For those wondering about the status of Rey Mysterio, it's looking increasingly likely that he won't be returning to WWE.
Mysterio was last seen the day after WrestleMania 30 losing to Bad News Barrett on Monday Night Raw, before taking time off to recover from a minor hand injury. The expectation was that he'd return to WWE action fairly quickly, but over three months later he still hasn't come back.
The reason for Mysterio's prolonged absence is that he's been involved in a protracted contract dispute with WWE.
As we reported a couple of months ago, when his old WWE deal was about to expire in late April, Vince McMahon blindsided Mysterio by unilaterally opting to renew it for an extra year, which he believed he could do due to a provision in standard WWE performer contracts that they could be frozen in the event of an injury. McMahon's reasoning was that Mysterio owed the company time due to the 19 months he had spent on the disabled list recovering from two serious knee injuries in the past three years.
On the face of it, the legality of retrospectively freezing somebody's contract like that seems a little questionable to me, and it has backfired on WWE, as it seems to have made Rey even more determined to leave the company. The state of play a few weeks ago was that this had turned into a major issue with neither side looking to give way:
"Rey Mysterio is apparently in a bit of a dispute with the WWE over his contract situation. It's being reported by the Observer that Mysterio was looking to leave the company, but as has been noted previously, Vince unilaterally renewed his contract because of the amount of time Mysterio has spent out hurt while getting paid. It's important to note that it's not as though they aren't paying for this year as well, and not an attempt to make him work for free by Vince McMahon."
Since then, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter again, Mysterio has upped the ante by refusing to take WWE's money (and presumably refusing to show up for work too), which may be a sign that he plans to sue WWE to get out of his contract:
"There is nothing official new on Mysterio. As noted before, he is still under contract. There is no date set for a return, and there is some question if there will be a return. Reportedly he has stopped cashing any of the checks the company has sent him, which is usually a prelude to action being taken to get out of the deal."
That's because of cash and creative, like Good Ol' J.R. would say. Over the last couple of years, sales of Rey Mysterio's merchandise have tumbled due to the combination of lengthy TV absences through injury and reduced pushes on his return because of his perceived fragility. Indeed, the most memorable moment of Rey's last run was being booed out of the building in the 2014 Royal Rumble match for taking what everyone had presumed was Daniel Bryan's no. 30 spot. It's also worth noting that his house show and video game payoffs would have been significantly down this year too, like everybody else's, so it's not surprising that Rey wants to quit when he's one of the few WWE stars that can make big money outside of WWE's auspices.
This is pure speculation on my part, but surely the top Mexican promotion, AAA, who are attempting to crack into the U.S. market later this year with a one hour Wednesday night television show on the El Rey Network called Lucha: Uprising, would love to have Rey Mysterio, the biggest wrestling star on planet Earth for their target audience, onboard for the series debut on Oct. 8th and would pay very well for his services. That's if he can get out of his WWE deal by then, of course, Cagesiders.