Masks have been used in wrestling from its genesis onwards. The notoriety and fear that a heel could generate when he operated as a faceless villain was matched only by the crowd reaction when a masked babyface ran in to make the save.
While they were used in the Western wrestling scene either as a character trait or for combatants to work incognito, the Japanese and especially Mexican traditions associated with masks and what they meant go far deeper. Mask vs mask matches between long-established luchadors were considered the pinnacle of entertainment as the idea of being forced to unmasked came with a great degree of shame and ignominy.
El Santo (The Saint) famously wore his mask at all times, even going about his daily life and revealed his face only briefly on television shortly before his death. Tiger Mask in Japan spawned manga, television series and was passed between several different wrestlers.
As we'll see shortly, masks were not treated with such reverence elsewhere and many luchadors fell foul of companies odd fascination with wrestlers losing masks. Here are ten wrestlers who had their masks removed by some means within the squared circle.
10. Juventud Guerrera
The Mexican-born Eduardo Hernández is best known under this moniker - sometimes shortened to "Juvi". An active wrestler for twenty-eight years to the present day, his style was mainly the classic high-flying, energetic style of lucha as he wrestled across most of the major promotions.
Arguably his most famous run or at least the one that brought him to the attention of the widest Western audience was with World Championship Wrestling between 1996 and 2000. He picked up the Cruiserweight Championship for a period and his run with the "Filthy Animals" alongside Rey Mysterio, Kidman and Konnan kept him at the forefront of TV.
It was during the middle of this run in 1998 when Guerrera was unmasked when he lost a mask vs title match to Chris Jericho. This is as good a place as any to point out that WCW in this era seemed to have a strange fascination with making wrestlers lose their masks.
As with a few other entries on this list, they all felt their jobs were at stake if they didn't comply and had a sort of understanding that these un-maskings didn't carry the same weight as they would in the "true" Lucha tradition.