This past Tuesday night, wrestling fans experienced yet another case of deja vu. In the midst of a SmackDown main event, the live crowd was audibly rooting Rey Mysterio to his feet. They’d just witnessed a Randy Orton heat segment, but it was now time for Mysterio to fight back again, making a comeback filled with a fire and creativity that’s become unmistakable over the last few decades. Believe it or not though, this wasn't a replay and in fact, it wasn't even just a nostalgia play. Instead, this was simply timeless pro wrestling between two irreplaceable stars.
For Mysterio especially though, this wasn't even anything new. After just over a month back on the WWE’s main roster, Rey hasn't missed a beat, almost comically slotting back in and thriving along the way. While I understand the critique that no one feels special within the current WWE landscape, in this case that feels like a credit to Mysterio, looking at home among SmackDown’s stacked in-ring line-up and immediately finding comfort at the top of the card. Even if it’s not been overly dramatic or grand, Rey is just back and frankly, the product is better for it.
However, the perception hasn't always been this way. Mysterio’s body of work is undeniable but familiarity breeds contempt and unfortunately, that became clear in the final years of Rey’s initial WWE stint. Years of injuries had dampened Rey’s main roster standing, and things would come to a disheartening head at the 2014 Royal Rumble. Acting as the match’s 30th entrant, Mysterio would be the recipient of nothing but boos, withstanding the audience’s disappointment at Daniel Bryan’s absence. While the reason was apparent, it had been a stunning fall for Rey, a once beloved figure that had resonated with fans in uniquely unanimous fashion.
However, it wasn't really an indictment of Mysterio’s talent but instead, just the result of a range of factors that sadly, had lessened his impact and appeal. Rey’s WWE career would soon come to an end, though he’d only officially leave in February 2015. As a free agent for the first time in over a decade, Rey would appear in a handful of promotions (most prominently Lucha Underground) as with each passing month, a potential WWE return became more discussed. Familiarity may indeed breed contempt but in the same way, absence makes the heart grow fonder and with Mysterio, that couldn't be more obvious.
No longer overexposed on a global scale, Rey’s prior heights were granted a fresh appreciation, with hindsight allowing his stock to steadily rise. It only took a moment of distance to realize that in truth, Mysterio is one of the industry’s all-time greats, an iconic hero that stands out regardless of era or generation. Thankfully though, that performer wasn't yet a thing of the past. In a quite fitting moment of validation, Rey returned to WWE as a Royal Rumble entrant. This time though, he was rightly greeted with immense respect, love and support.
In a somewhat brief showing, Mysterio proved that there’s still brilliance left in him and in doing so, laid the groundwork for a suddenly inevitable full-time return. After a few months of speculation, the next steps would come to fruition too, with Rey appearing in the infamous Greatest Royal Rumble before being announced as a pre-order bonus character for WWE 2K19 also. At that point it was quite obviously just a matter of time and at SmackDown 1000, Mysterio returned to full-time competition, defeating Shinsuke Nakamura in a match that rather effectively spotlighted his role going forward.
A potential ‘dream match’ component, Rey is great enough to still entertain the live crowd while also injecting some necessary star power simply due to his reputation and stature. This is a legend that thus far, isn’t really being treated like one. I mean that as a positive too, this isn’t a former champion that’s only seen on the year’s marquee events but instead, Mysterio is currently just a main event player for the blue brand, so far appearing and wrestling regularly. It’s been an immediate success also, with Rey proving a tremendous fit and refreshing the product in doing so.
It’s still early days of course, Mysterio’s return run has really just begun but nonetheless, I’m thankful for it. Watching Rey perform so energetically has been a treat and more importantly, this stint will hopefully allow Mysterio’s work to reach a whole new generation of fans. In his four year absence, lots has changed within WWE but so far, Rey’s return could convince you otherwise. In absurdly seamless fashion, Rey has been totally at home, reminding wrestling fans young and old of his greatness. This is a very special performer and after almost 30 years, his longevity proves it.
When it comes to wrestling’s finest heroes, Rey Mysterio stands at the top of the class and you don’t have to take my word for it either, instead just listen closely whenever you next get the pleasure of watching him perform. The crowd’s admiration and adoration speaks for itself and frankly, that’s been the case for decades now. This run, well really it’s just the final touches on a genius’ immense body of work. Considering that, I’d suggest we enjoy it, because it seems that the man himself is doing just that.