El Hijo del Santo/Espanto Jr. vs. Blue Panther/Black Man, UWA 3/25/90
This was discovered by Phil Schneider in the middle of a six hour YouTube video. Don't ask me how he does it; he's like a bloodhound when it comes to these things. The match was billed as the first time rivals Santo and Espanto had tagged together, and could have easily been parejas increibles given Panther had taken Black Man's mask in '86. Santo was swarmed by kids to start with and I swear he wasn't that much taller than the older kids. We forget how short our heroes are. I loved the smaller kid rushing into the ring after everyone had left. That was like something out of Little Rascals. All four of these guys were great workers, so the execution here was top notch; but as far as dream matches go, it's hard to imagine a bigger dud. The falls were ridiculously short, and a missed dropkick from Santo was the excuse Espanto had been looking for to turn on his partner and deliver a beat down. It was hard to see how the beat down advanced any sort of storyline as the two had fought in so many apuesta matches already, and if they were going to run an angle you'd think they'd maybe tease it a little and build to it. Just another example of how half-assed lucha can be a lot of the time.
Sangre Chicana/La Fiera/Bestia Salvaje vs. Apolo Dantes/Love Machine/Huracan Sevilla, CMLL 2/7/92
Who takes Apolo Dantes and Love Machine into battle against a rudo lineup like that? I was disappointed with how this turned out for Sevilla, but he was on a hiding to nothing with those sort of partners. The match was one way traffic with the tecnicos not even afforded a comeback. As one sided as it was, there were few rudos better equipped at delivering a beat down than Bestia Salvaje, and Sevilla was not only great at selling but a great target. It's just a pity the match never got out of third gear, particularly with the hair match only a week away. The match with El Hijo del Solitario and Blue Demon Jr had been so hot that you'd think they would have built on it with an even wilder brawl, but this is lucha we're talking about. Bestia vs. Sevilla was a great little feud, but this was the second match in a row that Bestia beat him in straight falls. I only just realised that Sevilla was Darth Vader from Pavilion Azteca fame. He was excellent as Huracan Ramirez II, and a better worker overall than the similarly booked Ciclon Ramirez. Even if he was a stepping stone for Bestia, he needn't have been roadkill. Think of how many times he must have combed his hair to get it to puff out that much!! That's commitment to a cabellera feud. Not giving him a win was a bit rough. While I'm at it, how badly had Chicana fallen from grace? How do you go from being the hottest guy in Mexico to only headlining outside of the Distrito Federal? Did something happen to get him on Paco's shit list? Were his suspensions legit? Was it drugs? It's strange to me that Aguayo was treated like the Godfather of Lucha Libre by CMLL while Chicana rode shot gun with other rudos.
El Satanico/Bestia Salvaje/El Supremo vs. El Dandy/Apolo Dantes/Love Machine, CMLL 8/28/92
Were Dandy and Bestia aware that there were other wrestlers in this match? I'm exaggerating of course, but only slightly. I don't think I've seen a match-up dominate a trios to the extent that Dandy and Bestia did. Usually, wrestlers will "tag in" and do their thing until another pair take over, but Dandy and Bestia spilled over to the outside where they kept brawling even though it was another pair's turn to take over. Twice they left the workers standing about wondering what their cue was supposed to be. The second time, Satanico followed suit and began brawling, but if ever there was a trios that was mano a mano this was it. I don't think either of them worked a single hold with another wrestler. They may have been beaten up by them, but they didn't actively engage anyone else. Not that I'm complaining. Bestia was unreal in 1992. If Casas and Dandy are the consensus one and two workers in CMLL (in some order) then Bestia has a strong case for being number three. There was one exchange in this after Dandy had become bleeding that was off the charts in terms of lucha brawling and later on Bestia busted out a bone crushing suplex. Dandy *kind of* popped up on it, which other workers wouldn't get a pass on, but they were going full tilt for the win and it was easy to forgive when Dandy had all that blood streaming down his face. The real question was what the fuck were they doing booking this a few weeks out from the Anniversary Show? It's no wonder Dandy vs. Satanico didn't go over well when all the focus was on Dandy wanting Bestia's hair. I'm wondering if it was a last minute decision to switch the opponent to Lopez as there really didn't seem to be much build to Dandy/Satanico. Dandy flat out ignored Satanico in this bout. Bestia continued to run rough shot over everyone with straight fall wins, and Dandy was pissed at the end, clutching at his hair and demanding an opportunity to put up a wager. I wonder if they got cold feet over whether Bestia could draw? One thing's for sure, it would have been a better match. Bestia was quietly moved to Love Machine after the Anniversary Show and ended up cooling off for real, which sucks, but for the first eight months of the year he was in beast mode. Just unstoppable one-on-one in trios. They should have ran with Bestia.
