When Triple H became an Executive Vice President in WWE, his first order of business was to poach Mexico’s biggest star: Luis Ignacio Urive Alvirde, known to the world as Místico. With Rey Mysterio plagued by injuries, the newly-christened Sin Cara promised to be invaluable asset to WWE, boosting ratings and live event attendance in Latin America while making a killing in action figure and mask sales.
Things, uh, didn’t work out that way.
I. La llegada de Sin Cara(s)
To announce Místico’s signing, WWE hosted a press conference in Mexico. There, Jim Ross hyped Urive as the future of WWE, where he would perform for years to come as “Sin Caras”.
Then, barely a month after signing, Sin Cara showed up on Raw. And not just any Raw, but the Raw after Wrestlemania, where the biggest debuts and returns occur and set the tone for the new year. WWE’s announcers were absolutely hyped about the newly-arrived Mexican star, even if they weren’t sure how to pronounce his name.
Sure, some nitpickers pointed out that he stumbled over the top rope diving into the ring on his first appearance, but surely this was just a freak occurrence. Remember, this was one of the world’s greatest high flyers, a man WWE announcers repeatedly praised as “dazzling”, “spectacular”, and an “international superstar”.
Others had a good laugh at Sin Cara having to use a hidden trampoline…
…rather than simply making the 8′ leap all on his own. WWE knew it would take just one match to prove the naysayers and doubters wrong.
Well, whatever that one match was, it never came.
Instead, Sin Cara (“Without a Face” or “Faceless”) debuted against Primo Colon (“Cousin Colon”). While Sin Cara managed to get a few nice spots in, all viewers would remember would be the finish: while attempting a Spanish fly, Sin Cara instead lost his balance and fell to the floor. Josh Mathews tried covering for the botch on commentary, Jerry Lawler undid Josh’s efforts, and Primo just sat on the turnbuckle like an idiot until Sin Cara re-did the spot.
After this debut failed to spark CaraMania throughout the WWE Universe, Sin Cara was paired with John Cena…
…before being drafted to Smackdown, where his matches would be bathed in mood lighting (and could be edited before airing). It was there that he worked his first feud against Chavo Guerrero. Sin Cara and Chavo certainly had chemistry, but so do bleach and ammonia.
II. Un choque de estilos
Give Chavo credit, though; he at least tried working the Mexican style with Sin Cara, despite having last wrestled in Mexico in 1996.
What do I mean by “the Mexican style”? Well, for one thing, look at these right-handed arm drags that Sin Cara was doing. Now check out arm drags on Google. Every single one of them is done to the left arm.
Think that’s just a weird coincidence? Then check out armbars.
Every wrestler who learned the armbar in an American or Canadian wrestling school does it to the left arm.
In Mexico, it’s the opposite, with wrestlers usually targeting the right side of the body. Think of it like driving: I don’t care if you’re Kyle freakin’ Andretti; you can’t speed around a country where they drive on the other side of the road and not expect to get into an accident.
And with Chavo Guerrero’s exit, Rey Mysterio’s injuries, and Primo’s not-being-Mexican, WWE had run out of suitable opponents for Sin Cara.
III. Leyenda de la Botchamanía
Despite discovering that their new would-be mega-star was not backwards-compatible, WWE pressed on with Sin Cara’s push. And while fans online turned Sin Cara into a meme, putting the luchador into 1960s Spider-Man cartoons and writing him new theme music…
…WWE knew that its regular fans still wanted to see the Blue Botcher in action. They even stuck him into a text poll to determine Evan Bourne’s opponent on Raw. Though Sin Cara was the heavy favorite against the two hosses on the ballot, he ended up losing the vote to Mason Ryan.
WWE was quick to clarify that this was the result of an error that added votes from a previous poll to Ryan’s total.
Even Sin Cara’s merchandise couldn’t escape his bad luck; his first t-shirt design appeared to show the luchador exposing his erect penis. Fortunately, the mistake was caught before the shirt went into production, and “Peen Cara” never caught on as a nickname.
