Yeah, I've been a big pro wrestling fan, since before I came out here in 2000. Mrs. SnakePit and I have attended shows, everywhere from Wrestlemania at the University of Phoenix Stadium, all the way to events at swap-meets, school-halls, in the back-yards of Tucson bars, and at venues with so little headroom, the wrestlers kicked out ceiling tiles. We ran publicity for one promotion, and even booked shows ourselves. To us, it's a soap-opera on steroids, a cathartic blend of carefully-staged pseudo-violence and larger than life characters, that's a hoot to watch. So, combining wrestling and baseball is virtually a marriage made in heaven, as far as we're concerned.
The D-backs were inspired by a similar promotion in May 2011, when the Angels set a Guinness world record for most people simultaneously wearing wrestling masks. [Even as a wrestling fan, I think my respect for Guinness just died a little...] Arizona had their first lucha libre mask giveaway on July 7 last year, along with exhibition matches on the plaza, preceded by appearances of a figure wearing the mask around Chase Field. Obviously, this was a promotion particularly targeted at the Hispanic market - it was a co-promotion with Univision - but its success and subsequent life has transcended demographics.
I don't think even the Diamondbacks expected things to take off the way they have since. The masks have become an ever-present feature at the ballpark, worn by a group of fans known as the Kubel Libres, and the luchador has also kept popping up. Amusingly - and, entirely in line with Mexican wrestling tradition, where more than one man can play the same role - there does not appear to be a single person behind the mask. The original, bearded incarnation (rumor has it, it actually was Jason Kubel...) has been replaced by someone considerably more athletic and svelte, at least when there is a need for actual wrestling moves, rather than just running around Chase Field.
The next promotion occurs later this month, with v2.0 of the D-backs mask being given away.to the first 20,000 fans on July 27 - there's a follow-up promotion on Sept. 15, with luchador capes, for the first 5,000 kids through the door at Chase Field. [Anyone know where I can hire a child for the afternoon?] It's a trend which seems to be spreading as well: the Cubs are having their own lucha mask giveaway on July 30, which confusingly, is scheduled to be also Girl Scout Night at Wrigley Field. However, if you were hoping this might mean the beginning of the end for a mascot which should have been retired when the ballpark's name changed, you'll be disappointed:
Damn. I was looking forward to seeing Baxter take a tombstone piledriver, bringing a whole new meaning to "putting the cat out." Oh, well: can't have everything.