Wrestling masks are most widely used in the Mexican/Latin lucha libre style of wrestling. A wrestler's mask is usually related to a wrestler's persona (for example, a wrestler known as 'The Panda' might wear a mask with a panda's facial markings). Often, wrestlers will put their masks on the line against other wrestlers' masks, titles or an opponent's hair.
While in Japan and Mexico masks are a sign of tradition, they are generally considered by many in the United States to be a deathblow to a wrestler's character. Very few masked wrestlers have succeeded in becoming popular (with exceptions such as Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods, Masked Superstar, Mankind, Big Van Vader, Abyss, and Rey Mysterio Jr.) and generally are considered as jobbers. The belief is that fans want to see a face and will only get behind a wrestler that shows it.
Often already established, famous wrestlers may appear under masked identities because of (kayfabe) stipulations against them, which is used to draw more attention to their "real" personas. Examples include Hulk Hogan as Mr. America, Dusty Rhodes as the Midnight Rider, André the Giant as Giant Machine and Brian Pillman as the Yellow Dog. In all cases, the masked personas were adopted because of promotional stipulations working against them, such as forced retirement, bans from competition, or bans from title shots.
- First masked Luchador to become a star in Japan: Mil Máscaras, 1970s
- First masked foreigner to become a star in Japan: The Destroyer Dick Beyer (United States), 1960s
- First Japanese to regularly use a mask: Mach Hayato
- First Japanese to become a superstar with a mask: Tiger Mask Satoru Sayama.
In Japan, most masked wrestlers can be found in the junior heavyweight divisions, as they prefer to follow the pattern set by Mascaras and Sayama of being a masked wrestler who can do high-flying moves in the ring.