The mask is a sacred emblem in wrestling culture. On the surface, a mask may seem nothing more than a simple piece of clothing, but a professional wrestler’s mask is the key article of clothing that defines the wrestler’s gimmick and personality for the crowd. A mask helps separate a wrestler from the pack and distinguishes them from the rest of the roster. Depending on how the mask is decorated, it also helps separate masked wrestlers from a whole litter of other masked wrestlers working in a company. Masks in professional wrestling date all the way back to 1865. Theobaud Bauer first started wrestling throughout France as part of a traveling circus troupe as, generically enough, The Masked Wrestler. Since then, masks have been frequently used by wrestlers around the entire world.
In Mexico’s lucha libre culture, especially, the mask is looked at as a sort of gospel. Masked luchadors must wear their masks at all times, and under no circumstances can they remove them. If they were to remove them, either voluntarily or under the stipulation of a Luchas de Apuestas (translating to “bet fight,” it’s a match where the luchadors wager their masks and must never pick up a mask again if they lose), they are looked at as a disgrace by lucha libre enthusiasts. For reasons like this, we’re rarely (if ever) given glimpses of a wrestler casually walking the streets without a mask. However, when some wrestlers are caught on camera without their mask, we can’t help but look in their direction because we’re so darn curious to see what they look like without the mask. To appease this curiosity, here are a few masked wrestlers without their masks.
17. El Torito
Most wrestling fans would argue that the Los Matadores tag team consisting of Primo and Epico Colon from 2013 to 2015 was a flop. What wasn’t quite a flop was the character of El Torito. The mini luchador often stole the spotlight from the bullfighting team as both their mascot and frequent tag team competitor. The highlight of El Torito’s WWE career was when he entered a feud with fellow mini wrestler, Hornswoggle. The two wowed fans over in a surprisingly entertaining WeeLC match (a parody of WWE’s TLC match) that exceeded expectations. Though he was released from the company in 2016, El Torito wasn’t limited to WWE in finding success. As Mascarita Dorada, he flourished in Mexico’s Mini-Estrella division for mini wrestlers. He’s won numerous championships, including the AAA Mascot Tag Team Championship (with Mascara Sagrada), the Mexican National Mini-Estrella Championship, and the WWA World Minis Championship.
16. Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio is arguably the most well-known and globally recognized luchador in the world. While in WCW in the 90s, Mysterio was a standout in the Cruiserweight division thanks to classic battles with the likes of Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Jericho. Despite losing his mask in a Mask vs Hair match against Scott Hall and Kevin Nash in 1999, he re-donned his mask upon signing with WWE in 2002. This angered lucha libre enthusiasts as tradition states that a luchador must remain unmasked once he loses it, but Mysterio was granted permission to wear his mask again by the official lucha libre commission. His instantly recognizable masks and underdog offense helped Mysterio snag three World Championships while under the WWE banner. Since leaving the company, he continues to work on the indie scene in AAA and in Lucha Underground.
15. Ultimo Dragon
As the innovator of both the Asai DDT (which fellow luchador, Kalisto, uses as a finisher) and the Asai Moonsault, Ultimo Dragon is well regarded in wrestling circles. At one point during his run in WCW, Ultimo was arriving to the ring holding 10 championships that he had won in wrestling feds from all over the world. Also in WCW, Ultimo managed to add some more titles to his collection with two WCW Cruiserweight Championships and an additional two WCW Television Championships, although at the height of his career in 1998, he suffered an injury which required surgery. The operation was botched and caused enough nerve damage to briefly force him into his retirement. An additional surgery was conducted in 2002 to fix these medical foul-ups and revive his wrestling career, which he continues to this day.
Mistico was a hot commodity in Mexico before being swooped up by WWE in 2011. Under the new pseudonym of Sin Cara, there were high hopes for Luis Urive’s international success to translate exponentially to WWE’s American audiences. Unfortunately, since he refused to learn English and was stubborn to the WWE (plus failed to receive proper training for the WWE style), his run in WWE was a bomb, remembered best as a guy who messed up most of his moves in all of his matches. An altercation with Alberto Del Rio in 2014 was the last straw for WWE, which released him unceremoniously (though continued using the Sin Cara character on TV despite Urive claiming to hold full rights to the character). He went back to Mexico under the name Myzteziz, and then, seemingly in an attempt to highlight his rights to Sin Cara, changed his name again to Caristico (a combination of Cara and Mistico).
