If there was ever someone in the wrestling business that could be described as a ‘child prodigy’, it would be Rey Mysterio. He began wrestling in 1989 at age fifteen (yes, FIFTEEN) and was pegged as a future star in Mexico. While there, he dazzled audiences with his incredible agility and adaptability in the ring. It wasn’t long before it found himself in big matches with top stars across the country.
Although most fans know him for his work in ECW and WCW, those same fans tend to forget that he was great before coming to the United States for the first time. Or, at least that’s the assumption based on how highly-rated some of his early matches were.
Today we revisit one of Rey’s earliest 5-star matches, a classic two-out-of-three falls match between Rey and Juventud Guerrera from November 1994.
As a reminder, I am reviewing Five Star and almost-Five Star wrestling matches as rated by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It goes back to the 1980s and I’m going to pick different matches from different eras to see how they look today. Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series right here.
This match is for the WWA World Lightweight Title. There is also a bit of a personal feud going on between Mysterio and Guerrera as both men want to prove themselves to each other in this match.
Mysterio is in red while Guerrera is in blue. They shake hands and the match is on. A nice technical exchange starts things off and ends with a one-count for Guerrera. Mysterio reverses into a headscissors but Guerrera counters into a side headlock. He tries to get to his feet but Guerrera keeps him grounded for a one-count. Mysterio counters into a crucifix pin for a two-count. Then Mysterio takes Guerrera down and locks in a crossface but Guerrera reverses into a bridge for another quick pin. Mysterio counters an arm drag and we get a standoff.
Guerrera lands a spinebuster for a two-count and applies a leglock. Mysterio tries to do his usual cruiserweight escape stuff but Guerrera maintains control. He does a great job of making sure the ref check’s Mysterio’s shoulders. Mysterio does some more technical chain-grappling but Guerrera cuts him off with a snap suplex. They do the Greco-Roman knuckle lock and Mysterio tries to counter it but Guerrera keeps it locked in. a double pin ensues and both men bridge out without letting go.
Some more cruiserweight grappling occurs and Mysterio counters into a sunset flip but Guerrera reaches the ropes. Guerrera tries a backdrop suplex but Mysterio reveres into a crossbody pin in midair for a two-count. More chain grappling ensues followed by a nose-to-nose standoff. Guerrera charges, Mysterio dodges and kicks Guerrera’s leg, sending him flying out of the ring.
Guerrera takes his sweet time returning to the ring, allowing Mysterio to show off his superior athleticism. He monkey flips Guerrera but walks into a big kick. Mysterio counters into a gorgeous Hurricanrana. Guerrera kicks out at 2.5. Mysterio places Guerrera on the top turnbuckle. Jumping super Hurricanrana. Awesome move. He pins, but Guerrera gets his foot on the rope. Ligerbomb by Mysterio, the referee counts one, two, three! There’s the first fall.
Winner of the first fall: Rey Mysterio
After a pause we start the second fall. They charge with shoulder tackles but neither man goes down. They slap each other and Guerrera dropkicks Mysterio down. Mysterio takes a breather then walks into a spinning wheel kick back in the ring. Snap powerbomb by Guerrera followed by an Uranage for two. A backdrop suplex also gets Guerrera a two-count so he kicks Mysterio hard in the back.
Mysterio counters an Irish whip into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. He goes for a suplex but Guerrera counters into a fallaway slam for two. Mysterio goes for another counter following a whip but Guerrera powerbombs him hard for another two-count. Slingshot backdrop suplex by Guerrera. Followed by a bridging German suplex. One, two, three! Guerrera gets the second fall.
Winner of the second fall: Juventud Guerrera
The third fall begins with a dropkick from Guerrera. Mysterio rolls out of the ring, allowing Guerrera to take a shot at his manager. In the ring, Mysterio kicks a charging Guerrera so hard he flies into the ropes. A double-arm suplex gets him a two-count, as does a jumping diving senton. Guerrera’s suddenly in control and locks in a Gory Special submission into a pin. That was clever. The referee starts counting but Mysterio holds himself up by his head. Then he reverses the hold. He flips Guerrera onto his back for a pin. Guerrera kicks out at two. Nice sequence.
Guerrera whips Mysterio, Mysterio counters into a sunset flip for a close two-count. Romero special by Mysterio. Guerrera doesn’t sell anything and suddenly gets up before Mysterio and flapjacks him. Mysterio leaves the ring for a breather, returns and dodges a corner dropkick. Mysterio clotheslines him out of the ring and hits a baseball slide dropkick. Suicide senton through the ropes by Mysterio! Wow, that was amazing. He landed on Guerrera who was already prone on the ground.
