It was a common theme in the 90s. WCW in particular featured a plethora of masked wrestlers in their Cruiserweight Division. The weight-class featured lots of wrestlers with a Lucha Libre style, they brought their culture to the promotion rocking the masks and rarely unveiling their identities. Masks were common with the WWE as well, however the company used paint a little more. The company got criticized for being behind with the times and wrestlers wearing the paint, and providing cheesy characters was a clear example of that.
In this article, we go back in time and take a look at how some of our favorites from the 90s look without a mask or without their face paint. Some you might be able to recognize, while others look totally different. We’ll also include wrestlers of today’s generation; we take a look at a botch that unmasked Kalisto. We’ll also look at Sin Cara’s prior gimmick before he dawned the current look. Rosemary is another wrestler we feature and take a look at how she appeared before the face paint; you’ll be surprised as to how great she looks.
From The Patriot’s US themed mask to Vampiro's white paint, we go behind these gimmicks and unveil what these wrestlers really look like. Enjoy and like always, be sure to share the article with a friend. Let’s begin!
15 Without Paint – The Boogeyman
Boogeyman’s WWE journey was an interesting one at that start. He took part in the Tough Enough competition, though ultimately he was cut for the oddest of reasons. He lied about his age, claiming he was 30 (though he was ten years older at that point). That was the cut off age making him ineligible for the competition. However, he was still offered a contract to join OVW, he would exceed expectations and crack the main roster in the summer of 2015.
Fans tend to forget, but the WWE hyped the Superstar a great deal prior to his debut, airing several vignettes. He got a major push at WrestleMania 22, defeating one of the very greats in the business Booker T, in what was an absolute squash match. The bout was the shortest of the night going a little over three minutes. His momentum would later decrease and he became a company ambassador more so than anything.
Nowadays, Boogeyman continues to ride the fame. You can find the Superstar at various conventions and lower-tier indie shows. He also makes WWE Network appearances every now and then. We’ve rarely seen photos of him without the paint, however he posted this revealing photo to his Instagram account. Other photos without the paint show Boogeyman partying it up with Mark Henry back in the day.
14 Unmasked - Sin Cara
The original Sin Cara character was played by Luis Alvride, aka Mistico. The WWE had high hopes for the wrestler and he was considered the next Rey Mysterio of the company. However, those expectations quickly soured due to various botches. Mistico just couldn’t get used to the American style and it caused his demise quickly. The company owned the rights to the name so they would replace him with a Superstar from developmental, Hunico. Played by Jorge Arias, the now 40 year old had a plethora of experience before joining the company. He made pit-stops with the likes of AAA Mexico, TNA and Chikara. He used the Hunico character with FCW, though he was ultimately rebranded to Sin Cara, a gimmick he maintains today.
Like other luchador wrestlers, Sin Cara keeps the integrity of his gimmick outside of the ring. Whether it’s a social media post or a real-life pic posted by another Superstar, Sin Cara always has the mask on.
However, getting a picture of him without the mask isn’t the most difficult. Just search his time pre-WWE and you’ll quickly find photos of the wrestler without the mask. At the age of 40, his WWE days might be coming to an end sooner rather than later.
13 Without Paint – Rosemary
Without a doubt, women’s wrestling is the hottest part of WWE programming nowadays. That was clear during the recent WrestleMania event. The top matches of the night featured women. The top single’s bout of the night was by far a match between Asuka and Charlotte. As for the overall top match of the night, it’s common knowledge that the honor goes to Ronda Rousey and her involvement in the mixed tag match. As good as it is in the WWE, other female wrestlers continue to make waves outside of the company as well. Former WWE star Emma continues to resurface her image outside of the company while others like Tessa Blanchard continue to enhance their reputation at such a young age. Another mystical character to watch is Rosemary. She’s so unique and a dark character that’s made for the WWE.
She rocks paint with her gimmick, something that has eluded the women for quite some time. Seriously, she has future NXT and WWE star written all over her persona.
Like the others on this list thus far, she takes her persona quite seriously. Go take a look at her IG account and it’s impossible to find a photo of her without paint. However, those types of photos can be found quite easily as she sustained a prior run without the paint. Despite the scariness of the gimmick, she’s actually quite beautiful without the paint.
