Shane Helms on his early wrestling days: “I was just trying to survive in the land of the giants.”
Meteorologists have yet to add this note to their weather report, but a hurricane is on its way to Texas.
“The Hurricane” Shane Helms is in action with the new Aro Lucha promotion, working the upcoming shows in Amarillo on Jan. 19 and Lubbock on Jan. 20.
Helms holds the history of Lucha in high regard, and he holds tremendous respect for the meaning of the mask in Lucha Libre.
“The Lucha culture was so much more flashy and dynamic than the wrestling I grew up with,” said the 43-year-old Helms, who has starred in WWE and later with TNA. “I was coming up in the business and really trying to stand out at a time when there were really no other small guys around.”
Helms had his first match in 1991, a time light years away from a sustainable cruiserweight division in the United States, and he began studying the Japanese and European styles of wrestling, as well as Lucha. Helms helped create the hybrid style that is the most dominant style currently on display in wrestling.
“That’s not what I set out to do,” noted Helms. “I was just trying to survive in the land of the giants.”
A longtime junior heavyweight and cruiserweight, Helms found himself enamored with the idea of masked luchadores.
“If I was going to wear a mask, I decided to create a different style of mask,” explained Helms. “I didn’t want to be like anyone else, and that’s why I went with the half-face and straps in the back.”
The mask Helms has now is a leather-latex combination, and the first one he bought cost him nearly $800.
“I know about the luchadores from back in the day, especially a forefather like Mil Mascaras, and I wanted to wear a mask where you’d know right away that it was The Hurricane. I’m not wearing the standard $10 mask that so many other guys wear. I wanted people to know right away that it was my mask.”
Helms’ wrestling philosophy is to constantly ensure that importance is placed on every small detail. WWE has run into issues creating a buzz over its 205 Live show and cruiserweight division, despite having an array of talented wrestlers, and Helms noted that Aro Lucha has blended together generations of wrestling in an effort to create new stars.
“Imagine watching your favorite show,” said Helms. “You turn it on one week and the show has an entirely new cast, and you don’t know anyone whatsoever–that’s going to be a tough sell. So WWE brought back this championship, which is still called the Cruiserweight championship, but pretended the cruiserweight division never before existed. That insults the intelligence of a lot of fans. There was a cruiserweight division, I know, I was the champion for the longest out of them all.
“And they brought in a bunch of new guys. They are very, very talented, but nobody is a star quite yet–there are a few that could be, without a doubt, but nobody is that big star yet. Enzo Amore brought a lot of character and flash to that division, because there has to be more than just wrestling, especially in WWE, which is about the big show and the spectacle more than just flips and kicks.”
Helms believes there is a long-term potential for Aro Lucha.
“This is something I tried to do with a company called Lucha Libre USA in 2011 right when I left WWE, I tried to combine that really flashy Lucha style with the old-school psychology of the American wrestling,” said Helms. “That’s the strength of both; it’s the psychology in American wrestling, and Lucha’s style is athleticism. That’s something Aro Lucha has been real focused on, building a hybrid.
“Doing that is what made Rey Mysterio one of the best there is. He had the Lucha style, then he added the American psychology. Rey went from being a regular luchador to one of the best in the world, and he is the prime example of how it can work when done properly. I can’t say that about myself; I was never classified as a lucha, but I was always trying to maintain that old-school psychology but also flash it up when necessary.”
Helms also self-disclosed that his passion for wrestling relates directly to the fans who watch the product every week and follow the business online.
“My fans mean a huge amount to me,” said Helms. “I never got into wrestling to be rich or famous. I got involved because I love wrestling, and a part of wrestling is the dynamic between the performer and the audience. That’s why I’m so active on social media, and it’s not just about selling t-shirts. I also love going to autograph sessions in full gear and mask as The Hurricane. I go the extra mile because my fans go the extra mile for me.”