Among the most popular professional wrestlers in history, the masked legend is appearing in Season 2 of the buzzworthy series that airs Wednesdays at 8/7CT on El Rey Network. When Mysterio left WWE it almost became a matter of when, not if, he would show up in the Temple.
“Once I had complete release from WWE, then we really started to think of a game plan,” he said.
“We didn’t know whether it was going to be the end of season one or the beginning of season two. It took a little bit of time to manage that just because they wanted to make sure everything was legit, and I owned my name, the rights to my name and all of that. I think this was a big part of being able to branch out and start to create merchandise.”
Before a return to a more active schedule, it was important for Mysterio to take a break and not be on the road as much. It also doesn’t hurt Lucha Underground tapes in Boyle Heights, Calif., not relatively too far from his home in San Diego.
From the first time he stepped foot backstage, the veteran soaked up the energy and got caught up in the atmosphere of the venue.
“It’s a vibe there that is incredible,” he said.
“My first appearance there nobody knew I was coming. It didn’t leak out. They wanted to keep it very secretive. We did a match, and I was the second wrestler to come out. When Melissa Santos announced my name and said from San Diego, California. When she said Rey Mysterio, I kid you not, as small as that Temple is it felt like there were 50,000 people in there. The rumble was incredible. The intensity, the emotion, it put everything in perspective. If you think about it I was with WWE for 14 years, and besides that, I’ve always belonged to a certain company.
“I was part of WCW before it closed down and then went to WWE. I never really worked the independent circuit in the United States. I did for a very short time. But as far as me branching out to another company, the fans were waiting for me to pop up on Lucha Underground. The relationship between the style and how I was raised in the sport, putting those two together was a perfect match.”
Mysterio is known worldwide for his innovative aerial assault and electrifying presentation. He is always looking to reinvent himself. The platform of Lucha Underground is giving him the opportunity to do so once again.
“I don’t like to be stale and always bring the same thing to the table,” he said.
“I like to change up the brand of Rey Mysterio. I think this stage of my career is a pretty cool phase. I’m more of a mentor now. I see what all the young talent of Lucha Underground has to offer. In a way, I kind of paved that road for these guys to be there one day. It is years after and it’s happening for them, and I’m a part of it. This Rey Mysterio is more in a mentor state of mind. I bring guidance. I’m more of an OG.”
Mysterio was a trailblazer within the industry during the 1990s and into the new millennium. He showed size didn’t always matter in a business filled with giants, as long as you could entertain crowds, bring something worthwhile to the table and make fans believe in your abilities. Mysterio was part of a core group of talent including the late Eddie Guerrero that bucked the trend and changed the perception of what your stereotypical WWE world champion looked like. Working with some new faces in Lucha Underground is giving Mysterio a chance to challenge himself once again.
“I felt like I needed to catch up and go to my 20’s because these guys are so competitive,’ he said.
“Their style is so unique and aerial. I’m looking at them in the ring. Before I actually stepped in the ring with them, just seeing them from the outside as a fan, they were awesome. The evolution of wrestling was right there in front of my eyes. It’s totally different now with me against them in the ring or teaming up with them. The stuff they do now is incredible. It blows my mind. I’ve seen crazy high-flying moves throughout my entire career, but the stuff that is being displayed now is quite a hybrid. It’s off the charts.”
Mysterio is impressed with many on the roster, naming Prince Puma and Brian Cage specifically. However, the 41-year-old feels a deep-rooted connection to a fellow luchador.
“I actually see a lot of me in Fenix,” he said.
“I’ve actually had the opportunity to be in the ring with him. Crazy story with him is back maybe 10 years ago I went to do an autograph signing down in Mexico City. He was just a kid, maybe a teenager. The place was so crowded that it got out of control. Security couldn’t control the fans. It was just overwhelming the amount of people that came out for this signing at a mall. So I didn’t get to sign for him that day.
“He didn’t get a chance to meet me. He was just a kid so he was crying. He told me that story after I met him. He said, ‘I went to go see you that day and couldn’t get your signature. I was really sad.’ In a way I was an inspiration to him to become a wrestler. So to be able to compete with him side-by-side now, that’s very motivating to have somebody like that. His style is so unique, but I see a lot of myself in him.”
Another Mysterio finds parallels with is WWE’s own Kalisto, who is making waves as the company’s United States champion. He hopes he gets the opportunity to realize his potential.
“I’ve always said there is not going to be another Rey Mysterio,” Mysterio said.
It’s just like you won’t find another Shawn Michaels or Eddie Guerrero. There is always only one. Kalisto will eventually create his own fan base and become himself. He is already starting to do that and doing a great job. I think he is definitely the next one to eventually take over with that character and that gimmick with the mask.
“There is no need for jealously, for regrets. If anything, in my case, I’m very happy for him to get the chance to succeed and could eventually become world champion. I think that’s the number one priority on the list. Right now he is United States champion and working against a good person to guide him. At one time it was me there, and Alberto Del Rio was just coming in. We just kind of pass the torch on to each other. Now he is doing it for him. That is how this industry works, especially among Latinos. There are very few, so we got to make sure we can stretch out that lending hand.”
With season two in full swing, Mysterio is ecstatic about the possibilities the show creates. He feels Lucha Underground provides more time to perfect a role and develop characters. The environment allows performers to let themselves go and fall into the world they are in.
“I truly feel blessed that I was given the opportunities I have been given, and I was there at the right moment and right time,” Mysterio said.
“When I have the time to sit back and think about what I accomplished in my career, I did things I didn’t think I was even capable of doing. Not just for myself, but for the generation to come.
“….The storyline this season of Lucha Underground just evolves with Dario Cueto not being in charge, but then things start to turn around. There is new talent that shows up for the second season. I’m actually mentoring one of the big names on that roster. The way everything is filmed and positioned makes it more than just a television based show. It’s a wrestling TV movie/show. It’s incredible. I was very impressed watching the talent perform, but then I saw the finished footage. It blew my mind.
- Mysterio has helped design an official “Booyaka” tee with his license, which is for sale for a limited time. A portion of the proceeds support the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, whose mission is to make sure that every animal they rescue is given a second chance at a happy life. For more information, visit https://represent.com/mysterio.
- Lucha Underground was just green lit for a third season in 2017.
- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.
Photos Courtesy: Lucha Underground/El Rey Network