On October 26, 1997, WCW held its annual Halloween Havoc pay-per-view event. On a card including Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan, Curt Hennig vs. Ric Flair, and Diamond Dallas Page vs. Randy Savage, Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio stood above the rest. It is essential viewing for any wrestling fan. Their title vs. mask encounter became known as one of the best matches in the history of WCW and the 1990s.
By 1997, Eddie Guerrero & Rey Mysterio had made names for themselves internationally and in WCW’s cruiserweight division, yet many will say this became their crowning achievement. When fans think about their best matches, this always makes the cut. Today, we’re here to find out why that is. I hope you enjoy this detailed review 25 years on from when it made history.
Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio had similar career paths. They became known for their work in Mexico before being noticed by Paul Heyman, who brought them to ECW. Eddie had an excellent line of matches with Dean Malenko, while Rey Mysterio brought Lucha Libre to the United States in his high-profile feud with Psicosis.
They innovated fresh new ways of performing professional wrestling. Eddie & Dean Malenko set the bar for technical excellence, while Rey & Psicosis introduced a never-before-seen style. When you blend this into the same match with two guys who are hungry to prove they are the best, magic is born. The chemistry was always there. They trusted each other explicitly. That’s what makes Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio a classic in any setting.
Their Halloween Havoc match was not the first time they locked up on major television. That honor goes to a match they had on WCW Nitro on September 8th. This happened before Eddie Guerrero defeated Chris Jericho for the Cruiserweight title at Fall Brawl. The feud truly began when the new Cruiserweight Champion appeared during Mysterio’s match with Silver King, knowing that he would likely become a contender soon. In the video below, fast forward to the 2-minute mark for Eddie’s involvement.
On September 29th, they had their second match on Nitro, but this time Eddie wrestled masked under the name “El Caliente”. I have included Eddie Guerrero’s promo in response to the news of Rey Mysterio challenging him for the title at Halloween Havoc. Two weeks before the event, Eddie cost Mysterio his match against Dean Malenko by interfering via unmasking him.
On the way to the event, it was revealed to Mysterio that he would lose his mask at Halloween Havoc. While talking to Eric Bischoff on the phone, Rey said he wouldn’t be there, but his boss told him he had to be, otherwise he would be in breach of contract. Bischoff would later admit that at the time, he did not recognize the implications of taking Rey’s mask away.
Rey Mysterio enters to a warm reception with his iconic ‘Phantom’ attire. Eddie Guerrero gets a loud heel reaction. He takes his sweet time getting to the ring with a calm and confident demeanor. Commentary puts over how important this title vs. mask match is. The fans chant “Eddie Sucks!” loudly as the bell rings. Eddie tells Mysterio he won’t be taking his title, it will be him taking his mask right off his head. Eddie throws the first punch and misses, giving Rey the opportunity to land the first blow.
We can already feel the intensity and its solid storytelling from Eddie. Rey grabs him for a headlock and they run the ropes before spring boarding off them into a hip toss. The pace is extreme and they fall to the floor. Rey looks like he’s going for a suicide dive, but bails out at the last second. This is the first mistake for Mysterio, as Eddie pulls his legs out and the fans hate it. Let me say something before we continue… Eddie’s heat plays a monumental role in making this match great. Had he not had this heat, the match wouldn’t be remembered like it is. Mysterio is loved by default because of how hated Guerrero is.
The best heels capitalize in brutal fashion, and that’s what Eddie does by sending Rey headfirst into the steel steps. Mike Tenay is exceptional here. He gives us a detailed back story about how Eddie betrayed tag team partners and organizations in Mexico. Back in the ring, the fans pour all their disdain on to Eddie, and he loves it. Bobby Heenan calls Eddie one of the best wrestlers in the world right now, which is great because, while he is a despicable human being, you also have to respect his skills. Tony Schiavone points out how he looks better than ever. Dusty Rhodes appreciates his attitude.
Eddie slams Rey hard with a vicious back drop, followed by a suplex and pin-fall for two. A tilt-a-whirl backbreaker gets him another two. They execute every move flawlessly. This is when Eddie tears away at Rey’s mask, which becomes an ongoing part of the match. And for the first time, Eddie slows the pace by applying an abdominal stretch. Showing his ruthlessness and intelligence, he again tears at Rey’s mask while keeping the move locked in. It’s a great visual of Eddie torturing Rey. He yells insults at the fans in attendance.
Mike Tenay reminds us that while some wrestlers like Konnan flourish after being unmasked, most struggle or have their careers end shortly after. Eddie turns the stretch into another devastating back breaker. It’s like he actually wants to break Rey in half. Eddie tries forcing a pin, but Rey fights back with all of his might. The “Eddie Sucks” chant is loud and deserved. He’s showing how terrible he really is. Mike Tenay gives a backstory for Rey, saying that he originally wrestled as Colibri, before his uncle felt he was deserving of the Mysterio name.
