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By PWINSIDER.COM STAFF on 2004-02-08 20:00:00

MAT CLASSIC: REY MYSTERIO VS. EDDIE GUERRERO
by Buck Woodward

The Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero match from Halloween Havoc 1997, Mask vs. Cruiserweight Title, is regularly held up (alongside the Bret Hart-Chris Benoit Owen Hart tribute match) as one of the best bouts to be produced by latter-day WCW.  In what is a common irony when it comes to truly great matches, it was far from being the focus of the promotion at the time.  It was the third bout on a nine match card, held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 26, 1997.  The feud of the day was NWO vs. WCW, and dominated all the headline bouts (Piper vs. Hogan, Page vs. Savage, Flair vs. Hennig, Luger vs. Hall).  Hell, even the horrid Jacquelyn vs. Disco Inferno feud was given more attention in the weeks preceding Havoc than Rey vs. Guerrero.  Still, there was a storyline behind the match, and when given the chance, it stole the show out from under everyone else.


History

Eddie Guerrero was a babyface in WCW, floating in the mid-card/semi main event slots, until he lost the WCW United States Title to Dean Malenko.  Guerrero then began a slow heel turn, eventually feuding with nephew Chavo to cement his position by "alienating his family".  WCW even brought in Hector Guerrero for an angle where he had to pull Eddie off of Chavo as he beat him unmercifully.  During this time, Eddie was moved into the Cruiserweight division, and defeated Chris Jericho for the title at Fall Brawl on September 14, 1997.  With Eddie as heel champion, it was only logical that Rey Mysterio Jr., the darling of the division, would challenge him.

The night after Guerrero won the title, he successfully defended it against Ultimo Dragon with a frog splash.  Earlier on the same show, Mysterio defeated longtime rival Juventud Guerrera with a hurricanrana. The following week, on the September 22nd edition of Nitro, the Mysterio-Guerrero feud would officially begin, as Eddie Guerrero came to ringside as Mysterio was facing Silver King (presumably to "scout" future challengers).  Mysterio won the match, and also knocked Guerrero off the ring apron when he tried to sneak attack Rey. The following week, Mysterio was again featured on Nitro, against a new masked opponent ... El Caliente.

Caliente, of course, was Guerrero in disguise, which was obvious to everyone but the announcers, as the crowd chanted "Eddie Sucks" at him. Mysterio scored the win with a springboard into a hurricanrana (later to be called the "West Coast Pop") and then unmasked Caliente, revealing that Mysterio had just pinned the Cruiserweight Champion. Guerrero was enraged and embarrassed, and now had to defend the title against someone who had proven he could beat him in the ring. On the October 6th edition of Nitro, Guerrero would get another win over Ultimo Dragon with the frog splash, while WCW would begin a series of segments that would end up adding emphasis to the Halloween Havoc match.

WCW produced a series of vignettes, hosted by Mike Tenay, to explain Lucha Libre and the tradition of the mask in Mexican wrestling to the Nitro audience.  These vignettes would tell WCW fans how important the mask was, and help in creating the stipulation of Mysterio-Guerrero.  On the October 13th Nitro, Eddie Guerrero defeated Psychosis after a frog splash, then tried to pull off his mask, showing disrespect to the tradition of the mask. Later that night, as Mysterio was wrestling Dean Malenko and was set to pin him following a hurricanrana, when Guerrero interfered, pulling the mask off of Mysterio.  As Rey tried to cover his face, Malenko put Rey in the Texas Cloverleaf, forcing him to tap out.  As Guerrero walked out, he held the mask up to the camera and mocked Rey, asking "Did you lose this?"

October 20, 1997 was the final Nitro before Halloween Havoc, with Eddie Guerrero pinning Chris Benoit with a frog splash to retain the WCW World Cruiserweight title. Another piece on Lucha Libre and the importance of the mask was shown, this time concentrating on Rey Mysterio Jr. and how the mask had been handed down to him from his uncle.  Rey wrestled Disco Inferno for the Television title, but Guerrero ran in and attacked Mysterio, giving him the disqualification win, but not the title.  The two slugged it out, as the stage was now set for their Pay-per-view match.  WCW Cruiserweight Champion Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio Jr., with the added stipulation that if Rey were to lose, he would have to unmask in the ring.