12 Unmasked - Ultimo Dragon
New wrestling fans might not know who Ultimo Dragon is. 90s fans might be shaking their heads right about now. Seriously, who didn’t pick the Cruiserweight in WCW Vs nWo Revenge? The guy’s move-list and speed was a force to be reckoned with. He was just as good in real-life however. He entered WCW with a plethora of experience, he had already been wrestling for a decade at that point. He helped to revolutionize WCW as a member of the golden era Cruiserweight Division. Dragon has classic matches with the likes of Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerrera and Dean Malenko. He was a two-time Cruiserweight Champion along with two titles reigns as the TV Title holder.
He signed with the WWE in 2003 and his debut was a huge deal as the company ran vignettes for weeks hyping the debut. However, like the original Sin Cara, Dragon struggled with the WWE’s style. Unlike WCW in which he was allowed to be himself, that wasn’t the case with WWE. His run was a total bust.
Seeing him unmasked is extremely rare which is baffling given the longevity of his career. This is a rare photo of Ultimo Dragon vacationing, it was recently posted by a fan via Twitter.
11 Without Paint - The Headbangers
When 90s fans recall the Attitude Era, one of the first acts they think of is The Headbangers due to how outrageous the duo was. Seriously speaking, they personified what the Attitude Era was all about. They got the biggest victory of their careers at the Ground Zero PPV claiming the Tag Titles. However, their one title run was short-lived losing the straps to the Godwins.
Injuries ultimately derailed the team’s momentum. While Thrasher was out with an injury the company tried to push Mosh as a solo act. It led to one of the worst ideas ever to come out of the WWE creative. Mosh was rebranded as Beaver Cleavage; the angle was inspired by an inappropriate storyline with his fake mother.
It was all so terrible and the duo would never recover. They were both out of the WWE by 2001.
They returned to the company briefly in 2016 and didn’t look all that bad. The reason for the lack of ring rust was due to the fact that the team kept wrestling independently. Even to this day they continue-on, wrestling for lower-tier indie shows along with making appearances at various conventions. Both are always rocking the face paint, however the two photos above show a rare side of the former Tag Champs.
10 Unmasked - The Patriot
Only a true wrestling fan from the 90s remembers The Patriot. McMahon loved (and still loves) the cheesy patriotic gimmicks and that’s exactly what Del Wilkes personified during his brief stint in the Attitude Era, feuding with Bret The Hitman Hart. Prior to his WWE journey, Wilkes had a plethora of experience, usually playing off the patriotic gimmick. The journeyman wrestled for American Wrestling Association, Global Wrestling Federation, All Japan Pro Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling and AJPW.
We remember him mostly for the feud with Bret Hart. In one of the biggest upsets at the time, Patriot shocked the crowd when he beat Bret due to interference by HBK Shawn Michaels. It appeared as though he was in line for a giant push, however his momentum was completely derailed following a loss to Bret for the WWE Championship. An injury would later halt his momentum even further and he was released by the company.
Years later, you can still find Wilkes talking about the business. He released a DVD in 2015 entitled Behind The Mask. At the age of 56, you can still find him at wrestling conventions, though his appearances are sporadic nowadays as he gets older.
9 Without Paint – Vampiro
During the late days of WCW, the company needed something fresh. We remember the bad mostly, but there was some good and that included Vampiro. Everything from his face paint to the demeanor seemed very unique. The company had something with the star, reminiscent to Sting’s earlier days. However, the one problem? He never got the proper push he needed. He aligned with Sting and would later turn on him. In what was supposed to be a 'passing of the torch' type of moment turned into Vampiro’s burial when it was revealed that Sting wasn’t willing to do the job. It sunk the company even further. Following the buyout, WWE didn’t pick up his contract due to a lack of creative ideas, a truly bizarre decision by the company given his unique persona.
Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to associate his current look with the paint back in the late 90s and early 2000s with WCW.
He’s aged quite a bit, not to mention he’s looking a lot thicker and has no hair either. Vampiro’s still serving a purpose in the industry nowadays though, playing an important part with the Lucha Underground promotion both behind the scenes and in front of the cameras.
