In November 1994, a young wrestler named Rey Mysterio Jr. was introduced to audiences in the United States at When Worlds Collide, a collaborative pay-per-view between Mexico’s AAA organization and World Championship Wrestling. At the time, Chris Cruise, one of the broadcasters, proclaimed that Mysterio represented the future of Mexican wrestling. Little did he know that the man in the mask would actually become the future of wrestling worldwide.
Twenty-one years later, Rey Mysterio’s resume rivals any luchador of record. After AAA, he came to the United States as part of ECW. From there he moved to WCW, where he highlighted the cruiserweight division, and helped revolutionize the product with his high-flying style. He then moved to WWE, where he rose through the ranks, finally becoming World Heavyweight Champion. Now, he’s set to main-event Triplemania XXIII, AAA’s promotion’s first PPV shown in America since When Worlds Collide. As he prepares for his comeback match, Rolling Stone spoke with Mysterio about his humble beginnings, dealing with triumph and tragedy, making it to the top of WWE and where he sees himself now.
Triplemania XXIII will be the first AAA pay-per-view shown in America since your breakout at When Worlds Collide more than 20 years ago. Does it feel like your career has come full circle?
It does. It almost feels surreal. It’s something that I would imagine AAA would have always wanted, and now that it’s taking place, I haven’t been able to talk to the rest of the locker room about it, but I’m extremely excited. This is a very big step to promoting AAA worldwide.
What are your memories of When Worlds Collide, as that was the event that really brought the lucha style to America for the first time?
I go back to that event and being so pumped. I knew there were going to be cameras, and that I would be able to display my style of wrestling to fans that had never seen it before. I was 19 years old, and how many kids at 19 get a chance to do what they love to do? At the time, I had no clue that it would be a big opening for me to take a bigger step in my career, to go to ECW and WCW.
That event, critically at least, was a huge success. Why do you think it’s taken 21 years for AAA to have another event broadcast in America?
You have to remember that when that event occurred, AAA was riding a wave of success. They had just started the promotion two years earlier. They had all the top stars in Mexico. Many of the guys from CMLL had jumped over, like Konnan and Octagón. It was the company to watch. After When Worlds Collide, that might have been the avenue to open the doors for many of the talents to move further in their careers. Konnan, Psicosis, La Parka, Juventud [Guerrera], myself – we got an opportunity to be part of ECW and then WCW. AAA lost a lot of their stars, and they had to create new stars again. Their main focus was, “Where do we go now?” They couldn’t focus on expanding more in North America, they had to reset and create new stars again. That was one of the steps that threw them back instead of moving them forward.
Do you think Triplemania is the next step in reestablishing AAA?
I do. You have to take into consideration that over the past 18 months, AAA has been able to sign three of the top free agents out there. Alberto El Patron, Myzteziz and myself. With all the exposure that we have coming from WWE, our names brought something extraordinary to AAA.
I know you’ve already worked a few events for them, but what’s it like coming back to AAA after so many years working in the U.S.?
I always think to myself that if I was able to transition from lucha libre style to American style, then I can always go back. You never lose your roots. It’s going to take some time, but I can adapt very well. That’s something that God has blessed me with. I see the talent, the roster that AAA has. Wrestling has really evolved in the past 15-20 years. It’s still the same concept though. You’re trying to innovate and outdo your partner, or your opponent. In my case, I’m trying to outdo myself. I remember what I did in my early days, and I’m trying to outdo what I can do. At this point in my career, I think people will be excited to see Rey Mysterio, and what he’s done in his career. But I can still go. I feel great health-wise, so if I can bless them with another couple years of wrestling, then why not? I’ve always wanted to go back to my roots one day. It happened now, so I’m taking advantage of it.