A look beneath the mask of Rey Mysterio before his Hall of Fame induction

Rey Mysterio is slapped by his son Dominik during one of the most compelling WrestleMania story lines.

Rey Mysterio is headlining the 2023 class of the WWE Hall of Fame on Friday, yet he is also in one of the premier matches at WrestleMania on Saturday or Sunday. It’s like inducting Mike Trout into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year. How is this possible?

“I found out I was going into the Hall of Fame not too long before the whole world found out,” Mysterio told The Los Angeles Times. “And the reason from my understanding was, this is the closest we are to San Diego and Tijuana, two of the cities that witnessed my birth in real life, and witnessed my wrestling birth as well.”

The induction makes even more sense when you consider that Mysterio, real name Óscar Gutiérrez, started wrestling in 1989 when he was 14. Now at 48, he remains one of the most popular wrestlers in WWE history with replicas of his many masks being top sellers at arenas where they are on sale.


While Mysterio’s in-ring skills are beyond reproach, it is his mask that has become his trademark. Whether it is superhero themed (Spider-Man, Iron Man), villain themed (Joker) or one of his own design, the mask immediately draws the attention of first-time viewers. But the mask has special significance to Mysterio because of how it ties into lucha libre tradition and his uncle, who wrestled as Rey Misterio.

“In the early 1930s, the mask was introduced into Mexico,” Mysterio said, “It has a connection between the Mayans and the Aztecs, their wardrobe and the rituals with the painting of their faces. It easily fit into the episodic world of lucha libre as well. Many Hispanics hate to admit it, but the first person to wear a mask in Mexico was an American, but it quickly became part of our culture.”

But it wasn’t an American who sold him on wrestling.

“I grew up watching lucha libre and I grew up watching my uncle,” Mysterio said. “I would see him and play with him when I was a kid. But then when I would go to see him wrestle, he would pull up in his car, and almost like a superhero, before he walked out, he would put on his mask. He would get out, I would help carry his bag. And then the kids would see him. They would line up for an autograph and I was like, ‘Wow, what is this?’ ”

It’s easy to see how the young Rey, who was Óscar back then, could be drawn into the, at times, larger-than-life spectacle of lucha Libre.

“When he would walk into the arena, I would not see him because he would be up in the locker rooms and then I would see him come out for his match,” Mysterio said. “And the crowd would go wild. And witnessing something very spectacular, filled with colorful outfits, capes and masks. So I wanted to be a part of this world right away. And the mask was one of the main reasons.”


Mysterio began wrestling as La Lagartija Verde (the Green Lizard) and Colibri in Southern California in 1989 and was electric in the ring with his high-flying moves even though he was just 14. When the lucha libre AAA Worldwide promotion began in Mexico City in 1992, fellow pro wrestler Konnan suggested Mysterio be one of the first hires. Konnan will be introducing Mysterio at Friday’s Hall of Fame ceremony.

“Knowing that we are surrounded by a large Hispanic community in L.A., and Konnan is responsible for the majority of my success, it was an easy choice,” Mysterio said. “Konnan is responsible for opening up many doors for me in my career. I’ve known him since I was 12 years old. And when he became a huge superstar in Mexico, he then called me over and said, ‘We’re starting up a new wrestling company. And here’s your big opportunity to kick off your wrestling career.’

“And I remember telling him, ‘I can’t leave. I was in 11th grade at the time. I had a part time job at a pizza restaurant. And my girlfriend, who is now my wife, we were dating. I told him that I couldn’t go and he said, ‘Do you want to make pizzas for the rest of your life?’ And I did tell him about school and wrestling. He says, ‘So you end up graduating from high school then wrestling locally? Anyway, if your girlfriend loves you, she’ll wait for you. And you’ll get married.’ All of those things were right.”

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March 30, 2023

In 1994, when AAA held a pay-per-view event “When Worlds Collide,” he was noticed by Paul Heyman, the promoter of the Philadelphia-based Extreme Championship Wrestling. Heyman quickly signed him, where he was quickly stolen away by World Championship Wrestling. When that company went out of business, he made a brief return to Mexico and in 2002 came to WWE, where he has won 24 championships.

Just before the pandemic, it seemed as if Mysterio’s career was winding down. Then, WWE signed his son, Dominik, and it has rejuvenated his career. First they were aligned as a tag team before Dom turned on his father and joined the “Judgment Day” stable of wrestlers. Dom began berating and shoving his father every week, demanding he wrestle him. After weeks of fans practically begging Rey to retaliate, he finally did last week during SmackDown, leading to one of the loudest fan reactions in recent history.

But even though the two are feuding in the story line, Rey Mysterio is proud to see his son grow as a wrestler.


“The best thing that could have happened to my son was him detaching from his father,” Mysterio said. “Because now he’s becoming his own identity. And, you know, as parents, we tend to have a hard time letting go, because we always want help. We always want to make sure they take the right steps. But we have to let them grow. ... I could not be happier for him.

“I think this story line between my son and I is very relatable with a lot of parents out there who are struggling with their kids who are hanging out with the wrong people.”

Fans want it settled this weekend at WrestleMania when Rey Mysterio steps into the ring as something different: A Hall of Famer. And you have to wonder, what kind of mask will he come up with for that?