Atlantis/El Dandy/Konnan vs. El Brazo/Brazo de Oro/Brazo de Plata, CMLL 12/20/91
I hadn't seen a Brazos match in donkey's years. I'm still not sure people get the Brazos. There's hardly any of their 80s footage available, and they show up really late on the DVDVR set, so it's no surprise that people don't realise what a big act they were in the 80s and 90s; but when they finally show up in CMLL the attitude seems to be that they detract from how great 1990 had been when in fact I can't think of anything more lucha than the Brazo brothers. This isn't a match that argues their case as it's mainly just a half-assed tecnico vs. tecnico contest, but it does feature a lot of Dandy vs. Brazo de Oro exchanges, which should get your antennas twitching if you're a hardcore fan. The early parts of this were worked like an exhibition-y show of respect. The exchanges were fun but worked at half speed compared to truly great trios wrestling. Later on they picked up the pace a bit, but it was late December, the end of the season and four days to the holidays. They didn't even take a swing at knocking it out of the park. Amusingly, Konnan had some solid exchanges in this. Scrolling through the match lists, you'd take one look at those names and think Konnan was the weak link holding them back from a Match of the Year Candidate, but you never can tell with lucha. Let it be known that Super Porky was one of the better Konnan match-ups, Jack.
Bestia Salvaje/Mano Negra/Titan vs. Apolo Dantes/Oro/Lassertron, CMLL 2/5/93
Watch this for Bestia, stay for Titan... I really only checked this out because I wanted to see how Bestia fared being transitioned back into a secondary role after his killer run in '92, but he got stuck working with Lassertron. The main feuds here were Mano Negra and Oro and Titan and Apolo Dantes. Someone at Televisa was obsessed with filming vignettes of luchadores training. This time it was Oro training under blue lights. Not sure what the blue light was for? Ambiance? The menacing presence of Mano Negra? The match proper was a rudo beat down. I'm fairly convinced that Mano Negra wasn't as good masked as he was during his Dave Finlay run. He did a tremendous job wrenching the shit out of Oro's arm, but it would have been better with that mullet and nefarious grin. There was an element of Cota or Arandu to unmasked Negra. They were nutters; the three of them. You get some character stuff with masked Negra, but it's not as compelling. I'll tell you what was compelling, though -- motherfuckin' Titan. He beat the shit out of Dantes in this match and it was riveting. Looking him up afterwards, I should have known he was a Diablo Velazco trained journeyman. Please tell me we have the Titan/Dantes singles match on tape. There's nothing quite like a lucha vet getting the three week rub off a singles program. More often than not, they take their money earning chance and run with it, and you get these fun feuds that nobody ever told you about. I've seen Fiera beat on Dante of late, as well as Satanico, and neither of them did it with the verve of the former Comando Ruso. I hope there's a blue light Titan training video, Televisa!
La Fiera/Espectro Jr./Kahoz vs. El Brazo/Brazo de Oro/Brazo de Plata, CMLL 12/25/92
So, we've established that washed up Fiera (who really wasn't that old) was better than I ever gave him credit for, especially in scummy lowdown trios matches that reflected the shadiness of his character outside the ring, but here he got to show off his comedic talents. Comedy is an important (often misunderstood) element of lucha libre. No matter how great your brawling is, or how bloody your apuesta matches are, to be a top rudo worker you need to master the art of comic timing. All the world loves a clown, and that goes twice for a bumping, stooging heel. What Porky and Fiera did better than most was to escalate from comic playfulness to fierce rage, playing off that old adage "it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt."
