Exclusive: Rey Mysterio on Returning to WWE Raw, Working with Dominik and More

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2021

Exclusive: Rey Mysterio on Returning to WWE Raw, Working with Dominik and More

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    Rey and Dominik Mysterio still have tag team gold on their minds now they're on Raw.
    Rey and Dominik Mysterio still have tag team gold on their minds now they're on Raw.Credit: WWE.com

    WWE has announced that the October 25 edition of Raw will kick off a new era for the red brand, and among the many competitors making the jump to Monday nights is Rey Mysterio.

    He and son Dominik were selected by the red brand in the WWE draft on Oct. 1. The father-son duo were prominently featured while on SmackDown in storylines with Seth Rollins and The Bloodline but have recently teased tension between themselves.

    Regardless of whether he'll continue teaming with Dominik going forward or return to the singles ranks, Rey brings a wealth of knowledge with him to Raw. He'll also have a fresh batch of opponents to work with, from Finn Balor and Damian Priest to Keith Lee and Kevin Owens.

    You can never count out The Master of the 619, even as he enters the twilight of his career. He's a three-time world champion in WWE, has held multiple midcard and tag team titles and has broken Royal Rumble records.

    In short, his long list of accolades speaks for itself, so expect big things from one of WWE's smallest yet most popular performers starting this week on Raw.

    In this exclusive interview with Bleacher Report, the 46-year-old had plenty to say about his return to Raw, working alongside his son, why he brought back the mask upon arriving in WWE in 2002, and more. 

    Check out the complete audio of the interview on the next slide and read on for the highlights.

Returning to Raw and Embracing Change

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    Mysterio has bled blue from the moment he debuted in WWE in 2002. He spent the first six years of his career with the company on SmackDown before getting drafted to Raw in 2008.

    He's spent a substantial amount of time on Monday nights over the course of his career, but if you ask The Ultimate Underdog himself, even he'll tell you he's partial to the blue brand. That said, he's looking forward to the opportunities that await him on Raw, specifically in the tag team ranks.

    "I've always been a blue-color man," Mysterio said. "SmackDown has always been the brand for me. For some reason, it's worked better for me and I've gotten used to the SmackDown brand. But I always like change and I like to adapt, especially now with my son kicking off his career. It's going to be exciting. There's a lot of talent on Raw right now and we're looking forward to working with many of those."

    This will mark the second stint he's had on Raw since returning to the company in 2018. It was during his last run on Monday nights that he won the United States Championship twice and started Dominik off in the ring, so he's hoping for similar success this time around as well.

    "Once we got drafted that night, I remember sitting down with my son and saying, 'OK, we need to make the best out of this opportunity,'" he said. "It's almost like a fresh, new start for us. Obviously, we became the first father-and-son tag team champions and that's in our rearview mirror right now, but we're hoping to get an opportunity, or at least earn an opportunity first, to eventually meet the champions."

Potentially Splitting Up in the Draft and Storyline Thoughts

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    It isn't uncommon for friends, partners and allies to be split up in the WWE draft each year. Regardless of the circumstances and who the champions are, the company loves splitting Superstars up for no reason.

    Thankfully, that wasn't the case with the Mysterios. Although they switched shows, they remained a unit and weren't picked separately, which Rey considered a legitimate possibility given the tension that has been teased between them as of late. 

    "That was definitely up to destiny," he said. "We did talk about [the possibility of being split up]. I said, 'If we eventually get split up, then it was meant to be. You go your way, I'll go mine.' At the same time, it would've given my son some independence to grow on his own. Pretty much the story we were telling right before we got drafted to Raw. It was in the back of our minds, but it wasn't anything we were worrying about. If anything, it probably would have been good. It's a change."

    Rey and Dominik haven't been able to coexist since losing the SmackDown Tag Team Championships to The Usos at Money in the Bank in July and failing to regain them at SummerSlam the following month.

    Dominik has expressed interest in fighting his own battles without his father's guidance, but Rey has been adamant about staying by his son's side.

    And they're looking at this move to Raw as the perfect time to hit the reset button.

    "I've been enjoying every moment that I've gotten to step in the ring with my son in the ring and backstage," he said. "Just interacting [with him] has been incredible. It has been almost a rebirth of my career. I see him and I go back and think of my first baby steps in this industry. I've been enjoying it to the fullest.

    "With the story, hopefully, since Sami [Zayn] is staying on SmackDown, if we do cross paths again, then we'll bring it back up. But I'm hoping with this draft over to Raw that we get a fresh, new start, and we start looking at some opponents to face."

Facing Dominik One-on-One and Passing the Torch

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    If Rey and Dominik can't get back on the same page as a team, it will be more a matter of when, rather than if, they do battle with each other in order to settle their score.

    Their goal was always to team up and capture gold together, and now they've done that, they're looking for what more they can accomplish as a unit.

    Chasing the Raw Tag Team Championships would be a much easier option for Rey than having to face off with his own flesh and blood.

    "We talked about a lot of wrestling as a team before he even stepped in a ring," he said. "It was something that we envisioned. 'Imagine the day that we get to wrestle together, and imagine the day that we get to face each other.' As his career took off, that match that we dreamed about wrestling together happened so fast, in the blink of an eye after his debut against Seth Rollins. Seeing the growth within my son and seeing how attached I've been to him, and I know eventually I have to let him go and have him grow on his own, but it would be very, very hard for me to face him one-on-one."

