Man of Mystery: A Look at Rey Mysterio's Mask and Why It Needs to Stay

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Man of Mystery: A Look at Rey Mysterio's Mask and Why It Needs to Stay
(Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
As World Wrestling Entertainment's upcoming pay per view approaches, I have not really looked forward to the card as I feel that some of the buildup has been lackluster. Be that as it may, there is one feud that has really caught my attention on Smackdown!, between Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio.
This feud has done so many things to help both men, as well as the prestige of the Intercontinental Championship.
In the summer of 2008, prior to when Rey Mysterio would be moved to Monday Night RAW in the 2008 WWE Draft, we witnessed a feud between Rey Mysterio and Kane regarding the ever so popular mask that Rey Mysterio wears.
This feud, which had potential to be great, ended up being an epic failure. Rey Mysterio had put his mask on the line during this “feud” (more like a circus side show, if you ask me) and retained it for the time being.
Now throughout his stint on Raw, Mysterio went about everything with his mask.
At WrestleMania 25, Mysterio defeated John Bradshaw Layfield to win his first ever Intercontinental Championship. After his truly mediocre feud with JBL, Mysterio would be drafted back to SmackDown! along with his championship in the 2009 WWE Draft a few weeks later.
Back to SmackDown!, Mysterio had been instantly placed in a feud with maybe WWE's greatest heel today, Chris Jericho. Jericho has long been known to make every feud he has been in so believable and exciting to watch.
Though I felt Jericho should be in the main events and Mysterio should be elevating young talent, I think this feud has been superb so far. Over the past month or so, Jericho has spoken “the truth” about Mysterio's mask.
Mysterio's mask has taken a major role in this feud between both men because Jericho has been the first one in WWE to use the mask against Mysterio (at least in recent memory).
Even at Extreme Rules, Jericho stripped Rey Mysterio of his mask to become the new Intercontinental Champion, something that nobody has ever done before (WCW days excluded). The self-proclaimed "Savior" has been attempting to strip Mysterio of his mask or rather his identity.
After taking Rey's mask off on two separate occasions, Jericho has proclaimed that he wants to, "free Rey Mysterio, free him of all his lies."
The high flying luchador has worn this mask for his entire wrestling career and has only been stripped of his mask on very few occasions in the WWE.
The mask has been a vital part of Mysterio's career. He has worn in it all over the world, and “Mysterio masks” may be the biggest selling merchandise that WWE has today.
Besides those ridiculous Jeff Hardy armbands and the John Cena foam fingers, kids all over the arena are wearing Mysterio's mask. If he were to unmask permanently, then I would be a huge problem with it for so many reasons.
Does anybody remember February 21, 1999, when Kevin Nash and Scott Holl took on the team of Rey Mysterio, Jr. and Konnan in a match where if Mysterio lost, he would be stripped of his mask? Team Mysterio eventually did lose the bout, and he was unmasked for the first time in his career. Watch him unmask here.
"The fans wanted Rey Mysterio with the mask and losing it hurt me a lot. It was also frustrating that it didn't come as the climax to a feud with another masked wrestler, but in a throwaway match."
That was his public proclamation after the loss, and how he felt to lose his mask. Fans did not want to see this and it really hurt Mysterio's legacy.
During Mysterio's tenure without the mask, he was really an epic failure to the WCW front office. He did not draw as well as he did with his mask on, but he did win the World Tag Team Championships with his partner Billy Kidman (whom Mysterio had beaten earlier to become the Cruiserweight Champion).
Though he had success in the ring, Mysterio had never felt the same without the mask.
Shortly after WCW was sold to the WWE (then WWF), Mysterio had disappeared from television until he made a few appearances at the XWF promotion, which featured lucha libre stars.
Later in 2002, Vince McMahon had hired Rey Mysterio to join World Wrestling Entertainment. Much to the surprise of Mysterio, WWE requested that he wear his mask.
Since debuting on July 25, 2002 in a match against Chavo Guerrero, Mysterio revolutionized the luchador style that continues to amaze his WWE fans to this day. As I stated earlier, his masks became one of WWE's biggest sellers.
During feuds with the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Kane, and now Chris Jericho, there have been many attempts to unmask Mysterio in WWE. While Guerrero destroyed his mask in a match, Mysterio never got stripped of it.
Kane never came close (unbelievably, I might add) and Chris Jericho has done it a few times, but now, “The Savior” will attempt to make Rey Mysterio give it up for good.
What does this mean to Mysterio's legacy? If he can never put the mask on again, then Mysterio's career will be tarnished, because if he loses that mask, he'll never be the same.
Fans do not want to see him unmasked, and I'm not talking just little kids. Obviously kids do not want to see Mysterio unmasked because he is their hero. Meanwhile, the Internet Wrestling Community does not want him unmasked because everyone knows it will be an epic failure.
What effect have we seen when a masked superstar has been forced, in recent memory, to take the mask off?
Let's take, for example, Kane, who went from being "The Big Red Machine" and "The Monster" to everybody's favorite glorified jobber.
Since losing the mask, Kane has held the Tag Team Championship a few times as well as being the Intercontinental Champion one or two times—but no World titles.
What about Hurricane Helms? Well, at least unmasking him might not have been a monumental blunder.
When he had the mask, he had feuded with the likes of the Rock, but he did take a fall when he teamed with Rosey. I hated the superhero getup and was glad when he unmasked.
Later in Helms' career, he had some great feuds with the Cruiserweight Division, an impressive run with the Cruiserweight belt (longest running champ in SmackDown! history), and a good feud with Matt Hardy, but shortly after the latter rivalry, he broke his neck and is now hinting a Hurricane return.
I wish Helms were a heel so I could take him seriously and I wish he would not be the backstage interviewer when there could be some Diva that has no in-ring ability that can do the job.
I know they want to give Helms some mic time, but his promos have fallen flat.
Rey is just so different from those two and any others.
A luchador who loses his mask is considered a disgrace. The man who loses his mask is dishonorable for losing the mask and can never sport it again. If Mysterio loses his mask sometime in the future, then he will lose his identity, and WWE will have made a very ludicrous decision.
Will the WWE be foolish enough to pull the trigger on this move? I really do not think they would, but it could very well be the case where Rey loses his mask at The Bash.
Maybe it will be just a disqualification finish, because I do not see Jericho dropping the strap so quickly. There are so many ways to go in this feud, but I really hope Rey is not forced to take the mask off.
What could Mysterio do without the mask? He could always turn heel and say that Jericho saved him from his lies and all of his fans. I guess that could be a cool way to go, but in the long run, Rey cannot afford to lose his mask because it will be one of those turns or gimmicks that WWE does for the current storyline, but it falls flat in the long run.
Matt Hardy anyone?

Hopefully WWE Creative makes the right decision and lets Rey Mysterio keep the mask. That is what I think will happen, but I wanted to post what I thought it would be like if he dropped the mask. Like him or not, Mysterio needs the mask.

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