Rey Misterio (sometimes spelled Mysterio) Jr. revolutionized the cruiserweight division in WCW. His small stature betrayed his larger-than-life performance in the ring. It is a credit to Misterio and Eric Bischoff in making a masked luchador popular with an American audience in the mid-1990s.
Misterio’s five WCW Cruiserweight Championship reigns spanned nearly the entire history of the championship from 1996 to 2001.
Some of the best cruiserweight matches in WCW during the championship’s first year of existence took place between Rey Misterio Jr. and Dean Malenko. It was Misterio who would become WCW’s third cruiserweight champion by defeating Malenko on the July 8, 1996 edition of Monday Nitro.
This first title reign of Misterio’s lasted 111 days and saw him take on all challengers. He defended the championship against an incredible list of contenders including Psicosis, Ultimo Dragon, Dean Malenko, Mr. JL, Billy Kidman, Juventud Guerrera and Super Calo.
After an amazing first reign as champion, Misterio would lose the championship to Malenko at the WCW Halloween Havoc pay-per-view event in October 1996. Misterio’s first title reign would help to define the cruiserweight division as having the fastest pace and most unique maneuvers in WCW.
During the latter part of 1997, Misterio would become embroiled in a bitter feud with long-time friend and rival Eddie Guerrero. It would be this feud that would mark one of the most famous matches from the cruiserweight division. Guerrero put his championship up against Misterio’s mask.
When Rey Misterio Jr. defeated Eddie Guerrero at the WCW Halloween Havoc pay-per-view event in October 1997, it would mark Misterio as not only being able to keep his beloved mask and identity but also winning the cruiserweight championship.
Misterio’s second cruiserweight championship would not last nearly as long as his first. Eddie Guerrero regained the championship two weeks later on the Nov. 10, 1997 edition of Monday Nitro. During his second reign, Misterio was able to defend the championship against Dean Malenko and Billy Kidman though.
Undeterred, Rey Misterio Jr. always stayed in contention for the cruiserweight championship. In early 1998, on the Jan. 15 edition of Thunder, Misterio won his third WCW Cruiserweight Championship defeating Juventud Guerrera.
Unfortunately for Misterio, his third title reign would last only nine days. He was able to defeat Guerrera in a rematch and Eddie Guerrero before losing the championship to Chris Jericho at the January 1998 WCW Souled Out pay-per-view event.
Misterio would continue to wrestle in the cruiserweight division and have many shots at the cruiserweight championship in 1998. Often, he would be involved in triple-threat or fatal four-way matches for the championship. Also, Misterio would occasionally be tag-team partners with Mexican wrestler Konnan and even sometimes with cruiserweight rival Billy Kidman.
Never straying too far from the cruiserweight division, Misterio finally regained the championship from Billy Kidman on the March 15, 1999 edition of Monday Nitro.
Misterio’s fourth title reign lasted for one month but during this time, Misterio was able to defend the championship against Juventud Guerrera, Evan Karagias and Billy Kidman before losing it to fellow luchador Psicosis on the April 19, 1999 edition of Monday Nitro. Misterio lost his fourth championship in a fatal 4-way match with Juventud Guerrera and Blitzkrieg also participating.
Psicosis actually pinned Blitzkrieg to win the championship; Misterio was not even pinned.
Bouncing back quickly from the fatal four-way loss, Misterio regained the championship one week later on the April 26, 1999 edition of Monday Nitro defeating Psicosis. With this championship win, Misterio became the first and only five-time WCW Cruiserweight Champion.
In his last reign as champion, Misterio held the championship for a remarkable 115 days. In those 115 days, Misterio was able to defend the championship against Kaz Hayashi, Evan Karagias, Lash LeRoux, Kidman, Blitzkrieg, Lenny Lane and Silver King.
While holding the cruiserweight championship, Misterio also continued to perform in tag-team matches with Konnan, Billy Kidman and even Eddie Guerrero.
He finally lost the championship to Lenny Lane on the Aug. 19, 1999 edition of Thunder.
Rey Misterio Jr. is synonymous with cruiserweight/lightweight professional wrestling in the United States and across the world. His matches against an array of international athletes helped to make WCW the place to see various pro wrestling styles. Misterio became the face of the division and helped to propel it to the highest of popularity in the mid-1990s.
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