In his absence from WWE, it's been clear: There is no replacing Rey Mysterio.
WWE has showcased a number of other luchadors after him, but none have made the deep connection that he has with fans. Not either version of Sin Cara. Not Kalisto. Not Gran Metalik.
Mysterio is beloved. He's special, an icon.
Even now, past his athletic prime, he's a huge get for any company. And after spending time in Mexico, Japan and elsewhere, it looks as if the masked underdog is headed back to Vince McMahon's circus.
On Tuesday, Mysterio told Mighty 1090's Scott and BR in San Diego: "It's looking really good for a possible [WWE] return."
The high-flyer has made two brief appearances with the company this year. Mysterio popped up at both the Royal Rumble in January and Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia, in April. If his current talks with WWE progress, he will soon follow those up with a more sustained stay.
That's big for WWE despite Mysterio being 43 and not quite the eye-popping athlete he once was.
He is no long-term answer, but he would provide an instant boost for the product. He would be valuable behind the scenes, too.
The Biggest Little Man would be a good leader, an in-ring teacher, a means to inspire the next generation of stars. In that way, signing Mysterio would be much like when the Minnesota Timberwolves brought back Kevin Garnett at the end of his career.
Mysterio showed he could excel in that role when he showed up on WWE Tough Enough years ago:
He's the kind of guy you never hear any of his peers badmouth. WWE's young stars are sure to respect him, looking to soak up everything he does and says.
And Mysterio's popularity with fans hasn't waned. That was clear when his appearance at the Royal Rumble garnered massive views on YouTube.
To this point, the clip of his appearance that night has pulled in over 16 million views.
That's not surprising considering how many young fans have donned Mysterio masks to various arenas over the years. It's not surprising when you consider how there has always seemed to be a special bond between Mysterio and the audience.
It helps to have a popular Mexican star on the roster when one is looking to reel in more Latino viewers.
WWE will be thrilled to have the extra star power when SmackDown Live moves to its new home in Fox next October. Mysterio can help bring in lapsed fans seeking a nostalgia fix to the blue brand. He's always been a favorite of kids, too. SmackDown trying to establish itself in a fresh environment can use all that kind of help.
Or else, Mysterio could be the missing piece for 205 Live.
The cruiserweight showcase has been terrific from an in-ring standpoint this year. Mustafa Ali, Buddy Murphy, Cedric Alexander and others are tearing it up of late. It hasn't mattered. 205 Live can't seem to create any real buzz.
The addition of Mysterio could well change that, bringing in a household name to pair with the emerging talents. A passing-of-the-torch feud against someone like Lio Rush would not create some thrillers in the ring, it would elevate the new wave of WWE high-flyers.
WWE would be getting a re-energized version of Mysterio, as well.
In his last few years with the company, The Ultimate Underdog wasn't his usual self. He was slower and had lacked his normal spark. Mysterio, though, has seemingly regained some of the steps he appeared to lose.
He was a blast to watch against Prince Puma (Ricochet) in Lucha Underground. Of Mysterio's match at New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Dominion event in June, Voices of Wrestling columnist Joe Lanza wrote: "He "looked as crisp as I've seen him in recent years."
Plus, during his recent WWE cameos, Mysterio looked to be in tremendous shape.
Mysterio brings too much to the proverbial table for WWE to cheap out. McMahon has ample reason to reach deep into his pockets to make sure Superstars are taking 619s to the face once again.