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Was Rey Mysterio the first-ever masked World Champion in WWE?

Rishabh Singh
|Sat Jun 04 2022

Was Rey Mysterio the first-ever masked World Champion in WWE? Surprisingly, the answer to that question is no. There was one man before him. 

Rey Mysterio has had a lustrous career in the WWE as a ‘luchador’ wrestler. His high-flying skills have helped him prove that size doesn’t matter. Mysterio is of a small stature billed at 5 ft 6 inches and weighing in at 175lbs.

The high-flying exuberant Mexican wrestler has held multiple championships in his career. 

Rey won his first main event title at Wrestlemania 22 in an emotional match dedicated to the late great Eddie Guerrero. It was a triple threat match against Kurt Angle and Randy Orton. 

That was the first when the ‘biggest little man’ of the WWE held the World Heavyweight Championship. However, Rey isn’t the first masked wrestler to have held the most prized possession in the WWE.

Kane was the first-ever masked wrestler to hold the WWE title though it was a short reign. “The Big Red Machine” Kane is probably one of the most underrated and underappreciated monsters in the WWE.

During his early years in WWF/WWE, he was hyped and portrayed as one of the strongest men on the roster. Given that he is The Undertaker’s on-screen brother, Kane was pushed early as a twisted and deranged monster rather than a championship-caliber superstar.

Well known for his feats of strength, WWE used the character of Kane to put over others. Some fans believe that the WWE botched the character of Kane. However, Kane is still regarded as a monster that cannot be trifled with. The three-time world champion has held the WWF title, ECW title, and the World Heavyweight Championship once each. 

Why was Kane forgotten?

In 1998, at the PPV event of “King of the Ring”, Kane secured his first WWE championship by defeating Stone Cold Steve Austin. This match didn’t get the reaction it deserved because the ‘King of the Ring’ of 1998 is synonymous with the legendary ‘Hell in the Cell’ match between Mankind and The Undertaker. Their match easily overshadowed the match between Kane and Austin. A few years ago, Kane recalled the historic night and took to Twitter:

“I’ll never forgive @RealMickFoley for stealing my thunder by redefining “hardcore” the same night!!” Kane tweeted.


While it is obvious that Kane has a good sense of humor outside his character, it is also true that Mankind stole the show that night. 

Kane had a short reign as the WWE champion. He lost to Austin the next night. Coincidently, Rey Mysterio had a shorter reign as the titleholder after losing to ‘the unmasked’ Kane on the same night he won the World Heavyweight Championship. 

Both men have contributed hugely to the WWE and forever will be the ones among the best superstars that this business has seen. 

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About the author
Rishabh Singh

Rishabh Singh

After spending 2 decades as a pro wrestling fan, I'm finally here to enthrall you with some exciting pro wrestling stories. Besides being a pro wrestling fan, I'm a Steelmaceflow artist.

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