A Brief History of Masked Wrestlers

By Paul Stratoti, Contributing Writer

In 1915 Mort Henderson became the first masked wrestler ever recorded and as the “Masked Marvel” he competed in the New York area. Usually introduced as hailing from Parts Unknown, many wrestlers prefer wearing a mask as the preferred method of intimidation.

The Executioners, Dr. X, El Olympico, the Black Baron, the Black Demon, Mr. Wrestling I, II and III, the Spoiler, Spider Lady, the Blue Blazer, Aero, Unknown I,  Unknown II, Sin Cara, Son of Havok, Doink the Clowns (yes, face paint is a form of mask), and the list goes on and on.

On January 9, 1962 when Dr. Bill Miller defeated Verne Gagne for the AWA World Title he wore a mask and wrestled as Mr. M. A few years later in the Pittsburgh – New England area Tony Marino wrestled as WWE’s Battman in the late 1960s and also wrestled in 1985 as the masked Devil Blue.

In August 1970, the late Dick Beyer (as Doctor X) removed his own mask to get a chance at revenge against his former partner Black Jack Lanza. He stood in center ring with announcer Marty O’Neill, who told the fans that “X” was a former coach from Syracuse University. “X” then removed his mask, handed it to St. Paul promoter Eddie Williams, and wrestled the match as Dick Beyer.

In other AWA cities, he was actually unmasked by both Lanza and Paul Diamond. In these matches, his name was revealed to be Bruce Marshall. The reason for Beyer wanting to be unmasked was that, he and his family were set to go on a world tour, where he would also wrestle again as The Destroyer. It has been speculated that by late August 1970, Beyer had already left the AWA and that it was the enhancement talent of Bobby Jones who was under the mask. Beyer removed his own mask on the August 8, 1970 card in St. Paul.

The Destroyer as he looked speaking on behalf of the late Fritz Von Erich at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame inductions:

In 1974 Dewey Robertson donned a mask and as the Masked Crusader he was on a crusade to keep wrestling scientific. This short lived gimmick was halted by NWA promoter the Sheik who unmasked him on April 7, 1974, however he soon teamed up with Billy Red Lyons to form the Masked Crusaders tag team. On June 23, 1974 they defeated the Love brothers for the Toronto version of the NWA International tag team Championship. The 2 teams passed the titles back and forth for a while until June of 1975 where after months length as champs lost the titles to Pat and Mike Kelly in June 1975. They had one last rematch on August 24th of that year for their final reign as tag champs.

In addition, “The Destroyer” (aka the late Dick Beyer) and the Masked Superstar have had their share of copy-cats impersonating them but the wannabees did not come anywhere near to wrestling as well as them. For example on June 5, 1976 at Cobo Arena Pampero Firpo defeated imposter Mr. Wrestling (Denny Alberts), remained in ring, and then defeated Bulldog Don Kent. Then on June 11, 1976 at Canton Civic Center Firpo defeated the masked Destroyer (imposter Denny Alberts) with ease.

Executioners 1, 2 and 3.  In May 1976 the Executioners managed by Captain Lou Albano defeated Tony Parisi and Louis Cerdan for the World Tag Team Championship in Philadelphia. They added another Executioner during their 7 month reign during which time #3 participated in a title defense against Chief Jay Strongbow and Billy White Wolf. This was an illegal practice during this time and as a result the Executioners were stripped of the titles.

20 years later in WWE another Executioner as Paul Bearer’s hired assassin, the masked Terry Gordy attacked Undertaker as he was about to finish off Mankind which lead to a December 1996 match where Undertaker Tombstone Piledrived the Executioner to defeat. Soon after, the masked man left.

October 6, 1983 at Cleveland Convention Center saw a Mask vs Mask match where Mr. Wrestling II defeated Mr. Wrestling (aka Jesse Barr) who was counted out. Mr. Wrestling II pulled the imposter’s mask off who quickly covered his face with his ring jacket and left the ring!

On February 26, 1984 at Painesville Harvey High School Ghito Mongol bloodied, defeated then unmasked the Black Dragon as Billy Coleman!

On April 15, 1984 Jimmy Valiant unmasked the Assassin as Ray Hernandez. I was there at Cleveland Convention Center when Valiant unmasked him and the match was exciting. One of the wrestling magazines did a feature on this; however, I believe that whoever took those shots was not in Cleveland at the time which leads me to believe that 2 different Hernandez unmaskings may have taken place. Shortly thereafter, Ray entered the WWE as Bobby Heenan’s protégé Hercules.

Also in 1984 the Masked Superstar def Mighty Igor by count out and Ron Garvin defeated the Spoiler!

On August 24, 1984 WWE debuts at Cleveland Convention Center when Kamala (w Friday aka Brooklyn Brawler Steve Lombardi) defeated Sal Bellomo. Later that night Andre rhe Giant defeated the Spoiler!

