Wrestling fans and casual viewers alike are familiar with the masked wrestler equipped with a high flying arsenal, a unique finishing move named 619, and an energetic entrance theme accompanied by different masks with each match. He’s Rey Mysterio, fearless even against the largest of foes, and with enough dedication and perseverance to go through the toughest of trials.
Those who religiously followed WWE may have noted his sudden disappearance from the wrestling giant, then reappearing in a different promotion, and a highly-publicized controversial match included his name.
How Rey Mysterio Got Started- A high-flying superstar ascends
Oscar Gutierrez was born on December 11, 1974 at the Scripps Memorial Hospital in Chula Vista, San Diego, California. His parents were Roberto Gutierrez and Maria del Rosario, and he had three brothers namely Rojelio, Roberto Jr., and Luis. Oscar’s uncle, Miguel Angel Lopez Diaz, was a luchador in Tijuana, Mexico and he performed under the name of Rey Misterio (which translates to Mystery King). Miguel worked on a construction company during the weekdays and wrestled on Friday nights, taking the young Oscar along to watch.Since his mother and grandmother were both fans of lucha libre, they had no qualms in allowing Oscar to pursue his dream career of being in the ring.
At the age of eight, his uncle trained him along with other aspiring luchadores, with Oscar being the youngest student. They held classes every Tuesday to Thursday in an old gymnasium next to the Tijuana Auditorium where wrestlers regularly performed during Fridays. Oscar met a lot of famous wrestlers like Caballero 2000, Negro Casas, Leon Chino, and La Gacela.During his high school years Oscar worked for his brother Rojelio’s pizza restaurant named Godfather’s Pizza, and eventually his mother worked there as well. Oscar folded pizza boxes and bussed tables after school and on the weekends, while his mother set up the salad bar. It was during his work there where he had his first glimpse of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Oscar watched a replay of the WWF’s program “Saturday Night’s Main Event” and was impressed by Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ use of a live python to psych his opponents. Aside from that he also watched Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) , the Mexican equivalent of WWF and where the biggest names in the industry performed. Oscar dreamed of standing in the ring in Mexico City under CMLL which pushed him to give his best during the training sessions, even if he was unable to join the high school wrestling team because of his busy life balancing school, his job, and his training. Eventually he was required to take a licensing test in order to wrestle, which he passed with flying colors. His first ring name was “La Lagartija Verde” or The Green Lizard, and then made his professional debut into the world of lucha libre as “Colibri” or hummingbird. His first feud was against Psicosis, a luchador who was also trained by Oscar’s uncle. It was also during his time as Colibri when he was given the “Most Improved Wrestler” award in Mexico.
At the age of 18, Oscar was finally allowed by his uncle to use “Rey Misterio Jr.” as a ring name, in accordance to the Mexican wrestling tradition of taking a form of the name of the wrestler’s father or uncle as a show of honor and respect. He then signed up with the Asistencia Asesoria y Administracion (AAA) lucha libre promotion and feuded with Juventud Guerrera, and even fought alongside his uncle in a tag team match versus Juventud Guerrera and his father Fuerza Guerrera.
In November 1994, Rey Misterio Jr. was one of the wrestlers who performed in When Worlds Collide, a pay-per-view made possible by the collaboration of AAA and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Viewers in the United States watched as Rey Misterio Jr. teamed up with Heavy Metal and Latin Lover to take on the trio of Fuerza Guerrera, Madonna’s Boyfriend, and Psicosis. The match was ranked four out of five stars by many critics, and the pay-per-view regarded by many as one of the critically acclaimed shows in the history of wrestling.
In 1995 Rey Misterio Jr. signed up for Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and debuted in the pay-per-view Gangstas Paradise where he defeated Psicosis, who was also new to the ECW. Their rivalry turned into a long-term feud, and eventually Juventud Guerrera would sign up for ECW and feud with Misterio Jr.
Rey Misterio Jr. debuted at The Great American Bash pay-per-view of WCW on June 16, 1996. He challenged Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko for the title but failed to win the belt. He would again encounter and defeat Psicosis on the next pay-per-view event, Bash at the Beach, to determine who will get a shot at the Cruiserweight title. The following night, during WCW Monday Nitro, Misterio Jr. successfully defeated Malenko and earned his first title of Cruiserweight Champion.
For three months Misterio held the title and defended it against other wrestlers until he lost it again to Malenko during the pay-per-view Halloween Havoc. He won and lost the Cruiserweight title until the third title shot where he beat Juventud for the title but lost it to Chris Jericho nine days later at the pay-per-view Souled Out. Jericho then used a toolbox to beat Misterio Jr. as part of an injury storyline to put the masked wrestler out of action for a while (as he needed a knee operation). Misterio Jr. returned six months later and defeated Chris Jericho for a fourth title reign, but immediately lost it the following night due to a reversal of the match result. Misterio Jr. locked horns with real-life friend Eddie Guerrero as the latter forced him to join the stable Latino World Order (LWO), the Mexican counterpart of the New World Order. In this feud he again encountered rivals Juventud and Psicosis, and a new ally and later foe in Billy Kidman.After the reformation of the New World Order (nWo), the stable demanded the end of the LWO. Misterio Jr. refused to yield, resulting in a vicious attack by the nWo and a “Hair vs. Mask” tag team match at the SuperBrawl IX pay-per-view.
Misterio Jr. and his partner Konnan lost the match against the pair of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, and the stipulation robbed Misterio Jr. of his mask. He publicly expressed his disappointment over the decision and contacted his uncle about it with a heavy heart.
The stipulation also offended the lucha libre community which persisted until the closure of WCW.He was then dubbed as a “giant killer” for defeating foes twice his size. Despite his topnotch performance, Misterio Jr. was denied a push as Eric Bischoff (the president of WCW) did not prefer cruiserweight wrestlers. The luchador was vocal with his disdain regarding this.After the WCW folded, Rey Misterio Jr. took time off from television and wrestled independently in Mexico. He was contacted by the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in 2002, and he again donned the mask despite the backlash of lucha libre fans back in Mexico as it was a violation of tradition.
He was allowed to wear the mask again by the lucha libre organizations as he didn’t lose it in a “Mask vs. Mask” match.Dropping the Jr. from his name and changing the spelling, Rey Mysterio debuted on SmackDown! on July 25, 2002. The fans loved him and his high-flying antics, and he feuded with Chavo Guerrero Jr., (Eddie Guerrero’s nephew), Olympic medalist Kurt Angle, and the Big Show. He again won and lost the Cruiserweight gold and the Tag Team Championship on several feuds. ......In our next article we talk about his gretatest next win as well as what he is doing now.