WWE tag team legends The Hart Foundation
HeadLocker — Jay Shannon
OWW Wrestler of the Week –Rey Mysterio
Our resident philosopher profiles the current Intercontinental Champion.
At one of the worst Pay-per-views in recent history, only one star really shined. Rey Mysterio defended his title in great fashion against Chris Jericho. The Biggest Little Man in the business earned this week’s OWW Wrestler of the Week award, thanks to his outstanding performance.
Following in the family tradition
Oscar Ramon Guiterrez was born in southern California on December 11, 1974. From a very early age, Oscar became a fan of pro wrestling, especially Mexico’s Lucha Libre style. A great deal of that admiration was due to his uncle, who wrestled as Rey Mysterio. Mysterio took his nephew under his wing and began to train him while Oscar was still a child. Oscar made his first professional match, at the age of 14, He technically wrestled illegally as Colibri, due to his age. Fortunately for Oscar, enforcement of age laws in Tijuana was lax and he was able to perform. His was given the name Colibri, Spanish for Mockingbird, because of his speed in the ring. Colibri’s first feud was against Psicosis, now Nicho El Millionario.
As a birthday present to his nephew, Rey Mysterio bestowed the ring name of Rey Mysterio Junior on Oscar when he turned 18. Oscar worked for the AAA promotion in Mexico to get further training. In AAA, Mysterio began a feud with Juventud Guerrera and his family. The feud also brought in Rey Mysterio, Sr to even the sides. They would continue to feud until Rey got a call from the states.
The Lucha World of Extreme
When Paul Heyman took over ECW, he decided to go in two different directions. One was, of course, the Hardcore style that put the upstart group on the map. The other direction was to focus on the smaller, quicker stars that both WCW and WWF were basically ignoring. During Gangsta’s Paradise, Rey and Psycosis were brought in to battle. That epic battle made it onto numerous ECW Highlight tapes and DVDs over the years. It was also featured on the recent Rey Mysterio DVD. During this time, Rey was using the original spelling of his name, Rey Misterio, Jr. That name would be Americanized, a year later, when he left the Land of Extreme to head to Atlanta.
WCW, Part One — Cruiserweights
By 1996, WCW had begun to see the value in Cruiserweights. They began to recruit numerous stars to form a complete division of men under 222 pounds. They had a few men on board, most notably Brian Pillman, but needed to expand. Rey, Psicosis, Juventud and a few others were headhunted to join the Cruiserweight Division, along with several Japanese stars.
Rey was thrown into the thick of it, when he debuted at the 1996 edition of The Great American Bash. He challenged Dean Malenko for the Cruiserweight title, but lost when Dean cheated his way to victory. Rey would return on an episode of Monday Nitro to take the strap from Dean. He would hold the title for three months, before dropping it back to Malenko.
Rey would move beyond Malenko to feud with Prince Iaukea and Ultimo/Ultimate Dragon for their respective titles. Rey would also feud briefly with Lord Steven (William) Regal. Once those feuds were put to bed, Rey set his sights back on the Cruiserweight title. He had the first of many feuds with a man that would become such an important part of his life, Eddie Guerrero. Rey would take the title from Eddie to start his second C-W title run. He would drop the belt back to Eddie in short order. Later on, he upended old foe, Juventud, to start a third run with the title. Strangely enough, he would lose that title to Chris Jericho, a mere nine days later. The two would feud, off and on, for years.Jericho attacked Rey with a workman’s toolbox and put him out of action for six months.
WCW, Part Two — Latino World Order and Filthy Animals
After recovering from his injury, Rey returned to join the Mexican-based Latino World Order. He partnered with Eddie Guerrero, Silver King, Juventud, Psicosis, La Parka and others. The group, an idea of Konnan, was a spin-off of the New World Order faction. Rey refused to join the group, at first, but was forced in, thanks to a match stipulation. The Latino World Order was ordered out of existence by the two factions of the nWo. When Rey refused to remove his colors, he was viciously attacked by Kevin Nash in the infamous “Lawn Dart” incident. Rey was thrown into the side of one of the production trucks, much like a spear being thrown. Tony Schiavone said something to the effect that Kevin Nash had just used Rey as a “Human Lawn Dart”.
The feud with Nash would lead to the biggest change in Rey’s career. At Superbrawl XI, Rey put his mask up against the hair of Nash. Rey lost and was forced to lose his precious mask. While Rey agreed to the match, he was very disappointed by the fact that he didn’t lose his match to another masked grappler or as the ending of a major feud. As a reward for losing his mask, Rey was given a “Giant Killer” gimmick, similar to Spike Dudley’s over in ECW. Rey would earn victories over big men like Nash, Scott “Flash” Norton and Bam Bam Bigelow.
