In the long history of pro wrestling, there have been few prodigies on par with Rey Misterio Jr. Before he even hit the age of 21, he had already worked in Mexico for AAA (Asistencia Asesoría y Administración), in Japan both as part of the Super J-Cup and on the occasional tour with WAR (Wrestle and Romance) and New Japan Pro Wrestling, and in America with ECW and WCW. That’s a run. But he did all of that in the mid-1990’s, when there was much more of a depth of opportunities for unknown luchadores to make a name for themselves. The question is this: What would Rey Misterio Jr. have become if he was coming up now? If he was the aerial phenomenon that he was from 1991 to 1997 from 2006 to 2012, how would his life, career, and the way we view him change? Would it even?
Firstly, before we go any further, let’s explain to you hardcore devotees of “sports-entertainment” exactly what watching a young and prime Rey Misterio Jr. was actually like. Here watch these 2 videos:
Now imagine if, in the height of the internet era, if a guy like that suddenly appeared on television and YouTube, if his best work could be easily found? How would his career have changed?
Now when I did this exercise I was assuming facts in evidence, namely that Rey would have the benefit of his touring partners Psychosis and Juventud Guerrera around to help him get over during his travels. However, I can only take the alternative universe theory so far. Therefore, he doesn’t have Eddie Guerrero or Dean Malenko, 2 of his most well-known rivals. So where does he start? Where does this era’s Rey Misterio Jr. go to get his career started outside of Mexico, keeping in mind that he’s not going to get a realistic chance in the WWE without getting on a massive drug regimen that would put bodybuilders to shame?
Easy. He goes Here.
Not just because it’s an easier trip for him to Los Angeles than traveling to Philadelphia for ECW would have been, but also because frankly, outside of Chikara, PWG would be the most welcoming of the Lucha style. Also, imagine Rey Misterio Jr. in his athletic prime, reeling off hurricanranas like they’re nothing, against El Generico, Roderick Strong, or PAC in the spotfest to end all spotfests? It’d be all kinds of fun. Him playing his underdog role against Kevin Steen? Even more fun. But I'm not stupid. I know that bookings in PWG aren’t going to be nearly enough to break him out in the same manner that he was breaking out when he was in Japan. So how do we get him to be noticed, to be hyped, and to have Vince Russo stupidly want to hire him and then have him lose to a WWF reject in 90 seconds? Easy. We’re sending him into the hotbed of indy wrestling on the northeast.
Now what I would love is to be able to say that I'm sending him to Ring of Honor, which is the unquestioned #3 behind the two big-box American wrestling companies. But I can’t. Simply put, Ring of Honor has always had a problem with Lucha Libre. I'm not sure why this is the case. But it is. Some people have debated that the reason for this was due to ROH’s stand as the SRSBZNESS~! Indy whose fans would never accept anything less than American Strong Style. Maybe it’s that, from their very beginning, they patterned themselves as a puroresu-styled promotion and thus had no desire to delve into Lucha save when it melded with puroresu (this proven by the fact that they brought in Dick Togo as soon as they could, and yet it took them until a show in 2009 to think that bringing in luchadores was a good idea.) Some people even point to a terrible match Konnan had with Ghost Shadow on one of their first shows that led to Gabe Sapolsky vowing he’d never book lucha again. Whatever the reason here is the truth: ROH is not lucha-friendly. So They are out. Chikara, though, is in.
Now we have the fun part. Rey Misterio Jr. in his athletic prime against the likes of Hallowicked, Ultramantis Black, Mike Quackenbush, and Eddie Kingston. Buys~!
But again as we have learned the USA isn’t enough to make a guy a huge deal. You need to go over to Japan, sort of the holy grail for internet wrestling fans. But where to send a guy who so heavily is lucha, during a time where Michinoku Pro (which is where I originally planned on sending him) isn’t nearly the place that it was during its peak. Where is he going then?
Now, here we get to see him work different opponents. Teaming with Dragon Kid in a “Masters of the Hurricanrana” tag team, facing Masato Yoshino in a blinding super-fast thing, or even being the ultimate tecnico against the gleefully smirking CIMA. It’s a great career.
In conclusion, feel kind of bad that Rey Misterio Jr. was forced to go to WWE, become a bloated shell of what he was world-famous for, and generally be there to pop the kids and do a stale offense while the WWE tells you how daring he is. But remember what he was. Remember how cool he seemed.