Of all the matches that have taken place on WWE’s grandest stage of them all, few have been more personal than a battle on this year’s card between a father and son that’s been 20-plus years in the making.
After months of verbal and physical altercations, Rey Mysterio will face Dominik Mysterio for the first time on Night 1 of WrestleMania 39 at SoFi Stadium. The highly anticipated clash between the Mysterios in Los Angeles marks the second father-vs.-son matchup in WrestleMania history, with the first in 2001 when Shane McMahon defeated Vince McMahon in a chaotic street fight at WrestleMania 17.
Saturday’s match won’t have—and likely won’t need—the frills of a gimmick as it is sure to add plenty of emotion to what will be a bittersweet weekend for Rey Mysterio and his family, with the second-generation luchador also set to be enshrined into the WWE Hall of Fame on Friday night. As one of the most decorated lucha libre stars of all time, the elder Mysterio has faced countless foes, from Eddie Guerrero to John Cena, in venues all over the world. But, for the 48-year-old icon, no opponent has ever compared to his 25-year-old son and former tag partner, Dominik, who bucked decades of tradition forged by the Mysterio name to go down his own path at the expense of the legacies of his father and his greatest WWE rival.
Here’s a look back at a few key moments in the rivalry between Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio ahead of their WrestleMania 39 showdown.
Sept. 3, 2022: The day Dom turned on Rey
Ego. Pride. Hubris.
For Dominik Mysterio, these three traits combined to unlock something inside the rising superstar after watching his father team with Edge to defeat The Judgment Day’s Finn Bálor and Damian Priest at Clash at the Castle. Initially, the win appeared to end an ongoing feud between the faction, its former leader Edge and the Mysterios, who battled Bálor, Priest and Rhea Ripley over their attempts to influence Dom to join The Judgment Day during the summer of 2022. But, that would hardly end up being the case.
On July 30, the Mysterios beat Bálor and Priest with the help of a returning Edge at SummerSlam—the event where Dom debuted two years before—but things would take a turn the next night on Raw. It was there that Edge accidentally speared Dom while trying to help thwart an attack from The Judgment Day after the Mysterios lost an undisputed tag-team championship match to The Usos, the same team that ended their 63-day reign at Money in the Bank 2021. The match would be the Mysterios’ last as a team, a run that began the night after Dom’s debut and reached its apex when the duo made history in May ’21 as the first father-son team to win a WWE tag team championship.
On the Raw after Edge’s ill-fated assist, the tease of a split loomed as Dominik, who confronted the Hall of Famer backstage, took offense with Rey for accepting his friend’s actions as an accident. That same night, Ripley brought out a battered Dom to distract Rey during a match against Bálor, leading to a loss for the veteran. A retaliatory attack from Edge and the Mysterios on the go-home edition of Raw helped level the playing field, but questions still remained regarding what Dom would do heading into Clash at the Castle.
After watching from ringside on that fateful night, Dom stared into Edge’s eyes postmatch and decided it was time to strike out on his own, nailing him with a vicious kick below the waist in front of a stunned crowd in Cardiff, Wales. That shock quickly turned into horror after Dom dismissed his father’s attempts to intervene and blasted him with a clothesline heard ’round the WWE Universe.
With his alliance with The Judgment Day now official, the reformed Dom spent several weeks challenging Rey, going as far as daring him to hit him with a chair on the Sept. 26 Raw and attacking him Oct. 8 at Extreme Rules while he tried to help Edge during his loss to Bálor in an “I Quit Match.” Two nights later on Raw, Dom made his next attack more personal, as he berated a distraught Rey before slapping his chest in a pompous nod to Guerrero and hitting him with his own iconic move, the 619.
The purpose of Dom’s Guerrero reference felt two-fold: to call out his father by mentioning his most-storied rival and calling back to a story line that first introduced him to the WWE audience. After taking it a step further on the Oct. 24 Raw—declaring “I’m this generation’s Eddie Guerrero” during a scathing promo—Dom made it clear his feud with Rey was about more than getting from underneath his shadow.
