At Summerslam 2005, at the culmination of the infamous “I’m Your Papi” storyline, Rey Mysterio defeated Eddie Guerrero in a ladder match to win custody of his (kayfabe adopted but actually legitimate) son, Dominik Mysterio. It was our first introduction to Dominik, who would return to our television screens years later as a wrestler in his own right, but whose paternity storyline was considered resolved upon Rey’s victory. There was a custody battle, Rey won. Case closed.
Only it’s not that simple, is it? You can’t just introduce custody papers to a wrestling show, hang them above the ring like a championship belt, and then expect us to forget about them. It’s not enough to win custody in wrestling—you have to defend it! There’s been a hidden war raging through WWE since that fateful day in 2005 over who gets to be Dominik’s dad, a war that’s been fought at the highest levels of the promotion, a war that has never seen the light of day. Fortunately, after an in-depth investigation that took far more time and effort than I’d care to admit, I have managed to uncover the complete lineage of the Custody of Dominik Championship, and I am now prepared to reveal the truth.
More Professional Wrestling
First, we should lay out the rules. The ring announcer obviously never announces that custody of Dominik is on the line in a given match—that would give the game away—but it is constantly being defended under the following stipulations:
- Custody of Dominik is on the line in every match that can result in a single winner. Tag team matches, handicap matches, Survivor Series, and any other match with multiple winners don’t count. However, triple threats, fatal four-ways, and even battle royals (including the Royal Rumble) do count. Only one person can hold custody at any given time.
- Custody changes hands in the same manner as a regular championship—by pinfall, submission, or any other pre-determined match stipulation. Count-outs, disqualifications, and no contests do not result in a change in custody.
- While regular championships can occasionally change hands at live events and house shows, custody of Dominik is a storyline, and storylines aren’t usually advanced at live events and house shows. Therefore, custody cannot change hands in an untelevised match.
- The primary source for this lineage is www.cagematch.net.
With these rules in mind, here are the wrestlers who have held custody of Dominik since August 21st, 2005.
Rey is currently Dominik’s tag team partner, and they even won the titles together, so there’s probably no bad blood there. Still, it has to be said that Rey doesn’t have a great track record of maintaining custody over his adopted son. After that whole big emotional ladder match with Eddie, according to the above rules, Rey lost custody just 11 days later. And he lost custody to a man who would be in Dominik’s life for the next 15 years…
Orton beat Mysterio on Smackdown in September to claim custody of Dominik for the first time, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last. In fact, Randy holds the honor of most reigns as Dominik’s dad, having won the title seven times (so far) over the course of his career. Orton is the deadbeat dad who can’t stay out of prison (presumably for kicking people in the head or burning their swamp compounds down) but who keeps getting parole and won’t stop trying to reconnect. He’s never in the picture for very long, but he always comes back.
Orton’s first reign with custody was ended by The Undertaker, and from late 2005 to mid-2007, he has to be considered the primary influence on Dominik’s life. Not that he had custody the entire time, but he was constantly getting it back after brief runs by other wrestlers. People like Kurt Angle, Mark Henry, and the Great Khali are like Dominik’s uncles from the other side of his family—they don’t approve of Taker as a dad, citing his past as leader of a motorcycle gang and refusing to believe he’s reformed and is now a perfectly respectable undead murder priest with a house and a stable income. They keep going to the courts and briefly getting custody, but the Undertaker fights back every time and wins Dominik back every time, because he’s a good dad, dammit.
After defeating Mr. Kennedy at Armageddon 2006 (Kennedy had won a First Blood match against Taker at Survivor Series, which is just the flimsiest grounds for a legal ruling) Taker maintained custody for a full six months, the longest period of stability in Dominik’s life since the ladder match, which he presumably spent sleeping in caskets and learning how to do that thing where his eyes roll back in his head. Taker even won the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 23.
And then, one fateful Smackdown in May 2007, Edge showed up with his briefcase and ruined everything.
Rob Van Dam
Despite cashing in his Money in the Bank contract and winning the World Heavyweight title, Edge only retained custody of Dominik for a few days. He lost a non-title match to Shawn Michaels on the next Raw, and Michaels had custody for less than a week before losing it back to Orton at Judgment Day. And Orton, in typical Orton fashion, only stuck around for two weeks after that. He was defeated in a stretcher match at One Night Stand 2007 by Rob Van Dam, who turned out to be a considerably more committed provider. He was Dominik’s dad for 18 months, blowing Taker’s record out of the water.
