In professional wrestling, everyone remembers the Superstars with the best gimmicks. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and many other WWE World Champions might be household names today but that's not necessarily the same person they were from day one. It can take multiple attempts at a gimmick, or several different gimmicks, before a Superstar is born.
Steve Austin started off with a beautiful head of blonde hair and was a member of The Hollywood Blondes alongside Brian Pillman. It was not until he appeared as Stone Cold Steve Austin, and started feuding with Jake "The Snake" Roberts, that he became a star. Even The Rock was once known as Rocky Maivia, a good guy gimmick that fans hated. And do not forget about the terrible Hawaiin islands prince outfit he wore that made him even more of a bore.
Some of the best original gimmicks worn by professional wrestling Superstars of today featured masks. It could be a gimmick created on their own, or one that was given to them but failed. Regardless of how it originated, the mask wearing idea is one of the toughest to accomplish successfully, outside of Mexico that is. So it is one of those gimmicks that a lot of stars once tried out but never could maintain it as a successful gimmick.
Which wrestling Superstars have you forgotten used to wear a mask? We have 15 of them that we decided to present to you today, to help in your search.
15 Phantom Mask (The Undertaker)
Although he is the only person on this list that wore a mask but did not wrestle under a different name, The Undertaker remains on the list because so many people seem to have forgotten about it.
During the mid-90s, The Undertaker was involved in a feud with King Mabel after being heavily involved with member's from The Million Dollar Man's stable. During a match with King Mabel, The Undertaker received multiple leg drops which resulted in his face being badly smashed up. The beauty of professional wrestling back then was how real wrestling and all of the storylines felt, even if they were false. That belief made it real that The Undertaker would wear a mask because King Mabel smashed in his face but in reality, he was wearing it after he broke his orbital bone virtually fracturing his face bone. That's kayfabe in a nutshell.
The mask was silver and it almost looked like a skull, which appeared to be the idea behind the design of the mask. He did not wear it very long but he was one of the few wrestlers to wear a mask and make it work.
14 Super Destroyer Mark II (Sgt.Slaughter)
Eventually you will hear about a wrestler by the name of Super Destroyer and the unknown wrestler behind the mask. But for now, let's talk about another Super Destroyer, the one better known as Super Destroyer Mark II. He was in the American Wrestling Association, AWA, territory back in the late '70s and was managed by Lord Alfred Hayes and Bobby Heenan.
The one and only wrestler to ever wear the mask of the Super Destroyer Mark II was one you probably would not have ever guessed, it was Sgt. Slaughter. Long before he became a legend in the WWE, Sgt. Slaughter had to start somewhere and his career began as a masked superhero wrestling in the AWA.
Although he was never the most popular wrestler, Sgt. Slaughter turned into one of the biggest names in the business for his role as an American patriot during a time when the country was scared and upset over the Gulf War that was currently going on overseas.
13 Shinobi (Al Snow)
Al Snow is most memorable for his crazy antics and always carrying the head of a mannequin doll around with him, treating him as though it was a real person. He would talk to it and even use it to fight off his opponents. It sometimes helped him and the gimmick turned him into a star in the business. Everyone knows about Al Snow, the guy that carried around a mannequin head.
After using this gimmick to become a legend in ECW and Smokey Mountain Wrestling, Al Snow was offered a deal to come wrestle in the WWE, in 1995. Once he arrived, they assigned him to a gimmick where he would become a mask wearing ninja. The costume did not last very long and he would eventually start working with Marty Janetty as a heel version of the infamous Rockers tag team called, Leif Cassidy.
12 The Blue Knight (Greg Valentine)
When Ric Flair first began his career, he was involved in a plane crash that cost Johnny Valentine his career after he broke his back following the impact on the ground. Because of this career-ending injury, Johnny Valentine could no longer wrestle and needed to be replaced so the company went out and hired his son, Greg Valentine, as a replacement.
Greg Valentine spent time as a tag team partner to Ric Flair and the two of them went on a title run that ran throughout the late '70s before Flair went on a singles run and thus ending the partnership. Over the next few years, Greg would continue to wrestle wherever he could until he landed his second job with the WWE during the 1993 Survivor Series.
