I think we all reach at least one point in our lives when we wonder “does anyone actually notice me?” When I first started writing wrestling columns as a 19 year old back on the Lords of Pain Columns Forum, I thought of that sort of thing often, especially as someone who spent much of high school wondering if anyone did in fact know I existed (ironically, that same thought led to me leaving the forum many years later…and eventually finding myself, RIGHT HERE, ON LUCHA CENTRAL! Shit happens for a reason). Hence why one of my regular columns back in the day was doing what I called a Cult Tribute, where I’d write about wrestlers who, for whatever reason, may not have gotten the appreciation they deserved. It was something I went away from for a bit that I want to get back to today, concerning a talent involved in what lucha fans call Lucha Extrema.
Like any sort of “death match” wrestling, Lucha Extrema is controversial; you either love the style or you wish it make like Paulie Shore and go away forever. For me personally it depends on how it is performed. If someone like Cíclope and Miedo Xtremo is involved then I am more inclined to enjoy it, mainly because those guys have skillz with a z. If it’s someone like Pagano…not so much. Alas while Pagano has his flaws (like not being able to do a proper suicide dive) he is largely considered the King of Lucha Extrema because of his notoriety and never ending quest to destroy himself. But what if Pagano wasn’t the king of Lucha Extrema? Hell what if there wasn’t a king of Lucha Extrema at all? What if, I ask you, the real master and ruler of Lucha Extrema wasn’t a crazy dude in clown makeup, bust instead was a bad ass luchadora?
I first heard of Ludark Shaitan the same way many wrestling/lucha nerds of workers they’ve never heard of; through Total Extreme Wrestling, a wrestling text simulator where you get to book 45 year old Alex Wright to make a stirring comeback and win every title imaginable. Of course by heard I’m saying I saw her name and a picture, as TEW mods don’t include much more detail than that; they either assume you know the wrestlers or will look them up to learn more. But a picture was all I needed to be captivated by the now 27 year old luchadora, celebrating her birthday today. Most masks, be it luchadores or luchadoras, are colorful and vibrant. And yet here was Ludark, looking fresh out of a Slipknot music video. She looked like someone who was ready for a fight; more importantly she looked like someone who was cool. Now appearances don’t tell whole story sports fans; we all thought the last two X-Men movies looked cool and look what happened! But as I’ve looked into Ludark’s match catalogue on her own YouTube channel, one that covers the last seven years of her career, I’ve realized that Ludark doesn’t just look cool; she is 100% cool.
Like almost every other luchador(a) in recorded history, Ludark has family in the lucha business; her cousin Lady Shani. That’s right; THAT Lady Shani, the same one who defeated Faby Apache in a mask vs. hair match at last year’s Triplemania and who was just AAA Reina de Reinas Champion until this past Sunday. To say that Ludark and Shani were once joined at the hip was an understatement. They both broke into lucha libre around the same time (Ludark 2010, Shani a year earlier) after being trained by Dr. Karonte, Platino and Silver King (though Ludark would receive additional training from Skayde) and spent most of their first few years wrestling for lucha indies like DTU and IWRG. During that time Ludark and Shani (who was then called Sexy Lady) were almost always in the ring together, either teaming up or (as was most often the case) wrestling each other, a lot of times in death matches. Yes Lady Shani, the budding maestra who brings children to the ring with her before matches, once used to wrestle in matches where she broke light tubes over someone’s head before getting stabbed in the head with, and this is true, a toy moose. At least I think it was a moose; the picture quality in this video isn’t the best. The point is that both Shani and Ludark got their start primarily working the death match style, and both took to it pretty quickly.
Of course nothing lasts forever. In the spring of 2012 Shani started appearing in AAA, which would eventually lead to her adopting the Shani persona and becoming one of AAA’s top stars in a budding luchadoras division. The same thing cannot be said for Ludark. In her nine year career, she has made a grand total of one appearance between AAA, CMLL and The Crash; said appearance was at an AAA/Perros del Mal tribute to show in 2012 (where yes, she was in a match featuring her cousin). Whatever the reason for this (be it Ludark’s own choice, some issue I don’t know about or promotions being stupid), it’s pretty wild that someone like Ludark has gone this long as an independent while countless untalented luchadoras continue to populate the likes of CMLL. On the other hand, it’s still kind of worked out for Ludark in the end anyway.
