This week, an injured WWE superstar tweeted that he had been medically cleared to wrestle, and would be back on WWE television the next week. Who was it? Was it Christian, finally back to entertain his legions of peeps worldwide? Had Tyson Kidd made a quick recovery and was in place to retain his position as premier workhorse? Had Rey Mysterio's knees reached 65% capacity, which is obviously as well as he's ever going to get? The WWE Universe held its collective breath. They clicked the link, and who was it? It was Sin Cara, and everyone sort of went; 'Oh'. The same Sin Cara who has failed to really take off since joining the company, who hasn't provided any compelling stories or even compelling moments, and has almost become a figure of ridicule in some dark corners of the internet. Wasn't this guy supposed to be Rey Mysterio v2.0? What went wrong?
When he signed for WWE in January 2011, there was much hype and excitement at the prospect of seeing Sin Cara in a WWE ring. Known as Mistico in Mexico, he had become the most popular luchador in Mexico, the biggest box office draw in the entire wrestling mad country. The guy even had a freakin' comic book created about him. He was a big deal, and that is an understatement. His signing as part of Triple H's new talent initiative was greeted by all as a very positive thing, and his début was awaited with baited breath. In many ways, the wait for his début was the highpoint of his WWE career to date. His first appearance came on April 4 of the same year, with a trampoline assisted entrance that, to be honest, looked pretty cool but was liable to buggering up. Things still looked rosy. His first in ring performance came in a tag match with John Cena against then-WWE Champion The Miz and some guy called Alex Riley. Needless to say, he was pushed pretty well to begin with. He even had his own special mood lighting for his matches (more on that later).
Unfortunately, things began to go sour quickly. His entrance caused problems, he had difficulties blending into the WWE style, and within 3 months he was suspended for his first wellness violation. A difficult start to say the least. On his return he feuded with himself, or at least the evil version of himself. It was a genuinely interesting storyline, one that seemed perfect for a character who needed fleshing out. It also lead to better in ring performances as he was wrestling Hunico, a guy who could adapt to his style no problem. Bad luck would strike again, when he suffered a bad knee injury at Survivor Series, leaving him out for 6 months. This time, his return was even more underwhelming, and he pottered around before teaming with Rey Mysterio. Finally something positive was happening, and he seemed to be blending into the product. Unfortunately, injury struck again. Sin Cara has spectacularly failed to reach the heights hoped for him, and is widely considered a failure. Is this fair? Is it even true? What has gone wrong with the International Superstar, and can he be salvaged?
Sin Cara quickly developed a reputation for botching in his matches. On first view, this would seem justified. There seemed to be a lack of cohesion, a lack of fluidity, and a number of big moments were blown. Sin Cara was roundly considered to blame for this. On closer inspection, it seems pretty unfair though. First of all, wrestling his style in ridiculous mood lighting in a mask with no holes must be nigh on impossible. Mood lighting is for loving, not fighting. He has also been wrestling guys who just aren't used to his pace and style. It is no coincidence that he has looked the best when facing guys like Daniel Bryan, Antonio Cesaro and Hunico, wrestlers who have way more experience battling lucha style wrestlers. A lot of the mistakes have come from his opponents not being in the correct position, so to lampoon him for being a botch machine is incredibly unfair.
His entire lack of English has also hindered immensely in getting him over. It is terribly difficult to identify with a character that can only identify his desires through the act of pointing. Even here in Serbia where English isn't everywhere, just pointing at things fails to get your point across. I'm absolutely shocked that he hasn't learnt rudimentary English, or been encouraged more to do so. Heck, he could even have been given a manager to do his talking for him. The lack of a voice also hugely hinders any potential stories he could be involved in. Since Sin Cara has been in the WWE, there hasn't been a single notable feud with him involved. You can't put anyone as his arch enemy at all, with the possible exception of Hunico. Did Hunico win a single match against him anyway? His lack of support from the crowd stems from the fact they have nothing to get behind other than excitement in the ring,. That can only take you so far.
He has also suffered from his fair share of bad timing or luck. His wellness violation is shrouded in a little controversy, as to this day he still does not know what he tested positive for. He claims it stems from a routine knee injection in Mexico. For this to happen so quickly into his career was terrible luck. The bad luck continued when a mere three months into his return, he got very badly injured. Well, I say luck, this one came from him not timing a plancha to the outside, but that is why those moves are called high risk. Many a man has mistimed a plancha to the outside and not received as bad an injury. And then, when he finally seemed to be settling into a plain with his team with Mysterio, injuries flared up once again and to the sidelines he went, courtesy of The Shield. Since his debut, Sin Cara has been plagued with bad luck and injury, leading to many false starts. So many false starts in fact, that he may suffer from return fatigue next time. Why be excited about the return of a guy who has returned three times already?
I still have every bit of faith that the Sin Cara character can be a success. You may be familiar with the expression 'Too good to fail', and this guy is just that. Just watch any youtube video of a Mistico match, and you'll understand. He is an absolute dynamo, every bit as good as his Mexican reputation suggests. He has taken the luchadore style that everyone knows and loves, and updated it to the 21st century. It isn't his fault that he's been against guys who have never experienced that style before. As he integrates his style deeper into the way WWE guys wrestle, the quality of his matches can only improve. Whilst people claim that he hasn't integrated in the way a guy like Rey Mysterio did, people often forget that Mysterio had years of wrestling in America before coming to WWE, years of being able to go out and just wrestle, no need to cultivate a personality. He also had the luxury of doing it against people like Psychosis, Juventud Guerrera and Super Crazy, wrestlers of similar style. Sin Cara has not had this luxury.
The obvious route to salvation for Sin Cara is through the man who he cannot escape in comparison, Rey Mysterio. There was rumours about building to a WrestleMania match between the two (and in the process breaking some dumb mask record), and I believe this is the way forward. Re-unite the team, bring back their half and half matching gear, and give them a solid summer against The Shield for the titles. Again, he will benefit from wrestling guys of Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose quality, and its a natural story of revenge. Predictable as it may be, the team will eventually lead to a jealousy heel turn by Sin Cara and subsequent WrestleMania match, that he would of course win. In fact, a logical heel turn makes a lot of sense for the Sin Cara character in the short term. His silence would work far better and, much like when Ultimo Dragon began in WCW, it would provide a better context for a manager. Indeed, Sin Cara was at his most interesting when he returned the first time round, attacking Daniel Bryan and leaving without saying a word. Yes, it may have been Hunico under the mask, but the character was all of a sudden more intriguing than it had ever been. Silence works as an enigma there. It is far more effective.
The sad fact is that Sin Cara has not, and will not be afforded the luxuries of other new faces. He is a legitimate international superstar, and anything less than blazing success in WWE will be deemed as failure by most. Despite this, I don't think he is a failure, or will he be a failure. He is an unfortunate square peg in what is currently a round hole. Given time and persistence, it will fit.
And that's that. Where do you stand on Sin Cara? Is he a failure? Does he still have a chance to be a success? Has been an unfortunate victim of circumstance or a complete disappointment? Why did he wrestle in that ridiculous lighting? Put your opinions in the lonely comment section below, and I'll respond in kind. Failing that, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or twitter me at @pingvinorkestra. I'm off to sleep, the 1am hockey games here are killing me. Go Pens Go!