13. Mil Muertes
Since the inception of Lucha Underground, Mil Muertes has reigned supreme as the company’s resident big hoss and monster baddie. At 217 days, Mil Muertes’s run as Lucha Underground Champion is the second longest in the title’s history. Not a lot of people know that the man under the mask is none other than Ricky Banderas, also known as El Mesias. Mesias is one of the biggest names on the Mexican wrestling scene, having won World Championships in AAA, IWA, and WWC. He was also the final WSX Champion for the short-lived MTV wrestling series, Wrestling Society X. He also had a brief stint in Impact Wrestling where he played Abyss’s brother, Judas Mesias. Their feud is highlighted by a Barbed Wire Massacre match between the two.
12. Curry Man
While a part of Impact Wrestling, Christopher Daniels did some oddly unique things to add some spice to his character. In 2007, the character received a briefcase containing his pink slip as per the stipulation of the Feast or Fired match, but the firing was merely for storyline purposes. A month later, Daniels returned to the Impact Zone wrestling with a mask (which, itself, was underneath a bowl of curry). He was repackaged as the dancing comedy character, Curry Man. His bombastic persona won over the crowd, but it didn’t last long. Almost a year after Daniels’ Fallen Angel character was fired, Curry Man received a pink slip of his own based on the same Feast or Fired rules that took Daniels off of television. Again, Daniels wasn’t really fired. For early 2009, he simply traded his Curry mask for a Suicide mask. Once that character ran its course for him, Daniels returned to television as The Fallen Angel.
11. Shark Boy
Though he was never much more than a jobber for the X Division, longtime Impact Wrestling fans appreciate the character of Shark Boy for a number of reasons. The first reason is that the character was, at times, so absurd that he was wildly entertaining; there’s something about a guy in a shark costume doing a Stone Cold Steve Austin impression that many people found wildly funny. The second and main reason is that he was a TNA original for the company, there at the very beginning in 2002 and sometimes showing up without his mask as a character named Dean Baldwin. As silly as the character might be, the man behind the mask takes his gimmick very seriously, as is evident from when he sued Miramax for releasing the film The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl. The last time Shark Boy was seen onscreen was when he unsuccessfully challenged Ethan Carter III for his TNA World Heavyweight Championship in a 3 on 1 Gauntlet match.
Abyss has been a mainstay for Impact Wrestling ever since the company first opened its doors in 2002. In fact, Abyss is one of the only TNA originals to still be working with the company to this day. As a testament to his loyalty, Abyss was once offered a contract by WWE that would have immediately plunged him into a WrestleMania match with The Undertaker, but Abyss declined to stick to his home with Impact. In between the championships and wacky storylines he’s had, the Abyss character has gone through a shocking evolution over the years. At one point, Abyss went missing and coming in to find him was his clean shaven non-wrestler lawyer brother, Joseph Park. Two years later, it was revealed that Joseph Park was merely a split personality of Abyss. Then, upon discovering his beauty and true self-worth as a member of the Decay stable, Abyss started wrestling unmasked with facepaint.
9. Jushin Thunder Liger
Jushin Thunder Liger is often cited as one of the better wrestlers to ever step foot out of Japan and arguably the best junior heavyweight wrestler on the planet. His mask is one of the most instantly recognizable in all of wrestling, though he’s sometimes been known to wrestle without it as part of his demonic alter ego, Kishin Liger. Mask on or off, Liger has had prominent roles in New Japan Pro Wrestling, Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, WCW, and Pro Wrestling Noah. Liger has pretty much wrestled everywhere all over the world. Up until 2015, he was highly regarded as perhaps the greatest wrestler to never wrestle for WWE. That all changed when he defeated Tyler Breeze in a one-off match for NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn.
In many ways, Hayabusa was a pioneer in the world of hardcore wrestling. With a career mainly spanning the Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling scene, most of Hayabusa’s matches were deathmatches featuring barbed wire and miscellaneous explosives. He’s best remembered by mainstream audiences for his one-time stint in ECW, where he and Jinsei Shinzaki unsuccessfully challenged Rob Van Dam and Sabu for the ECW World Tag Team Championship. In 2001, Hayabusa’s career ended unceremoniously following a botched springboard moonsault where he landed on his head and cracked two of his vertebrae. The accident left him paralyzed, though he went on to attempt a singing career and even his own wrestling promotion named WMF in honor of his FMW homeground. On March 3rd, 2016, Hayabusa passed away due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
One of the most recognizable masks and faces on the independent scene belongs to Delirious. Even if someone has never heard of him or seen his work, there’s something about his mask that can immediately grab the attention of others. Much of his work has been seen in organizations like Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, Chikara, and Pro Wrestling Noah. Ring of Honor, especially, is a major stomping ground for Delirious as ever since 2015, Delirious’s wrestling work has taken a backseat to his backstage role as the head booker of the company. He also happens to be a producer for ROH television programming and has worked as a trainer for ROH’s dojo facilities.
