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Ask 411 Wrestling: Has Rey Mysterio Been Too Protected In His Career?

September 22, 2023 | Posted by Ryan Byers
WWE Hall of Fame 2023 Rey Mysterio Image Credit: WWE

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

If you have one of those queries searing a hole in your brain, feel free to send it along to me at [email protected]. Don’t be shy about shooting those over – the more, the merrier.

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Who’s that jumping out the sky? Anti-climacticly, it’s Michael:

When people talk about protected wrestlers or those who bury everyone, why does Rey Mysterio never seem to come up? The dude never loses. It was laughable for years due to his size but now adding his age, it’s even worse. I mean he never lost to Eddie Guerrero. Ever. Think about that. And even this year he beats Dom and Mania, wins a U.S. title contender tournament, with a finals win over Escobar, and then wins the U.S. title from Theory and then beats him again. Why has been pushed so hard his whole career?

Wait, what?

All due respect to Michael, but I legitimately don’t think that in the history of my writing this column I’ve ever disagreed more with the concept behind a question. People don’t complain about Rey beating everybody because . . . Rey doesn’t beat everybody.

Saying that he never lost to Eddie Guerrero is demonstrably false. Eddie beat him for the WCW Cruiserweight Title in November 1997 on Monday Nitro and then retained in rematches at that year’s World War 3 pay per view and on WCW Saturday Night. Eddie also beat him twice on Nitro in 1998 before they teamed up in the Filthy Animals stable in 1999. I will grant you that, when the two faced each other in WWE, Misterio won far more of the matches, but Guerrero did beat him several times in television matches on Smackdown, including on November 12, 2002, March 16, 2004, and September 6, 2005.

As to the remainder of Rey Rey’s career, if anything fans have historically complained about him not winning enough as opposed to winning too much. When he branched out of the cruiserweight division in WCW, the company had him lose his mask to Kevin Nash in a much derided decision. He inexplicably lost his WWE pay per view debut to Kurt Angle at Summerslam 2002. His first televised shot at the Cruiserweight Title in WWE was a loss to Matt Hardy at Wrestlemania XIX. When he did defeat Hardy for the title, he had a feud with Tajiri that was booked 50/50. Hell, he lost the Cruiserweight Title to an over the hill Chavo Guerrero Sr. in 2004. He and the previously mentioned Eddie Guerrero helped make MNM in one of that team’s early feuds. His 2006 World Heavyweight Title reign is widely regarded as a disaster because, after he initially got the belt, the company wouldn’t let him go over anybody clean. Kane murdered him to quickly end his second World Heavyweight Title reign in 2010, as he was effectively a transitional champion. He got to sniff the WWE Title in 2011, but John Cena beat him for the belt literally as soon as he won it. After some time away from WWE, he returned to the company and in 2019 did everything he could to put over Andrade.

So, yeah, Misterio has beaten some younger wrestlers this year. However, let’s not pretend that he’s Hulk Hogan in 1998 WCW or something. He’s done plenty to give back to pro wrestling over the years, and I have a hard time believing that will change at this point in his career.

Jon is going all in:

With the legitimately incredible crowd AEW drew in London, I got to thinking about the totally insane show WCW once did in North Korea.

Is it possible that number was actually larger? And for those who may not know, can you tell the story of this ridiculous show?

For anybody who may not know what North Korean show Jon is referencing, it’s the Pyongyang International Sports and Culture Festival for Peace, commonly referred to as “Collision in Korea” in the United States. The two-night pro wrestling event was held in Pyongyang, North Korea in April 1995 and the most credible records available tend to show that there were 150,000 and 165,000 fans in attendance for the two respective nights of in-ring action.

Though Jon refers to Collision in Korea as a WCW show, the fact of the matter is that it was more a New Japan Pro Wrestling show, which was the brainchild of NJPW founder Antonio Inoki. By this point, Inoki had also become a politician, and one of the key pieces of his platform was attempting to repair relationship between Japan and North Korea, presumably in hopes that it would cause North Korea to become a more open, democratic society. For extra star power on the shows, Inoki did use NJPW’s working relationship with WCW to get several WCW stars on the card, most notably Ric Flair. WCW also aired an edited version of the cards on American pay per view.

I won’t go into much more detail on the story behind the event than that, because Sports Illustrated already did an excellent oral history of the shows several years ago, which you can read here. Of course, the story was also the subject of an episode of Dark Side of the Ring.

Given the numbers that I mentioned above, there is no question that both nights of Collision in Korea had more people in attendance than AEW’s recent London show.

