Q&A with Rey Mysterio
I conducted a phone interview yesterday with Rey Mysterio, who will be one of 30 participants competing in the Royal Rumble match at Sunday’s WWE pay-per-view.
You’ve had some serious injuries in recent years, including multiple surgeries to repair your knee and biceps. How are you holding up physically at this point?
I feel like I need a tuneup (laughs). Before I had my biceps surgery, it was my knee. I would wake up limping every morning. Now, I wake up stiff from my right arm. If it’s not one thing it’s the other, but we’re still here pushing strong, man.
I know that you got into the business when you were about 14 or 15, so you're probably used to being one of the younger guys in the locker room. But now you’re one of the veterans. Do you see yourself as a mentor or teacher?
Yeah, and not so much because I want to establish it, but because the locker room gives me the opportunity to lead by example, to be a role model if you will. The new guys coming in, the up-and-coming superstars, stop me for a second and ask me certain things, so that’s when it kicks in and I realize, OK, I have been around for almost 20 years now, so it’s time to give advice and help out with the younger stars.
Guys such as yourself, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero were stealing the show on the undercard in WCW during a time when it looked like guys your size and style would never make it to the very top. Did you think it would ever be possible to achieve what all of you have?
I think in the back of our minds we knew there was an opportunity for us waiting, we just didn’t know where it was at or when it was going to happen. I think when Jericho made that first move and jumped over to WWE, he opened up the door for all of us, man. And right behind came Eddie and Dean Malenko, and then after that, they pretty much opened up the door for myself.
With the Royal Rumble coming up Sunday, I wanted to ask you about the one that you won in 2006. You were in the midst of the biggest push of your career – winning the Rumble and then going on to win the world title at WresteMania. But your close friend Eddie Guerrero had just died a couple months prior to the Rumble. What was it like from an emotional standpoint to be getting the big push at the same time you were mourning for Eddie, who, in the story line, was your inspiration?
It was a lot to carry, man. Eddie passed away in November, and the Rumble was in January. We had just finished up with a big bang with that whole story line with my son and my wife and Vickie, so it was very emotional. We had not gotten over the fact that Eddie had just left us. And then we had the story line of every time that I wrestled it would be for Eddie. That kind of gave me an inner strength and helped me push through on a daily basis every time I stepped into the ring. In addition to the fact that Eddie had left us, there was a big spot that he left for me to handle and take care of, which was the whole Latin community. There were only two Latin representatives at the time – Eddie and myself – and he left that spot sitting there. It was like he said, “Rey, you’ve got to take this and run with it.” So, there were so many things that I had to think of and process and cherish. It hurt a lot, but at the same time, I pushed through it and I believe Eddie was there every step of the way.
You mentioned Vickie. I know that you have known her for years. Are you surprised at how well she is pulling off her role on Smackdown?
Incredibly surprised. This is a Vickie that was very, very hidden deep down inside of her. Then again, I should say I’m not surprised because of the man she was married to. She’s done an incredible job.
You’ve had some good matches against Evan Bourne and also with him as a partner. What are your impressions of him?
He’s a great competitor. As far as an up-and-coming superstar, he’s definitely got it. I think he’s in the same boat as when I was trying out for WCW. There are guys that tell you, “You’ve got to take it easy, man. You can’t be doing all that crazy stuff. Pick out your high-flying moves; don’t do all of them at once.” And back then I would go, “Yeah, sure, thank you.” But then I’d turn around and say, “Hell no. I’m going to do everything I can. That’s the way I wrestle; that’s the way I do it.” Well, now I’ve learned my lesson. After five knee surgeries and three biceps surgeries, I’m like, “Man, I should have listened to them.” But when you’re hungry and you want to be successful and you were raised a certain way, it doesn’t matter who tells you to slow down. Sometimes you just have to learn the hard way, and that’s by getting injured. Evan Bourne is just like me. Hopefully, he can pick out his offensive moves, because he’s got so many and he’s so incredible to watch. I just hope he takes the advice of all of us who have been around a little bit longer and he can tone it down. That way he can last a lot longer.
You’ve worked against some big guys lately, such as Mike Knox, JBL and Kane, and they matches have all been believable and entertaining despite the size difference. Talk about the difference in your approach when you’re wrestling a big man such as Knox as opposed to a cruiserweight like Bourne.
With an Evan Bourne, you know it’s going to be a buildup match with somewhat nonstop action. With a bigger guy, it’s hard to keep that nonstop action going. It’s more chop, chop, chop the tree down – see how many times it’s going to take you to hit that tree for it to come down. That’s the type of psychology I go in there with. I have to work from the legs all the way up and kind of build my way up to the top of the head. There a lot of opportunities for myself to do high-flying maneuvers also, because there’s such a bigger target for me to take down. In a way it’s easy, but then again it’s hard.
Have you ever had an experience when a bigger guy didn’t want to sell for you?
No, I believe I haven’t. I’ve never had any prima donna attitude against me. It’s always been very respectful.
What are your thoughts on Sunday’s Royal Rumble?
I’m definitely looking forward to the Rumble match. I wasn’t in it the past two years. I won in 2006. In 2007, I was injured, and in 2008 I wrestled Edge. I’m very much looking forward to being in there again. Besides that, we have the John Cena versus JBL match, and I think that’s going to be a very interesting match. I want to see what’s going to happen with Shawn Michaels, if he’s being asked to interfere during that match or not. I want to see what he would do. And we also have Jeff Hardy wrestling Edge on the card.
With nearly 20 years in the business now and the injuries having piled up, have you given any thought to how many more years you want to wrestle and life after wrestling?
That is a really good question. I definitely don’t want to continue wrestling if I don’t have to. I don’t want to be the kind of wrestler that has to do it because he needs the money. I’m at the point right now that I’m doing it because I still enjoy it. But I don’t know, maybe in a year from now my passion might be gone, and I might lean more toward my family. I really can’t make a prediction right now, but what I can tell you is that I still have a lot of passion for this business. I always said when I was younger that I want to wrestle until I’m 40 or even in the 50s as long as I can still keep doing the same style of wrestling that I do. I wish I could predict if I could still go at the age of 40. I do feel beat up. I do have a lot of injuries that I’m carrying with me every time I step into the ring, but I think only God can judge at this point.