8 Unmasked - Psicosis
Here’s another name that might give you some nostalgia: Psicosis. He’s another wrestler that dazzled during his WCW stint. He took part in the early stages of the Cruiserweight division, helping to put the weight-class on the map with his tremendous talent. He took part in some noteworthy feuds with the likes of Eddie Guerrero and the previously mentioned Ultimo Dragon. He would win his first Cruiserweight Championship on Nitro in a fatal-four-way match defeating Rey Mysterio and Juventud Guerrera, who were among the most popular names at the time. In typical WCW fashion however, the title run only lasted a week as he dropped the strap to Mysterio.
His post-WCW run was less than memorable. He joined the WWE in 2005 and despite the great potential, Psicosis was slapped with an awful gimmick as a member of a stereotypical group, the Mexicools. The angle was a complete flop; it's so sad that all the talent in such a stable was given this kind of role. He was released by the company due to various issues with the law in Mexico. His stint with the company was without the mask, a decision most fans would agree was not the correct one. Just imagine how different things could have been had the trio chosen to reprise the masks?
7 Without Paint - Demolition
Before The New Day broke the record as the longest serving Tag Team Champions, that honor was held by the team of Demolition. The company built them up as an unstoppable duo; they held the record for the longest time with 478 days of holding onto the straps. They would finally lose the belts to the Brain Busters, a team managed by the great Bobby Heenan. What a run it was for the duo!
They had the look and size to thrive and they did so for quite some time. However, both members got released and it would lead to a lengthy indie run. Just five years ago, the team was still taking part in tournaments for promotions like Chikara.
They have a controversial relationship with the WWE spanning from the mid-90s till today. They tried filing a lawsuit against the WWE for the rights to their tag team name, however as we’ve seen time and time again, the request failed due to the WWE’s language in their contracts. Both filed another lawsuit against the WWE most recently in 2016. This time, the class action suit was filed for traumatic brain injuries suffered during their stints with the company. If you've ever wondered why they aren’t in the Hall Of Fame, well you just got your answer.
6 Unmasked – Kalisto
Before we get to the rare unmasking of Kalisto, let’s take a second and look back at his pre-WWE career which also featured a mask throughout the journey. Kalisto wasn’t born in Mexico, instead he was born in Chicago; he now resides in the Orlando area. He started on the indie circuit over a decade ago and made his name be known during a stint with Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide. He caught the attention of the WWE in 2013 and was signed to join NXT. The company had major plans for the Superstar, though that potential still hasn’t been fully grasped due to some awful promos. If you can’t talk in the WWE, chances of success are quite slim.
He stays true to the mask both in and out of the ring. Even when photographed with wrestlers such as Sasha Banks in his everyday life, he wears the mask.
However, there was a rare moment that saw Kalisto’s identity revealed for a couple of seconds. During a feud against Del Rio for the US Title, Alberto got a little too aggressive with the high flyer, leading to Kalisto’s mask being lifted. Die-hard WWE fans quickly took notice and the photo spread like wild-fire.
5 Unmasked - Abyss
Finding success outside of the WWE isn’t easy. Yes, nowadays, due to the plethora of indie promotions it’s becoming a realistic goal, however back in the earlier part of the 2000s if you weren’t with the WWE, success wasn’t the easiest to come by without the backing of such a big company. Abyss became the rare exception to become a popular name without the WWE. Similar to WCW, TNA Wrestling used former WWE stars to push the company, however
Abyss became an over-act due to the freshness of the gimmick. He took part in some terrific feuds and he was definitely a high point for the company.
His run was so noticeable that even the WWE took interest in signing the masked wrestler. He was rumored to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania, though a shock to many of us, Abyss reportedly turned down the offer and opted to stay with TNA. It was an admirable decision, however that doesn’t mean it was the correct one. You simply cannot turn down a bout with The Undertaker! Nonetheless, he still remains loyal to company at the age of 44. He recently returned to the ring alongside former manager James Mitchell. He faced off against Kongo Kong in the infamous Monster’s Ball match. He might look scary with the mask, however he looks like an average Joe without it (as you see in the photo above).
