After the events of All Out where The Joker revealed himself to be none other than a returning MJF, we take a look back at six times wrestlers unmasked.
The mystery of a masked wrestler certainly has appeal to an audience. It’s a concept as old as Lucha Libre tradition itself, and certainly adds an element of intrigue to a character.
Also, for the majority, masks look super duper cool.
So it’s almost a guaranteed pop should a wrestler remove a hood that has been a long-established part of their character.
Maybe it’s the first reveal of their true character, like Batman revealing he is Bruce Wayne. Maybe it was all a ruse and part of a plan from another grappler, like Batman revealing he is actually the evil Hugo Strange in disguise!
Or maybe it’s something else entirely, like Batman…doing something else entirely.
Whatever the case, an unmasking can be epic, and here are six examples of how!
El Santo Unmasks During A Talk Show
When it comes to unmasking’s, it makes sense to start with the legendary El Santo.
Rodolfo Guzmàn Huerta made his wrestling debut in 1934 and spent the next eight years wrestling under various guises before putting on the El Santo mask in 1942 and pretty much NEVER taking it off from that point on.
El Santo became a folk hero, an absolute megastar, having his own comic book and appearing in over 50 movies whilst remaining under the hood at all times.
He would have specially made masks so he could eat in public, his voice would be dubbed over in any movie speaking roles, and when travelling through customs he had an agreement with the US to only remove his mask in a private room.
Even when taking Jose Cruz to court for legal issues with his comic, Santo knew he wouldn’t be allowed to wear his mask, so wrapped his face in bandages and wore sunglasses claiming it was necessary due to a wrestling accident.
Even MJF can’t claim such a strong commitment to kayfabe!
His dedication would pretty much become the living embodiment of the Lucha tradition. So the whole world was shocked when 10 minutes into an interview for the Mexican Talk show Contrapunto in 1984, El Santo revealed his face for the first time in nearly fifty years.
There was no warning or announcement. Out of nowhere he just quickly lifted his hood to a stunned audience.
So why break a lifetime of commitment so randomly? Well, El Santo would sadly pass due to a heart attack only 10 days after the appearance.
Maybe he knew his time was short and wanted to show the world his true guise on his own terms.
Jushin Liger Unleashes The Demon Within
Where most villainous wrestlers may want to unmask their opponent to humiliate them, they had better pray Jushin Thunder Liger kept his on, for fear of unleashing the wraith of Kishen Liger!
Minoru Suzuki found this out the hard way in 2019, when after trying to pull off Liger’s fave covering, Liger did the job himself unleashing his inner demon, going berserk and attempting to full-on murder Suzuki with a spike!
This wasn’t the first reveal of Kishen, but it was such a rare event it never really lost its mystique.
The first appearance of Kishen Liger was in 1996 in a battle against the Great Muta. Like Suzuki, the legendary Muta tried to unmask Liger, before Liger did the deed himself and even hit Muta with his own green mist!
Well, not his own green mist, that would be disgusting, but with Liger’s own toxic spray.
With an amazing 35 years in the business, Jushin Liger’s demonic alter ego only appeared four times, making it a special moment for all those lucky enough to be in attendance for such a spectacle!
Penta Is Jericho!
Four years ago, On September the 1st 2018, The Sears Centre Arena played host to All In, the biggest indie wrestling event of all time, and Pro Wrestling history would be made.
One of the most eagerly awaited matches saw future AEW stars Kenny Omega take on Penta El Zero. After a hard-fought battle, Kenny took the win via pin-fall.
Then the lights went out. The crowd expected shenanigans. The lights went back up. No apparent shenanigans. Must have been a genuine fault. Penta got back up to his feet and attacked Kenny! Not only that, he did so with far more vigour than anyone should after taking the one-winged angel after a twenty-minute match.
Then Penta took off his mask to reveal himself to be none other than Chris Jericho!
At this point, Jericho had been wrestling matches for NJPW for the best part of a year, but this was the first time audiences saw him on American soil in a non-WWE ring for almost two decades.
It showed the world that WWE was no longer the only option for legendary stars, and as hindsight and history have told, All In became the true genesis for All Elite Wrestling.
