Rey Mysterio Says WCW Missed The Boat On Merch Sales By Unmasking Him

Rey Mysterio was forced to unmask himself after he and Konnan lost a Hair vs. Mask Match to Kevin Nash and Scott Hall at SuperBrawl IX in February 1999. Thereafter, Mysterio wrestled without a mask during the final few years of his time in WCW, as part of factions such as No Limit Soldiers and The New Blood.


While the decision was met with criticism at the time, former WCW President Eric Bischoff justified Mysterio's unmasking on his podcast a few years ago, stating that the move was made with the intention to improve Mysterio's "ability to connect to the audience." Mysterio has pushed back against Bischoff's decision over the years, reiterating several times that he was always "marketable with the mask."

During his recent appearance on Logan Paul's "Impaulsive" podcast, Mysterio doubled down on his earlier take that WCW missed an opportunity by unmasking him.

"WCW was the only time I wrestled without a mask," Rey said. "I really wasn't comfortable. I didn't want to go through that phase. Back then, I really protected my face. You never saw me without a mask, and I would always move away from the group when we all traveled together, so they wouldn't recognize me. 


"But, when I came to WWE, it's like this a machine that wanted to promote and put my mask out there. That is something WCW never took advantage of. That's why I came back with my mask [when I joined WWE]."

In subsequent years, WWE was seemingly proven right by deciding against unmasking Mysterio, seeing as the luchador's mask has been a hot-ticket WWE merchandise item for the better part of two decades. In fact, Jim Ross revealed on his podcast a few years ago that Vince McMahon looked past Mysterio's size and pushed him as a top-tier guy due to his merch sales. 

'That Might Have Opened The Eyes Of WWE'

There is another school of thought, among some wrestling fans and pundits, that the unmasking in WCW helped Mysterio's career. After all, the luchador earned the nickname "The Giant Killer" by defeating the likes of Kevin Nash, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Scott Norton as part of his singles push in 1999, which was triggered by his unmasking. Mysterio admits that while the decision backfired on WCW, it gave WWE pointers on how not to utilize his talents.


"There was a phase in WCW where all luchadors were being unmasked," Mysterio continued. "After Juventud [Guerrera] was unmasked by [Chris] Jericho, they actually wanted to unmask me at Halloween Havoc in 1997 during my match against Eddie [Guerrero]. I fought for it, and they didn't go through. However, they eventually took it off [two years later at SuperBrawl IX].

"In hindsight, I actually think that if they never unmasked me, I wouldn't have gone through the Giant Killer phase. So, that kinda opened a new territory and gave people a new vision for me to work with bigger talents. In a way, that might have opened the eyes of WWE to eventually say, 'Oh, we've never had a small talent like Rey, but let's bring him over someday.'"


While Rey never actually wrestled without a mask in WWE, he was unmasked in the ring several times during heated rivalries/matches. As an example, his match against Chris Jericho at Extreme Rules 2009 ended with Jericho unmasking Mysterio and pinning him. After the match, Mysterio tried to hide his face as he walked to the back. Also, Mysterio was briefly unmasked during his rivalry with Randy Orton in 2018, his recent feud with The Miz in 2022, and even during his rivalry with "Dashing" Cody Rhodes in 2011.