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Mysterio: Behind the mask
By: THE LILSBOYS
When Rey Mysterio first walked into the WCW locker room, the federation's giant American wrestlers giggled at the 5'2 Mexican 'child' they saw before them. But, after a career that has seen him change the face of the wrestling business, no one's laughing any more.
In an exclusive Sun Online webchat, Rey told us how he's fought his way to become one of the WWE's most popular stars and that his final goal is to become the smallest world champion in history.
The luchadore also talked about the tradition surrounding his mask, how he was held back in WCW and why he misses the no-limits style of working for ECW's Paul Heyman.
Hi Rey, at what age did you start wrestling and who inspired you? - David, Kent
I started wrestling when I was eight-years-old and had my first match when I was 15. My uncle Rey Mysterio Sr, the brother of my mother, was a famous wrestler in Mexico. When I was young I spent most of my summer holidays with him. He didn't have kids at the time so I was like his son. Spending so much time with him made me lean towards wrestling. I have three older brothers and out of all of us I was the only one who picked up on it.
How did you get the name Rey Mysterio? - Kerry, London
I always told my uncle, from when I was a little boy, that I wanted to be Rey Mysterio Jr. Then, at the age of 17, the time came when he prized me with that name. In America sometimes a name can be a gimmick, but in Mexico it was a real honour to carry on the Mysterio legacy. When I came to the WWE they figured that since my uncle wasn't in the company I'd just be plain Rey Mysterio. Although to most of my fans - who know that there is a Rey Mysterio Sr out there - I'll always be Jr. I still speak to my uncle a lot and he is very proud of my career and what I've achieved with the name.
Can you tell us a bit about your mask and what it means to Mexican wrestlers? - Daniel, Southend
The mask is a very big tradition in Mexican Lucha Libre wrestling, probably 80 per cent or more of the wrestlers wear them. One of the greatest wrestlers of all time in the county was El Santo, and even when he died he was buried with his mask. A wrestler will only lose his mask at the end of a massive feud. If you've been fighting with a single wrestler for a long time it will come down to that final moment where it is mask v mask and, eventually, one of the wrestlers will have to unmask themselves. For example if my recent feud with Eddie Guerrero would have been in Mexico that would have ended in a mask v mask or mask v hair bout, rather than a ladder or cage match.
How did you feel having to unmask in WCW after losing a match with Konan against Kevin Nash and Scott Hall? - Andrew Wyrobek
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 Psicosis and 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.
Hi Rey, I read that when a Mexican wrestler loses his mask he can never wear it again. How did you end up with yours back on in WWE? - Neville
That's right, in Mexico when you lose the mask there is a Boxing And Wrestling Commission that won't allow you to wear one again. Also, once you lose it, everybody knows who you are - so you don't have that mystery and mystique of people wondering what you really look like. But when I signed for the WWE they wanted me to come back with the mask on, so I did. The fans in the United States are very educated as far as wrestling goes and accepted that very well. They gave me a chance and I think I've gained their respect. I feel much happier wrestling in my mask and even my wife says I should never lose it again. When I go back to Mexico I do wrestle with the mask on and they still respect me there too. In fact, I've started a new trend of people who lost their masks re-donning them, including my uncle Rey Mysterio Sr - who now once again wears the mask he lost more than 10 years ago.
Have you heard of the famous masked British wrestler Kendo Nagasaki? - Dave Thomas
Yes, I have. I know he was a legend in the UK. Growing up I was a big fan of the Dynamite Kid, who was also British. I learned so much from watching videos of his matches with Tiger Mask. They opened a lot of doors for smaller wrestlers, as guys like me, Shawn Michaels and X-Pac have done since.
How did you end up wrestling in America? - Bernard, Chicago
There are two big Lucha Libre federations in Mexico - CMLL and AAA. I was wrestling for AAA, who used to do a lot of shows in the San Diego Sports Arena. Those events paved my way into the United States, although they were really just aimed at the Hispanic population of California. Then when Konnan went to ECW, he spoke very highly of me and Paul Heyman brought me in. The same thing happened when he went to WCW. Konnan spread my name around and the next thing you know I was part of WCW. I owe Konnan so much and he is still a very close friend and neighbour of mine. He has a brilliant mind for the wrestling business and, if it was up to me, I would have him in the WWE.
What was Paul Heyman like to work for and do you miss the crazy matches you used to be able to have in ECW? - Thomas, Darlington
I was in ECW for about a year and a half and I loved it! All the Lucha Libre wrestlers did. I remember walking in that first day and asking Paul: "What can we do? Can we use tables or chairs?" He replied: "Do whatever you guys want. Just go out there and have a good time." It was one of the only companies that really had no restrictions on time limits or moves - it was just go out there and do what you do best, which was wrestle. I do miss the total freedom of ECW, as do most of the wrestlers who were there back in the day. But as I'm growing older, hurting more and gaining weight I need to slow my pace down. I can't do all the crazy and amazing moves I used to. The travel schedule is much tougher in the WWE, so we have to listen to our bodies and wrestle a different style.
