 gay man, anyone who fits into a category unkindly stereotyped and derided in the gay media or whatever passes as a gay community in this day and age. The one who unmasks is the real man. The one who is unmasked is less than a man ... at least, in the context of erotic role-playing.
Taken a little further, the unmasking can be an added indignity in the S&M play-violence and rape fantasy that are part of many gay men's experience of wrestling (again, like mine). The bitch-boy is not just fucked, but stripped of his last vestige of dignity. The victor might even keep the mask as a souvenir of the conquest--like a samurai top knot or a pair of undies. I'm not a lucha authority or a psychoanalyst. I'm only exploring my own brutally lustful feelings, specifically my arousal the moment, for instance, LS Powerhouse (lately of UCW) denudes his much bigger opponent (5'4", 160# versus 6', 210#) of the latter's face covering--with great effort and devastating effect.
Contacting me via this blog's Facebook community, Powerhouse shared a link to this Rec Pro Wrestling video. At the climax of the 19-minute battle, Powerhouse (in black) exerts a great deal of energy to restrain AK4U (in red) and tugs insistently at the mask till it pulls free. But notice the thoroughness with which Powerhouse works over this big boy in the minutes leading up to the climax. The smaller guy is all over Mister AK, digging in, wearing him down, just waiting until the moment is ripe for taking him out. (Powerhouse suggested he'd like to work over fellow UCW newby Derrick Cole, mask or no mask. But I doubt he'd find red hot Cole as easy to unman as he thinks. All power to him, just the same.)