As they talk about that, Rey hits one of the sickest moves of the match! Consider this, it’s 1997… they didn’t do stuff like this back then. For many fans, it was the first time seeing a DDT executed that way. Justifiably, the fans pop and their excitement does not let up. Rey dropkicks Eddie to the outside and follows up with… well, he tries something but Eddie outsmarts him, gets back in the ring and dropkicks him to the outside. Eddie’s intelligence cannot be understated. He’s almost always a move ahead. Eddie throws Rey back in and applies a camel clutch. This time he seriously rips away at the mask, almost to the point of taking it completely off.
Mike Tenay shares more knowledge. This time it’s about Eddie working under a mask as Black Tiger in Japan, and when he purposely broke tradition in Mexico as Máscara Mágica; when he voluntarily took off the mask. He locks in the Gory Special, and Tenay tells us this was his Father’s move. Rey gets out of it with a sick hip toss, as well performed as Ricky Steamboat ever did. Rey misses a dropkick and Eddie punishes him by hitting his own right at the top of his spine and lower neck. Targeting the back again, Eddie picks Rey up and drops him with another variation of the back breaker.
Commentary is already putting this over as a match to remember. Eddie locks in a bow and arrow variation and the “Eddie Sucks” chant returns. Again, Mike Tenay gives us more backstory about Gory Guerrero, this time talking about him being in the shadow of El Santo, despite many claiming he was the better wrestler. This irks Bobby Heenan, as he condescendingly asks Tenay if there’s anything he doesn’t know. The match turns into more of a brawl, as Rey fights back against Eddie’s onslaught. He hangs Rey upside down in the tree of woe on the turnbuckle and misses a dropkick, leaving him straddled.
Eddie believes he has escaped to the outside, but Rey flies over the ring post from the turnbuckle and catches him. The tide has turned as Rey throws him back into the ring. Fans go wild as Mysterio gets Guerrero in a hurricanrana pin, but Eddie kicks out at two. Guerrero takes him down with a clothesline out of desperation. Rey evades Eddie some more until he takes him to the outside with a head scissor. And then it comes… Rey leaps over the top rope to the outside and nails Eddie with a dragonrana! That may be the most impressive move in the match, and the commentary team is in disbelief.
They talk about seeing nothing like that before, and how much of a shame it is that someone has to lose this match. Tony Schiavone points out the innovation they bring to their matches. Rey hits Eddie with a corkscrew moonsault when they get back in the ring. This match still holds up today. After a scoop slam, Mysterio does not hit a springboard split legged moonsault because Eddie gets his knees up. My god… Eddie thunders Rey in to the mat with his signature powerbomb like he owes him money. Rey kicks out at 2. Now we’re seeing Eddie’s frustration. The chants are even louder now, but Eddie isn’t getting distracted. He makes a mistake though, so Rey takes him down with a spinning wheel kick.
Mysterio attempts the West Coast Pop, but Eddie has it scouted and turns it against him with a back breaker. Eddie signals for the Frog Splash and attempts it. Rey moves, and Eddie notices mid-flight, so he rolls through. Rey comes at him, so Eddie throws him up on to the turnbuckle and shoves his legs out from under him. They fight on the turnbuckle, with Eddie likely looking for a super backdrop, but Rey stops it. Guerrero positions Mysterio into what could have been a Razor’s Edge from the top. Instead… Rey reverses it into an avalanche hurricanrana pin! New champion! The fans respond with a loud cheer.
Mysterio motions how happy he is to the camera, but Eddie hits him for turning his back and throws him out. Rey gets out of there and celebrates with the title, while Eddie looks around frustrated and confused. He’s clearly upset. Tony Schiavone says this will go down as one of the best title matches in PPV history… and boy, he isn’t wrong. It’s one of those matches where everything clicks. The pace is fast when it needs to be. Eddie slows it down to get the visuals of him tearing the mask. We have a few high spots that many fans had never seen before. And that finish! Wow, that really is the way to end it, because it happens so quickly and will have surprised everybody.
Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio kept everyone guessing. Rey followed Eddie’s lead, and they proved themselves as two of the best wrestlers in the world. It’s a shame we couldn’t see it more often, but any time they got in the ring together, the chemistry always saw them through. They didn’t need ten false finishes or sixty minutes. It didn’t need outside interference or gimmicks. Two guys in a ring giving it their all for the fans. Bravo! Also, it should be said that Eric Bischoff changed his mind on Rey Mysterio losing the match. On his podcast, he stated that he doesn’t remember why, but he’s happy that he did.
I hope this review has been worth it, twenty-five years on from when this classic transpired at WCW Halloween Havoc ‘97. What are your thoughts? Please let us know in the comments. Thank you for reading! Viva La Raza.