6. Sin Cara
When the original Sin Cara was released in 2014, WWE kept using the character, only this time, portrayed by Jorge Arias, who previously played the character Hunico on television. Hunico had actually played Sin Cara before in 2011 when Urive was suspended for violating the Wellness Policy. Until he returned, Hunico played him on television, and surprisingly, audiences preferred Hunico’s in-ring work under the mask than Urive’s. When Urive was ready to come back, WWE made a storyline where there were two Sin Caras wrestling on television. In their final bout, Urive’s Sin Cara won the rights to the name, and Arias went back to playing Hunico. Now that Urive is gone, Arias is the sole person playing Sin Cara on television.
Kalisto is being primed to be WWE’s latest luchador underdog — the company’s next Rey Mysterio, if you will. His highlights so far in the company have been his two reigns with the United States Championship and the allure of his mask. However, the allure doesn’t seem as shiny once we’ve seen what he’s hiding under the mask. The first time was on an episode of WWE’s own prank show, Swerved, where an unmasked Kalisto just happened to be on camera for a moment. The second came thanks to a feature on the video game WWE 2K17. The player is capable of changing/removing any part of a superstar’s costume, and because of this feature, the player can remove Kalisto’s mask to reveal his scanned face.
For years of the character’s run with Impact Wrestling, a number of different wrestlers all donned the Suicide (later renamed Manik) mask at one point or another. Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian are two of the more popular names to have worn the costume, but there have been six wrestlers altogether who wrestled as the character, including WWE’s own TJ Perkins, the company’s inaugural Cruiserweight Champion in the title’s current incarnation. TJP was actually outed once as being Suicide during a 2013 episode of Impact when TJP’s costume was stolen by Austin Aries so that Aries could be in an X Division Championship match, which he won. TJP was released from the company in 2016, which effectively took the character of Manik off of television. However, the character was recently brought back to Impact, this time played by Caleb Konley.
3. Juventud Guerrera
Juventud Guerrera first gained acclaim in America due to a brief stint in ECW in 1996 when he tussled with Rey Mysterio, La Parka, and Psicosis. That same year, Guerrera signed with WCW, and after a couple years of building a strong fan following, he won the Cruiserweight Championship in early 1998. Just a month later, after losing the title, he lost his mask after a Mask vs Title bout with Chris Jericho. Unlike most luchadors, Guerrera didn’t let the loss of his mask hinder him as it allowed him to showcase more charisma than he did with the mask on. After getting two more runs with the Cruiserweight Championship, Guerrera was released in 2000 following a string of drug-induced controversies that occurred during a WCW tour of Australia. Guerrera then hopped from indie promotion to Impact Wrestling to indie promotion to WWE to indie promotion to AAA to indie promotion and back to AAA for the remainder of his career. Somewhere along the line, he seems to have decided to go back to wrestling under a mask.
Early into his career, Psicosis was hired by Paul Heyman under the recommendation of Konnan to work for Heyman’s rising underground organization, ECW, in 1995. He impressed audiences so highly that he was offered a contract with WCW, which he accepted. While on the WCW roster, he worked a house show match against Rey Mysterio Sr. during a tour of Mexico where Psicosis actually lost his mask to Mysterio in August 1999. Though he took off his mask and handed it to the elder Mysterio, Psicosis continued to wear his mask on television for a month until losing a Mask vs Hair match to Billy Kidman on the September 27th episode of Nitro. After being released by WCW in 2000, Psicosis briefly returned to ECW before working the independent scene for a few years. Then, he joined the stable Mexicools with Super Crazy and Juventud Guerrera upon signing with WWE in 2005. WWE would fire him a couple years later following an arrest in Mexico. He would then spend a large bulk of his career in AAA from 2007 until 2014.
1. Sexy Star
For the better part of a decade now, Sexy Star has wrestled all over the world, predominantly in Mexico’s AAA company. For the better part of these years, Sexy Star was mostly a household name for Mexican markets, but thanks to being acquired by Lucha Underground, Westerners now have a chance to see firsthand what the luchadora can do in the ring. In April 2016, she won the Lucha Underground Championship. Though she only held it for a day, she made history as one of the few female wrestlers to win a main heavyweight championship on the mainstream wrestling scene. In July 2016, Sexy Star unmasked herself and announced that she would be undertaking a boxing career under her real name, Dulce Garcia. She would later clarify that she would not be retiring from the wrestling business altogether and would try to do work in both sports.