Getting to the top of the pro wrestling industry is a path littered with many obstacles and roadblocks along the way. Reaching the pinnacle of the business is earned, not given.
Nobody knows that more than Rey Mysterio.
The wrestling superstar’s backstory will be told in an episode of “Biography WWE: Legends” on Sunday night on A&E. Fans will have the opportunity to hear about how the high-flying Mysterio journeyed from the auditoriums in Mexico to the big stage of WrestleMania.
Mysterio, whose real name is Óscar Gutiérrez, explained to Fox News Digital in a recent interview why he felt like now is the right time to share his story.
“I think it’s a very important part of my career right now, especially after being in this business for 32 years, being a part of WWE for 20 years. And for the fans that only know Rey Mysterio from WWE up until now they get some insight on how my career started, how old I was, the barriers I had to cross to get to where I’m at right now,” Mysterio said. “I think it’s very insightful and very motivational to kids that might find themselves in the same predicament that I found when I first broke in.”
Mysterio was about 8 years old when he started to train with his uncle, known in Mexican professional wrestling as Rey Misterio, to become a professional wrestler and would make his debut when he was just 14. While living in Tijuana, he explained he would have to cross the border to get to school by 7:45 a.m., then go to his part-time job and then cross the border again to go back home and get ready to train.
But because he started training at such a young age, it didn’t mean he received any special privileges because he was the nephew of one of the most famous wrestlers Mexico had to offer at the time.
“The fact that I was a kid and I was able to train with the class, that was my leverage of being the nephew of Rey Misterio,” he said. “But I got the same a—whooping as everyone else did. They didn’t take it easy on me because I was eight. It was always had and I was always the underdog, the smallest kid in class.”
Mysterio said growing up around wrestling made him really want to become a wrestler as anyone else would want to be a football player if they grew up around football.
“For me, it was always wrestling – Lucha Libre. The passion, it was awake at a very young age and that’s all I ever wanted to do. I had no desire to do anything else but to wrestle and eventually to be on the big stage. And when I say ‘the big stage,’ I wasn’t talking about WWE – being on the main stage in Mexico because that’s what I grew up watching. I would watch WWF (WWE known then as the World Wrestling Federation) at the time but that was just like an impossible achievement for me just because of the size. I had trouble as it was enough breaking into Lucha Libre because of my size and my weight. So, I never really thought that one day I would get an opportunity to be part of the WWE roster.”
Mysterio is billed at 5-foot-6 and 175 pounds and while he had concerns about making an impact in the United States, his style of wrestling was well-received.
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Mysterio joined Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) in 1995 and had some of the most creative and electric matches the promotion had ever seen at the time. He would feud with the likes of Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera.
Mysterio told Fox News Digital he never really thought about how his style of wrestling was received at first. He would just want to make sure the crowd got their monies worth. He said he and Psicosis, whose real name is Dionicio Torres, would watch ECW tapes and try to come up with ways to make their matches better.
He recalled meeting Paul Heyman, the founder of ECW and current valet to Brock Lesnar.
“Great guy, right away,” Mysterio said of Heyman. “I remember walking up to Paul and asking him, ‘Excuse me, Mr. Heyman, is it OK if we use a table? You know, we wanted to do this with the table’ and, he’s so funny, he’s like ‘great, you can use a table, you can use the car, you can use a chair, use whatever you want, go out there and have a great time.’
“So, sure enough, I took his advice and every night we went out and we f—ing tried to perform better than the night before. And it was very exciting because this was all knew to us. Like we never had been a part of extreme wrestling. So, the fact that we were dipping into something new, we were enjoying it to the fullest.”
Mysterio would join World Championship Wrestling in 1996 and help develop the cruiserweight division. But toward the end of his run with the company, Mysterio would be forced to remove his mask after losing a storyline match to Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. In Lucha Libre, being forced to remove your mask is the ultimate slight against the wrestler. And while Mysterio was publicly against the storyline, he ultimately would remove the mask and start performing without it.
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One of the biggest career arcs for him came in the late 1990s. He became known as the giant slayer after beating Nash and showing that a performer his size can stand toe-to-toe with performers who are 6-foot-10 or of the same height.
He called it a “special time” that helped launch what would become an integral part of his WWE career – winning main event matches and eventually the World Heavyweight Championship. Mysterio would have incredible feuds with some of the best in the business at the time, including John Bradshaw Layfield, Kane, Booker T and the late Eddie Guerrero.
Mysterio and Guerrero were good friends outside of the ring before Guerrero’s untimely death in 2005. The two put together a heated feud that appeared to bleed into real life.
The two competitors had a storyline that suggested Guerrero was the father of Mysterio’s son Dominik. It got to the point where it became almost too real where it began to cross into his child’s real-life atmosphere.
“I remember talking to one of his teachers and I know Dominik was getting harassed constantly. They were a bit concerned about the situation, about him being in the middle of a situation that was uncomfortable,” Mysterio said. “But after one of his teachers approached him and said, ‘is everyone OK at home? Are you sure, Dominik? Is there anything we can do to help?’
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“After Dom told me that, I remember approaching the teacher and telling her as you know this is all part of the entertainment business. Nothing that is happening on TV is real. So, everything is OK no worries. You don’t have to worry about anything. I think the only thing we have to worry about is when Dom misses school that he’s able to take his homework with him and do it when he’s on the road. But besides that, everything was OK.”
Years later, the Mysterios had the opportunity to perform together at WrestleMania and continue onward in WWE. The two are a part of a feud with The Judgment Day – a faction with Finn Balor, Rhea Ripley and Damian Priest. Edge, who was also part of the stable, would eventually butt-heads with Dominik Mysterio.
For Rey, it’s been “Very special” to have his son by his side.
“I never thought this moment would happen because my son never really showed interest until the age of 19. We did the storyline with him, Eddie and myself back in 2005 and I just never realized that after that storyline that he would kind of have some interest and start training because he never did,” he said of his son. “He always played football. The interest that he started to show was, again, at the age of 19. His career developed so fast.
“Moving to Tampa (Florida), training there with Jay Lethal and eventually going up to a camp with Lance Storm and just everything happened so far. Next thing you know, he was having a debut match at SummerSlam against Seth Rollins.”
The doting dad added: “The past two years that he’s been wrestling, I’ve enjoyed so much – the time sharing with him in the ring. It’s a different type of enjoyment. Now, it’s like I’ve done everything I could possibly do, plus more. I just never imagined that I would have such a long and illustrious career but now, to be able to share some of my most incredible moments with my son, wrestling next to him is very special.”
Mysterio’s episode airs at 8 p.m. ET.
He said he hoped the WWE Universe could get to know him on a “day-one level” and realize the amount of work that went into becoming the wrestling giant he is in his own right.
“You don’t know how many times I was told ‘no’ because I was too small. I’m sure that happens a lot with other kids in different sports, in life in general. But the fact that they could turn a negative into a positive is the best feeling in the world,” he said. “I truly feel like I did that throughout my whole career and look at where it’s taken me.”
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