The unmasked superstar even said that’s why they chose this show over “The Masked Singer.”

“The Masked Dancer” finally flipped back to Group A for its special Inauguration Day installment. This was the last stop before next week’s Super 6, so who made the cut?

This week’s guest panelist was actually a new face to the “Masked” franchise, Rob Lowe, who was having a lot of fun on the show. That said, he got lost anytime Ashley started talking about TikTok and mostly copied other people’s guesses.

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This week brought another show-stopping performance by Tulip, who is definitely trying to cement herself as this inaugural season’s frontrunner. While the mask who went home wasn’t so much a surprise, who was under it definitely was.

And we kind of loved that they totally admitted they chose this show over parent “The Masked Singer” because they were convinced that no costume could hide their signature vocal style. But who was it?

Let’s jump right in with this week’s masks. And don’t worry, before we get to the shocking unmasking, we’re going to make you power through the terrible (and occasionally good) guesses made by our illustrious panel of Paula Abdul, Ken Jeong, Ashley Tisdale and Brian Austin Green first. We do this because we love … to torture you.

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Exotic Bird

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Exotic Bird gave a full-body performance throughout this piece that only improved as she went along. At the top, she was a little small with her movements as if she was hesitant to really put it all out there, but that improved She has strong musicality and a real sense of rhythm, but we’re still not convinced this pro dancer caliber.

Guesses: Once again, Exotic Bird “served up” several tennis-themed clues, though it was a football trophy we saw. She also showed a slice of apple pie, said “these hips don’t lie” and shared that she got the “bird flu” before the biggest shot of her life.

Ashley wondered if Shakira could be the “hips” reference, and she did lead with her hips the first time we saw her dance. Ken threw out Janet Jackson as a possibility, which Paula Abdul (who used to work with her) was able to shut down quickly.

“Well I think with all those wardrobe malfunctions, now she is covered from head to webbed toe, it is definitely Exotic Bird Janet Jackson. With that unnecessary shaming, EB dropped her Word Up clue, “Number one.”

Ashley asked what made her feel exotic, and she said this was her showing a different side of her. Paula thinks maybe the football was a reference to Jordin Sparks’ father. She thinks the “hard to breathe” clue might have been a reference to Jordin’s “No Air” duet with Chris Brown.

Rob Lowe followed a bunch of random clues — that he did connect logically — to land on Kate Hudson, but we’ve seen her move and dance and she’s got way more finesse than this. But if that guess wasn’t unexpected enough, Brian took “number one” and the word “savage” from the clue package to find Megan Thee Stallion.

The internet, though, is still hanging onto last week’s best guess — and our first instinct — that this could be Venus Williams, though they didn’t mind that Jordin Sparks guess, either. Other guesses we saw include Shakira, Selena Gomez,

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Cricket

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Cricket was rocking it like Herman Munster up there. It was as if he had a brace on his lower back restricting his movements. His arms and legs were into it, but everything was so upright and awkward, we were totally getting retired NBA player on “Dancing with the Stars” vibes — and not in a good way.

Guesses: His clues definitely point to an athlete, with medals ceremonies, two silver medals, flags and he dates himself back to the ‘90s (and 1998 in particular). We’re not sure how a “super phone” payphone is a super clue, but it is. We also saw an elevator button marked [PH].

He said he fought his way to stardom and was finally being heard, but that he had to take a risk along the way. He also dropped the word “dove,” which paired with the flags could look like a swim meet. Later, he also shared he was the youngest in his family.

Ashley thinks that his nonstop commitment to character, and movement, means he must be an actor. When asked where his confidence comes from, he revealed that he has a wife — which barely narrows it down, considering we know he’s on the older side.

His Word Up clue was “all star,” which kept the athlete theory alive. But Paula still thinks this is perhaps a musician (is it Smash Mouth?). She thinks last week’s Vegas clues could refer to a residency there.

She wonders if Brian McKnight could be under there, considering the clocks at one for his backup dancers and the phrase “Back at One” mentioned. Ken, though, thinks all the clues are pointing to Michael Phelps (though he got tons and tons of gold medals).

Rob, though, decided it was Ryan Lochte instead, which means they’re definitely picking up on the swimming vibe. The internet, though, is not. That said, their own guesses are absolutely terrible. Will Smith and Kanye West (though in his defense, this guy guesses Kanye for everyone) are not going to do this show!

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Hammerhead

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Hammerhead was able to see much better this time, even ably partnering with one of his dancers. It was still definitely not up to the level of a pro dancer, but he brought a lot of enthusiasm and strength with some of those moves, which Rob recognized from TikTok.

