If you started becoming a fan of the WWE product at the height of the “Ruthless Aggression,” there’s no doubt that one of your favorite superstars includes Rey Mysterio.
Going by many monikers such as the ‘Ultimate Underdog,’ ‘Biggest Little Man in WWE History,” and, “The Giant-Killer,” Mysterio is a legend and a generational talent who provided the WWE Universe with some of the best matches in the promotion’s history, as well as many unforgettable moments.
Feuds with the late-great Eddie Guerrero, winning the 2006 Royal Rumble match from the number two spot, and ultimately securing the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 22, and many more remains etched in the memories of many diehard WWE fans.
The Hall of Famer’s resume remains unparalleled and was the key driver in capturing the Latin market for the WWE, one of the most coveted demographics in the industry.
With that portion of the audience firmly in the promotion’s grasp, they don’t want to let go of it. They already set the wheels in motion over a decade ago to find the “Next Rey Mysterio,” which has ended in futility for one reason or another. That is until Dragon Lee came around.
That’s exactly what we will be talking about; the supposed successors of Rey Mysterio, why they didn’t capture the audience quite like the iconic masked Luchador, and why Dragon Lee will. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
Considered the biggest star in CMLL at one point, the WWE signing of Mistico made headlines at the start of the 2010s.
Rechristened as Sin Cara, it was apparent from the jump that the WWE was pushing for him to eventually take over the top Latin star spot in the promotion, with Mysterio “slowing down” at the beginning of the decade, which fans now know wasn’t the case.
The company did try really hard to establish Sin Cara as their next big Luchador. Unfortunately, Cara had a difficult time acclimating to the WWE style, along with reports that he was hard to work with and had a less-than-stellar attitude behind the scenes.
Even replacing him with Hunico as the man behind the mask didn’t pan out, with the new Sin Cara’s top career highlight being his NXT Tag Team Championship win with Lucha Dragons partner Kalisto, whom we’ll talk about briefly.
Alberto Del Rio
Dos Caras Jr., more well-known by his WWE moniker Alberto Del Rio, had no shortage when it comes to the talent department.
Once the Sin Cara experiment failed, WWE moved onto him and pushed him to the moon, winning the 2011 iteration of the Royal Rumble match and the Raw Money in the Bank briefcase, which he would ultimately cash in at that year’s SummerSlam to end the reign of CM Punk prematurely.
However, similar to Sin Cara, Del Rio had his fair share of backstage issues and was unable to connect with the audience. Del Rio was then let go by WWE, and rehired again, but he experienced a similar mediocre run during his 2nd stint, leaving the WWE without their next top Hispanic star.
The master of “good Lucha things” is next up on this list. Kalisto is probably the closest to Mysterio, up to this point, when it comes to look and skillset. Unfortunately, the former NXT Tag Team and United States Champion didn’t have the magnetic charisma Mysterio possesses.
WWE positioned him in big-time feuds for the U.S. Title, but Kalisto just wasn’t resonating with the fans. His last notable contribution to the promotion is his lower card act stable the Lucha House Party, with fellow Luchadors Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado before exiting the company.
In our personal opinion, Andrade is probably one of the most talented individuals that WWE failed to push. He has the look of a top star and an exciting and brutal in-ring style that will both amaze and have the WWE Universe wincing in horror.
Andrade had an excellent run as NXT Champion. Unfortunately, once he hit the main roster, he was just kind of there. His matches were still great, but WWE did not build him enough to make his bouts matter to fans.
The former La Sombra deserved more, and his failure boils down to WWE dropping the ball, He is now in AEW.
But, if rumors turn out to be true, he may find his way back to the WWE once his contract expires, giving the company a shot to, maybe not position him to be the next Rey Mysterio, but build his stock as a main event-level talent.
Honorable Mentions: Santos Escobar, Angel Garza, Humberto Carrillo
We wanted to briefly mention Los Lotharios and Santos Escobar. Let’s start with the former. Escobar was never necessarily positioned as the next big Hispanic star, but he does have the look and ability to do so. That said, a dastardly heel is much better suited for him than a babyface fans could get behind.
As for Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo, Garza was also in the conversation for the coveted spot, albeit at a lower scale, but Angel is more similar to Eddie Guerrero than Rey Mysterio.
This is backed up by his lady’s man gimmick from a few years ago, which is akin to the height of the ‘Latino Heat’ persona of Eddie in his program with the ‘9th Wonder of the World’ Chyna.
For Carrillo, WWE also pulled the trigger with him for a little bit. Unfortunately, like Kalisto, Humberto didn’t have the charm and ability to connect with the WWE like Rey Mysterio.
Dragon Lee: The Worthy Successor
After more than a decade, the search is over. Dragon Lee came into the WWE firing on all cylinders. He has all the tools that make Rey Mysterio special.
Lee has the charisma that encourages the fanbase to get behind him, and his own unique flavor when it comes to his aerial offense, something most would want from a top Luchador. You may be saying, ‘So, he’s just an exact carbon copy of Rey Mysterio?” That’s not the case, and it shouldn’t be.
The reason most of these candidates failed is WWE was trying to make them exactly like Rey Mysterio, which fans could see right through. Fortunately, that’s not what they’re doing with Dragon Lee.
While every masked wrestler or Hispanic star will always be compared to Rey Mysterio and be viewed by the WWE Universe as the ‘next in line to take over Mysterio’s spot,’ Dragon Lee’s ascent is more organic compared to the other individuals on this list.
As such, it’s no surprise that the Triple H-ran WWE is already giving him all the opportunities available to become this generation’s Rey Mysterio and to be the first Dragon Lee, evidenced by his NXT North American Championship win at NXT Deadline this year over ‘Dirty’ Dominik Mysterio.
If everything goes according to plan, this new batch of WWE fans will experience a similar excitement most fans felt in the Ruthless Aggression period whenever they saw Rey Mysterio with Dragon Lee.
The NXT North American Champion has some mighty big shoes to fill. That said, he’s more than capable of taking the reins on his way to becoming the next big Latin megastar.
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