El Desperado is returning from injury for King of Pro Wrestling 2019 and the combination of his character and in-ring work is perfect for new fans of NJPW.
After suffering a jaw injury during his deathmatch against Jun Kasai at TAKATaichiMania II that took him out of Best of the Super Juniors, El Desperado is now set to make his return at this year’s King of Pro Wrestling on Oct. 14 and onward to the NJPW Super Junior Tag League. The official comeback match pits himself, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and DOUKI against SHO and YOH, and Ryusuke Taguchi – a first step in the journey to reignite old rivalries that have smoldered in his absence and perhaps pave the way for new partnerships going forward.
Now’s an exciting time for new fans to get into New Japan Pro Wrestling as the stakes rise and these rivalries heat up on the road to the Tokyo Dome at Wrestle Kingdom 14. With his return on the horizon as a reference point to jump in, here are a few reasons why El Desperado in particular is a great gateway wrestler for new wrestling fans.
For fans just getting into wrestling – not just to NJPW – there can be a learning curve in regards to keeping track of the wrestlers themselves. Jumping right into a varied mixture of matches might make the viewer feel like they’re falling through a kaleidoscope, so it’s helpful to have a few key people to latch onto.
El Desperado has presented himself in largely the same way since his debut in 2014, with some fine tuning to the details on his mask and minor additions to the rest of his gear – the most obvious change being the switch from a nearly all-white ensemble to a nearly all-black one. The simplified but attractive white-black-gold color scheme, the unique architecture of his mask, and stark white of his eyes all result in an aesthetic salvo that tends to stand out from whatever configuration of wrestlers he’s among.
Rather than use the mask solely to protect his identity, it’s a mark of the specific character he’s established and built over the last several years, and the performance of the characteristics that define him. It’s not, however, for a lack of physical talent.
His body language in and out of the ring is exaggerated without necessarily overstepping into looking ridiculous, more dramatic to compensate for the lack of facial expressions. His dramatic hand gestures and tactical squinting convey a desperate, subdued chaotic energy that’s set free within the context of his matches.
The culmination of all these briefly-described features means the viewer is seeing the athleticism and conduct of a masked wrestler within the highs of nuance, setting up a newer audience to better appreciate and digest the incredible variety of masks and performers who exist beyond, and the history and tradition behind them.