Eric Bischoff Reflects on Trouble Convincing Rey Mysterio to Unmask
On the latest episode of 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff recalled his issues with Rey Mysterio over booking him to lose his mask at Halloween Havoc 1997. Mysterio was facing Eddie Guerrero in a Title vs. Mask match, and while Mysterio went over to win the championship, it was reported at the time that Guerrero was supposed to go over and that the issue was severe enough that Bischoff threatened to fire Mysterio before a compromise was worked out to have Mysterio go over, but lose his mask down the line.
Bischoff disputed that report, but acknowledged there were issues with Rey over the situation. Mysterio would eventually lose his mask at SuperBrawl IX in February of 1999, a decision he was critical of.
Highlights from the discussion, and the full podcast, are below:
On wanting to have Mysterio lose his mask: “Suffice to say, there was an issue. I definitely did want Rey to lose the mask. I felt at that time that if we were able to see — and I’m not justifying this, this was my thinking at the time. In retrospect, it was wrong. I recognize that, but at that time, my feeling was, as successful as Rey was and as successful as he was becoming, I felt because he’s such a good-looking guy and great looking character. And [I thought] if we could see his face and using his face, be able to see the range of emotions that take place during the course of a match, he would become even more popular. He didn’t agree with that, and he had his reasons for not wanting to do it.”
On the dispute with Mysterio over it: “But at the time, yes, I did want him to lose his mask. Yes, it was an issue. It was a very well-contested on. It did get to the point where, I don’t know that I threatened to sue him, but I did threaten to breach his contract. I let him know that creative control was something that we had, not him. And this was something that, as a company, we wanted to do. And it was an issue. But I didn’t compromise letting him with the match in order to make a deal for him to at some point in the future take his mask off …the finish was the finish. It had nothing to do — it wasn’t a contingency, it wasn’t something that was negotiated at the last minute, hoping that I could finally get Ray’s mask off. I know that makes for good copy, but that wasn’t the case.”