When Rey Mysterio won the United States championship while standing in for an injured Santos Escobar, it was both a feel good moment and what appeared to be an obvious signal that WWE was going to book a future match between the two. A mentor-defending-the-title-against-his-stablemate-looking-to-achieve-his-dreams type of scenario.
Sure enough, the two linked up on Friday Night SmackDown in Sacramento, California this week to duke it out over the title. They both did interviews beforehand, making clear how much they respect each other and may the best man win.
They did such a good job putting over both as strong babyfaces, the crowd cheered for both in a big way during introductions.
Of course, Mysterio, legend that he is, garnered the cheers during the match and when it came time for Escobar to get his, the boo birds came out a bit. But they also chanted “this is awesome” as the match wore on.
Escobar started to get the better of Rey, and he looked conflicted about that. Mysterio screamed at him “come on, there has to be a winner,” and they battled on, reluctantly or not. Mysterio fought hard to get the 619, missing it once, then twice, but finally, on the third attempt, he nailed it.
This is one of the most difficult matches of their careers. — WWE (@WWE) September 30, 2023
Regardless of who wins, The #USTitle will remain with The LWO but only one of these men will be able to call themselves United States Champion
Who will it be? @ReyMysterio or @EscobarWWE?#SmackDown pic.twitter.com/wXrJ59jpEF
When he went up top for the frog splash, Escobar moved out of the way. They traded near falls just after. Santos decided to go for the Phantom Driver and Mysterio was ready for it, rolling through and rolling him up for the three count.
What a match.
Zelina Vega, ringside for all of it, was near tears at the end. Escobar was devastated at the defeat but it appeared there would be no turning on his mentor.
Get complete SmackDown results and coverage of this week’s episode right here.