When he showed up at the PPV, he was being called The Blue Knight and was part of an angle that put him and his fellow "knights," which included Shawn Michaels, against The Hart Family. It would be one of the only times he ever wore the mask.
11 Aldo Montoya (Justin Credible)
Justin Credible was a legend in ECW, Extreme Championship Wrestling. He was one of their most decorated wrestlers of all time winning just about every title belt the company ever had. He won the ECW Hardcore Championship belt several times, as well as being a ECW World Heavyweight Champion and a two-time ECW World Tag Team Champion. He was truly a legend and a ECW superstar.
But before he became such a talented star for ECW, Justin Credible joined the WWE in 1993 and was given a gimmick that is one of the worst ever. He was Aldo Montoya, a mask-wearing wrestler that was more funny than he was real. His mask looked more like an upside down jock-strap which made it even more hilarious.
10 Dos Caras Jr. (Alberto Del Rio)
Professional wrestling might be fake but that does not mean that the wrestlers did not have to pay their dues to get to the top. Even the second and third generation wrestlers had to pay their dues and work their way up the ladder in order to make it. Without that traditional method of establishing yourself as a professional wrestler, the entire industry falls apart. It loses the performance quality that attracts millions of fans every year.
Alberto Del Rio is a second generation wrestler. His father was one of the most popular Mexican luchador wrestlers of all time, Dos Caras, and his uncle was Mil Mascaras, another Mexican legend. But before he was able to break into the WWE and become World Champion, he had to earn it. For Alberto, it all started in the Mexican wrestling company known as AAA, under the name Dos Caras Jr., which was a shout out to his father.
9 The Masked Canadian (Roddy Piper)
As it turns out, plenty of the most popular wrestling Superstars began their careers in the National Wrestling Alliance, NWA. Even Roddy Piper once wore a mask and tried to perform as a legit wrestler for the NWA. It turned out to be a very bad idea and it only lasted a few months before he was unmasked by Hector Guerrero.
While he wrestled as The Masked Canadian, Roddy Piper found some success feuding with Chavo Guerrero Sr. and even partnered with him to wrestle for the Americas Tag Team Championship against Black Gordman and Goliath. That was around 1977 and 1978, he would quickly move on from the gimmick to chase a shot becoming an even bigger wrestling star by leaving for Don Owen's Northwest Territory.
8 Black Tiger II (Eddie Guerrero)
New Japan Pro Wrestling gave many wrestling Superstars their big breaks just a short time before they started showing up on WCW Monday Nitro. In fact, one of the biggest wasted talents of the WCW was Eddie Guerrero. The company had no idea what kind of talent he was because they never gave him a fair chance, which was a big problem with WCW but that is a story for another day. After he left the company, it was not long before Eddie Guerrero became one of the biggest stars of the WWE until his death in 2005.
But before he got to WCW, he was actually becoming a star with NJPW under the wrestling gimmick known as Black Tiger II, or the second version of the infamous Black Tiger character. He won all kinds of matches and title belts during his career but one of the most coveted belts, the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship was one that he had a chance at winning but just missed out during a match with The Great Sasuke.
7 Blue Blazer (Owen Hart)
Owen Hart is the famous younger brother of pro wrestling icon Bret "The Hitman" Hart. That is not a kayfabe story, that is as true as it gets. He grew up learning from his Hart Family members, all of whom were involved in pro wrestling. Although Owen Hart was never on the same level as Bret Hart, he managed to handle his business in the WWF much better than expected.
Because of his inability to reach the same popularity as Bret Hart, Owen was forced into another role when he joined the World Wrestling Federation. He was turned into a superhero by the name of Blue Blazer. Ironically, the Blue Blazer was the gimmick he was portraying when he died after falling from the rafters during a live PPV event. He was going to be dropped down into the ring like a superhero until he harness broke.