Guesses: This weeks new clues showed that he has two sides to himself, with his entertaining side well known. He showed a classic stand-up comedy set (with looming hook), as well as an eye chart. Other big clues included a dancing girl with a “1” on her t-shirt and a wedding cake (with two grooms).

Then there are all the “Lose Yourself” quotes, but this is definitely not Eminem, and we’re pretty sure it’s no Mekhi Phifer, either. And we can’t forget the eye chart with the huge “E” at the top, which had Ken thinking maybe it was Ryan Seacrest, king of E!

Hammerhead’s Word Up clue was, “Heartbreaker.” So was he? Or is he? Is Ryan? Rob thought maybe fear talk was a reference to “Fear Factor’s” Joe Rogan, while Brian was digging the moonwalk and boy band moves he nevertheless agreed, looping in last week’s “Joe” coffee cup.

After finding out he wanted to be a lawyer before he made it big, Paula took the mic and the fact he’s jacked to Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino. His later clue had him admitting to being super competitive, but spending most of his time on the sidelines.

The internet was feeling the “Jersey Shore” vibe, but were wondering if maybe it was Chippendales’ star Vinny Guadagnino. That involves some dancing, but is Vinny that big? Oh, and dude, it’s not Eminem. It’s just not.

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Tulip

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Tulip set her own bar so much higher, cementing her status as the front-runner this season. From tap to stunning contemporary with elements of pointe and traditional ballet, along with some partnering that had to be a challenge with a tulip head. She’s an incredible dancer and performer up there, and apparently talented in very different styles.

Guesses: We got a definite TikTok reference this week, as well as the term “frozen,” while an eclipse was apparently a super clue. There was also a pyramid, which she showed while talking about her best friend.

The two were at one time very competitive, complete with boxing ring imagery, before her friend became her biggest supporter. She said she was judged a lot growing up, but her “best bud” told her to use those emotions in her messages.

Paula is struggling a bit, thinking it might be a petite trained actress/dancer like Hayden Panettiere or Sarah Hyland. Her Word Up clue was “princess,” and she sounded as young as Ashley is convinced she is.

Paula took that “Frozen” clue all the way to Kristen Bell, who is perhaps petite enough — though not nearly as young as Ashley was thinking. “Hype me up” had her thinking Hype House, so she’s sticking with Charli D’Amelio — who is as big a TikTok star as you can find.

Brian, for some reason, is thinking gymnast — but what gymnast knows that many dance moves — and so he settled on Simone Biles. Perhaps she’s also had some dance training, but it’s unlikely with the partnering and intricacy of moves she could have had this much and all that gymnastics training. Who has the time?

Twitter agrees it’s a real dancer, but they’re thinking about “Dance Moms” and the Ziegler sisters, Maddie and Mackenzie, with far more support going to the one Sia doesn’t put in everything.

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UNMASKING

This time around, it’s pretty much a no-brainer. Tulip is on a run to win the whole thing while Hammerhead and Exotic Bird showed some musicality and at least a sense of showmanship and fun out there.

Cricket is just so far out of his league at this point, it’s as if he’s on “The Gong Show” rather than “The Masked Dancer” and even he can’t believe he’s still here. So it came as absolutely no surprise that the audience and panel agreed, sending Cricket to the night’s unmasking.

But before the final picks and big reveal, we all got one final round of questions from the panel. From these we learned that he’s been famous a long time, he’s won an award for his craft, is not known for a variety of things and he does have kids.

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  • Paula Abdul: Brian McKnight
  • Ken Jeong: Michael Phelps
  • Rob Lowe: Ryan Lochte
  • Ashley Tisdale: Ashton Kutcher
  • Brian Austin Green: Ryan Lochte

We weren’t buying into any of those swimmer clues, but he also doesn’t move with the kind of physicality and agility that Ashton Kutcher has. Cricket moves like someone older, or at least much stiffer — unless Ashton is once again punking all of America.

We weren’t feeling real confident at all that we had any idea who Cricket was so we threw our lot behind Paula Abdul just because we didn’t like any of the other guesses, and she did tie it pretty well (and twice) with “Back at One.”

But there was no one more surprised than Paula when it turned out she was absolutely right, as Brian McKnight was unmasked. We loved that his reasoning for choosing “Dancer” over “Singer” was that he knew his voice would be just too recognizable.

Considering he doesn’t dance on stage and no one has really seen him try — based on how not well it went across two weeks — we’d say he made the best choice to stay incognito the longest.

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“The Masked Dancer” unites for the Super Six performances next Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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