Rey Mysterio's last stand: The luchador on his injury, his return and the possibility of retirement
Rey Mysterio hasn’t competed in a WWE ring since Feb. 4, 2013. After a hard-fought battle against Daniel Bryan, The Master of the 619 was on the receiving end of a vicious attack from Mark Henry that aggravated a lingering knee injury, leaving the masked marvel with no choice but to take time away from the squared circle to recuperate. Mysterio surprised the WWE Universe on Sept. 22, when he made a special appearance at a Live Event in Hidalgo, Texas, to give an update on his recovery. WWE fans were shocked as Mysterio, supporting himself with a crutch, said he was aiming to come back to the ring on Oct. 16, when WWE hits Querétaro, Mexico. With rumors of his return swirling around, WWE.com spoke with The Ultimate Underdog to talk about his injuries, his journey back to the ring and whether this will be Mysterio’s last stand.
WWE.COM: Can you describe the injury that’s kept you out of the ring?
REY MYSTERIO: What’s slowed me down in my career are [anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)] tears in my left knee. After the first one in 1997, they started happening one after another. We’ve used everything we could in terms of re-attaching my ACL [with ligaments from] my body. Now, we’ve gone into cadavers to reattach them. That’s what’s slowed me down, my left knee. My right one, knock on wood, is all good. The rest of my body, thank God, is all good.
WWE.COM: Did you have surgery this time?
MYSTERIO: No, 2011 was my last surgery. What they did was they repaired the ACL and the [posterior cruciate ligament]. That’s when they realized that the inner part of my knee had no more cartilage. So, the inner part of my left knee is bone on bone, arthritic.
WWE.COM: So what led you to Dr. James Andrews?
MYSTERIO: I came back a little too soon. I came back at SummerSlam 2012 and wrestled through January 2013. The knee just gave out on me again. That’s when I went to go see him. We tried a new approach, which was stem cell treatment.
WWE.COM: What does that entail?
MYSTERIO: What they do is they extract blood from the bone marrow, where your body reproduces it. Then, they inject it with two other ingredients directly into my left knee, into the joint. That way, blood cells can activate and manipulate in a way that they start working so there’s more blood flow. Hopefully, because medicine and these types of procedures are fairly new, within time, I’m hoping to regrow cartilage.
WWE.COM: What’s your rehab been like?
MYSTERIO: I’ve been working on strengthening my quads and hamstrings. Also a bit of plyometrics, but the focus has mainly been on my quads, trying to get them strong enough to withstand all the action that I do in the ring.
WWE.COM: You recently tweeted that you visited the WWE Performance Center during your rehab. Did you get in the ring?
MYSTERIO: Yes, I had the chance to go in the ring a couple of times. It’s an incredible place, definitely the top training center that I have been in.
WWE.COM: What did it feel like getting back in the ring after being out for so long?
MYSTERIO: It always comes back to conditioning. No matter how much cardio you do — running or biking or whatever — it’s never the same as being in the ring. That was the first thing I felt.
WWE.COM: How do you think you’ll have to adapt your in-ring style when you come back?
MYSTERIO: After so many surgeries, I had to modify my game. I know what I can and can’t do in order to keep performing for a long period of time. It won’t be hard. I’ve done it in the past after my previous surgeries. I don’t think I realized it at the time, but I tend to modify certain moves and my landings, as well. I’m sure once I get back into the ring, it’ll all start coming back into place and it’ll feel normal to me. I definitely won’t be able to do certain things that I’ve done in the past, but there’s no way I shouldn’t be able to replace those moves with others.
WWE.COM: Do you have a target date for your return to the squared circle?
MYSTERIO: With this new procedure, it’s been floating around in the air. There’s not that much time left before the end of the year. I’m hoping that either Thanksgiving comes a little early or Christmas comes a little early.
WWE.COM: You recently announced that you’ll be a part of WWE’s upcoming tour of Mexico. What does it mean for you to go back to Mexico?
MYSTERIO: It feels good. That’s where I came from. Those are my roots, my people. To be able to go back and treat them with my presence and whatever else I can give to them is fulfilling.
WWE.COM: Any chance you’ll get involved in the action during the tour?
MYSTERIO: I think if the crowd really wants it, why not? Why not try?
WWE.COM: With all of the injuries you’ve had, have you ever given thought to retiring?
MYSTERIO: No. I’m 39 years old and I know I’ve been doing this for quite some time, over two decades. Retirement is, for me, something that’ll be down the road, but not within the next two or three years. I feel like, with how medicine is evolving, something will be out there soon that can help you heal from arthritis. That might be what helps my longevity and pushes me to keep performing.
WWE.COM: Finally, do you have any message you’d like to send to the WWE Universe?
MYSTERIO: First off, I want to thank WWE for the patience and support that they’ve had, for knowing that I’m on the bench and working hard to get back.
To the fans, thank you for your patience and concern. They’ve been on point with my career, especially after my injuries. Their motivational tweets, Instagram shots — they’ve been pushing me to overcome this. It’s been frustrating not being able to do what you love to do the most. Trust me, when I do come back, I’ll make up for the lost time and entertain much more.