Aug. 21, 2005: The day Rey first took up for Dom in WWE
On this date 18 years ago, at SummerSlam, Mysterio defeated Guerrero in a unique ladder match centered on a one-of-a-kind prize: the custody of then 8-year-old Dominik. At the time, the legendary grapplers were in the throes of an intense rivalry that took a deeply personal turn after months of Guerrero obsessing over his inability to beat Mysterio following multiple matches.
A Mysterio win over Guerrero in a friendly clash between the then SmackDown tag team champions at WrestleMania 21 in L.A. eventually gave way to friction between the two, leading to matches at the brand’s next two PPVs. Guerrero brutally turned on Mysterio before the second meeting, which ended in his disqualification, and eventually threatened to share a secret about Mysterio’s family after again losing to his former friend while Dominik was at ringside. Guerrero’s secret was that Dom was actually his son, and not Mysterio’s, a reveal that prompted emotional segments involving custody papers and appearances from Guerrero’s lawyer before culminating in the famous SummerSlam match.
The story line was one of Guerrero’s last before he died Nov. 9 at the age of 38.
March 24, 2023: The day the match was made
Fast forward 18 years later, and Dom no longer resembles the bright-eyed kid looking at his father to save him. Shortly after his declaration about Guerrero, Dom not-so-subtly began to mirror his “Latino Heat” persona in a manner that was less of a tribute and more of a way to blatantly discredit Rey’s impact and influence on his career. Not to mention, Dom and his “Mami” Ripley made their lack of respect for Rey clear, and even had several run-ins with him during a series of disastrous Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Valentine’s Day “family outings.”
But even with all of the animosity, and Dom all but done with his family, Rey still didn’t raise his hand to his son despite his best attempts. On the March 10 SmackDown, WWE announced Rey as the first Hall of Fame inductee, only for his son to immediately trash the moment. After claiming Rey wasn’t there for him growing up, Dom, again pulling from their deep-rooted history, told him he should be inducted into the “deadbeat dad Hall of Fame” and that he “should’ve been Eddie’s son.”
On the March 17 SmackDown, Dom kept insulting Rey, calling him a “scared, pathetic, excuse for a father,” but, this time, the conversation, at least for a moment, turned into a heart-to-heart. Rey admitted he wasn’t always there for Dom and wishes he could be by his side for his induction but explained he made sacrifices to provide for him, his wife, Angie, and daughter, Aalyah. He then said that, while he’d be up for the challenge, fighting his son would be “the biggest disgrace as a father.”
“If someone like you, some ungrateful, disrespectful, pathetic, punk-ass kid called me out at WrestleMania, I would gladly whup their ass. … Unfortunately, you’re my son and fighting you would be the biggest disgrace as a father. You’re not worth it, son,” he said as Dom again accused him of running away.
To that point, there was little else that could be done or said to push his father to the limit, but, naturally, Dom managed to find a way to get under his skin. After Rey lost a match on the March 24 SmackDown due to his interference, Dom asked him whether he was going to fight him or run away, which he again refused to do. Except, that all changed after Dom began chastising Angie and Aalyah, who sat in the crowd.
“Hey, Mom, how does it feel to be married to such a pathetic loser? A coward who can’t even stand up to his own son,” Dom asked. “Did you know that you married a deadbeat? Actually, you did, and I’m going to tell you why. Because you sat there every night, while he abandoned me, and that makes you nothing better, so that makes you a deadbeat mom.”
Until Dom’s comments toward his mom and sister, Rey had done his best to keep it together. But now, the time for talking was over. After watching the exchange from the ramp, Rey marched over to Dom and clocked him in the face, sending the crowd into a frenzy. At long last, after months of prodding over their past—and over Eddie—the father was ready to teach his son a lesson with the entire world watching.
“You pushed me,” Rey said. “You pushed me to do this. I didn’t want to hit you; you made me hit you. You don’t disrespect your mother like that; that’s my wife. You wanted a fight at WrestleMania? You’re on. … I’ll see you at WrestleMania, son.”
With many WWE fans awaiting the moment Rey and Dom finally square off, it’s hard to believe there was ever a time when it appeared the two would never find themselves at odds given their once-strong bond. Needless to say, the Mysterios have run the gamut of emotions on their journey to Saturday night, creating a heated feud that will all come to a head at WrestleMania 39.