The Match

Halloween Havoc announcers Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan were joined for this match by Mike Tenay, who tossed out tons of relevant biographical information, like the fact that Rey had wrestled eight times in matches with his mask on the line, and had won them all.  He also mentioned that Guerrero had voluntarily unmasked when he was Mascara Magica, showing no respect for the "tradition" of the mask.  Mysterio came to the ring wearing a full body outfit with his mask attached to it that was styled after comic character The Phantom.  He also had the mask Guerrero had ripped off him on October 13th hanging around his neck. 

The crowd chanted "Eddie sucks" at the bell.  Guerrero began trash talking Mysterio in center ring, saying he was going to rip the mask "right off his head". Eddie went for a slap, but Mysterio ducked it, hit a punch, and grabbed a side headlock, which Guerrero immediately shoved off.  Rey rebounded off the ropes, went over Guerrero and went for a Quebrada moonsault.  Eddie caught the move, but Rey flipped out of Guerrero's grasp. Guerrero charged, and Rey leapfrogged him. Mysterio hit a monkey flip, then launched into a cross bodyblock, sending Guerrero over the top rope to the floor, while Mysterio landed on the apron and rolled back into the ring.  Mysterio teased a dive, but instead flipped over the top rope to the  apron.  Guerrero was a step ahead of him, and grabbed Mysterio by the legs and yanked him off the apron to the floor.  Guerrero tossed Mysterio head first into the ringsteps, then back into the ring, so he could hit him with a slingshot senton to the back.  Guerrero incited the crowd, bragging about what he had done to Rey.

Guerrero delivered a chop and slugged Rey to the mat, but Mysterio reversed a whip and delivered a perfect dropkick. Rey built up a head of steam and went for a handspring, but Guerrero caught him and delivered a high back suplex. Guerrero hit a brain buster for a two count, then immediately hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for another two.  Guerrero began pulling at one of the eye holes on Rey's mask, then applied an abdominal stretch.  Guerrero occasionally pulled on the mask while maintaining the hold, but the referee would make Guerrero release the mask.  Guerrero turned the stretch into a pumphandle backbreaker.  Eddie covered Rey, who got his shoulder up at two.  Eddie forced Rey's shoulders back down twice more while in a test of strength, but Rey kept bridging up.  After a fourth two count, Eddie went to drop his weight on Rey, but Mysterio kicked Guerrero to his feet and in one fluid motion, maintaining the test of strength, Rey also jumped to his feet, then to the middle of the top rope, releasing one of Guerrero's hands.  Mysterio sprung off the top rope into a backflip and drove Guerrero down to the mat with a DDT. 

Both men struggled to their feet, and Rey dropkicked Guerrero from the ring.  Rey attempted to springboard from the middle rope inside the ring to the floor.  Guerrero though, had slid back into the ring, so Rey caught himself and landed on the ring apron. Guerrero dropkicked Mysterio off the apron to the floor. Eddie went to the outside and whipped Rey chest first into the guardrail, then tossed him back into the ring.  Guerrero applied a camel clutch, and again ripped at the mask.  Guerrero added a crossface to his camel clutch, eventually releasing the hold and applying the Gory Special.  Rey broke free and took Eddie down with a reverse armdrag as he came down off Guerrero's back. Rey went for a dropkick, but Eddie sidestepped it, and dropkicked a seated Mysterio right in the back of the head. Guerrero put Rey in an over the shoulder backbreaker, then dropped to his knees, bouncing Rey back first over his shoulder. Guerrero applied a variation of a bow and arrow on the mat, driving his knee into Rey's back while locking up the right arm and leg. Eddie sent Rey into motion, and hit a side bodyblock as Rey rebounded off the ropes.  Eddie went for a cover, but his foot was on the ropes, and Rey also reached out and grabbed the ropes to stop the count. 

