How Dominik Mysterio turned into the biggest heel in the WWE

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The Sporting Tribune's Fernando Ramirez explains how Dominik Mysterio took his game to a new level and became a major player.

SAN DIEGO — The last time Dominik Mysterio performed in front of his hometown in San Diego was July 4th, 2022— things were different. 

He walked down the ramp with “Booyaka 619,” playing and carrying his father, Rey Mysterio, as the city cheered him. Dominik wore a San Diego Padres “City Connect” jersey, while Rey wore a brown mask repping the baseball team—all San Diego.

They were jumped by two members of a faction called Judgment Day that night, Damian Priest and Finn Balor.

Fast forward to January 1st, 2024 for Monday Night Raw Day1 event. Mysterio returned to San Diego for the first time as a bad guy, and the reaction was deafening inside the Pechanga Arena—more on why in a bit.

Mysterio came out with his Judgement Day brethren J.D. McDonagh, who really isn’t in the group because he lost his spot to R-Truth, but still seems to be in the group— it is a mess.

They came out to combat what R-Truth was telling The Miz, and as soon as Mysterio started to say the words “We,” the boos began to rain down.

“I kind of want that hometown love, but then at the same time, if they don’t give it to me, I get it because they’re just upset that I’m the better Mysterio now,” Mysterio said in an interview with The Sporting Tribune.

Mysterio looked at the crowd and tried again by saying, “We are the most dominant faction in all of WWE.” The crowd was letting him have it.

There were signs all over Pechanga that read “San Diego disowns Dom,” “Respect your father,” or “Dirty Dom,” with the words crossed out.

R-Truth is supposedly a member of the Judgement Day, and he acknowledged, “San Diego, y’all see what I am saying? Dirty Dom, he is getting booed in his own hometown.”

The crowd begins to boo.

“That ain’t right,” R-Truth said, “That ain’t right y’all.”

Mysterio tried to speak several other times, and the crowd kept booing. It has been something that has happened since he joined the Judgement Day and went from Rey Mysterio’s son to Dirty Dom.

“I know as soon as I grab the mic or even try to talk, they’re gonna start booing me,” Mysterio said. “It’s really cool. I’m just enjoying the ride, man.”

The Clash at the Castle event in September 2022 changed the trajectory for the young wrestler. That night, something snapped in him when Edge and his father, Rey, beat Balor and Priest.

Dominik looked at Edge while he celebrated the win and kicked him in between the legs. Rey couldn’t believe his son had hit the man who was an uncle to him. Dominik then turned to his pleading father then clotheslined him as Ripley and the Judgement Day looked on.

On the very next episode of Monday Night Raw, Edge screamed for Dominik to explain himself. Ripley emerged and introduced Mysterio as a member of the Judgment Day.

That is when Judgment Day became a force in WWE.

“Us being together 24/7 literally just helps us and our bond just grow that much more,” Mysterio said.

They travel from city to city, fly together across the world, and eat together before shows. The faction has been inseparable.

They have done a lot to help advance Mysterio’s career. First and foremost, he is Ripley’s right-hand man. Wherever she is, Dominik is by her side.

“I always tell her without her, there’s no me,” Mysterio said.

Mysterio calls her “Mami.”

Ripley is the leader of the Judgement Day and is the current Women’s World Champion. She runs the group and has the vision of a quarterback when looking toward how to improve the faction.

“There’s literally no woman that can compete with Rhea Ripley right now,” Mysterio said.

Ripley has torn through the women’s division, beating any and all competitors since winning the championship at Wrestlemania 39 over Charlotte Flair.

“There’s a reason she everyone complains that she doesn’t wrestle,” Mysterio said. “There’s a reason she doesn’t wrestle. Because whoever they put in front of her, she’s just going to eat them up.”

Also in the Judgement Day are the WWE Undisputed Tag Team Champions Damian Priest and Finn Balor. Priest also contains the Money in the Bank, which guarantees him a championship opportunity at any time. Meanwhile, Balor has been at the top of the WWE mountain before as he was the first WWE Universal Champion.

