By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit
Billy Kidman vs Psychosis 9/27/99
Hair versus Mask Match
Having spent time in the past talking about the importance of the mask in Mexican wrestling, it tells you exactly how WCW perceived their significance by choosing to have Psychosis put his mask on the line in a fairly throwaway match on a Monday Nitro episode. Whilst apuestas matches would headline the big events such as the Anniversario shows or Triplemania, the potential for a luchador to lose his mask warranted no better than a semi-main spot on weekly episode television. With the decision to unmask several Mexican wrestlers in short succession based purely on ‘marketability’, it felt like WCW didn’t realise that you need to give people a reason to care before making such rash decisions as removing a (potential merchandise moving) mask.
Signing up to join WCW after impressing alongside Rey Mysterio Jr. for ECW, Psychosis never quite had the same impact in America as his more diminutive friend. Though he would hold the WCW Cruiserweight Title twice, he was never more than a transitional champion. With Rey Mysterio Jr. losing his mask in a pay-per-view match against Kevin Nash, and Eric Bischoff believing that the luchadores were more marketable sans mask, Psychosis was the next one to be revealed.
Thus we ended up with a thrown together contest that wagered the mask against Billy Kidman’s hair. The one interesting aside to the storyline was that it was presented as if Chavo Guerrero had bet Psychosis’ mask without his consent, but that never played into any of the booking that followed. Psychosis would head to the ring brandishing scissors and shaving gel – two fairly incompatible items – yet the actual result wasn’t in doubt considering Psychosis had officially lost his mask in Mexico to Rey Mysterio Jr. the previous month. As this was in Mexico, Psychosis could still wear the mask in America without fear of breaking the rules set out by the commission.
To give Kidman his due, he was over; athleticisms that conquered character blandness and his association with the Filthy Animals the primary reason. On commentary, Bobby Heenan would be one of the few people that at least tried to sell the importance and heritage of the Mexican mask, though it effectively was presented as any other match on an episode of Nitro or Thunder. Psychosis at least brought the fight to Kidman from the bell, sending him into the guardrail and landing a springboard moonsault to the outside in the opening moments.
Kidman’s attempts to remove the mask before winning the contest led to the arrival of Chavo Guerrero and Juventud Guerrera, the remnants of the LWO. This initial distraction allowed Psychosis to land a DDT, with a dropkick to the head of Kidman as the face tried to land a back body drop allowing the luchador to take complete control and almost pick up the win with a top rope huracanrana. The match was interspersed with menacing shots over the shoulder of a WCW-hired barber standing at the top of the aisle, rubbing his clippers in anticipation.
A spinkick off of the top turnbuckle to Kidman as he was crotched on the top rope earned Psychosis another close fall, with Kidman’s brief comeback halted with by the luchador holding onto the ropes to avoid a dropkick. A superplex into a facebuster saw Kidman kick out at two once more, but it only took one powerslam to leave Psychosis vulnerable to the shooting star press. To a large pop, Kidman would once again kick out after a Guerrero tornado DDT when the referee was distracted by Juventud. They continued to stand on their feet as a collision between Psychosis and Guerrero allowed Kidman to roll him up, but this time it was the masked man who was able to beat the count.
Putting Kidman even further over, the match would see Kidman kick out of the Juvi driver after another ref distraction. Not realising you never try and powerbomb Kidman, Psychosis was dropped face first before Juventud and Guerrero were knocked off of the apron. One shooting star press later, Kidman was the winner and Psychosis had lost his mask. A brief attempt by the three luchadores to stop the mask being removed failed as Kidman used a rope assisted bulldog to rip it from his opponent. The resulting brawl would also see Eddy Guerrero and Konnan come down to the ring to help Kidman fend off his attackers.
What is worrying here is the lack of vision WCW showed when it came to how to market wrestlers and matches. Psychosis may never have been a huge name under the WCW banner, but his unmasking deserved a more significant build-up than this. Also, if you can’t sell masks to children, you probably don’t deserve to be in the wrestling industry. Though Psychosis himself would go on to have a career not unduly affected by this decision, it felt throwaway and pointless – a pretty universal statement for a lot of WCWs booking as we crawled into 2000 and 2001.