During this time, Rey would win his fourth Cruiserweight title and the World tag titles (with Billy Kidman). Rey would drop the C-W title to Psicosis, only to win it back, a week later. Rey and Billy Kidman would lose their World Tag belts to Raven and Perry Saturn.
In 1999, Rey and Konnan joined the ridiculous clique led by rapper Master P. The No Limit Soldiers feuded with the West Texas Redneck, led by Curt Hennig. When Master P walked away from WCW, the group that he sponsored recruited Eddie Guerrero and Billy Kidman. The quartet adopted the name The Filthy Animals. They feuded with the Rednecks, as well as the Dark Carnival group (Raven, Vampiro and the Insane Clown Posse). Juventud would also join the Animals during their run. The Animals would run through the end of WCW, in 2001.
A New Start
After the death of WCW, Rey returned to Mexico. Instead of working of his old territory of AAA, Rey signed on with rival promotion, CMLL. His time in CMLL was unimpressive. Rey also took bookings in the XWF, which folded after a brief run. Rey was scouted by WWF/E during this time but Rey was initially hesitant to sign on. During his CMLL and XWF stints, Rey continued to wrestle without his mask. That would change, about a year later.
The return of the mask
Vince McMahon was looking for a new marketing angle in 2002. He sat down with Rey and asked for a couple of changes in Rey’s persona. First of all, Rey dropped the “Junior” portion of his name. This was done with the permission and blessing of his uncle, Rey Mysterio, Sr.
This was something that Vince had already put into play with Chavo Guerrero, Jr. Chavo lost his “Junior” name, as well. The other big change was that Rey would begin wearing his mask again. That change angered many loyal Lucha fans, who felt that once a masked man lost his mask, it was near sacrilege to ever don it again. Despite the protests, Rey agreed to wear the mask. Rey’s first match (and feud) would be against Chavo. Rey would dominate the feud.
Rey would feud with several Smackdown stars, including the UnAmericans and Kurt Angle. Rey formed a successful tag team with Edge. They went to the finals of the Smackdown tournament to create a brand-specific tag team championship. While they lost to Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, they would eventually take the straps from the champs. Edge and Rey would lose their titles to Los Guerreros (Chavo and Eddie). Rey would turn his focus to the Cruiserweight division after the loss.
Back to Cruiserin’
WWF was looking to ramp up their Cruiserweight division. Creative knew that both WCW and ECW had a great deal of success with the use of the smaller, faster grapplers. Rey was thrown into a program with then-champion, Matt Hardy. Hardy defeated Rey at Wrestlemania XIX, thanks to interference by Shannon Moore. While Rey would briefly feud with The Big Show, he remained focused on the C-W title. He would eventually take the belt from Matt Hardy and defend it against most of the smaller men in the company. He would hold the belt for almost three months, before dropping it to Tajiri. Rey would take the belt back from Tajiri on January 1, 2004. This started his second run as C-W champ.
At No Way Out 2004, Rey lost his title to Chavo. Rey would eventually win his third Cruiserweight title by defeating Chavo Guerrero, Sr. aka Chavo Classic. The third title reign ended when Spike Dudley turned heel and attacked Rey. Rey tried to regain the title but didn’t win. Rey then shifted his focus back to the tag division.
Rey joined forces with another former ECW star, Rob Van Dam, to create a successful tag team. They took the tag belts from Rene Dupree and Kenzo Sukuki. They would hold the belt for just over a month. When RVD was injured, he and Rey dropped the belts to the Bashams. With RVD out, Rey needed a new partner. He turned to an old friend/enemy, Eddie Guerrero. They would take the belts off the Bashams at No Way Out 2005. Instead of defending the title at Wrestlemania XXI, Rey and Eddie fought each other. Rey won the battle.
The Tackiest Storyline…Ever
Following the Wrestlemania loss, Eddie turned heel and viciously attacked Rey, several times. Eddie also threatened to reveal a horrible secret. Rey was terrified of having the secret revealed. Eddie hinted that the secret revolved around Rey’s son, Dominic. Eddie eventually revealed that Rey was having trouble making a child, so Eddie gave his own biological son, Dominic, to the Mysterios to raise. Eddie then began to work towards taking the child away from Rey. It lead to the infamous “I’m Your Papi” catchphrase and marketing campaign.