6 El Generico (Sami Zayn)
When Sami Zayn appeared on WWE Raw, his fans and followers knew he was the future of the sport as they had followed him for a while, while he worked his way through the independent circuits and WWE NXT.
But before he was Sami Zayn, he was wrestling against the likes of Kevin Owens in the independent circuit under the masked wrestler gimmick known as El Generico. He wrestled all over the place as El Generico including Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Chikara, and most notably, Ring of Honor. He battled and feuded with Kevin Owens for quite some time and their feud turned them into legends in the independent circuit which eventually led to their rise to the top and their signing with the WWE.
5 American Dragon (Daniel Bryan)
Before he became one of the most beloved wrestling characters in the WWE, Daniel Bryan had to fight his way back into the company after being constantly held back. When he first began his career, he was signed by the WWE and assigned to their developmental territory, Memphis Championship Wrestling, MCW. That was where he created the American Dragon gimmick that he would later use when he fought overseas.
As a wrestler for New Japan Pro Wrestling, Daniel Bryan became known as the American Dragon and would wear a mask making him appear as though he was a dragon. He was actually quite successful under this gimmick and kept wearing the mask long after everyone knew who was wrestling under the dragon moniker.
4 Super Liger (Chris Jericho)
When the long haired blonde with the California surfer look started showing up in the WCW Cruiserweight Division, he quickly turned into the biggest heel and most annoying wrestler on the roster. But that was also during a time when people were not sure how real and how fake wrestling was so they never even knew about wrestlers going to other companies around the globe. Companies like New Japan Pro Wrestling was a source of income for a lot of these young guys and they would appear under different names and with different gimmicks, usually masks.
Super Liger wrestled in the NJPW against Koji Kanemoto and it was the only time he ever wrestled in the mask because it kept him from seeing. Chris Jericho literally could not see his opponent and screwed up half the moves in the match making it a terrible match, hated by many fans.
3 Juan Cena (John Cena)
There was obviously no mystery as to whom the man was behind the Juan Cena mask. It was John Cena, in all his usual gear as playing the role of a oversized Luchador? The storyline saw John Cena 'fired" from WWE by way of The Nexus Angle.
What came next was the short-lived Juan Cena gimmick. Obviously, nobody was supposed to believe that the wrestler underneath the mask was anybody else but John Cena. However, many fans may have blocked this from their memory.
If this is the case for you then we are here today to remind you of the awful time John Cena wore a mask and went around as Juan Cena.
2 The Black Scorpion (Ric Flair)
Ric Flair is arguably the greatest pro wrestler of all time. He started his career decades ago and has established himself as an industry leader, adapting himself into a champion just about anywhere he would go. But he was more than just a crowd-pleasing, high-flyin', limo-ridin', World Champion wrestler, he was a team player and would take a bullet to protect his fellow wrestlers.
In 1990, WCW featured a feud between Sting and a mysterious wrestler by the name of The Black Scorpion, who was being played by Al Perez at the time but ended up quitting the company before the feud ended forcing the WCW to panic and find a replacement for the gimmick. That is when Ric Flair stepped in and took over the role.
He did not do it for the money or fame, he did it simply because it was between him or Barry Windham. However, Ric knew that if Barry Windham did it, it could hurt his character and career. So Ric took over the role of The Black Scorpion which ended with his unmasking just a month or so before a title match with Sting.
1 The Super Destroyer and Mr. America (Hulk Hogan)
Not all wrestlers start off wearing a mask. For some, it is just part of a gimmick that was assigned to them long before they were popular. And when you are young and green in the business, you take every single opportunity you can get and run with it, or quit. That's what happened when Hulk Hogan first began in the pro wrestling business and wrestled as The Super Destroyer.
Hulk was all the way down South in Fort Myers, Florida where he wrestled for Championship Wrestling from Florida, CWF, and wore the mask associated with a wrestler that many others have also performed as. Don Jardine famously wore the same attire before Hogan did.
The Hulkster also wore a mask in 2003, after WrestleMania XIX, when he began portraying the latest gimmick of his career, Mr. America. It did not last very long before that was nixed and Hogan moved onto something new.
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