After (re)forming one of the most popular factions in WWE under the LWO banner, Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar will find themselves on opposite sides of the vs. symbol on SmackDown, when they wrestle a singles match with the former's United States Championship belt on the line.
Now, for fans in the know who appreciate wrestling from promotions other than WWE, seeing Mysterio wrestle Escobar is nothing new, as the duo first wrestled against one another at a AAA Lucha Libre/The Crash show in Baja, California, in a tag team match that also featured Brian Cage and Rey Fenix of AEW, their first of 14 indie matches split over AAA, The Crash, and Lucha Underground during Mysterio's time away from WWE, but this is the first time they've competed with a title on the line, which adds a whole new dynamic to the sort of friendly competition both men crave.
Discussing what it means to get in the ring with his mentor on After The Bell with Corey Graves and Kevin Patrick, Escobar revealed his deep admiration for Mysterio and everything he means to Lucha Libre.
“He has changed me in a lot of ways, and I’m sure I’ve changed him too, because we’ve traveled long hours, drives from city to city, and that creates a bond. He has made me more humble. He is the most humble, powerful man alive. He gets out of the car to sign autographs, stuff that I’ve always known but I may or may not have forgotten, and he has reminded me of that. Being with him on the road has helped me a great deal in remembering who I am and how I need to be in order to keep inspiring people,” Santos Escobar said via 411 Mania.
“He is the greatest luchador of all time. I won’t struggle in saying that. I’m the best luchador alive today. Let’s be clear about something — I’m the best luchador alive today, but he’s the best luchador of all time, and that includes today and yesterday.”
Asked if he believes he's better than Mysterio at this stage of the game, Escobar noted he isn't sure, but he's hoping he'll find out soon enough.
“That’s something we could find out. And since he accepted my challenge, we will find out. We already had a match that didn’t end up the way I wanted it to end.”
Who will come out on top on SmackDown? Only time will tell, but if WWE is smart, they'll prolong things out just a tad with some interference and make this a proper match at Fastlane.
Santos Escobar reveals the times he met Vince McMahon.
Elsewhere on After the Bell, Santos Escobar talked about his meetings with Vince McMahon and how much it meant so much to finally say hello to the man who made his dreams come true.
“I’ve met Vince McMahon three or four times in my life, but it was always in passing. It was never like … we never had at least 20 seconds to acknowledge each other’s face. This was important to me. Why? Because I live in a world of his creation,” Escobar said via 411 Mania.
“So the last time we were in Madison Square Garden, I learned he was there. I just couldn’t let this opportunity go by. And I told Rey [Mysterio], ‘Hook me up with Vince.’ And sure enough, we found out where he was, and I had the opportunity to meet the creator of the universe I live in. I know it’s deep, I know it’s probably too much, but in my eyes, growing up, wishing, wanting, needing everything I have now, it’s clear to me that I had to meet the man.”
Detailing the journey that brought him to the WWE Universe in the first place, Escobar explained why he wasn't supposed to be a WWE Superstar, but through hard work and conviction, he willed himself to the biggest company in all of sports entertainment.
“My story, easily, I shouldn’t be here,” Escobar said. “Born and raised in Mexico … and this is important and I always stress this. Why? Because I should be here. It was very hard for me to get here. I did a tryout in 2011, I think the first Raw in Mexico City. Nothing happened. I sort of gave up back then and said, ‘I’m going to get over here first, I’m going to dominate the Mexican industry first, and we’ll see.’ Time went by, and nothing happened. Eventually, the opportunity came, and to me was, wow, all those people that inspired me, created a flame, a hunger in me that never died.”
Whether Escobar is able to unseat Mysterio or has to spend a little longer in his shadow, it's clear eventually, he's going to be afforded a chance to prove his worth as one of the very best grapplers in the WWE Universe. When that day comes, all that hard work will have been worth it.