The feud hit its lowest point when the two faced off in a Custody Papers on a Pole Match at Summerslam. Rey did manage to win the battle. Their feud would end and Rey would move on to feud with JBL. Rey’s life and career would take a dramatic turn, due to a real-life tragedy.
Doing it all for Eddie
On November 13, 2005, Eddie Guerrero died in his hotel room. Eddie suffered a heart attack, brought on by earlier abuses of his system by drug usage. Eddie was clean and sober at the time of his death and had been for years. Rey admitted to his long-term friendship with Eddie, despite all the storylines that they worked together. Rey dedicated himself to winning the World title, in memory of Eddie. Rey would take the first step by winning the 2006 Royal Rumble. Numerous friends of Eddie (Benoit, Chavo, Malenko and RVD) rushed out to congratulate Rey.
Randy Orton was upset that Rey had beat him. He tricked Rey into putting up his Wrestlemania shot. Randy suggested that Eddie went to Hell, not Heaven. Rey napped and beat on Randy, before accepting the match. Randy cheated his way into a win over Rey at No Way Out. Smackdown GM, Teddy Long, wouldn’t let the travesty stand. He put Rey back into the match, making it a Triple Threat match which featured Rey, Orton and champion, Kurt Angle. At Wrestlemania, Rey would use the West Coast Pop to gain the ultimate revenge against Orton by pinning him in the Triple Threat match to take the World title. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Rey dedicated the win to Eddie.
Rey would go on a Cinderella Run, defending his belt against JBL, Sabu, Kurt Angle, Randy Orton and numerous other top stars. His wonderful run as champ would come to an end at The Great American Bash when he dropped the belt to King Booker aka Booker T. The loss would start a brief feud with Chavo, who was insulted that Rey lost and that Rey had made himself an “honorary Guerrero”. Rey was needing knee surgery so the storyline was created. Chavo battled Rey in an “I Quit” match. Chavo repeatedly smacked Rey’s knee with a steel chair, sending him to the disabled list for some time.
After successful surgery and rehab, Rey returned to face Chavo. Rey would take out Chavo with the same kind of chair shot that sent Rey out. Rey would then feud with The Great Khali, who had won the World title. Rey would come up short, no pun intended, in their various battles for the title. Rey would move on to feud with Finlay, who was selected by JBL. Rey would win all but one of their battles.
Rey moved on to battle MVP over the US title. The feud came down because of MVP’s disrespect of Matt Hardy. They took their feud overseas during a European tour. On that tour, Rey tore his bicep. Rey was sent home but continued to compete. Rey battled against Edge for the World title at No Way Out. Rey further tore his bicep during the match. On the following Smackdown, Rey announced that he needed to go under the knife. He was out for several months.
Rey returned on the June 23 as part of the Draft. He was the first man drafted to Raw. Rey had a brief feud with Santino. Rey left Raw for two more months to finish his rehab and set up a storyline against Kane. Kane claimed that he had destroyed Rey. Kane even pulled one of Rey’s mask out of a bag that he had been carrying. Fans weren’t sure if the returning Rey would be maskless or not. What they got was a slightly altered Rey. His mask was half eagle/half skull. Rey would surprise the critics by beating Kane in the majority of their matches. Rey would also feud with Mike Knox is another “David v Goliath” storyline.
As Wrestlemania 25 drew near, JBL offered a Intercontinental Championship match against the man that had one time retired him, Rey. JBL swore he would make history at Wrestlemania. Most critics, myself included, figured that the surprise would be Rey losing his mask. Instead, the surprise was the incredibly quick way that JBL lost the match. JBL was so distraught after the loss that he quit on the spot.
Rey successfully defended his title on Raw until the Draft. Rey, and the I-C title, were sent to Smackdown. Chris Jericho took exception to Rey wearing “his” title. Chris, who held the record for the most I-C title reigns, challenged Rey for his title at Judgment Day. The Judgment Day was extremely disappointing to the fans, with one exception. Rey and Chris put on a Wrestlemania-level performance in their battle. Rey managed to come out on top but the feud is far from over.
Rey Mysterio recently celebrated his 20th anniversary as a professional wrestler. In those 20 years, Rey has had nearly two dozen titles, both singles and tag team, on his resume. Rey has been plagued with injuries over the past few years and his career might be winding down. Rey has been one of the founders of the Cruiserweight divisions in all three of the major companies of the 80s and 90s. He’s been the World champ, I-C champ and Tag champs. His performance at Judgment Day was the only bright spot during an Eclipse Show. Rey’s win on Sunday, as well as his years of dedication to the spot, earned Rey Mysterio (Jr.) this week’s OWW Wrestler of the Week award.
— Jay Shannon