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AEW Unrivaled
by yo go re

Usually when you talk about "wrestling dinosaurs," it just means guys like Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair, not someone who's 65 million years old.

While AEW favors in-ring talent and showmanship over vignettes and promos, that doesn't mean they're completely about pure technical wrestling. This is the promotion that brought us the King of Sloth Style, after all, so clearly they're willing to go new places. Basically, if you can get over with the fans, AEW will find a place for you. (And on the flip side, if you can't get over? Doesn't matter if you're an executive in the company, they're not going to keep forcing you down the fans' throats forever.)

Anyway, that freedom and trust from the company allows wrestlers to move beyond simple stereotypes. Like, Luchasaurus: is he supposed to really be a dinosaur? Is he a guy who thinks he's a dinosaur? Is he a guy who's just playing like he thinks he's a dinosaur? It's not really clear, and could change from week to week, depending on what gets the crowd to pop. There's a hilarious bit where he grabs the mic and starts grunting and growling, only to stop and eloquently demand "you think that's how I sound? You didn't think I can talk?" before pointing out that he has a master's degree in medieval history. Where else would that work!

At 6'5", Luchasaurus helps AEW shed its derisive "All Petite Wrestling" nickname. The figure stands more than 7⅜" tall, and is appropriately broad and muscular. The larger size makes a good canvas for the sculpt, so he doesn't look as "soft" as some of the other figures have. The wraps on his forearms have detailed laces running up the front, and there's sculpted fringe down the backs of his boots and kneepads. His black boots are designed to look like bare feet, with individual sculpted toes.

The mask is what's iconic, though. That came from a stint in Lucha Underground: they cast him as Vibora, part of a snake-themed faction, and gave him a serpentine mask. In his first match, the audience started chanting something at him - what he thought he heard was "you just started," suggesting his performance was fairly rough and unpolished, but when he went to the back after the match, another wrestler pointed out they were in fact chanting "Luchasaurus," and told him he should use that gimmick as he was touring the indies. He has several different masks with different patterns (created by a company called Composite Effects), and this one is bright bluish-green with gold ridges and two horns sticking off the front. He's molded sticking his green tongue out, and his hair spills down around his shoulders - including the single green braid on the side that serves as his "tail."

Scientists may debate just how extensively feathered a dinosaur would have been, but they've probably never even considered the fact that the lizards may have had tattoos! Luchasaurus shows that's a distinct possibility. It's not easy to make out what they all are - he's got a sleeve on his left arm and then more ink covering his back, ribs, and chest - and the colors seem lighter on the toy than in real life. It's a lot of browns and pale pinks, when it should be solid black and vibrant crimson. That's a tree covering his left side, but it really looks more muddy than anything else. The snakeskin pattern on his trunks is crisp, so it has to be the tattoo colors than are messing with it.

Despite being AEW's first "big guy," Luchasaurus was more inspired by high-fliers than anything else (he enjoyed gymnastics as a kid), and still proves that today by being remarkably agile in the ring. His signature move is the spinning-kick "Tail Whip," and he's also been known to do a standing moonsault - you know, just doing a backflip from a dead stop and landing on his opponent. He's as articulated as the smaller figures, with a balljointed head, hinged neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, a balljointed chest and waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel shins, and swivel/hinge ankles. The knees get blocked a bit by his pads, naturally, but the big belt he wears doesn't mess with the waist or hips at all. If you get both him and Jungle Boy, you can re-create their ring entrance, with Jack dangling back over Lucha's shoulders before sitting up to survey the territory.

The figure includes an alternate pair of hands, gripping rather than open, but there's something else they could have given him. Him and Jungle Boy both, really. See, "Jurassic Express" isn't a two-man tag team, it's three: Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, and Marko Stunt. Marko Stunt, a miniscule little 5'1" dude. Jakks isn't likely to release a Marko by himself (the show rarely seems to have anything for him to do), so what if they'd used this opportunty to create the Unrivaled Collection's first Build-A-Figure? Even if the articulation was a little more basic, drop the arms and legs with Luchasaurus, the torso and head with Jungle Boy, and let us complete the team. He's not an afterthought, not someone to be forgotten about - with Jurassic Express, you've got the really big guy, the really small guy, and the really in-between guy, but the toys only have two of those. We're missing an extreme!

Austin Matelson was a homeschool kid who went to CSU Northridge to study medieval lit with Dr. Clementine Oliver (his graduate thesis was on the intersection of romance literature and the writing of history in 12th century Europe - the big dino like-a the King Arthur!). He wrestled for small shows, he wrestled on NXT, he was a contestant on Big Brother... but being a dinosaur made him famous. Who cares if his story makes sense? He's fun to watch, and now fun to play with.

-- 06/23/21

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