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Wrestlers take flight over Springfield

Date: 6/22/2010

June 23, 2010.

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- While the region is no stranger to professional wrestling, Springfield was the site on Saturday night for a new brand of the sport that, by the enthusiastic response of the audience, seemed very welcomed.

The audience at the Paramount cheered, jeered and wore their own wrestling masks during the two-hour show.

The Paramount was the site for a taping of an episode of the new television show "Masked Warriors," a production of Lucha Libre USA that will bring Mexican wrestling to American television audiences. The shows will air on MTV2 and MTV Tr3s and the show shot in Springfield will air July 16.

Two of the wrestlers, Marco Corleone and Magno, met with Reminder Publications the day before the match and explained some of the differences between the American and Mexican versions.

Corleone said he has wrestled in both American and Mexican promotions and that in Mexico, professional wrestling is considered a sport rather than just an entertainment. He added results of matches are published in newspapers.

Soccer is the only sport that is better attended, he added.

"It's almost a religion," he said.

The masked wrestler is a tradition in Mexico and Magno, wearing his trademark face-hugging mask, said he was raised watching masked wrestlers.

"It's in my blood," he said.

Masked wrestlers, such as the legendary Santos starred in movies and appeared in other meida, such as comic books.

Although masks help create a persona as well as an air of mystery, Magno said there is a drawback: he has little side vision when he has it on.

The kind of wrestling common in Mexico combines the mat moves typical to American wrestling with acrobatics and "high flying," Corleone explained.

"High flying" means leaping off of the top rope or corner onto your opponent.

At the Saturday night show, gymnastic moves of back flips and high kicks were common sights.

Although in this country little people who wrestle generally have stopped doing so out of sense of political correctness, in Mexico short-stature athletes are common and several performed on the bill Saturday night. They fought along side larger wrestlers in tag team matches and seemed fearless as they leapt from the top rope onto their opponents.

Corleone said the shorter athletes are one more of the differences between American and Mexican wrestling. Another variation was mixed genders tag teams.

"You're going to see a lot of different stuff," Corleone said.

Although soap opera-like storylines are typical with American wrestling, Corleone said fans watching "Masked Warriors" on television will not see as much out-of-the-ring drama.

Corleone noted the WWE, the dominant American wrestling promotion, has made a big splash in Mexico and scored "incredible" ratings on television.

While "Masked Warriors" is not trying to compete here on the WWE's home turf, Corleone believes the show will have success.