You really need to know a bit about Japanese wrestling to understand why this is so cool.
Basically, here’s the deal.
Jushin “Thunder” Liger is a wrestler who used to be overlooked by the wrestling promotions because he wasn’t as tall as they’d like. They didn’t think he looked believable as a fighter. But Liger loved wrestling; it was his dream. So he traveled to Mexico, a country known for its respect for pro wrestling, and for having generally smaller wrestlers than other areas of the world. There wasn’t a stigma on being short there—it was the heart, passion, and skill you showed that counted.
Liger learned well, and made a name for himself. He then returned to Japan as a colourful masked character, who we know today as Jushin “Thunder” Liger. He was quite popular and successful, but was still seen as a lighter guy, a “Junior” wrestler (although he was regarded as just about the best if not THE best of the Juniors.
After years of proving himself and his skill, Liger finally had the opportunity to step up and wrestler a true heavyweight wrestler. His opponent would be Tatsumi Fujinami, himself a former Junior wrestler who was now one of the most esteemed wrestling stars in the heavyweight division.
So Liger got his chance to wrestle as a heavyweight, but some said he would still stand out like a sore thumb, as a cartoonish character with his red-and-white full bodysuit and ornate horned mask that hid his entire face, suitable for the flashy Junior wrestling style but not for the more stern heavyweight wrestling. Some people thought he would look like a joke in the ring against a serious veteran like Fujinami.
But Liger would prove his detractors wrong, as he had so many times before. He entered the ring in his full trademark regalia of cape and mask, albeit this time in a serious black colour motif. The crowd applauded and cheered the familiar iconography of Liger, happy that he got to receive his dream of being a heavyweight wrestler. But after climbing into the ring, he quickly removed his ornate horned mask to reveal a more streamlined mask that revealed his mouth and chin, but that still had recognizable design elements that clearly indicated this was Jushin Liger. He then shucked off his familiar cape to reveal that he was stripped to the waist and buffed up. He grimaced and slapped his muscles, and the crowd gave an amazing reaction, thousands of people gasping as one.
This was Jushin Liger, but not the superhero character of the Junior scene; this was a Liger reborn, a phoenix rising and evolving into a new creature, a new man with a new attitude. This Liger was serious, committed, and not playing games or looking flashy. This Liger was a true heavyweight wrestler. He had arrived.
Try hard, reach for your dream, and do it with style.
Saw that first picture and my first reaction was “wow, I love that look and that mask!” And then after a few moments I thought “no capes!” and akin to the sentiment behind that quote thought “that hair would be really impractical for fighting” and then instantly thought, “no, that hair is too awesome, and this is f’ing COMIC BOOKS, not everything has to be 100% realistic for combat or whatever. Sometimes looking purely awesome is the best thing to do for entertainment.”
He looked sinister and menacing and like someone you should never turn your back on for fear he might short clothesline and DDT you at any minute (which is AWESOME—just like the Jake of Snake of old!!! Welcome back!)