Dark Match Dungeon: Rey Mysterio Goes Global

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the Dark Match Dungeon! It has been too damn long since we did one of these. I’d like to apologize for the absence, for the record… you see, my underground fighting league got tangled up in a centuries-old blood feud and I had to go on the lam with my brother. Don’t you just hate when that happens?

If you’re unfamiliar with this feature, it’s where I scour the internet high and low for forgotten footage of today’s biggest wrestling stars. It’s kind of like Cerebro, except it leads me to VHS-quality lucha libre shows instead of the whereabouts of runaway mutants. Later today, I’ll be making my way to Lucha Underground’s events at SXSW, so I figured I’d focus today’s Dungeon on beloved high-flyer Rey Mysterio, who is currently playing the Yoda role for El Dragon Azteca, Jr. Most American wrestling fans initially got familiar with him during his run in WCW, while Mexican audiences got to know him in AAA. But in addition to those two promotions, he also spent some time in Japan for Genichiro Tenryu’s Wrestle Association R (WAR). Here’s a sample of him in action against Psicosis.

What To Look For:

– Is Psicosis supposed to be a buffalo? And more importantly, did he and Hiroyoshi Tenzan ever team up?
– Mysterio’s backflip entrance. I think he under-rotated by a few degrees, because he almost went face-first into the turnbuckles once he landed.
– Rey also mentions the 1995 Super J Cup in his promo. This junior heavyweight tournament was world-renowned for featuring wrestlers such as Chris Benoit, Ultimo Dragon, Dos Caras, Chris Jericho, and eventual winner Jushin “Thunder” Liger. New Japan Pro Wrestling recently announced that the tournament will be returning in August after a seven-year hiatus, so get hyped for that.
– The speed of that opening sequence. I can’t remember many matches that went from 0 to 100 that quickly.
– “Move, Damian!”

This match comes from a Sapporo WAR show in April 1996. Later that year, both men would jump to WCW and spend several years with the company. Mysterio would close out ’96 with a great match at Starrcade versus Jushin Liger, which contains one of my favorite Dusty Rhodes commentary moments ever. Mike Tenay calls a dragon screw from Liger, and Dusty (who has clearly never heard the phrase before) loses his damn mind. Just imagine if there had been a bicycle at ringside.