The use of face paint can be a huge addition to a wrestler’s character. Many of the top wrestlers wore face paint at some point, to add a unique look that set them apart from the rest of their roster. There are some flaws to the idea, however, as some promotions will view talents with face paint as having a lower ceiling to prevent them from reaching the main event. The situation is different for every wrestler.
The best face-painted wrestlers thrived with the look and fans connected with them more due to it. Some wrestlers were better off without the paint, though, and ditching it helped their careers progress.
10 Thrived with face paint: Goldust
Dustin Rhodes adopted a completely new character when joining WWE in the mid-90s. The son of the legendary Dusty Rhodes was given a unique role with Goldust. WWE went back and forth on how to showcase the character, but Dustin did a tremendous job with it in every role.
Fans now know Dustin for the face paint and the Goldust gimmick. His first match for AEW featured him wearing a new color scheme for the face paint. Goldust is likely to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame career for his legendary run.
9 Better without it: Cody Rhodes
WWE tried bringing a similar gimmick change to Dustin Rhodes’ younger half-brother Cody Rhodes. Following a few years of treading water in the mid-card picture, Cody made the move to the Stardust character, teaming with Goldust.
The presentation of Stardust was quite disappointing and hurt Cody’s career. One of the reported reasons for his departure from WWE was that Cody wanted to ditch the Stardust character, but WWE felt he was more valuable. Cody was proven to be right, given his success since leaving WWE.
8 Thrived with face paint: The Road Warriors
The tag team run of Animal and Hawk put them in the conversation for the greatest duo in wrestling history. They went by the Legion of Doom, but the name Road Warriors was used in every other promotion they worked for in the 80s and 90s.
Animal and Hawk each sported some face paint that added to their visual appeal. The paint, entrance gear and theme music all made the Road Warriors come off like huge stars. This duo showed how much face paint could help wrestlers stand out when used in the right way.
7 Better without it: Barry Windham
Barry Windham had a strong career, with his best moments coming as part of the Four Horsemen in NWA and WCW. The experience and upbringing in wrestling would see Windham develop a great reputation as a veteran and beloved all-around worker.
WWE hired Windham in the 90s with the awful gimmick of The Stalker. This was meant to be a face character with the paint making him unique. The Stalker gained zero momentum and Windham is probably happy that most fans don’t remember this chapter of his career.
6 Thrived with face paint: Finn Balor
The Demon King alter ego of Finn Balor takes him to the next level as a top superstar. Balor became the top attraction in NXT and has found success on the main roster, partially thanks to wearing the face and body paint for special matches.
WWE has not used Balor in the main event picture as much. The matches without the paint still impress, but the overall star power grows when he does become the Demon King. If WWE ever pushes Finn harder, the paint will likely be used more often.
5 Better without it: Crush
WWE tried pushing Crush on multiple occasions. Crush started off as a new member of Demolition and adopting their face paint. The color scheme and design of the face paint changed when Crush received a singles push after Demolition ended.
Crush’s face paint never suited him or became part of his identity, unlike those who have been successful with such a look. The character of Crush seemed more genuine when losing the paint and getting to play a more intense version of himself for the rest of his career.
4 Thrived with face paint: Ultimate Warrior
Ultimate Warrior was one of the first wrestlers to prove that face paint can help a talent get to the top. The unique look of Warrior, with his face paint and colorful tassels, made sure fans knew he was nothing like the rest of the talent on the roster.
Warrior struggled in the ring, but his presence and star power got him to the top of the company as a WWE Champion. The face paint of Warrior became his calling card, as WWE sold the plastic version of the mask design during his Hall of Fame speech.
3 Better without it: The Usos
The tag team run of Jimmy and Jey Uso have made them one of the top duos in WWE history. Accomplishments and memorable moments will just continue to rack up for the Usos as time goes on. WWE did try changing things up with their presentation a few times throughout the years, though.
The Usos wore colorful face paint for a short time as a way to get over with the younger fans. It just didn’t seem to fit them, and they have become more comfortable in recent years sporting looks they enjoy. The Usos should not go back to face paint unless there is a special occasion.
2 Thrived with face paint: Sting
WCW fans fell in love with Sting for many reasons. The face paint is one of the main ones, as Sting’s colorful design always helped him stand out. Sting had a few different paint eras, going from the surfer look, to the neon paint, to the crow era, to the Wolfpac red and black in WCW.
All the paint designs connected with different audiences. The importance of the paint for Sting’s career can't be overstated, considering that he was the first wrestler with face paint to hold a top spot for such a long time.
1 Better without it: The Godfather
The run of Papa Shango gave us one of the worst face-painted wrestlers in WWE history. Shango was meant to make an impact in a feud with Ultimate Warrior, but the gimmick was just not taken seriously by the fan base.
WWE would ditch the paint and allow him to get over on his own. The eventual Godfather (no, not that one) gimmick made him a more popular star. Godfather won the Intercontinental Championship and got inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. It’s hard to imagine that happening if he remained the face-painted Papa Shango for the rest of his career.