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Rey Mysterio has never been the tallest wrestler in the ring. But he’s experienced a lot of success in WWE, becoming one of the professional wrestling promotion’s most well-known performers ever. Clearly, size does not matter.

Wrestling is a dangerous sport, and Mysterio once performed a move that killed someone. Here’s the story of the wrestler’s rise to fame and the tragic incident during a tag team match in Mexico.

Rey Mysterio became a star in the wrestling world

WWE star Rey Mysterio greets the crowd during the WWE World Cup Quarterfinal in 2018
Rey Mysterio greets the crowd during the WWE World Cup Quarterfinal in 2018 | FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images

Nearly all WWE fans know Mysterio. Standing at 5-foot-6, reports WWE.com, the fearless competitor doesn’t let his size affect him one bit.

In 1989, a 14-year-old Mysterio — then known as Óscar Gutiérrez — began his professional career in Mexico. The young athlete learned freestyle wrestling form known as lucha libre. Mysterio made his World Championship Wrestling debut in 1996. That July, he won his first Cruiserweight Championship, which he retained for three months.

As Mysterio developed his wrestling career, he established his professional identity — always wearing a mask. Fans also recognized him for his acrobatic moves in the ring. In 2001, when World Championship Wrestling closed down, Mysterio wrestled independently.

Then, in July 2002, he made his WWE debut on an episode of SmackDown! Mysterio battled some of the top wrestlers in WWE, quickly becoming a fan favorite. He won his first WWE Cruiserweight Championship when he defeated Matt Hardy in 2003.

Mysterio formed a duo with former WWE star Eddie Guerrero in 2005. The two won a Tag Team Championship, later experiencing a short feud. When Guerrero died, Mysterio gave an emotional speech about his good friend Guerrero. During the speech, Mysterio took off his mask and put his head down so no one could see his face.

Rey Mysterio’s flying kick killed a beloved Mexican wrestler

In 2015, Mysterio was wrestling in Mexico during a tag team match. During the match, he hit Pedro Aguayo Ramírez with a flying kick, one of Mysterio’s most memorable moves. When he connected with Ramírez, the opposing wrestler fell unconscious on the ropes. At first, no one recognized how seriously Ramírez was injured.

After a few minutes, officials realized Ramírez was unconscious and stopped the match. He died in the hospital the next day. Ramírez was the son of a famous Mexican wrestling legend, Perro Aguayo. His death was a tough pill to swallow for Mysterio and the wrestling community in Mexico.

The Baja California state prosecutor’s office said Ramírez died from the blow in the ring. As Nola.com reports, the cause of death appeared to be a snapped vertebrae when his head hit the ropes. Mysterio was not charged.

Highlight of Mysterio’s wrestling career: the 2006 World Heavyweight Championship

Mysterio got his shot at the World Heavyweight title at WrestleMania 22 in 2006. He competed in a Triple Threat match involving Randy Orton and then-champion Kurt Angle. At WrestleMania, Mysterio pinned Orton to become the new World Heavyweight Champion. A few weeks later, he defended his title, defeating Orton and Angle.

The wrestling star continued to fight in some of the best matches WWE offered. Mysterio excited fans, who wanted to see him win.

For a short time, he stepped away from WWE and wrestled independently and in other wrestling organizations before making a return to WWE. It was during this break that Mysterio’s kick killed Ramírez. He continues to be a part of WWE at the age of 48.

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