4 Without Paint – Animal
It’s hard to find a better tag team in the history of pro wrestling. The Legion Of Doom reeked of awesomeness back in the 80s and into the 90s. They got a major push with the WWE in 1990 and they held the Tag Belts for nearly nine months. The duo continued to be pushed strong, however, they would depart for WCW in 1993.
Both Animal and Hawk returned in 1997, however, at that point, things weren’t the same. The company was less about fictional gimmicks and more about reality based stories. For that reason, we saw one of the worst storylines ever featuring Hawk attempting to take his life by jumping off the Raw set. It was an outrageous skit that truly personified that wackiness of the era. The writing was on the wall at that point that the duo’s prominent run with the company was over with.
Sadly, Hawk would pass away in the fall of 2003. He was 46 years old. He passed away in his sleep of a heart attack. As for Animal, you can still find him at the casual wrestling convention; he still rocks the paint during the appearances. He recently joined the class action lawsuit against the WWE back in 2016 suing the company for brain related injuries.
3 Unmasked - Juventud Guerrera
Oh yes, who can forget “The Juice” and his run with WCW? Juventud started off with the mask but later, would reveal his identity. Now
such a move usually haunts a masked-wrestler but that wasn’t the case with the Cruiserweight who thrived nonetheless. He took part in several high caliber matches; he was rewarded for his efforts by becoming a three-time Cruiserweight Champion along with a Tag Title holder alongside Rey Mysterio.
He had all the talent in the world, however behavior issues hurt his reputation behind the scenes. According to lots of his peers, Juventud maintained an outrageous ego backstage which rubbed a lot of wrestlers the wrong way. Such a mind-set wouldn’t fly with the WWE and his run with the company was a total bust despite his obvious talent. Nowadays, at 43 years of age, Juventud is still in the business getting booked regularly. You can follow him via Instagram, he makes appearances both with and without the mask nowadays. He wrestles over in Mexico frequently; you can also find him at a wrestling convention in North America. Not too shocking, he also loves to speak his mind about the business. Juventud takes part in lots of shoot interviews talking about his past in the business.
2 Without Paint - Doink The Clown
Admit it, not only were you terrified of The Undertaker back in the early 90s, but even Doink the Clown got your blood boiling just a little bit. The character had so much potential, WWE creative even considered putting the gimmick in a storyline with the Hulkster, though in classic Hogan fashion, he turned down such an angle.
We remember Matt Osborne as the guy to portray the gimmick, though in truth, lots of other wrestlers took on the role. Names to portray Doink include Steve Keirn, Steve Lombardi, Ray Apollo, Mike Maraldo, Nick Dinsmore and Dusty Wolfe. Let’s not forget Jeff Jarrett and Chris Jericho, who also rocked the paint.
We’ll always remember Matt Osborne as the guy behind the pant. He was a veteran in the business when he took on the role; he started in the ring with NWA back in 1978. Sadly, shortly after a return to the ring Osborne passed away. His family would file a lawsuit against the WWE claiming that the company was responsible for his behavior. Just before his passing, we got glimpses of Doink without the face paint. He’ll always be one of the most recognizable wrestlers to dawn the paint.
1 Unmasked – Rey Mysterio
When it comes to masked wrestlers, it truly doesn’t get any better than Rey Mysterio. Coming to North America was a wise decision as he became a household name in the 90s.
He enjoyed a formidable run with WCW although there was a lot of bad, including the company deciding to unmask the wrestler. Man, was that ever a terrible decision and one Rey himself fought against.
That was only the beginning, as his career would change forever with the WWE. He was pushed as a prominent player and following the tragic passing of Eddie Guerrero, Rey was pushed to the top of the card. He won the championship at WrestleMania 22 in one of the biggest upsets of all-time at the marquee event. His resume includes three World Title victories, two-IC reigns and a Royal Rumble win.
At the age of 43, Rey’s still working his craft and a WWE return seems highly likely at this point. He still works with the mask, however on social media he takes off the head gear quite often, giving us a more personal look - something that was unthinkable during his prime WWE run. A veteran and one of the true greats, he’s allowed to take off the mask nowadays when he chooses to (as long as it’s outside of the ring, of course...).