That’s because the One Night Stand match was RVD’s last in WWE for a while (Orton DDT’d him on the concrete floor after the match, writing him off TV). While he wrestled a few independent matches during that time, none of them were televised, and Dominik, who was 10-11 years old at the time (definitely the age when you want your kid getting super into weed) actually had a stay-at-home dad for once. Did that mean doing a bunch of yoga while watching The Big Lebowski for the 47th time? Probably, but who would complain about that?
Unfortunately, this period of bliss came to an end when RVD entered the 2009 Royal Rumble, which was won by…Randy Orton, at the absolute pinnacle of his psycho villain phase. Poor Dominik. If Rob had just stayed out of that match he would have taken the custody title to TNA, where it would have had a long and hilarious journey through the dregs of the televised independent circuit before eventually ending up in the hands of AEW’s Jungle Boy.
Orton actually had custody of Dominik for most of the first part of 2009, with the exception of the brief reign of Triple H, who won it in the main event of Wrestlemania 25 and lost it back to Orton less than a month later. Orton went on to become WWE Champion—custody of Dominik has historically been something of a good luck charm in that regard—but at Extreme Rules, he was defeated and deposed by Dominik’s new dad, Dave Batista.
Batista held custody for more than four months, which is a relatively lengthy period of time in this particular lineage (though obviously not long enough to get the kid free Disneyland tickets). His reign also means that, with the exception of Eddie Guerrero, everyone Rey Mysterio has ever won a tag team title with in WWE has also been Dominik’s dad. The fact that Rey and Dominik have since won tag titles themselves is singularly appropriate, as is the fact that Batista would pass custody back to Rey after losing to him on an October 2009 episode of Smackdown.
The Inner Circle
As usual, Rey wouldn’t retain custody very long—nine days after reuniting with his son, he lost a World Heavyweight Championship fatal four-way to the Undertaker at Bragging Rights, marking Taker’s fifth and final reign as Dominik’s dad. In February 2010, however, l’il Dom would enter into one of his most tumultuous eras, which began when Taker was defeated by Chris Jericho on Smackdown. It was a brief but likely a formative period (for better or for worse) when it came to Dominik’s taste in music, and as others had before him, Jericho would immediately win the World Heavyweight title at Elimination Chamber. However, following Wrestlemania 26, a second Money in the Bank winner would cash in for custody: Jack Swagger, later known as Jake Hager, Jericho’s enforcer in the AEW stable The Inner Circle. One has to assume they bonded for the first time by passing parenting tips back and forth and commiserating about how to get a 13-year-old to do his homework.
Swagger was actually a 2-time Dominik dad, his pair of reigns separated by another three weeks of Jailbird Randy. By late May, however, Dominik had a new guardian who deserves special mention…
Kofi only had custody of Dominik for two weeks, but if you’ve listened to the New Day podcast, you know that Kofi seems like a pretty good dad, and it doesn’t take long to be a good influence. Kofi also ended up handing custody back to Rey for the third and final time via a 15-man number one contender’s battle royal—though to be fair, if Kofi hadn’t taken the title from Swagger, Rey would have, just like he took the World Heavyweight Championship from Swagger shortly thereafter. Dominik as good luck charm strikes again!
Kane and The Miz
Sadly, it was then Rey’s turn to be victimized by the dreaded Money in the Bank cash-in, as Kane became both World Heavyweight champion and Dominik’s dad at Money in the Bank 2010, the same night he won the briefcase. We may never know the horrors Dominik endured during his three months in the custody of the Big Red Machine—nobody should be forced to endure that much Fox News—but it was bad enough that Dominik’s ex-dad, the Undertaker, used his ominous gong sound to distract Kane during a champion vs. champion match with (who else?) Randy Orton, giving Orton custody of Dominik for a sixth time. A month later, Money in the Bank was cashed in for custody again, this time courtesy of The Miz. Is Fox News preferable to binging old episodes of The Real World? Dominik found out so we wouldn’t have to.
