The art of the gimmick in WWE can make one’s career sink or swim. Many wrestlers through the years have had a cosmetic gimmick. There are wrestlers that wear masks for various reasons. Luchadors in Mexico have a tradition of wrestling in colorful masks that transferred over to the United States when WCW started hiring these performers for the Cruiserweight Division. Other wrestlers have worn the mask for the cool impact of adding a mystery behind it. Face paint is another cosmetic gimmick used by wrestlers to spice things up with both mystery and cool factors adding to the overall character.
Wrestlers will try to protect this gimmick for the entirety of their career. No one wants to have their mystery unwrapped for minimal benefit. Finn Balor and Kane have been two of the few performers to have success with or without their gimmick. We'll take a look at a plethora of wrestlers that are either known for wrestling under a mask or with face paint. Many of these wrestlers have never officially been unmasked or unpainted, but pictures of their real identities exist. This is what these fifteen wrestlers look like behind the gimmick without their mask or face paint.
15 Sin Cara
One of the few active WWE stars to wrestle with a mask is Sin Cara. Multiple wrestlers have played this character but it has been portrayed by the man formerly known as Hunico in recent years. WWE fired the old wrestler believing the character was more valuable with Hunico playing the role of Sin Cara going forward.
One of the most talented luchadors of the 90s was definitely Psychosis. WCW hired him along with other Mexican stars to help add something unique to the show to benefit the Cruiserweight Division. Psychosis had a couple of classic matches against Rey Mysterio and Dean Malenko. The horns on Psychosis’s mask always stood out and sometimes were used as a weapon in matches.
13 Crazzy Steve
A recent successful character to use face paint as part of his persona is Impact Wrestling’s Crazzy Steve. The original character of Crazzy Steve saw him play a clown as part of a circus faction that never took off. This ended up being the best thing to happen to Crazzy Steve’s career as he moved into a new team with Abyss and Rosemary.
12 The Great Muta
The Great Muta is regarded as one of the greatest Japanese wrestling legends. American fans most remember him for his time working with WCW. A business relationship between New Japan and WCW saw Muta work for WCW many times in the 90s. There was a memorable feud with Sting pitting both wrestlers with face paint against each other.
Vader wore a different mask to the other wrestlers in the business in the 90s. The big man clearly wasn’t a luchador but he instead rocked a big red mask that showed most of his face. It wasn’t meant to completely hide his identity as much as it was to add a different look that added intimidation to his competitors.
10 The Boogeyman
WWE has been home to some of the most cartoonish characters in wrestling history. The concept of The Boogeyman perfectly shows this. Booker T wanted to get his close friend Marty Wright a spot in WWE, so he was hired and pitched this gimmick. Wright was forced to play a portrayal of the Boogeyman character told in stories to kids as a goofy horror character.
9 Ultimo Dragon
Diehard WCW fans have strong memories of the Ultimo Dragon in the Cruiserweight Division. Many of the Cruiserweight guys of the time are celebrated today in WWE documentaries about WCW. Everyone discusses the great work of Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko. Dragon is often overlooked despite contributing as many great matches as the others.
A successful masked character over the past decade has been Abyss. The Impact Wrestling star received comparisons to Kane and Mankind for being a hybrid of both characters at his peak. Abyss actually did great work during TNA’s best days as one of the best hardcore wrestlers of all time. Hulk Hogan actually wanted to build TNA around Abyss and referred to him as their version of John Cena.
7 El Torito
El Torito was one of the few little Superstars to get hired by WWE in recent years. The combination of Hornswoggle and El Torito would see the two smaller wrestlers face off in battles. El Torito shocked the world by delivering great moves thanks to his athleticism. WWE placed the wrestler inside of a bull costume as the mascot for Primo and Epico playing Los Matadors.
The legendary Goldust character has become an all-time great face-painted gimmick character in WWE. Dustin Rhodes signed with WWE in the mid-90s and was tasked with playing the unique gimmick. Goldust was intended to push the buttons of the homophobic audience by implying a gay character before revealing he had a female love interest named Marlena.
5 Ultimate Warrior
An argument can be made that the Ultimate Warrior was the most successful face painted character in WWE history. Fans in the late 80s fell in love with Warrior thanks in part to his persona with face paint, colorful gear and intense promos. Warrior running to the ring at full speed looking like a superhero with his face paint presented a Superstar.
The iconic face paint of Sting has seen many different colors through the years. Fans of the early 90s fell in love with the colorful displays used by the “surfer” era of Sting. It helped him stand out at a time when very few wrestlers had face paint gimmicks. Sting would see it reach another level when he started rocking the black and white paint as the “crow” version of his character.
The horrible state of Impact Wrestling has seen the talent let down by the management time and time again. There are less noteworthy stars than prior eras, but one special talent is Rosemary. The few fans that do still watch Impact would agree that Rosemary is one of, if not the, best performer on the show. Between her mysterious character and the great wrestling, she is a star.
2 Rey Mysterio
It’s been a long morning traveling from Laredo to Monterrey in bus then flying to Mexico City for a 2 hr meeting & now to Guadalajara for a 2nd meeting, very productive day! Thank you @rootsoffight for my #Ali T it catches a lot of attention out here in 🇲🇽, no time to feel tired! #GottaLetThemKnow #GreatestOfAllTime #NewDopEProjects #CantWait
The general consensus is that Rey Mysterio is the greatest masked wrestler of all time. WCW signed a few luchadors with their masks at the time, but no one achieved as much success as Mysterio did to stand out. The so called "experts" in WCW wanted to unmask him for the shock value and he spent the final few years of his WCW career without it. Rey looked like a child and lost a lot of his appeal without the mask.
1 Legion of Doom
The tag team of Animal and Hawk is considered the best team in wrestling history. WCW fans know them as the Road Warriors and WWE fans remember them as the Legion of Doom. Regardless of the team name, Animal and Hawk did amazing work together and presented a unique gimmick. The Legion of Doom each rocked cool face paint that just made them more popular.
Young fans would show up to shows wearing a similar face paint to show their support for the team in a fun manner. The careers of Hawk and Animal would be linked together forever thanks to their iconic runs in every promotion they worked for. Hawk has passed away, but Animal still rocks the face paint at conventions these days. This is a rare picture of both men unpainted showing their faces together.
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