Rey Mysterio Is Forced To Unmask
As you probably know being a wrestling fan and all (if you’re not I’m surprised you got this far down the list) the New World Order became a rather convoluted affair.
Towards the end of its first run in 1999, the civil war between nWo Hollywood and nWo Wolfpac ended with the united formation of the nWo elite.
As such, all subsidiary factions, such as the LWO, were forced to disband.
The history of the nWo wasn’t the only complex issue WCW had during its final years, as storylines were also all over the shop, but basically, in its simplest form, Rey Mystero Jr refused to take off his Latino World Order colours, leading to a match with him teaming up with Konnan to take on Kevin Nash and a returning Scott Hall.
The stipulation? Elizabeth’s hair vs Rey Mysterio’s mask.
The reality was, like his opposition Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff wasn’t a fan of masks, believing the lack of facial expressions created a disconnection between the performer and the audience.
So Rey lost, and Konnan helped him take off his iconic image then and there in the centre of the ring, with Nash mocking him all the way.
Rey’s gimmick would then dramatically change, but that is another story for another day…
In fact, that day was a few weeks ago, you can read about it here.
Of course, when Rey debuted in WWE a few years later, mask and all, he became the company’s second-highest active merch seller.
Who would have thought a high-flying hero wearing a cool mask would ever connect with kids? Madness.
DDP Is The Stalker
Where did Jericho get the idea to ambush Omega dressed like Penta? Well twenty years before that, The Lionheart himself was bamboozled by Ciclope revealing himself to be Dean Malenko!
Then, the year before THAT, Randy Savage was bamboozled by La Parka revealing himself to be DDP!
Although both moments deserve an honorary mention, it was another Page unmasking that makes this list.
Back in 2001, after The Undertaker’s wife, Sara was creepily stalked and recorded by some unknown disgusto.
Then, on a June edition of Raw, ‘Taker’s music hit, but it was an unknown balaclava-clad man who made his way to the ring on a motorcycle in place of the American Badass. He got into the ring, waited for a beat, and revealed himself to be none other than Diamond Dallas Page.
The reason this moment makes the list above the others was for the sheer pop of the reveal.
The invasion angle was already underway, but the dream concept of WWF vs. WCW was tampered by most of WCW’s top stars deciding to wait out on their contracts before making the jump over.
Other than Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page was the first legit WCW megastar to set foot in a WWF ring, and the surreal sight made people lose their minds, a taste of what the invasion angle could have, and should have been.
Sadly the WWF didn’t capitalize on this momentum and kept DDP as a creepy stalker dude. It’s a real shame, as Page’s sheer charisma could have made the angle so much more as the industry began to embark on the downward slope from the attitude era.
The mystery of Kane’s mask was one WWE fans were enraptured by ever since his debut in 1997.
In some way, Kane had been slowly unmasking over the last five years.
He revealed he could speak without a voice box in 99, switched to a singlet uncovering his once presumed scarred body in 2000, and changed to a more expressive half mask in 2002.
Was all of Kane’s body damage that he suffered in that infamous fire as a child all psychological?
Whilst enjoying a baby face tag run with RVD, Kane battled Triple H and lost a match with an unmask stipulation in June 2003. The reveal was perfect. After Triple H tried to unmask the big red machine himself, Kane and RVD heroically fought off Evolution.
Kane raised his for his victorious pyro but paused before bringing the boom. He then slowly lowered his arms, realising it was time to finally reveal his face. The moment he did, he turned with a scowl, black makeup amplifying his gnarly features, and attacked RVD, ushering in a new era for the devil’s favourite demon.
As memorable as that moment may have been, it was quite bittersweet. Five years of building anticipation were over.
Kane used to be a comic book character come to life, and now he lost his identity he was kind of just a big angry monster man with a weird hairline.
He was still scary, he was still violent, but he probably lost his most important trait. He was no longer cool. Kane would gain a new weird scabby mask and wig combo in 2011, but the magic was gone.
Still, the 2003 unmasking will still go down in history as one of the greatest heel turns.