On September 5, 1984 at the Front Row Theater with Special Referee Friday: Sgt. Slaughter defeated Iron Sheik when WWE referee Bucky Palermo snuck in to count the pin after Friday refused!

On December 7, 1984 @ Cleveland Convention Center Ole Anderson, Jimmy Valiant & Tommy Rich defeated the masked New York Assassins and their manager Jimmy Hart. Hart was ordered to be the 3rd man in this match despite his not being a full fledged wrestler.

In 1985, the Cobra was a lightning quick masked man with strong aerial assaults who wore a custom made sports coat to the ring. He defeated both British Bulldogs in separate matches for separate championships, but WWE discontinued recognizing his WWE Jr. Heavyweight Championship in October 1985.

On January 30, 1985 at Cleveland Convention Center Brett Hart defeated the Spoiler. Later that night Jim “the Anvil” Neidhardt defeated Mr. Wrestling II.

On February 5, 1985 at Akron Civic Theater Mr. Wrestling II defeated the Spoiler.

February 6, 1995 at Lorain Palace Civic Center saw Mr. Wrestling II defeat the Spoiler for a 2nd night in a row!

March 7, 1985 at Cleveland Hts. High School: Devil Blue, who was actually Tony Marino wearing a blue mask defeated Tom Brody

March 28, 1985 at Cleveland Convention Center saw the Italian Stallion & Ron Garvin defeat Devil Blue & Ron Starr.

In 1986 WWE President Jack Tunney suspended Andre the Giant for not appearing at WWE matches and banned him from live events as well as WWE TV. Shortly thereafter, a Masked Super Machine (the Masked Superstar under a different mask) interviewed with Mean Gene Orkerlund and went on to explain that he, the Giant Machine and the Big Machine were sent by Wakamatsu-san from Sapporo Japan while Andre was serving his suspension. Andre’s mask was intended to underscore the strength of his relationship with Wakamatsu-san and it had no holes for Andre’s eyes, nose or mouth.  This was Wakamatsu-san’s way of enforcing for Captain Lou Albano his request to make the Giant more aggressive. Before that episode of Andre’s life was over we had George “the Animal” Steele as the masked Animal Machine, Roddy Piper as the “Piper Machine” and Blackjack Mulligan as the “Big Machine”. One unconfirmed report had Tiger Jackson don a mask as Mini Machine.

In Jim Crockett Promotions, Ray Fernandez was paired up with Jody Hamilton, who had been wrestling as the Masked Assassin; and as the Masked Assassin II Ray continued a gimmick that had been played by several other wrestlers over the years. The two competed at the first ever Starrcade beating the team of Rufus R. Jones and Bugsy McGraw. Fernandez’s run as one of the Assassins ended less than a year later, after he was unmasked by Jimmy Valiant at Cleveland Convention Center (there was reportedly a 2nd such unmasking during that NWA tour during a house show “dark match” elsewhere.

After being unmasked, Fernandez moved on to Bill Watts’ Mid-South promotion, where he once again donned a mask as Mr. Wrestling II (however wrestling magazines referred to him as Mr. Wrestling III so as to not confuse with the real Mr. Wrestling II).

  • In WCW at SuperBrawl IX in tag team action Konnan and Rey Mysterio lost a “Hair vs. Mask Match” against Scott Hall & Kevin Nash which forced Mysterio to remove his mask. After the match, he phoned his uncle to tell him the news. Rey had publicly expressed his disappointment over being unmasked and the following comments have been extracted from www.Wikipedia .org:

“I was strongly against it! I don’t think WCW understood what the mask meant to me, to my fans and to my family. It was a very bad move on their behalf. The fans wanted Rey Mysterio with the mask and losing it hurt me a lot. It was also frustrating that it didn’t come as the climax to a feud with another masked wrestler, but in a throwaway match. The same thing happened to Juventud and Psychosis. Psychologically wise it was a bad move by Eric Bischoff. I think the fans understand that I was in a position where I had no option. I either had to lose my mask or lose my job.”

Note: There has been at least one other time since that Rey has found himself unmasked during wrestling in WWE.

When the late Bruiser Brody wrestled as Red River Jack the WCCW fans knew right away that it was him because of his wild hair protruded out of the mask.

Dusty Rhodes used to don the Midnight Rider mask during select matches against Kevin Sullivan.

As the 1990s rolled around a black masked Satoru Sayama (aka the Great Sasuke) hit the high flying wrestling scene in Japan. Trained by the original Tiger Mask, he eventually landed in ECW then briefly wrestled in WWE before returning to Japan where he still wrestles today as well as works in a political office.

Mil Mascaras has always worn his mask in and out of the ring and continues to this day to wear I in public.