2010 was a year of tumultuous paternal turnover for Dominik, but fortunately, that was all about to end. Edge had taken custody once before back in 2007, but it was his second reign as Dominik’s dad that etched his name into the history books. Edge, who was World Heavyweight Champion at the time, beat the Miz on Raw in January 2011, just two months before he was forced to retire due to injury. He never lost a match in that period, even winning his final title defense against Alberto del Rio at Wrestlemania 27.
For Edge and his fans, his retirement was a tragedy. For Dominik Mysterio, however, it was stability. At long last, he had found a dad who stuck around, even if it was just because the guy didn’t have a choice. Edge had custody of Dominik for almost nine full years, and while advocacy groups balked at the notion of a dude who called himself “the Ultimate Opportunist” and “the Rated R Superstar” raising a child, you have to remember that Edge retired as a babyface, having put all that nonsense behind him. Like Kofi, his parental credentials were established in the sadly defunct Pod of Awesomeness he did with Christian, and speaking of Christian, how cool would it be to have Christian for an uncle? Come to think of it, Edge had married into the Guerrero family a few years earlier—he and Vickie had divorced, of course, because wrestling, but in a way, Edge had closed the circle, bringing custody of Dominik back to the Guerreros. Between his connections with Vickie and their mutual connections to Rey, it’s safe to assume they were all one big happy family, resulting in the wholesome babyface Dominik we know and love today.
Dominik turned 18 while in Edge’s custody, and in a sane world, that would mean the end of this lineage. But wrestling is not a sane world. It’s the thing the judges and the bureaucrats will never understand—in wrestling, changes in legal status can only occur as a result of winning or losing wrestling matches. There’s a wealth of precedent backing this up. And at the 2020 Royal Rumble, against all odds, Edge found himself back in the ring. Which meant that when Drew McIntyre won that match, he also won custody of Dominik.
Now at this point, Dom was 23 years old, so Drew Mac holding “custody” over him probably just consisted of them being roommates or playing video games backstage together or something. It likely wasn’t too big of a shake-up in Dominik’s life, and it lasted for the better part of nine months, so the stability and good vibes were still there—like so many before him, McIntyre won the WWE Championship with Dominik under his guardianship, and Dominik even made his wrestling debut with McIntyre as his dad. Of course, at Hell in Cell 2020, Drew briefly lost custody to Randy Orton, giving Orton his record seventh reign (at least one in three different decades) but Drew fortunately won it back a month later. Actually, unnamed sources inside WWE have indicated that Randy and Dominik had a good heart-to-heart during that time period in which Orton finally acknowledged Dominik’s right to self-determination, and Dominik realized that he would never truly be free unless he won custody of himself by defeating the reigning champion, ending the lineage for good.
Unfortunately, there was a big problem with that plan…
At Survivor Series 2020, Universal Champion Roman Reigns defeated WWE Champion Drew McIntyre, thus claiming custody of Dominik on behalf of the Bloodline (though as far as we know, Dominik has yet to acknowledge him). Reigns hasn’t lost a match on TV since. As things currently stand, this is who Dominik would have to defeat to gain custody of himself.
The good news is that Reigns is the only one of Dominik’s dads he’s ever actually faced in the ring—as recently as mid-July, Dominik teamed up with two of his other dads, Rey and Edge, to take on Reigns and the Usos. So there’s already some history there, meaning there’s a slight possibility that Dominik could find himself taking on Reigns one-on-one. The bad news is that there’s a much better possibility that custody of Dominik will soon find its way into the hands of Brock Lesnar or The Rock, either of whom could end up keeping it permanently.
There’s really only one solution. While custody of Dominick hasn’t gone in lockstep with a single championship, it can’t be denied that it tends to follow WWE’s world champions around. The only person who has (a) had custody of Dominik, and (b) never held a world title in WWE is Mr. Kennedy, and that was 15 years ago. If Dominik wants to be his own dad, he has to succeed in WWE. He has to get into world title contention. He has to climb to the top of the mountain. He has to seize the brass ring.
Or, you know, he has to wait for Reigns to suffer a random distraction loss to Chad Gable or something. You never know with Vince McMahon. Either way, Dominik, we’re rooting for you!