The existence of these show is the reason why, when AEW has claimed All In set an all-time attendance record, they’ve been careful to specify that it set an all-time paid attendance record. Yes, Collision in Korea had more people in the building, but there is little no no record of how many people (if any) actually paid to be there. To the contrary, it has been suggested that most of the fans were let in for free – and some perhaps even forced to attend by the tyrannical North Korean government – for the purpose of creating a record-setting crowd that would put a positive face on Korean society.

And, really, paid attendance is the statistic that should matter much more than raw attendance with no accounting for ticket sales. After all, pro wrestling is a business, and your business hasn’t made any direct money off of somebody who you’ve let into a card for free.

Bret is stacking questions on questions:

The question of which wrestlers from a particular year are still going has me wondering (though I will set tighter criteria than the OP) . . .

What is the most recent year from which there are ZERO wrestlers from that years televised promotions who are active and relevant to an American audience today, with the parameters of “active and relevant” as a phrase being having had at least 3 matches in the last 12 months that have either been televised or streamed, or were part of the Indy scene surrounding a show put on by a major company (Mania week, All Out, others)? Your research skills are top notch, and you seem to enjoy this, so i feel neither guilt nor shame at making this request!

For those of you who may have missed it, Bret is referencing our most recent column in which stalwart Disqus commenter AG Awesome asked me how many people who wrestled in 1994 were still active in the ring.

Having reviewed older folks who are still active wrestlers, I think the answer to Bret’s question is . . .


I was not able to find anybody actively wrestling in a way that meets Bret’s criteria who debuted any earlier than our old friend Sting, who appears to have had his first match in late 1985. That makes 1984 the answer to the question.

That being said, if you want to broaden Bret’s question a bit and include not just American wrestlers, I was able to get the answer to go significantly furhter back to . . .


That extension comes to us courtesy of one Mr. Atsushi Onita, who debuted in April 1974, having his rookie year with All Japan Pro Wrestling before an injury kicked him out of the big leagues and caused him to reevaluate his style, turning him into the godfather of deathmatch wrestling that we know him to be today. Onita continues to be active in the ring pretty regularly, wrestling two to three matches per month in 2023 and appearing in televised matches (a key part of Bret’s criteria) this year for the previously mentioned AJPW as well as DDT.

Tyler from Winnipeg is hanging out with Hanoi Jane:

Does Ted Turner deserve any credit for AEW?

No, not really. Ted Turner hasn’t had an active role in TNT, TBS, or Warner Brothers Discovery (the parent company of the two networks) for many, many years. It’s not as though these are still his networks and he had an active role in getting AEW programming on to them.

At best, you could say Turner deserves some credit because Tony Khan was clearly a fan of Monday Night War-era WCW before he got into the business himself, and those shows influenced some of Khan’s decisions in terms of booking and production. However, even then, I think wrestling fans overstate the involvement that Ted Turner had in WCW, largely because of the narrative WWE and Vince McMahon have tried to perpetuate forever that Vince and the WWF “beat Ted Turner” in the 1990s. In reality, though Turner always thought wrestling programming was a solid choice to be on his television networks and though he greenlit Monday Nitro, it’s not as though Turner had an active role in booking or even the management of WCW. He was jut the top executive of the large media conglomerate that owned the wrestling promotion.

I wouldn’t say that Turner connects to AEW at all except for in the most abstract of senses.

Gilles is being true to himself:

How many wrestlers with an “Indian” gimmick really were Native Americans?

Honestly, it’s more than I would’ve guessed when I started looking into the answer to this question.

I’ll start by noting Jack and Jerry Brisco. Admittedly, the Brisco brothers never had an “Indian” gimmick in the sense that they were coming out to the ring wearing headdresses and doing a war dance, but they were always acknowledged on commentary and in interviews as having Native American heritage, and this was legitimate. In fact, the brothers are both members of the Chickasaw Hall of Fame, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a member of the indigenous Chickasaw nation.

Wahoo McDaniel, star of the AWA and many NWA territories, was legitimately of Choctaw and Chickasaw native heritage, which he played off of not only in his time as a professional wrestler but also during his time as a star player in the American Football League.

Though the WWF has promoted many a faux Native American, 1990s star Tatanka is legitimately of Lumbee heritage, that being a tribe which is primarily located in North Carolina.