During International Wrestling Cartel’s Night of Legends V in Franklin, PA Chest Flexor was unmasked as Kim-chee by Sgt. Slaughter

Strat: So, Mr. Flexor, how did it feel being unmasked by a true Legend and WWE Hall of Famer?

Chest Flexor: “It was a deep travesty. The end of an era, but also the spark to ignite the revenge within. I will extract it by unmasking Slaughter, and revealing that in reality he is Super Destroyer Mark II!!”

Actually, there were several guys who wore masks for Kamala. The very first Friday was the late Gene Stevens who used to wrestle as former NWA United States tag team champion Frank Dalton. During Kamala’s WWE tenure Friday was introduced as Kamala’s manager first and under the mask was Brooklyn Brawler Steve Lombardi. Shortly thereafter for reasons unknown, Promoter Vince McMahon Jr. changed Friday’s name to Kim-chee but it was the same gimmick.

After Sin Cara’s near unmasking on the September 24, 2012 episode of Monday Night RAW Mayor Mystery asked: “How much would a photo like that be worth?” He was referring to a photo of Sin Cara that was being shown on Facebook of half of Sin Cara’s face showing.

Today, there are about 10 current WWE superstars (at least there were when the July 2012 WWE Magazine issue was published) who have worn a mask during their careers (such as the Miz, CM Punk and the Undertaker.

From the late IWA Columbus, Ohio Promoter Bull Miller: “As a masked wrestler, I won my first IWA Title as the Dark Patriot. I did that so I could turn on my partner, the champion, Victor Vicious. I only wore a mask a couple times as I’m not really a big fan of wearing a mask. While there are really no regular, masked guys in IWA right now I would love to change that. I think masks are a part of this biz that needs to be brought back.”

The Destroyer as he looked speaking on behalf of the late Fritz Von Erich at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame inductions!

Mayor Mystery does not wrestle much but has assists Joe Dombrowski in color commentary during select IWC events. Professing to be the Mayor of Parts Unknown, he has been busted by yours truly interfering in matches.

Abyss wearing the same kind of mask that Mankind has been known to wear adds an extra level of mystique to both.

Then there’s Kane who used to wear a mask but doesn’t anymore. He was supposed to have been disfigured in a fire but if you look close enough today, he doesn’t seem to bear any scars other than the scar left on his psyche by being abandoned by his alleged father, Lifetime Cauliflower Alley Club member Paul Bearer.

During the 2006 Cauliflower Alley Club banquet, EVP Karl Lauer got double teamed upon when Destroyer and Mil Mascaras flipped him to the ground. Perhapsnext April when Mr. Lauer gets Roasted and turns the EVP reign over to someone else will he be able to ask the masked men why they did that.

Shark Boy has proven himself all over the USA and this reporter thinks that he will one day make a well deserved Legend.

Delirius is the lead Ring of Honor trainer.

Super Hentai is among the new breed of wrestler who has reached the pinnacle of the International Wrestling Cartel as its champion.

In TNA, Cheerleader Melissa wore a mask as Raisha Saeed.

Rey Mysterio has gotten unmasked on more than one occasion but prefers to wrestle under the mask instead of without. One unmasking was done by Cody Rhodes on WWE Smachdown February 25, 2011 but Rey was able to hide his face until another mask was handed to him.

During the 2011 Cauliflower Alley Club Awards ceremony just prior to Sergeant Slaughter receiving his 2011  “Iron Mike” Award, the WWE Hall of Famer went on to say how he felt it important to ask the original Super Destroyer whether or not it he had his blessing on calling himself Super Destroyer Mach II as he didn’t want to ruffle his feathers. Super D concurred enthusiastically. He then posed for a shot with Supertramp.

 Super Tramp Interview Conducted by Paul Stratoti

Strat: Welcome to the Cauliflower Alley Club reunion, Supertramp where we would like to have a short interview with you. I can assure you that this IS the real deal!

Supertramp: “Since my Webmaster passed away about a year ago I met some guy from Portland, Oregon who says that he likes my “old school” past. He is now willing to run my Website.” 

Strat: Where did you get your first start in wrestling?

Supertramp: “When we lived in Vancouver, Washington we had a little rental house that was owned by in laws of the “old school’ pro wrestler Jack Kaiser. The house needed painting. As we were painting he told me that he was a pro wrestler. He came over every day where he would teach me holds and counter-holds. He was an old school Legend.

 “The first time I ever attended a live wrestling card it featured Dutch Savage vs Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Champion Stan Staziak. Dutch Piledrived Stan outside of the ring.  Blood went everywhere and I then decided that I wanted to do that to people.