Did you enjoy the One Night Stand PPV? Would you agree that your match felt more like a WWE contest, complete with 619, than an ECW one? Was that a disappointment? - Peter Davies
Yes, I wish I came more prepared for that bout. The fans came to see an ECW match and I let them down. We only had a certain amount of time for the match, which hurt us, but I should have known better and thought more about what the audience wanted. The fans wanted to see Psicosis in his mask, so that was a disappointment for them right from the get go. Then they wanted to see Rey Mysterio Jr doing the moves he did back in ECW, not the 619. It was a bad night for us. But I have promised myself that if there is a second ECW PPV I'm going to give the fans exactly what they saw in 1998 and 1999.
What was it like walking into WCW where most of the big guys they had wouldn't have seen AAA or even ECW? - Kieran, Dublin
My first match in WCW was at the 1996 Great American Bash PPV against Dean Malenko. I walked into the locker room and I could see people laughing at me and saying to each other: "Who's that child?" I was 21-years-old at the time and it was embarrassing for me, knowing I'd been wrestling for six years, to walk into a company and get that reaction. They were all big boys - more than 6' tall and weighing more than 200 pounds - and I was only 5'2 and weighed around 130 pounds. But me and Dean tore the house down and got a standing ovation from the locker room after the match.
Do you think the cruiserweights in WCW were held back? - Ollie
Definitely. The division kicked off to a certain point but they never put us on top and when they unmasked us it all came tumbling down. Those in charge of WCW had the mindset that only big men could draw and didn't create new superstars. But wrestling now has changed so much. Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Jericho have all been world champions, but back in WCW they were mainly cruiserweights. Also the top guys in WCW were scared that fans were more interested in watching luchadore action and high-flying moves than big men just going out there and stomping on each other for 10 minutes. The heavyweights were getting into Eric Bischoff's ear, saying: "We can't let these guys be on top. They're small and wrestling has never been about this, we've got to keep the tradition going." It was stupid for Eric Bischoff, who was running a huge company like WCW, to listen to other people. Vince McMahon runs his own company and does what he wants to do, as did Paul Heyman. Wrestling is about what the fans want, not what the boys want.
When WCW folded did you want to be part of the WWE Invasion angle? - Vikram Sangar
I wanted to be part of WWE right away but unfortunately my WCW contract was still going and I had to wait for it to run out in December of that year. So I spent some time with my wife, son and daughter, wrestled for CMLL in the Arena Mexico - which was always a dream of mine - and had a chance to work for Carlito's dad Carlos Colon in Puerto Rico. After that I started talking to Johnny Ace and Jim Ross, who offered me a three year contract. That's when my WWE career kicked off. I'm glad I missed the Invasion, as I worry I may have got lost in the shuffle. So much talent entered the WWE at that time and I don't think they really knew what to do with them all.
Of all your recent run of matches with Eddie Guerrero which, in your opinion, has been the best? - Stuart
I personally liked our match at WrestleMania 21 best, even though the problems I was having with my mask made things more difficult. We had good bouts at the Great American Bash and SummerSlam as well, but I still think we can't top the match we had in 1997 at WCW Halloween Havoc. I've also had some great matches with Kurt Angle. I loved wrestling him at SummerSlam in 2002 and that's where people started to see I could be a top guy. And the tag matches we had - Edge and myself against Kurt and Chris Benoit - are unforgettable and our title reign was another good stepping stone for me.
How is your son Dominick? He must have found the recent storyline, where you and Eddie fought over him, difficult. - Curtis Thomson, Scotland
He's doing real good. He handled the situation very well, both backstage and in school. Dominick hesitated a little bit at the beginning but I spoke to him every day, gave him a lot of advice and kept his emotions at a high level. He did a great job, especially with his run-in at SummerSlam. He could be a future WWE superstar! We go through so much - being on the road and away from our families - it is sometimes hard for us to admit we want our children to continue our legacies, but I would love to pass on my name and mask to Dominick.
Hi Rey - Why do you think the cruiserweight division has never taken off in the WWE despite some of the best high-flyers in the world being there and those fast-paced matches being huge successes in WCW, ECW and now TNA? - Robert Rams
Yes, we haven't had those type of matches in the WWE. Vince doesn't want the cruiserweights to go wild with move after move. He wants there to be that psychology. I'm a big fan of the moves in TNA - which is what I was doing eight or nine years ago - but they shouldn't throw everything in at once. They need to control the excitement and leave people wanting to come back and see more. Also the WWE is all about characters, you've got to have a distinguished character for the fans to realise who you are. Once you've done that you can go out there and bust out all your moves and create your own personal style. Some of the cruiserweights still don't get that. I think the WWE cruiserweight division is definitely established and has some of the best wrestlers in the world, like Super Crazy, Psicosis, Super Crazy and Funaki. They can do so much more with it, but it has to be done the right way. It's a matter of giving someone control and maybe even creating an annual tournament, like Japan's Super J Cup.
I would love to see you as WWE world champion. Is that a goal of yours? - Tim Martin
Yes, it is my dream. I can be part of the cruiserweight division but I would like to move ahead. I actually prefer wrestling bigger guys now, as it adds an interesting new dynamic and makes for more compelling matches. It also puts me in a position down the line where I can shoot for the world championship, which is what I need to do here in the WWE. If Vince hands me the opportunity to become world heavyweight champion I would make history, as the smallest guy ever to hold the belt, and I would be blessed to win it.
Credit: The Sun Online
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