“Just being able to soak up as much knowledge from two 20-year-plus guys in this business is huge for me,” Mysterio said.

All three of the members of Judgement Day have helped with the development of Mysterio, who was once seen as a project that got handed his position.

He has slowly climbed out of the various color schemes he had with his father and into a mullet with black shirt.

“There’s a reason those guys are the undisputed title champs,” Mysterio explained. “It’s just because they’re the best at what they do. Like I said, me being able to just sit in the back and watch them continue to grow and help me and bring me along on this ride I am just thankful.”

Before the jump to the Judgement Day, there were legit questions about Dominik Mysterio. Should he have gone to NXT? Was the jump straight to WWE too much too quick?

At first, maybe, but he has come into his own.

He and his father were the first father/son tag team champions, and he looked comfortable in the ring, but on the microphone, it was different.

Even the last time he was in San Diego as a good guy in July 2022, something was missing. He needed the Judgement Day. It has brought something unique out of him.

“It’s been the absolute time of my life,” Mysterio says about the last year.

A year ago, around the holiday season, Mysterio attended Christmas at his grandparent’s house. He wanted to introduce his family to Mami, and they stepped foot in the house, and chaos ensued. 

Mysterio shared a hug with his grandfather after he opened the door. Rey and his wife, Angie, started arguing with Dominik and Ripley.

As they stepped outside in Rocky 5-esque fashion, Dominik shoved his father while Angie slapped Mami. That is when the Chula Vista P.D. showed up and arrested Dominik.

“The cops are getting called even though Rhea was the one that got slapped, and I was the one that was getting taken away,” Mysterio said. “But it worked out for me in the long run.”

After that moment, WWE ran with the storyline of Mysterio “doing hard time,” and even their commentators, like Corey Graves, did an excellent job selling it.

“Dominik Mysterio has seen some things that make it hard to even smile,” Graves said on the episode on January 9th following Mysterio “posting bail.”

This would catapult the wrestler into his continued growth but to a point where he felt in his element. After being able to wrestle next to his father at Wrestlemania 38, he would stand against him just a year later at Wrestlemania 39.

Dominik Mysterio and Rey Mysterio during Wrestlemania Night 1 at SoFi Stadium. (Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

Before their match, Dominik had one of the most memorable entrances as a police van backed up near the stage, and Mysterio emerged surrounded by five police officers walking him to the ring in handcuffs. 

Mysterio said that he was told about the entrance by Triple H. 

“Honestly, that entrance was a complete surprise,” Mysterio said.

He said that at first, he was upset because he dreamed of walking down the ramp with the big Wrestlemania logo behind him, but once he saw the vision, he knew it would be unique.

“It was very cool that I got to have my own special entrance and the fact that people remember it that much still, almost a year later… It was really special,” Mysterio said.

2023 was a wild ride for Mysterio because he grew as a competitor, as did his trust within the company. He wrestled 106 times, with only Cody Rhodes wrestling more than he did.

Mysterio was entrusted to face a returning CM Punk in Brooklyn and Los Angeles in two house shows as his first two matches.

“It was definitely a special feeling,” Mysterio said.

Being the NXT North American Champion twice in 2023 was a good first step, but Mysterio showed he is ready for more. 

During his tag team match on Day1, anytime he was on the side, fans would boo him or shout at him, so he would turn around, lift his arms or make a face at the crowd.

The heat he got was something he didn’t even force. 

Fans even chanted “Peso Pluma,” a Mexican corridos artist who has a mullet as well or even “a**hole” in Spanish, which is something done at soccer games.

At 26 years old, the WWE has struck gold with Dominik Mysterio, which is why he is the biggest heel they have today, and they should capitalize moving forward. 

They have their next great Mysterio.

“No one’s doing what I’m doing,” Mysterio said. “No one gets the reaction I get. Whether it’s at live events or even on social media.”