5 Popular WWE Superstars that you forgot wrestled in a mask
Masked wrestling is usually synonymous with Mexican ‘Luche Libre’. The tradition dates back to the very start of the Mexican brand of the sport and holds enormous cultural significance for superstars and fans alike.
The ancient Aztec civilisation, which inhabited modern day Mexico, saw masks as central to many different aspects of their lives, including their links to the spiritual worlds, success in victory and deification of important political figures. In modern day professional wrestling the mask has become more about a wrestler’s identity. All wrestlers, in some way, look to transcend themselves, becoming more than who they are outside of the ring. For Mexican stars, this is a more overt way to get that across.
The tradition doesn’t just extend to the Mexican wrestlers, of course, many Japanese stars such as Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask have sported their own versions throughout their careers. Even in the WWE, there have been some stars that, for different reasons, chose to wrestle at least part of their career behind a mask. Here are five such examples:
#1 Mr America (Hulk Hogan)
It’s safe to say the relationship between WWE, and it’s biggest star of the 80’s, Hulk Hogan, has been anything but smooth. As we speak, Hogan is still technically being kept at arm’s length by the company, owing to one too many PR blunders from the former WWF Champion. It’s unsure whether he will ever return to WWE television, but if history is anything to go by, it’s certainly not out of the question.
At times, this troubled relationship has lent itself nicely to some kayfabe storytelling. In 2003, during a moment of high tension between Hogan and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, The Hulkster would put aside his bright yellow and red tights and slip into something a little more left-field.
After McMahon had ordered him to sit out the rest of his contract with WWE in the aftermath to the Wrestlemania 19 match between the two, Hogan started coming to the ring as the masked wrestler ‘Mr. America’. The idea being that Hogan could still make his way to the ring and entertain the fans as Mr America while keeping the Hogan character off WWE TV.
This was one of those rare storylines which managed to be both cheesy and hilarious. The dynamics of it worked so well; both the fans and Mr McMahon knew what was going on, which only served to make the boss even angrier than normal, and we all know that Vince is at his best when he’s at the end of his rope.
Mr America would come to the ring using the Hogan theme music and his signature finisher, delighting the fans along the way. Perhaps it was the sight of the former legend taking a slightly more self-deprecating approach to himself that endeared the Mr America character to the fans, or maybe it was just a good excuse to jeer and boo Vince.
The gimmick would not last long, however, as the real-life animosity between the two would once again get in the way of business. Hogan left the company, citing frustrations around pay, but at least he was able to give fans one last burst of enjoyment before riding off into the sunset for the second time.