For the audience to believe in a character, they must stand out from the crowd and be something completely different to what has come before. They must reinvent their personalities, their styles in the ring and their look to stay relevant.
A masked wrestler is fairly hard to come by nowadays, with the WWE, especially, opting to have their wrestlers unmasked as in the western countries, it is not held in as high regard. They still have Sin Cara of course, who they use as their main cash cow for selling the Lucha style masks along with Kalisto.
They have also added a couple of masked heroes to the Cruiserweight division which is where the Lucha style flourishes. Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik fall under this bracket.
Often in the wrestling business, bookers, promoters and companies make decisions that seem exciting in the short term, but they do not take into account the long-term effect that the decision can have on a wrestler’s character and on the company as a whole.
One such decision that has plagued several companies over the years is unmasking wrestlers that are popular with the fans and helping to sell merchandise. For the wrestlers in this list, who never, ever should have been unmasked, the mask was their whole character and removing it had big consequences.
#5 Juventud Guerrera
Juventud Guerrera was one of the most talented wrestlers of the late nineties. Having made his name in ECW first, he made his way over to the Cruiserweight division in WCW. WCW had a habit of taking what ECW made popular and putting it out to a national audience.
Juventud Guerrera was even Cruiserweight Champion during his time with WCW. He eventually would meet Chris Jericho at Superbrawl VIII, putting his mask on the line in his pursuit of regaining the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.
He would lose this match to the man who would go on to beat Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock in one night to become the first ever Undisputed Champion in the rival WWF promotion which meant he had to remove his mask and reveal his face to the world.
Although many stories would have you believe that Juventud was successful despite losing his mask, which is kind of true given his Cruiserweight Championship reign, his gimmick where he referred to himself as “The Juice” just didn’t work on any level for me.
He’d lost his identity and what the fans loved him for. Without the mask, we were looking at just another high-flying man. As mentioned, the attire of a wrestler is a massive part of their character and what makes us care about them and buy their merchandise. Without the mask, Juventud had nothing to make him stand out from the crowd.
It’s a massive shame that he never flouted the Lucha rules and donned the mask in another problem. But that is how seriously luchadors take the decisions made by these companies.