WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 gifted us with an instant classic between Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio that still stands the test of time.
Throughout history, there are several monumental moments in the professional wrestling industry. This weekend, we celebrated the 21st anniversary of a match that, upon a look back, is one of the first moments that the North American market was blessed with the greatness that would forever be Eddie Guerrero versus Rey Mysterio.
Halloween Havoc 1997 featured a mask versus title match that helped cement these two men as two talents to watch then and would follow them as one of the best pairings in professional wrestling history.
Thanks to the availability of the WWE Network, reliving the match from October 26, 1997 is a few short clicks away. Back then, this was the third match on the card and featured two men that weren’t prominently placed on the WCW Monday Nitro platform, but that didn’t stop them from stealing the show.
On a card that featured nine matches with names such as Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, Macho Man, Lex Luger and others – it would Mysterio and Guerrero that easily stole the show. Their match would be rated 4.75 stars and was the only one that would break the four-star plateau that evening. Two decades later, it’s clear why this match was special then and is still special today.
First, there’s the background of this match. Eddie (then spelled Eddy) was a hated heel that oozed the type of callous arrogance that made fans hate him. In today’s wrestling environment his character would be praised from critics around the industry, but back then it was the perfect delivery of a heel wrestler that was meant to be hated.
On the other side was Rey Misterio Jr (before the WWE name change,) a smaller talent that was a previous champion but fighting against an evil Guerrero not only for the title, but for his heritage that is locked in the mask. Either way, the story telling that was presented before the match was perfectly mixed into the action between the ropes.
From the very first exchanges, it was clear what type of match this was going to be. Mysterio brought the high-flying spots while Guerrero worked to slow it down every step of the way. Guerreo used multiple submission maneuvers mixed in with power spots to keep Mysterio grounded.
But every opportunity that Mysterio got to take to the sky, he did so in a very innovative way. Many of the moves he hit, such as the spring board, back flip into the DDT and the front flip into the hurricanrana on the outside are techniques that aren’t seen in today’s highly-athletic wrestling scene.
Guerrero worked his style in perfectly to be the antithesis of what Mysterio brought to the ring. The fact that he held submission moves while tearing at Rey’s mask presented the idea that he was determined to take away the one thing that Mysterio cared about the most. At one point he tore it enough that viewers could see a portion of Mysterio’s face – something that wouldn’t be revealed until years later.
While the ending was a bit predictable, it came in a surprising fashion that didn’t include a big spot, but rather Mysterio catching Guerreo in transition. Guerrero’s reaction was perfect, to attack Mysterio and while Mysterio retreating may not seem like the right step for his character, it played into the idea that Mysterio escaped with a win – a running narrative that would follow Mysterio for much of his career in the years that followed.
The opportunity to go back and watch classic matches is something that wrestling fans should take advantage of often. This past weekend saw many celebrate the 21-year anniversary of Rey Misterio Jr versus Eddy Guerrero from Halloween Havoc 1997. Looking back at the match, every bit of it holds up today as a match that fans will love to enjoy; solidifying it as an instant classic between two men that have a career full of high-quality matches.