    Interestingly, Dominik noted in a recent interview on the Out of Character with Ryan Satin podcast that he believes the ultimate goal with this storyline is for Rey to pass down the famed mask as well as the Rey Mysterio name, a lot like his uncle did with him at the onset of his own career nearly 30 years ago.

    "I think he's already established his own identity as Dom Mysterio," Rey said. "There was a lot expected from the WWE Universe on what he could bring to the table, but slowly but surely, I think he has been holding his own. You have to work for things in life and that was the perfect example, especially in this industry, that it cost me a lot to be able to carry the name Rey Mysterio Jr. and it happened.

    "Once that happened, it was just a life transformation for me. I felt like everything was just going my way. My career just grew. With Dom, I think eventually there will be the day that I'll be able to pass on the torch, pass on the legacy of the mask and hope—whether he accepts it or not—the hard work that he's shown and keeps showing will eventually pay off and that it will turn into me passing the mask onto my son."

Dominik's Training and His Own Goals Going Forward

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    As quickly as Dominik debuted in WWE at SummerSlam 2020 against Seth Rollins, he underwent an extensive amount of training before stepping into the ring. He received much help and guidance along the way and it paid off.

    "[Dominik's development] was a mix of several things," Rey said. "I remember the first time he stepped into a ring, it was in San Diego, California, and we had Konnan and myself, and we tested the waters with him to see if he had what it takes to be part of the wrestling world. The first baby steps that he took, I realized right away that there was something special. He was picking up things right away, and then his journey started.

    "He went up to Florida to train with Jay Lethal and after that I remember speaking to [Chris] Jericho and he said, 'If you want to get him to the right place, send him to Lance [Storm] up in Calgary.' So, he took a drive up to Calgary, stayed there and did a whole training session with Lance, and then he came back to San Diego and did some training at Level Up Wrestling. That's kind of been his journey from the beginning and, of course, with him being a part of WWE, I think his next step is yet to come to eventually take time and go to the Performance Center and learn that WWE style.”

    Now that he and Dominik have become tag team champions, the question turns to what's next for the father-son duo beyond potentially facing each other inside the ring.

    However, Rey doesn't have any long-term goals other than continuing to work and elevate new talent.

    "I think at this point in my career, I am taking it one day at a time, enjoying the shared moments in the ring with my son, enjoying working with new talent like the match I had against Sami Zayn," he said. "That was the first time we faced each other one-on-one. There's so much talent on the WWE roster that I still haven't been able to wrestle one-on-one, so I'm always up for a new challenger, and I'm always up to the task of putting on a good show for the fans."

Bringing Back the Mask in WWE and Who He Wants to Cosplay as Next

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    When Rey left WWE in 1999, he had already been unmasked for a while. He remain unmasked until being asked about putting one back on years later by WWE because it was what Vince McMahon wanted.

    To be fair, it was more of a demand for Mysterio than it was a request, as the WWE chairman wanted nothing to do with him if he wasn't going to wear his signature face covering on television.

    "It was actually WWE who brought that up, or in this case, Vince McMahon," Mysterio said. "I was doing my training a week prior to my debut and I was in OVW. I forgot who approached me at the time, but they said, 'The company wants to know what type of ring attire you're going to use for next week.' I said, 'What I've been using.' I was using the Scott Steiner, "Big Poppa Pump" chain around the head, like a gladiator chain, and a vest that went along with it. Baggy pants. They were like, 'Where's the mask?' I said, 'I haven't been wrestling with the mask.' 'No, no, no. Vince wants to see you with the mask.'

    "I was like, 'Oh, OK. Thank god you told me now. Now I have to have an outfit made with the mask.' That's when I changed my whole gear. Back in WCW, I was using the old-school tights where they stuck to my leg. When I started with WWE, I started wearing the baggy pants, which were very similar to what I was using prior to WWE when I was unmasked, and I added the mask to it. It became historical at that point because that's where Rey Mysterio really kicked off and put on the map in WWE."

    Needless to say, the masks have been synonymous with Rey ever since. He's also been known for cosplaying well-known comic-book heroes and villains, most notably The Joker and Avatar. He revealed that Aquaman is next on his list.

    "I think the one I haven't done to a tee that I'm hoping the opportunity comes about [is] Aquaman," he said. "Aquaman is definitely something I've been working on. Like I said, I did something a while back, but it didn't turn out the way I was expecting it, so hopefully we can kick that one off."

Facing Finn Balor and the Best Places for Tacos and Burritos in San Diego

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    The one opponent Mysterio has had on his mind for years is Finn Balor. They both wrestled extensively in Japan and took WWE by storm in different ways, so they could have an excellent one-on-one contest.

    "You took the name right out of my mouth," Mysterio said on the subject of potential dream matches. "I've said it before in the past: Finn Balor is definitely a guy I'd love to step in the ring and do a program with. I think he's an incredible talent, and I think our styles clash and we'd definitely give [fans] something special to remember."

    Lastly, having grown up in San Diego, Mysterio is well-versed in where one can find the best burritos and tacos. Everyone in the city will have their go-to place, but for The Master of the 619, nothing will top two particular two locations in the area.

    "For me, I grew up in San Diego, and you can only imagine going to the high school out there," he said. "It was always Humberto's Taco Shop when it comes down to burritos, but when it comes down to tacos, I grew up eating them south of the border of San Diego in Tijuana, and there's no better taco place than Tacos El Gordo. As a matter of fact, they have one in Las Vegas now, actually two of them, and the taste is the same. So, if you're ever out in Vegas or San Diego, hit Tacos El Gordo and have a mule, which is off the hook."

            

    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.

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