For many fans, their very concept sports entertainment is synonymous with one individual - Rey Mysterio. An innovator in the ring, Mysterio can quite rightly claim to have changed the perception of what a superstar looks like. An ECW and WCW alumnus, Mysterio spent over a decade with WWE before leaving earlier this year to join the lucha promotion AAA and pursue a number of other interests. He is a multiple-time champion across numerous promotions, one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the sport and a kind, decent and humble man. In this, the first of a two-part interview, we were fortunate enough to be granted some time with this future Hall of Famer to ask him about his career path and his thoughts on the business. Read on!
WWE remains the market leader in sports entertainment. There is TNA, GFW, Lucha Underground, AAA and independent promotions. What is your view on the state of the industry and where is it headed?
I think it's definitely evolving, as it should be, as time moves on. In terms of WWE, you can see that it's a new era. It was a big man's sport at one time. Maybe I had something to do with breaking that barrier and having WWE open up their eyes so they can sign younger, lighter talent. They don't have to be big in size and height. There's a lot of talent out there with just the normal physique. The 'cross-fit' type physique - that's the new exercise that took over. I remember growing up in the eighties, bodybuilding was a thing. Bulk up, look big and huge and strong. Now, it's like, you look fit, trimmed down, abs cut up. NXT is that version of WWE. The up and coming talent. Back in the day OVW existed but this is formal, this is legit. There's a huge fan base behind NXT which is cool because that opens up the door to younger talent that maybe at one point thought that it was impossible to ever get into WWE but now, there it is. And like you mentioned, TNA, AAA and Lucha Underground right now is taking off.
Will we see you with a major company any time soon?
I really don't feel like committing right now to a major company. My deal right now is that I'll go ahead and wrestle per dates. That's one of the reasons why I left WWE, not to feel tied up or pressured into fulfilling a certain number of work dates throughout the week or month - because of my injuries. So the less I wrestle right now, the better for me because it's healing time. It's that process of healing
You're in a different stage of your career now. You're in AAA and able to wrestle in the independent scene. Are there people you've been able to face now that you always wanted to?
I think there's definitely dream matches that have popped up. Not just for myself but more importantly for the fans. There's a lot of opponents that have been in the independent scene and not a part of WWE but should be there because of their talent. To mention two of them I faced not long ago -the Young Bucks. Those two guys are just incredible. They're gifted with talent and I had an awesome time being in the ring with them. It was Alberto Del Rio and myself versus them and I would imagine that it was a mutual feeling between all four of us, because we just hit it off. The other person that I had a chance to wrestle against and it was part of his dream - wanting to have a match with me at one point in our careers- was Amazing Red. I actually met Amazing Red through Eddie [Guerrero] at one point. Who would have known that years later we were going to wrestle against each other. He's very talented as well. There's other matches coming up in the future that I'm looking very much forward to. Facing opponents like AJ Styles, who I have tremendous respect for, for what he's done in this business. He also deserves to be in WWE at one point. Again, there's just so much talent out there that sometimes it's hard for WWE to pick up everyone. Being independent now, I'm able to face those challenges and accomplish some of those matches that fans would want to see.
The future for Rey Mysterio is exciting and so it is for us too! Come back soon for part two of the interview with Rey talking about having to adapt his style, his favourite rib story and his future plans!