Pushing Rey into the turnbuckles, Eddie went for forearms and chops in the corner, but Rey responded with forearms. Rey chopped Guerrero, and went for a whip, but Eddie stopped it and kneed Mysterio in the midsection. Guerrero tossed Rey into the opposite corner, flipping him, and Mysterio ended up hung in the Tree of Woe. Eddie dropkicked Rey in the chest, then backed up, smirking, for another kick.  This time, Rey sat up, and Guerrero slid across the mat and crotched himself on the ringpost. Eddie regrouped on the floor, and Mysterio dove off the top rope over the ringpost to hit Guerrero with a cross bodyblock, sending Guerrero crashing into the guardrails. Mysterio tossed Eddie into the ring and went for a whip, but Eddie reversed it.  Eddie went for a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, but Rey flipped out of it, and from a standing position, Rey hit a hurricanrana and hooked Guerrero's legs for a two count.  Eddie charged Rey and decked him with a lariat. 

Guerrero whipped Rey across the ring, and Mysterio springboarded into a backflip off the middle rope, over Guerrero.  Rey charged and Eddie sidestepped him, and Mysterio spun inbetween the top and middle rope (what would later be part of the 619) and grabbed Eddie in a headscissors, doing a complete revolution before pulling Guerrero over the top rope and to the floor.  Mysterio landed on the apron and launched himself into a somersault flip over the top rope, then grabbed Guerrero into a rana on the floor.  Rey tossed Guerrero back in, and went to the top rope.  Rey went into a corkscrew moonsault, hitting a standing Guerrero with his back.  Rey got a two count, then slammed Eddie to the mat.  Mysterio went for an Arabian Press, but Guerrero got his knees up.  Guerrero then delivered a powerbomb, but Rey kicked out at two. Guerrero grabbed Rey in a Fireman's carry, then rammed him back first into the corner.  Eddie charged Rey, who moved, sending Guerrero into the buckles, and Rey hit a back kick.  Rey set up for the springboard rana, but Eddie caught it and sent Mysterio crashing to the mat with a backbreaker. 

Eddie went to the top rope for a frog splash, but Rey moved as Eddie was in mid-dive.  Eddie turned into a somersault on the mat to avoid crashing.  Rey went for a rana, Eddie pushed him over the top of his head, and Rey landed on the top rope behind Eddie.  Guerrero turned around and shoved Mysterio's legs, crotching him on the top. Eddie went for a back superplex, with Rey punching to avoid it.  Rey finally elbowed Guerrero, who was standing on the middle rope, and got him to release his waistlock.  However, Guerrero stayed on the ropes and elbowed Rey back down into a seated position on the connecting cable between the turnbuckle and the ringpost. Eddie then positioned Rey for a second rope crucifix powerbomb, but Rey turned it into a rana in mid move, and hooked Guerrero's legs to win the Cruiserweight Title and keep his mask.


The Aftermath

The night after Halloween Havoc, Mysterio successfully defended the Cruiserweight Title by pinning Dean Malenko with a small package as Malenko went for the Texas Cloverleaf, avenging his loss to Malenko that Guerrero had caused on October 13th.  Guerrero also scored a victory, beating Chris Jericho with a frog splash.  The next week, on the November 3rd edition of Nitro, an unusual tag match was held, as Guerrero was paired up with Malenko to face Mysterio and Steven (William) Regal. After a bout that saw little trust and a lot of "tagging yourself in while your partner doesn't know", Malenko forced Mysterio to tap out to the Texas Cloverleaf.

You would think that Malenko's victory would line him up for a title shot, but the following week WCW gave Guerrero a rematch with Mysterio, and on that November 10th Nitro. Eddie regained the WCW World Cruiserweight title, ending Mysterio's reign after only two weeks. Guerrero would then start a feud with Malenko, who felt he should have had the title shot that night.  Mysterio would go back to floating around, having great matches and waiting to be pushed again.

Feedback can be sent to Buck Woodward at BuckWrestling@aol.com

 


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