That’s because she’s spent the last seven years becoming a Lucha Extrema staple in both the US and Mexico. In Mexico she’s had battles with the likes of Crazy Mary Dobson (WWE star Sarah Logan), CMLL luchadoras Marcela and Metálica, AAA luchadoras La Hiedra and Keyra, up and coming indie luchador Lilith Dark and long time rival La Magnifica, who Ludark shaved bald in 2016 and battled in bouts like their recent Barbed Wire Death Match. Meanwhile in the US Ludark has become known for being a death match tournament specialist. In six US tournament appearances Ludark has been to the finals in four of them, most recently making the Death Becomes Her tournament finals for The Resistance and Girl Fight promotions, where she lost to rival Mickie Knuckles. Sadly Ludark has lost two more of those finals; fortunately she has won one, IWA Mid South’s Queen of the Death match 2015 tournament. There she defeated Mistress Burgundy, Randi West and Kathy Owens to win the tournament, making up for her defeat in the 2014 finals to West. For someone who has held the her six NGX Women’s Championship for six years (a reign that has featured no defenses according to Cagematch, but still) and her own Pro Wrestling Tee’s page, the 2015 Queen of the Death Match win is likely the highlight of Ludark’s career. And it’s just so odd given how much she has going for her.
Of course in the minds of many Ludark has one thing going against her; the Lucha Extrema style. As stated before, this isn’t a style for everyone (most notably CMLL, who likely won’t even look at bringing in Ludark just for that) and even the people who are good at it can find themselves pigeonholed into that style and that style alone. Here’s the thing; I watch enough AAA to know that AAA has no issue employing Lucha Extrema talents. Why else would Joe Lider, Cíclope, Miedo Xtremo and Pagano be employed? I also watch enough Crash (which isn’t much because they don’t apparently know what streaming is) to know they could use any luchadora talent they can find. And yet there they both are, with no Ludark Shaitan. It makes no sense. There’s no way anyone can tell me that Ludark couldn’t at least give you the same level of performance Pagano does in AAA; hell she’ll likely deliver much more than him considering, and I cannot stress this enough, SHE ACTUALLY KNOWS HOW TO DO SIMPLE MOVES PROPERLY! There’s no way you can tell me she couldn’t deliver the same level of hardcore match that Taya and Ayako Hamada delivered just few years back. And if the argument then is “that’s all she can do” then I direct you to this gif below.
You see that? That’s the sort of thing Kenny Omega does, only not nearly as good! That is from a recent match with the aforementioned Lilith Dark and its proof that Ludark Shaitan is more than just Barbed Wire Rope bouts and death matches. I’d advise you all to check the match out but for those who can’t, the match is ten minute plus of back and forth action where Ludark pulverizes Dark, Dark rallies at time with some nice high flying and then Ludark finishes her off with that variation of the Joker Driver/One Winged Angel. No light tubes, no fire, no insanity; no Lucha Extrema. And if you go through Ludark’s entire career you’ll find that there’s just as many non Lucha Extrema matches in her catalogue. And, shocker of all shockers, she’s good in those matches! She can brawl (duh); she has surprisingly good chain wrestling, much like her cousin; while not what I would call a high flyer she is capable of a plancha, and has sneaky athleticism. In other words, she looks like a luchador that was trained by two legends like Skayde and Silver King. Perhaps she’s not Keyra or Tessa Blanchard, but it’s important to stress that there’s a better chance of finding the original Máscara Sagrada vs. Black Cat tape on VHS than an equal to those two. And quite frankly Ludark doesn’t have to be. She’s a good worker with good charisma, a different style than most mainstream luchadores and an awesome, unique look that no other luchadora has in lucha libre right now. All of which will be on display in Arena Naucalpan at the end of the month, when Ludark takes on AAA luchadora Chik Tormenta in a match that will probably run circles around a main event featuring Octagón and Fuerza Guerrera doing the same shit they’ve done the last twenty years, only at a pace that resembles Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
I guess this is all just a long way of saying that Ludark Shaitan is awesome. She’s so awesome that she actually inspired me to think of a cool scenario involving Pagano. Of course the scenario involved him in the ring when the lights go out while Slipknot’s new song (Unsainted) starts playing, followed by Ludark appearing with a flaming two by four wrapped in barbed wire (with that being the only light in the arena) and then wailing on him with it, but at least it’s something! I just look at her and I see a talent so unique in skill, look and presence and it just bums me out that no one has given her a chance; that no one has seemingly noticed her. There’s still time; today is only her 27th birthday and there’s still time for her to not only improve but for someone to notice her. And frankly I don’t care who it is. I’d love to see her in AAA, CMLL (provided they ever became more open minded), The Crash, American promotion Game Changer Wrestling (where she would drive); hell I wouldn’t mind seeing her in Nacion de Alberto El Patron…I mean Nacion de Lucha Libre. Whether it’s one of those places or PALL organizations like IWRG and MDA giving her more to do, I just want to see her get an opportunity to show people what I see. And what I see is a luchadora who has the capability to do what Cíclope and Miedo Xtremo do and what her cousin, Aeroboy and Violento Jack did; be someone who can be a maestra at death matches and a force at every other style too. All it takes is for someone to give her the opportunity that’s long overdue. If Pagano, the so called Rey de Lucha Extrema, can be allowed to overshoot leg drops and mess up suicide dives while still being employed, why can’t Ludark Shaitan, the actual Reina de Lucha Extrema, be given the same chance?
Food for thought sports fans. Food for though.
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