The name Woody Strode might cause people reading this column to think of an actor rather than a wrestler, and they’d be right, because Strode had a long career in film, mostly westerns though he also received a Golden Globe nomination for a role in Spartacus. Though best known for his acting career, Woody also spent quite some time as a wrestler throughout the 1940s and 1950s, where his legitimate Native American heritage was acknowledged but not a large part of his gimmick.

It is widely known that WWWF star Chief Jay Strongbow was actually an Italian guy in redface, but his kayfabe brother Jules Strongbow, with whom Jay held the WWWF Tag Team Championship on two occasions, was actually of indigenous ancestry. In an interesting trivia note, in addition to teaming with Jay Strongbow, Jules also teamed with Wahoo McDaniel for a period of time, most notably in All Japan Pro Wrestling’s World’s Strongest Tag League tournament in Billy Corgan’s favorite year of 1979. (At the time, Jules was known as Frank Hill.)

Charlie Norris whose biggest national exposure came in WCW in 1993 but who wrestled in latter-day territories and independents for almost twenty years, was a true Native American, having been born on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota.

Going from the 1990s to the 1960s, let’s talk about Chief White Owl. Real name George Dahmer, he was a wrestler with Cherokee ancestry from Ohio who wrestled from the mid-1950s through the mid-1970s. Though in his early and late career he mostly appeared in regional promotions in his home state, during his peak he was part of the roster for the Sheik’s Big Time Wrestling in Michigan, and he also had a run as a midcard babyface in the WWWF in the mid-60s, feuding with names like Waldo Von Erich and Smasher Sloan.

Originally getting into the entertainment game as a movie actor, Suni War Cloud has twenty-seven credits on IMDB, mostly westerns before the United States entered into World War II. After the war, he decided that he wanted to get into professional wrestling in addition to continuing with acting, and that began a career that would last the next twenty-four years. War Cloud wrestled all over North America, including time with Jim Crockett Promotions in the 1960s.

Part of the Mohawk people, Chief Don Eagle was a professional boxer before he was a professional wrestler, racking up a career 16-4 record facing contenders mostly in Chicago. When he switched over to pro wrestling, he became rather popular and, in 1950, won the version of the World Heavyweight Title promoted by the AWA in Boston. (Not to be confused with Verne Gagne’s AWA.) Interestingly, he was involved in a legitimate screwjob for the championship, as a rival promoter to the AWA worked with Gorgeous George and a referee to fast count Eagle, taking then championship from the Chief when that was not the planned finish.

Billy Two Rivers was actually a young man from the same First Nations community as Don Eagle, and Eagle recruited him from that community and trained him for professional wrestling. Two Rivers made his pro wrestling debut in 1953 and wrestled as late as 1973. He gained quite a bit of international exposure, wrestling not just for Jim Crockett Promotions in the US but also for Joint Promotions in the UK and against Giant Baba for the JWA in Japan.

Going back in history even further still, Vancouver’s Chief Thunderbird was born in 1896 . . . yes, that’s 1896, and he too was a pro boxer before he was a pro wrestler, with a 27-5 record. He began wrestling relatively late in life, in 1934 at the age of 38. For the majority of his career he hung out on the west coast of both the United States and Canada, including competing for Klondike Wrestling – a forerunner of Stu hart’s Stampede Wrestling – in the early 1950s.

Though they also had singles careers, Oklahoma wrestlers Kit Fox and Chief Big Heart spent a significant amount of time as a tag team across the country. This included a stint in NWA Capitol Wrestling, the promotion controlled by the McMahon family before the World Wide Wrestling Federation name was adopted. While there, they wrestled legendary teams like the Fabulous Kangaroos and Eddie and Jerry Graham.

There were also several legitimate Native American women who became professional wrestlers, including Winona Littleheart, who would later become The Lock in Kevin Sullivan’s Army of Darkness stable in Florida; Princess Tona Tomah, who was a frequent opponent of major women’s star Penny Banner in 1959; and Princess Little Cloud, who in the 1960s faced the Fabulous Moolah for her Women’s World Title Florida, the WWWF, and the AWA.

We’ll close out this list with the Navajo Warrior an Arizona-based wrestler who celebrated thirty years in the industry in 2022. In that time, he’s done enhancement work for the WWF under the name Shawn Dakota, faced some of pro wrestling’s future stars in UPW, toured Japan with ZERO1, and, perhaps most notably, helped to found long-running southwestern independent group Impact Zone Wrestling.

We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected]. You can also leave questions in the comments below, but please note that I do not monitor the comments as closely as I do

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Ask 411 Wrestling, Ryan Byers