Rey Mysterio was perhaps the biggest breath of fresh air in wrestling during the 1990s. Anyone that followed the Wrestling Observer at the time knew that Mysterio was hyped up as this amazing wrestling prodigy the likes of which the world hadn’t seen in ages. He was a pioneer, an innovator, a game-changer. His matches changed the landscape of high-flying wrestling during a decade of incredible transformation all over the wrestling world. He was said to be so awesome that by the time he had this match, his third match to be rated 5-stars by the Observer, he was only twenty years old.
A lot has changed in the years since Mysterio debuted, but the man himself is still wrestling. He’s a living legend that has had many spectacular matches over the course of his storied career. And today we revisit one of those early classics. It features Mysterio in his element, in a pure lucha environment in which he doesn’t have to worry about things like gimmicks, angles, and people burying him for being too small. It’s one of Mysterio’s best matches, supposedly. Now, over twenty-five years later, let’s see if it’s still that good.
Today we look back at Mysterio’s classic singles match against Psicosis from an AAA show on September 22nd, 1995.
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 is a two-out-of-three-falls match for the WWA World Welterweight Title. There’s your story. Simple and straightforward.
They shake hands and the match begins. They do some basic lock-ups to start and Mysterio manages to knock Psicosis out of the ring. Psicosis dashes back into the ring and applies a hammerlock but Mysterio flips out of it. They follow with a tremendous lucha sequence that goes back-and-forth until Mysterio shoots Psicosis out of the ring. Psicosis takes his time coming back in and takes Mysterio by the arm when he does. Mysterio counters into an armlock of his own but Psicosis quickly counters into a pin for a one-count. Psicosis tries to use his power advantage but Mysterio quickly counters into a roll-up. He and Psicosis trade control in lightning-quick transitions and take-downs that goes on for a bit until Mysterio lands another arm drag.
Mysterio works over Psicosis’s legs as the crowd chants his name. He tries to maintain control but Psicosis out-powers him for a quick two-count. Psicosis applies different submission holds and then lands two German suplexes but Mysterio counters the third one into another roll-up for two. Mysterio tries to get a running start on some big move but falls off the rope. Psicosis tries to take advantage with a corner wheel kick but Mysterio dodges and wrestles into a type of octopus-hold-like submission move. Psicosis taps out.
Winner of the first fall: Rey Mysterio
After a reprieve, the second round starts and Mysterio dropkicks Psicosis’s knee. Psicosis fails to reach the ropes and Mysterio applies a bow-and-arrow/armlock combination hold to weaken as many limbs as possible. Psicosis counters into a standard leglock and then applies a figure-4 leglock which causes Mysterio to scream out in pain. He switches to his own bow-and-arrow hold but Mysterio counters into a pin for two. Psicosis maintains control with a big slam and a leg drop but Mysterio keeps fighting with constant springboard moves. He goes for a big one but Psicosis counters into an electric chair drop and follows with a diving moonsault. Psicosis tries to apply another submission hold but Mysterio keeps countering into a crucifix pin. Wait, no, Psicosis applies another submission hold. It’s hard to tell due to the grainy video. Apparently Mysterio gives up, giving Psicosis the victory.
Winner of the second fall: Psicosis
The third fall begins with Mysterio dodging a corner dropkick and landing a running hurricanrana. Psicosis gloats for a moment thinking he’s in control but Mysterio lands a diving hurricanrana from the top rope. Psicosis recovers ringside and then dodges a corner splash upon returning. Then Psicosis charges but misses and the momentum sends him back out of the ring, allowing Mysterio to land a springboard 450 senton onto Psicosis on the floor. Great move there.
Back in the ring, Mysterio lands a gorgeous Yoshi tonic/Manami roll for two. He charges but Psicosis monkey flips him over the rope and out of the ring. Psicosis charges and lands a suicide dive onto Mysterio. Psicosis gloats in the ring again thinking he’s in control but Mysterio springboard dropkicks him in the back of the head. Psicosis falls out of the ring again, Mysterio follows with a picture-perfect Asai moonsault. Both guys return to the ring slowly, but Mysterio has more energy as he lands a springboard snap frankensteiner for a very close two-count. Then suddenly Psicosis catches him and lands a falling powerbomb. Psicosis goes for another powerbomb but Mysterio counters into a hurricanrana. One, two, no, Psicosis kicks out. Psicosis avoids a dropkick and knocks Mysterio out of the ring with a kick of his own. Then his manager grabs Mysterio and holds him in position for a dive. Psicosis climbs the top rope, dives…and misses Mysterio and hits his manager instead. Mysterio uses that mistake to recover and hit a springboard plancha.
Psicosis hobbles back into the ring and misses a corner charge. That allows Mysterio to hit a tornado DDT and apply an octopus stretch. Psicosis gives up. Mysterio wins the match after about 22 minutes.
Winner and NEW WWA World Welterweight Champion: Rey Mysterio, Jr.
That was a fun little lucha match. There was no story or angles here; just twenty minutes of pure lucha libre action. It was great to see Mysterio and Psicosis before they came to the US; this match really showed why both of them (but Mysterio in particular) were seen as such wrestling prodigies.
The match was great with a solid blend of technical wrestling, dazzling lucha spots and submission holds. Mysterio was incredibly fast and agile as he ran around the ring like he was weightless. He and Psicosis pulled off some truly amazing lucha moves that seem commonplace today but were revolutionary twenty-five years ago. The crowd played a big role in making this into a bigger match. They cheered all the big spots and rallied behind Mysterio, especially during the tense third fall. Their animation helped turn this from basically an exhibition title match into something much bigger and better.
My only problem with this match is that it came across as way too choreographed. Lucha libre has always been more about extravagant and complex maneuvers at the expense of realism and that was on full display here. There were a lot of moments in the match where the action looked like it belonged in a Cirque de Soleil show instead of a competitive wrestling show. Mysterio was particularly guilty of this as he constantly ran towards the ropes for a move even though he knew that Psicosis was right behind him and ready to counter him. That sort of lack of common sense really hurt the match. Yes, I get it, Mysterio is small and has to rely on his speed to win. But that doesn’t mean he needs to sacrifice logic to come up with a way to counter his larger opponent.
Worse, lucha is more susceptible to aging poorly than any other form of pro-wrestling. The stuff they put on here was great but fails to hold up due to simple evolution. The lucha style would become far more polished, digestible and exciting in the years after this match took place. Mysterio in particular would find his happy balance between nonstop blistering lucha and more psychology-based American-style wrestling with his big ECW match against Juventud Guerrera and his WCW match with Eddy Guerrero two years later.
Final Rating: ****1/4
By no means is this not a great match; if you’re a fan of lucha libre and especially the living legend that is Rey Mysterio (Jr.), then I strongly recommend you watch this match. But it just doesn’t hold up well to time. The goalposts and standards of high-flying lucha have transformed so much over the past twenty-five years that this match looks primitive in comparison. It’s still good as a pure lucha libre match and never ventures into overkill territory unlike a lot of modern matches. All in all, this is a great match, but not worthy of being in the conversation of historic epics.
Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series right here. Thanks for reading.