  “My first experience with wrestling was writing for Tommy Kay, Wrestling Review and Norm Keitzer. In my very first Canadian match I lost to Lumberjack Luke because he hit me over the head with a 2″ X 4″. My trainer was the 60s and 70s Mummy Benny Ramirez. He lived up in Canada where he said he was so damn cold that he had to keep warm with the Mummy outfit. He was so pleased with my performances that he ended up sending out letters of recommendation to the promoters who I wanted to work for. I worked on cards up in Portland and in San Francisco with him.”

 “However, the toughest man I ever wrestled was the Mongolian Stomper. He busted me open over my right eye and I still have the scar here to prove it.”

 Strat: So is he your all-time favorite wrestling superstar?

ST: “Actually, that has to go to Moondog Lonnie Mayne. He lives in my heart. I love him and miss him dearly but my best friend in wrestling was “Cowboy” Tex Thompson from Portland, Oregon. He likes to do “old school” wrestling, a concept that a lot of kids today don’t quite get.” 

Strat: Why do you wear a mask?

ST: “I was enthralled by watching the Destroyer on TV as a kid. That mystique of the mask and the man who would never take off his mask convinced me to wear a mask and by always wearing my mask I’ve noticed that people always followed me also.”

Strat: I saw you at the 46th annual Cauliflower Alley Club reunion in April. Was that your first time there?

ST: “I was at the 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 reunions. Also, in 2007 I was a Guest at the Wrestle Fan Fest at San Francisco Cow Palace. This year I was most happy to see Sgt. Slaughter receive his award as we are friends from the old days. Boy, didn’t he have a big appetite as Bobby Remus.”

Strat:  I also saw you a couple of days earlier during the  FSW matches.

ST: “The matches were great. They flew people in from all over the US and I finally met “Bulldog” Rex Reed. It’s an excellent promotion and I have put in my bid to work the super-card next year around this time.”

 Strat: Who is your all time favorite Diva?

ST: “My favorite Diva of all time is the late Penny Banner. She retired because to her the girls just were not tough anymore. Of the modern era, my favorite Diva was Tori (not Tori Wilsom). She was Scotty “the Body’s valet,  a great technical wrestler and awesome for “Tough Enough”. Of other notable Divas, Veronica Vise was trained by Shimmer starlet “Gorgeous” Michelle Starr who conducted part of the CAC training seminars this year. She’s been in the business only four years and is incredible today. As for Awesome Kong she was and will be again the most precious asset on the WWE Women’s’ Division. She is a real grappler who cut her first WWE promo a week before this past year’s CAC program and is very scary.”

 “By the way, I just reserved my room at The Gold Coast Hotel and Casino for April 15-19 for CAC 2012.  Air Fare paid, Banquet paid, Hotel taken care of. Come on April, hurry up!!”

 Sabastain Ice, who was also in attendance, had an impromptu mêlée with Supertramp just prior to the banquet and awards ceremony. This reporter brought them together recently on 3 way video conference.

Sabastian Ice: “Next year Supertramp is getting busted open w a chair!”

 Supertramp: “Bring whatever you have, I’ll finish showing you what Old School is all about!”

 Sabastian Ice: “I’m the epitome of old school! Now don’t get me wrong, I respect you but I know I’m “old school” while you’re just plain old. Bring your Geritol!

“As for the rest of the wrestling world, CAC is a great time and you must say “Hi” and shake everyone’s hand because it’s a once in a life time experience. It’s the right thing to do. I love the CAC as it’s a great organization!”

This reporter was also on hand during Mr. Wrestling II’s induction into the Professional Wrestling Hall of fame Class of 2014 as shown here:

Dominic DeNucci on Mr. Wrestling II:

“I didn’t know that much about him because we were indifferent territories and unlike Luis Martinez whom I traveled a lot with I only saw him a few times. I’m glad he is getting inducted.”

Barbra Goodish:

 “I so enjoyed meeting him and his son and got to spend time with them at the airport as we were on the same flight. My husband respected him so much.”

Ric Lieb: “I wish there were cameras back in 1989 when I wrestled as the USSR Kid, a masked wrestler from the USSR in denial of the changing of the guard!”

Rey Mysterio trumps Brock Lesnar! (My opinion, of course!)

Recently, Rey Mysterio quit wrestling for WWE Smackdown, a move that many wrestling insiders signals Rey’s final days in the promotion.

We at the Cauliflower Alley Club are proud to publicly announce our first award winner for 2020. The Lucha Libre award will go to one of the most popular and innovative wrestlers of all time, Rey Mysterio! The list of titles, not to mention the amount of people he has influenced to become wrestlers would take us hours to share. Please join us April 27-29, 2020 as we present Rey with this prestigious award… and if you have what it takes to become a CAC Member you should then consider the next best step up which is to become a Lifetime Member!

Article and photos by Cauliflower Alley Club Lifetime Member and spokesperson Paul Stratoti

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