Anyone who knows pro wrestling knows of the rich tradition of Mexican wrestlers. The WWE has always had a good relationship with Mexico’s finest, dating all the way back to Mil Mascaras and Pedro Morales, and continuing through guys like Tito Santana, Eddie Gurerro and The luchadores like Psychosis and La Parka.
Currently. its biggest Mexican star is actually one of the smallest men on the roster. Rey Mysterio is one of the WWE universe’s most beloved superstars, and his flashy masks and outfits equal a cash cow for merchandise. Rey-Rey’s popularity is second only to John Cena, and is a big hit with the teenage boy demographic.
Despite that, Rey is also known as one of the biggest malcontents backstage, who is constantly injured and is always griping about his contract and threatening to either leave or retire. A lot of lesser superstars have been shown the door or had their careers buried for this type of behavior. So why exactly does Rey get away with it?
The answer most IWC guys give is that Rey is a top Mexican draw, and their attempts to replace him with another Mexican superstar – be it Alberto Del Rio or Hunico or Sin Cara, have all fallen flat. Mysterio fits a certain demographic and until the WWE can find a guy who can fill that demographic at Rey’s level, he will continue to have the WWE over a barrel.
But I personally think that logic is faulty. WWE assumes that Rey’s success is due to him connecting with Mexican audiences. While it’s true that Latin-Americans are the fastest rising demographic in the country, I don’t think that is the reason why Rey resonates with so many people, and that makes it very tough for the WWE to replicate. Rey isn’t “just” a Mexican superstar. He’s the ultimate underdog, a guy no bigger than the kids who adore him, going toe-to-toe with giants and winning. His masks and costumes are cool and cutting edge, and his theme music, too (booyaka!). He’s WWE’s original luchadore in many fans’ minds, the innovator of the fast-paced, high-flying style that so many of us find exciting to watch. His lingo is cool, his area code is cool, and the fans eat all of that up. So his appeal goes way beyond just his ethnic background.
I think the WWE is worrying too much about appealing to Mexico. I know they want to have legit superstars from a wide variety of countries, to draw fans from that region. That is good. But WWE goes above and beyond to make sure Mexico is well represented, and I think they are simply trying too hard. They went on a Mexican tour a few months ago, and their numbers weren’t as great as they had been projected to be. Some blame alberto Del Rio being a weak presence there, but I think their numbers were on par with any other international tour, which means that Mexico’s market really isn’t that much more special than any other international market.
I don’t have any numbers to support this, but I really don’t think that Mexican Americans are consuming WWE product more than other demographics. So I think the WWE is making a mistake in pandering to that, when they could be concentrating on building up stars and top draws that EVERYONE can get behind.
You know, like Rey Mysterio?