When he was little, my son Justin thought Rey Mysterio Jr. was just as much of a superhero as Batman, Spider-Man and that is because he was. Mysterio was and is a real-life superhero to many around the world. A man who could and can do the impossible and make the impossible look easy to so many.
The legendary lucha libre icon was the feature inductee in the this year’s WWE Hall of Fame and he couldn’t have a better person to introduce him than another lucha legend, Konnan.
Konnan delivered a Rey Mysterio history lesson with heart, fire and unbridled respect and love. It really was a thing to behold. Konnan detailed how hard it was to pitch Mysterio to just about any promoter.
“I know he hasn’t hit puberty but he is special,” he said laughing as he recounted one such sales talk.
Konnan also spoke about how much Mysterio’s support meant to him during his health crisis. He confessed that he wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for Mysterio.
Konnan even had a little fun playing into Rey’s feud with his son Dominik.
“Maybe I could replace him (Dominik),” he laughed expressing how close he feels to the Mysterio family.
When it as Mysterio’s time to speak, Domink and Rhea Ripley played their part in the on-going WrestleMania angle by walking out on the entire ceremony.
Mysterio watched them leave and then said: “Let me just say this, I will take care of business tomorrow.”
Ironically, in narrating his own career Mysterio described watching luchadores as a kid and seeing them as “superheroes come to life”.
To Mysterio, the theme of his career has been fighting to break the mold.
“I was so small and nobody believed in me,” he said.
Those rough times included being unable to pay for a hotel and having to sleep around or under a ring in a neighbourhood gym. Rey’s wife Angie Gutierrez quit her studies so she could find a job and support him.
“She would send me money for me to pursue my dream,” said Rey with tears in his eyes that his mask just couldn’t hide.
Mysterio thanked those who raised him up including Psicosis, Dean Malenko and of course Eddie Guerrero.
“Thank you for letting me break the mold of what a superstar should look like,” he said.
He also expressed his appreciation for a man his calls his older brother, Konnan.
“We thank God for the life we have and then we thank Konnan,” Mysterio said of his family.
Last but not least, Rey thanked wrestling fans around the world.
“I truly believe that none of this would be possible without you. You guys have made the name Rey Mysterio immortal,” he said.
The WWE honoured another sometime masked legend tonight in the ring revolutionary The Great Muta. His contemporary Ric Flair was the one who inducted him. Flair explained how when he went to Japan to wrestle for the very first time and how the dedication and training there stunned him.
“I am just an entertainer but they are the baddest asses ever alive,” he said of Japanese wrestlers. “The Japanese kids are tough kids.”
Flair recited a laundry list of Japanese superstars that he wrestled including Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki.
He then said of Muta: “He is the greatest Japanese wrestler I have ever been in the ring with.”
In explaining how Muta’s incredible technical skill elevated the business as a whole, Flair sent Shawn Michaels a friendly reminder.
“You didn’t invent the moonsault, Shawn. Muta did,” said Flair smiling.
In an honest and heart-felt moment, Flair hugged Muta as he came to the podium and then said off the cuff: “On a personal note, I wasn’t sure I was going to say this but ten years ago I left my son in his care and he took care of my son as if he was his own. I will love you forever,” said a misty-eyed Flair.
Muta explained that he doesn’t speak English very well but thanked the WWE and the fans for the honour. He then celebrated by spitting his trademarked mist into the air.
Stacy Keibler was inducted by friends Mick Foley and Torrie Wilson.
“Stacy is bold and fearless in every way,” said Wilson.
Keibler thanked Madusa, Gail Kim and described The Dudley Boys as her greatest teachers.
Jerry Lawler, who is recovering from a stroke, did say a few words about his friend and colleague Andy Kaufman before Jimmy Hart took over telling story after story about Kaufman in the ring.
“He loved this wrestling business so much he would do anything for it,” said Hart of Kaufman.
Kaufman’s family accepted the award for him.
His sister said: “Andy saw the beauty of this world.”
This year’s Warrior Award went to referee Tim White who was more than a WWE official. He wore many hats outside the ring including Andre The Giant’s handler, traveling partner.
JBL and Ron Simmons reunited as the APA to tell stories of how White’s bar was used many, many times on WWE TV and how White allowed them to really break things that he wanted the WWE to replace anyways like a pinball machine that hadn’t worked in ages.
Tim’s Brothers Tom and Pat described White’s career as: “One hell of a ride”.