Mysterio’s slow to get up so his manager helps him to the ring. Guerrera kicks him off the apron and lands an Asai-style flipping senton. Wow, another great diving move.
Both men get into the ring and rush each other. Guerrera lifts Mysterio up, no, Mysterio counters into a hurricanrana. Guerrera kicks out. Mysterio dodges a leapfrog and leaves the ring. Topé suicida by Guerrera. Back in the ring, Guerrera lands a stinger splash but Mysterio dodges a second corner charge. He dives off the top rope onto Guerrera on the floor below.
Both men struggle back into the ring. Mysterio charges and lands a picture-perfect Yoshi Tonic/Manami Roll. He pins, but Guerrera kicks out again. Guerrera ducks a punch and lands a German suplex on Mysterio. Superplex by Guerrera. He pins, gets to two, then breaks his own pin. He starts pointing Mysterio’s manager. Why? He looked like he had the match won.
Said manager gets to the apron and as soon as the ref’s back is turned, Guerrera’s second attacks Mysterio. Guerrera goes for another superplex but Mysterio counters into a pin in midair. The ref sees the manager on the apron and goes to him. Meanwhile, Guerrera’s second kicks Mysterio in the groin. The manager gets in the ring. The two seconds face off. The manager teases press-slamming him out of the ring. Can’t he just escape? He’s a fresh man, for God’s sake. Then the ref just raises Mysterio’s hand out of nowhere. The crowd cheers loudly. There’s the third fall, I guess.
Winner and NEW WWA Lightweight Champion: Rey Mysterio
This match might as well have been three separate matches, as each fall was basically an entirely different entity. . Everything in the first fall was great, with both men showing some impressive technical skill and basic wrestling know-how. All the moves executed were crisp, there was some believable drama, and they even did a great job selling the rivalry between them without saying a single word. Had the rest of the match progressed like this, it would’ve made this a much better contest overall.
The second fall was also pretty good with some high-impact moves from Guerrera and more of a Japanese-style match structure. But it wasn’t as good as the first fall because both wrestlers really started no-selling each other’s offense and some of the action started to get a bit sloppy.
Then the third one happened and things went right off a cliff.
The third fall was all about the high-octane action, which was actually pretty good. Both wrestlers showed some incredible skill with their suicide dives and incredible reversals, which allowed this match to get into high gear. But as soon as the seconds started getting involved, everything just fell apart. All sense of logical storytelling and match progression disappeared and was replaced with bullshit interference. Which didn’t even need to happen.
Guerrera had the match won for all intents and purposes with that superplex. All he had to do was wait for the three-count. Instead, he chose to shift the referee’s focus onto Rey’s manager instead of getting the three-count. And from there the mess just devolved into more unnecessary interference and shenanigans which completely took the focus away from what was, up to that point, a pretty good wrestling match. And to make matter worse, that small choice ended up costing Guerrera the entire match.
Once the seconds got involved it became a nonsensical interference bit with one person threatening to slam the other to the ground. And all of this occurred with the referee just standing there like a doofus as Rey moaned in pain clutching his groin after being punted there by Guerrera’s lackey. But none of that was really followed up on. Instead, after about a minute of pure nonsense, the ref just suddenly awarded Rey the victory. Not because Rey pinned Guerrera, or because the ref felt sympathy for him getting his testicles punted. He just awarded the match, just because. That gave Rey the victory, but it was a hollow one since everyone’s attention in the closing moments was on his manager, and not him.
Final Rating: ***1/4
This was a solid match that featured some pretty good lucha libre and a more focused logic, at least for the first fall. But all the goodwill established in the first fall was completely negated by how the match ended. It seemed like the bookers wanted to shoehorn the seconds into the match, and doing so really hurt what was otherwise a solid performance from two great cruiserweights.
Ultimately, this match was a disappointment that didn’t deserve a five-star rating. While the action itself was great, it wasn’t really as game-changing as it might’ve looked back in 1994. There was better cruiserweight wrestling elsewhere in the world, especially in New Japan where the junior worked more focused, psychologically-sound matches while still pulling off daredevil acrobatics.
But more importantly, this match is a prime example of how a nonsensical finish can ruin an otherwise great match. That interference segment didn’t need to happen, and once it started the match just derailed. It looked stupid and unnecessary as Rey and Guerrera demonstrated they could put on a great match just by themselves.
If Rey and Guerrera had been left alone to finish their match their way, this match would look much better in retrospect.
Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series right here. Thanks for reading.