IV. Un impostor
But perhaps Sin Cara’s biggest boner came in July 2011 when, less than four months into his run with the company, he was busted for a wellness violation. To explain Sin Cara’s absence during his real-life 30-day suspension, WWE had him take a big bump in the Money In The Bank match.
Wrestling fans in the know must have been surprised to see Sin Cara back on TV a week early – and several inches taller. In reality, it was a different wrestler altogether: José Jorge Arriaga Rodríguez, a call-up from Florida Championship Wrestling.
While their wrestling styles were similar (one match against Heath Slater had to be re-taped because of all the blown spots), the announcers knew something was amiss when this “Sin Cara” showed poor sportsmanship. That, and fluency in the English language.
See, the real Sin Cara spoke no English and communicated only by pointing.
While no one knew how this impostor got a hold of Sin Cara’s gear, the joke was on him; he was the one going to work every night while the real Sin Cara collected the checks. The important thing was that, while he was a phony Sin Cara, he was a genuine luchador.
The real Sin Cara, called Sin Cara Azul (“Sin Cara Blue”) would feud with this impostor, dubbed Sin Cara Negro…
…culminating in a mask vs. mask match in Mexico City. The impostor lost his mask that night, only to re-appear two weeks later to continue the feud as Hunico.
From there, he was joined by his amigo Camacho from the streets of Juárez. In keeping with WWE’s apparent ignorance of what a luchador was, Camacho:
- was not from Mexico
- could not speak Spanish
- was the son of Haku, a man so Tongan that his real name is actually “Tonga.”
Together, they rode to the ring on a single low-rider bicycle…
…like a not-as-racist version of The Mexicools.
V. Los errores continúan
As for the real Sin Cara, despite perpetually being in Booker T’s “Fave Five”, he still wasn’t handling himself in the ring “with the greatest of ease”.
At Survivor Series, Sin Cara blew his knee out attempting a topé and was sidelined for half a year.
His mishaps continued upon his return, risking injury to his opponents…
Sin Cara even landed on his head during Saturday Morning Slam, a show otherwise heavily edited to remove all blows to the head.
VI. Mystery King
>Eventually, Sin Cara was put into a tag team with Rey Mysterio.
Ever since Sin Cara’s debut, WWE had discussed pitting the two men against each other at Wrestlemania; the idea was for every fan in attendance to put on a mask to set a Guinness World Record.
Problem was, both men kept getting injured. They had both missed Wrestlemania 28, had both returned in 2012 to form a tag team, then both got injured again and missed Wrestlemania 29. Not only did they never get to wrestle each other, they never even got to break up!
By 2013, Sin Cara was only getting onto pay-per-view as a lumberjack.
His last televised bout went twenty-two seconds before he dislocated a finger and gave up. Alberto Del Río’s shoot beat-down of Sin Cara ended up lasting longer than the scripted action.
Luis Urive returned to Mexico as Mysteziz, then Carístico, and then Místico again.
His name may have changed, but he has continued to live up to his reputation as a klutz, recently unmasking on a live stream after thinking he’d turned the camera off.
And as for his old nemesis Hunico? He ended up donning the mask once again, wrestling as Sin Cara until 2019. That’s like if Mark Calaway left the WWF, so Brian Lee came back to play the official Undertaker.
As hilarious as Sin Cara’s WWE run was, it had decade-long implications for WWE. Learning from the failure of Místico to get acclimated to the WWE style, Triple H overhauled WWE’s entire developmental system. Nearly every new signee put in substantial time in the new NXT. International stars, indie veterans, and even wrestlers with years of experience on national TV – they all learned the WWE style alongside the greenest of rookies. Soon, the black-and-gold brand became the go-to place for the world’s greatest wrestlers to truly connect with an American audience…
…before being horribly misused on the main roster.
Of course, had Triple H had experience beyond just mainstream American wrestling promotions, he would have realized how different the Mexican style was and prepped Místico fully, preventing the whole Sin Cara fiasco in the first place.
What I’m saying is, none of this would have happened if Stephanie had married Chris Jericho.
Special thanks to Maffew for his long-since-deleted SinCaraMania video, which was a vital source for this induction.