Over the next few days, you are going to start seeing a bunch of headlines about how the top star in Mexico has signed with the WWE. As of my writing this, there is speculation and talk about how he could pop up at the Royal Rumble tonight (he won't). The truth is, that most of the wrestling dirst sheets and websites do not know dick about lucha, and probably know even less about Mistico.
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Over the last few days, discussion turned to how Mistico had not popped up on any CMLL cards in Mexico since January 18th. With the amount of shows in Mexico on a weekly basis, this was significant. With build up to a major show underway, it made even less sense - so there was rampant speculation about what exactly was going on in CMLL.
Word leaked today when SuperLuchas, a major wrestling publication, revealed this week's cover:
To the non-lucha fans reading this, here is a short explanation of who Mistico is.
Mistico is arguably the top drawing wrestler in Mexico. Even if you may consider a different wrestler (such as Dr. Wagner Jr. or LA Park) the top draw, there is little room to argue that Mistico is the wrestler whom CMLL has been built around. He is to CMLL what Hulk Hogan was to the 1980s WWF, or what Ric Flair was to Jim Crockett's NWA. He is CMLL's John Cena. He is the wrestler that CMLL is built around.
Mistico is related to some of the people who run the CMLL office, but he is a spectacular wrestler without a doubt. Having wrestled under other gimmicks when a rookie, Mistico broke out in 2004 when he was repackaged as a wrestling orphan who had been taken off the streets and trained by the legitimate wrestling priest Fray Tormenta. With his amazing high-flying arsenal, Mistico became amazingly popular, and was put over the top when he began teaming with Hijo del Santo as a protege of sorts. By mid-2005, CMLL was doing huge business with Mistico at the top of the cards.
By 2006, Mistico was racking up important mask wins, and was the top drawing card in Mexico without a doubt. In fact, by the end of 2007, other top draws were departing CMLL, unable to escape from Mistico's shadow, and seeking more money. These wrestlers included Wagner, Park, Perro Aguayo Jr., and Santo. CMLL was going to ride the Mistico train for all it was worth.
Reality came crashing home as 2008 approached, with Mistico sneaking away from CMLL for a tryout with the WWE. While it made a bit of news in Mexico, no one really paid much attention in the US, and CMLL made sure to let everyone know that Mistico was under contract. But, over the course of the next few years, a few things happened.
A top star from CMLL, Dos Caras Jr. and his cousin Sicodelico Jr. signed with the WWE (although at different times). A few other luchadors did as well (Neutron, Incognito). WWE continued to have the reputation for having an interest in Mexican wrestlers, but not actually doing anything with them. Some of the reasons brought up time after time were that the Mexicans were not tall enough, or having the thick muscles that the WWE wanted. The language barrier was often a problem, as the WWE wants wrestlers who can clearly speak English.
But, a funny thing happened. Dos Caras Jr. became a breakout star for the WWE (without his mask) as Alberto Del Rio. Supposedly, Del Rio's success convinced Mistico that he made a mistake not signing with the WWE in 2007. A mistake that he has apparently corrected in the past week.
This sucks. I could write pages about why this sucks, but I will try to keep it short.
For one, it shows the power of the WWE "mystique". While Mistico was surely not getting the type of money that a top WWE star would get, he was a top star in one of the biggest wrestling promotions in the world. He threw away that money for a developmental contract. Mistico will be going to developmental and making peanuts, just like every indy wrestler that the WWE signs. He will have no guarantee of being a star, and his future now depends not only on his talent and health, but what a Hollywood script-writer can come up with for him to do. And, his ability to learn English.
In many ways, to me, this is like when Ric Flair showed up in the WWF back in the early 1990s. While I thought it was cool to see Flair in the WWF, at the same time it didn't feel right. Sure, I was finally going to see Flair but Hogan in his place (which didn't happen), but it didn't seem the same as seeing the Horsemen run rampant thru the NWA. Even if Mistico becomes a top WWE star and is going at it with John Cena and ..... whomever else wrestles in the WWE, to me it just will not be the same as Mistico and Averno ripping each others masks apart in Arena Mexico.
It also shows how little opportunity there really is to break into the WWE. With WWE having put all of their competition out of business, there is nowhere for them to go get seasoned main event talent. So, they go and pluck it away from Mexico. It seriously says something about the finances behind this business that WWE could pluck away the top star of CMLL for a developmental deal. This is one of the reasons that I hate the WWE - they are like the New York Yankees of wrestling. They are willing to go out and make promises and spend the money to get whomever they want, on a whim. And because of the "mystique" behind the name, everyone has the goal of going there. Comedian Doug Stanhope sums it up best: cheering for the Yankees is like cheering for the casino in Las Vegas. With billions of dollars behind it, cheering for the WWE and being excited about the WWE signing a new star is the same thing. When WWE goes toe-to-toe with TNA on Mondays, of course TNA is going to win - they are supposed to. When times get tough in Ring of Honor, of course the top stars are going to sign with the WWE - that is where the money is. When WWE decides to run around a dozen house shows in Mexico every year, of course they are going to go sign the top star in Mexico. It is the same thing as the Yankees signing the hotest free agent every year to a $100million deal. Being excited about Mistico being in the WWE is just like going to Vegas and cheering every time the dealer busts a poor sap playing blackjack. Will the WWE next sign Kojima or Tanahashi to a developmental deal from New Japan?
While Mistico is not my favorite wrestler by any means, I will admit that he is exciting, and he can go out there and have phenomenal matches. I do not want to see that come to an end. However, I do not see him being given the ability and the chance to have his type of matches in the WWE environment. When I first had access to Galavision back in 2006, and I started watching AAA and CMLL every week, Mistico was at his peak, and he was having amazing matches week in and week out. I remember when I saw the NWA Middleweight Championship match between Mistico and Averno from 11 February of 2005 on Galavision, and just being totally blown away. Although I had been a big fan of the lucha style since I was first exposed to it courtesy of WCW, this match made me actually understand clearly that there were still other places and other wrestling out there that could occupy my time rather than the crap he WWE puts on. Mistico going to the WWE shits on that idea, somewhat, for me.
So, good luck to Mistico. I do not want you to fail in the WWE, but at the same time, I do not want the wrestling I watch and enjoy and love to come to an end - so I hope that whatever is best for this sport and this business to happen to you. Cheers!