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Rey Mysterio, a 30-year veteran in the wrestling industry, is getting his most significant push since returning to WWE full-time in 2018. Mysterio, 44, will wrestle Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship on “Monday Night Raw.”
Mysterio spoke with Yahoo Sports about his recent run with WWE, his son’s training to enter the family business and how he helped change the idea of what a professional wrestler should look like.
Yahoo Sports: Is this the kind of opportunity you envisioned or wanted when you came back to WWE?
Mysterio: It’s an opportunity that I definitely came back looking forward to potentially, but when I was seriously doubting my in-ring ability and not being able to connect the way I had in previous years, it came out of nowhere. I’ve really worked hard to come out on top and it’s a magical thing when you have the support of your family and your fans. In my case, most importantly, to have my son convince me not to retire and keep staying in the game and doing work. It’s a big motivation.
YS: You mention your son [Dominick], he’s played a role in the recent storyline, is there any update on his training to become a professional wrestler?
Mysterio: He has continued his training and has been training for the past two years. He’s been improving a lot day by day. As to when we might have a date for him to start, that’s not confirmed. He’s putting in the work and doing what he needs to do to learn as much as he can before he takes aim at one of the WWE rings.
YS: LeBron talks about playing with his son in the NBA, do you see yourself wrestling alongside your son in WWE?
Mysterio: 100 percent. I get asked a lot, “Rey, you’ve been doing this for 30 years, you have all of these accomplishments, what’s left for you to do?” To be honest, God has been great with all of my accolades and my journey for 30 years, but I would now say I would love to wrestle with my son once before I hang up the mask.
YS: Looking to your match Monday, Seth Rollins is a guy who represents the kind of style you played a role in ushering in. How do you view your role in helping these guys who may be a bit smaller, more athletic, who have great work rates, break into the industry?
Mysterio: My role has been established and played. I believe as far as my stature, my in-ring style, that was definitely a trend-setter 30 years ago. The guys who are now the future of this business are doing their thing because they at one time saw Rey Mysterio go at it. They said, “If he can do it, I can do it.” Here we are now viewing the future of this sport, Seth, being one of the next generation stars that came in right behind me. You have Ricochet, who has an in-ring style that is just unbelievable. These guys are taking it to the next level. I think my role now comes in play when they approach me and ask me what they can do to make things better or what they can do to not look a certain way. That’s where I stand with my peers.
YS: What question do you receive the most?
Mysterio: I don’t think it’s a question. It’s more of a statement. The fact that when they watch me perform nowadays, they say “Rey, you haven’t lost a beat, you’re still going out there like you’re 25 years old.” That is a big positive reaction towards me and it pushes me to keep going on top of the support of my fans and family. It’s almost like excessive positvity.
YS: For so much of your career and championship matches you’ve played the role of the underdog. It’s got to be a bit refreshing to come back and the traditional roles of wrestling -- face, heel -- are gone now.
Mysterio: Most definitely. It’s something that I appreciate in the sense that I see the opportunities are now being given to guys who are my type of build. That gives me a huge satisfaction to have been one of the first guys to break the mold. You have these guys coming in who aren’t just big dogs anymore. That makes the style of the sport more competitive, aerial, fast-paced, hybrid style. I feel a sense of relief that way.
Sometimes though it’s hard for me to catch up with how the style is going now. If I was doing something high-paced years ago, now they are taking it to a whole different level. I give them props for doing that.
As far as being an underdog, I never viewed myself that way because even in my training days I was the smallest kid in the class. It always seemed normal to me.
YS: You talked about younger talent coming to you, does it go the other way too?
Mysterio: Absolutely. I don’t believe in this business that you ever know it all. I always ask for advice and get feedback. If it’s me trying to execute a new move, I go to one of my peers that I have more of a relationship with. Ricochet is one of those guys. I go up to him and ask “How does that look?” and he’ll give me his feedback, good or bad. I’m not going to take offense, I’m going to listen to what he has to say and apply it.
YS: You have a huge match on Raw, but NXT and Smackdown Live are also having big nights this week, what’s the buzz like in the locker room?
Mysterio: It’s a good buzz, an exciting buzz. Anytime you’re able to start something new or go in a different direction, there’s always that feeling. For all of us as Superstars, we tend to step it up a notch. Whether it’s ring attire, in-ring ability, there’s something about a transition that makes you do much better and prove yourself. In this case it’s on us to show to Fox Sports, to fans around the world that where were headed is a good thing.
YS: Should you win Monday night, it’s another step forward for diversity in WWE. We have Kofi Kingston as an African-American champion and you potentially as a Mexican-American champion. What does that say about diversity in the company at the highest level?
Mysterio: I think this opportunity is probably one of the biggest in front of me. It’s very big to be able to reach this point in my journey and show fans around the world that I am a deserving opponent. There’s a huge degree of representation being that it is Hispanic Heritage Month, the fact that I’ll be able to hold that title high for my fellow Hispanics.
YS: Is there a dream match -- not including your son -- that you’d like to have before you hang up the mask?
Mysterio: There were several that I was looking forward to [when I came back]. Definitely Shinsuke Nakamura, he was one of the first guys I faced right at the get-go. A.J. Styles is a guy I’m looking forward to stepping in the ring with on a one-on-one basis. Finn Balor is someone who I would love to face. Andrade, we had our differences and battled it out several times. Overall, this upcoming match, to be able to face Seth Rollins, it was one of my matches on the list and it’s happening.
WWE’s “Premiere Week,” begins Monday with an episode of its flagship “Monday Night Raw” program, followed by the two-hour premiere of “NXT” on the USA Network Wednesday night, and closes with the highly anticipated debut of “Smackdown Live” on Fox on Friday night.
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