On a 2010 episode of WWE's "Legends of Wrestling," panelist and WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase talks about not appreciating lucha libre wrestling before Rey Mysterio's rise. DiBiase couldn't connect with the Mexican style that mixes the best of combat and Cirque de Soleil until he saw Mysterio and deemed him a "polished pro."
The diminutive Mysterio hears this from a reporter, gushes with appreciation at the compliment from "The Million Dollar Man" and understands why it may have taken awhile for generations of grapplers and fans accustomed to headlocks and arm bars to acclimate.
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"Fifteen years ago, or 20 years ago, if you had told me that lucha libre would be the future perhaps of wrestling, I would say that would be a hard prediction," Mysterio says. "But now -- it's happening."
Mysterio will be on the card for Sunday night's TripleMania XXIII event in Mexico City -- a show put on by Mexico's AAA promotion that for the first time will be available on pay-per-view in the United States and Canada with English-speaking announcers.
For former WWE Superstar Mysterio, it's the best of both worlds. After more than a decade with WWE his contract expired earlier this year, and Mysterio left the company to do things "on my own terms."
"I was getting tired," Mysterio said. "My body had given up on me at one point. And as many injuries as I've had over the years, I truly believed that my body needed to rest and not be on the grind like it's been for the last 15 years."
It was supposed to be a more stress-free time, a chance to do the work he wanted to while spending more time with his family -- including a son making college choices.
But in May Mysterio's world was shaken when Pedro Aguayo Ramirez, known in mat circles as Hijo del Perro Aguayo, was killed during a match Mysterio was also participating in Tijuana. Ramirez died of a broken neck, although it's unclear what exactly the cause was. His head and neck went into the second rope after taking a drop kick from Mysterio, and just before Ramirez had been thrown out of the ring onto the floor.
Mysterio says he suffered a social media onslaught, and though he's been able to resume his career, the grieving process continues.
"My heart was at peace, my mind was at peace," Mysterio says. "I would never intend to hurt anyone I'm in the ring with. It's entertainment, it's a performance, it's a sport. But I feel that when God says it's your turn, there's nothing you can do about that. And that's the part that I'm still trying to understand. I ask, 'Why? Why?' I have to learn to live with it and cope with it."
This isn't the first time Mysterio has had to deal with adversity. In the past he fought an addiction to painkillers, and now is finding smarter ways to stay healthy. He says stem cell treatment has helped tremendously, but has also found some more low-maintenance ways to deal with pain, including a tip from WWE Superstar Randy Orton.
"He would use a golf ball and just step on it, kind of put pressure on the bottom of his foot, right between the heel and underneath the toes where we have that arch," Mysterio explains. "And I could just feel that grind breaking up a lot of tightness, and after doing that one time, which really hurt doing it, but I felt much lighter, and I was really impressed by how much pressure was taken away from the joint."
Mysterio has all the motivation in the world to say well so he can enjoy the next few years with son, Dominik, and his upcoming college decision.
"In my son's mind, he wants to go to move on and go to college and play ball; he's been playing football since he was 8 years or so," Mysterio said. "That's what he really wants to do going forward. Than I have my wife challenging on the other side, saying I really, truly believe your son is going to follow in your footsteps.
As with any good husband, Mysterio seems be leaning to better half's way of thinking.
"When you have it in your blood," Mysterio says of wrestling, "and it's part of your family, there's no denying it."