The WWE Network has been a gem to many people who weren’t around to watch the WCW and Monday Night Wars. While WCW was famous for having some of the biggest names in pro wrestling, it was one particular division that would low-key steal the show time and again. Far before WWE decided to give them any emphasis, it was Eric Bischoff and WCW who gave opportunities to Cruiserweight superstars.
This was where superstars such as Rey Mysterio Jr., Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, etc. all thrived. They were given their own spot and they would constantly steal the show with mesmerizing in-ring performances. But when it came to mesmerizing in-ring performers, there were few on the level of Mysterio Jr. He is one of the all-time greats but 1997 was the time when he was getting some serious momentum on his side.
His rivalry against Eddie Guerrero was a classic and though we remember it well from 2005, their best match was undoubtedly in 1997. Even in the late ’90s, Eddie Guerrero knew well how to be a nasty heel. When he was hated, he was the most hated man in the world. There’s no doubt that looking back, it was incredible heelwork from his part.
Mysterio, on the other hand, was always a babyface and a great one. It automatically made for a really good dynamic and it translated well both in the build and in the ring. It wasn’t just the story of Eddie Guerrero’s Cruiserweight Championship – it was a story about Mysterio Jr.’s pride a heritage – his mask.
The mask has been used in many storylines before but this was perhaps one of the most significant ones. In hindsight, it’s incredible to think of what they were able to achieve on a card that featured the likes of Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, DDP, Randy Savage, etc. They had what was bar none the best match of the show.
The psychology of it all was outstanding. It’s no surprise that the match was a high-flying, high-paced, high-intensity kind, but they really doubled down on the storytelling. Mysterio was the fast-paced babyface while Guerrero slowed him down methodically and tried to make him suffer as much he possibly could. And the reaction that they received said it all. It was a time when wrestling was still the land of giants and the fact that these two “small” men could do what they did speaks volumes of how talented they really were.
Mind you, all of this was years before they joined WWE. They were famous but hadn’t reached the star power that they eventually did in WWE. When the two were battling in the ring, it was clear that fans were witnessing two opposite superstars. Guerrero worked in such a way to ensure that he came across as the exact opposite of Mysterio Jr. and that helped the latter get even better reactions.
The finish was expected and to some, predictable, but when the story is great and the circumstances and stipulations are such, there can only really be one payoff and ending. Mysterio won the match and subsequently the Cruiserweight Championship, retaining his mask in the process. It’s perhaps the best match in Halloween Havoc history and one of the greatest Cruiserweight bouts of all time.