Fiera was all up in Porky's grill during the intros, poking him in the chest. Porky responded with a slap to Fiera's face, and they launched into an exaggerated circling lock-up before Porky got the better of Fiera on a criss-cross exchange. Fiera was incredulous as he backed away, but when Porky beat him to the punch a second time, he decided he was sick and tired of playing games, and blew Porky off, returning to his corner. No sooner had Porky turned his back when Fiera charged him. Porky span round to face him, and Fiera quickly pretended a handshake was all he was interested in. Porky looked at the out stretched hand and slapped Fiera in the chops. It was a brilliant mix of comedy and underlying tensions. Porky had embarrassed Fiera, and Fiera wasn't the sort of guy you should embarrass.
Fiera went right at Porky the next chance he got with shots to the face, but fell victim to one of the Brazos' patented finishing sequences -- a swank two man move that left Fiera wondering whether he was coming or going. Porky was having a great time bumping Fiera off his stomach in the second caida until Fiera grew tried of playing the fool and struck Porky hard. Porky clutched at his head and his lower lip began quivering. Fighting back the tears, he absolutely barreled into Fiera and sent him flying off the apron. Porky was cocky the next time they sparred, but this time there was no fucking about. Espectro held Porky back while Fiera began dishing out the headbutts. Oro made the save with Porky laid out like a Christmas ham, but Fiera was merciless and continued working him over on the outside, throwing aside Rangel and kicking Porky in the gut. The fans called him an asshole, but he just stared them down and posed in their face. Porky struck back with a huge running splash to the corner, which Fiera sold like it had crushed the life out of him, and the usually affable Porky was livid. Twice he tried to use the martinete on Fiera but was talked out of it by his brothers. Oro took over and Fiera's selling of his tilt-a-whirl back breaker was sublime. Part Michael Jackson, part La Parka. Porky claimed the win for his side with a measured splash, and Fiera scampered away like a coward when Porky came after him. The Brazos held Porky back while Fiera goaded and taunted Plata, and they finally got stuck into each other with Porky trying to shoot on Fiera (!) with the one legged take down. Black Magic and an unmasked El Supremo hit the ring for the next match, which Fiera was pulling double duty for, and together they beat the Christmas stuffing out of the Brazos w/ Fiera body slamming the ham.
Nothing ever came out of this -- it was just a bit of fluff on a Christmas Day Arena Coliseo show -- but it would have made for a fun apuesta match if they'd gone all the way with it. The rest of the match was okay. Brazo de Oro zipped about in fine form and worked some decent exchanges with Kahoz, whom he was familiar with from the UWA. The trios that followed was rubbish, but Fiera/Porky was a great stocking filler.
Atlantis/Rayo de Jalisco Jr./El Dandy vs. Satanico/Emilio Charles Jr./Gigante Kamala, CMLL 3/8/91
Remember that epic Kamala/Black Magic feud from '91? Neither do I, but Smiley was busy cutting promos on him decked out in a top hat and cloak like a two bit Mandrake the Magician. He even had a wand and gloves and disappeared in a cloud of smoke. It's funny because you don't usually see guys doing their full gimmick on TV like they would for the magazines. I have no idea what Smiley was on about when he said "we are one of a kind and then again we're not." What, they're both black? I get the "Black" Magic thing and all, but what was with that? They're both gringos? Masters of magic? Pierroth, on the other hand, cut a bad ass promo in a bad ass jacket and signed it off with the best evil laugh in Mexico. My love for Pierroth knows no bounds. I know I've mocked CMLL vignettes in the past, but the short Kamala one was actually pretty decent with Big Jim Harris doing his best National Geographic impersonation.
None of this had much to do with the match in question, but it's best not to question the internal logic of CMLL television when it delivers a trios this good. This was so much fun. It was never going to win Match of the Year honours or anything like that, but as far as the need for fun goes, it was just about perfect. Each of the individual match-ups were great. I hadn't seen Satanico and Dandy go at it for a while, and I realise now why their feud spoiled so much of the lucha to come for folks watching the yearbooks. Their chemistry together was unreal; like capturing lightning in a bottle. That's difficult to replicate if you're looking for a product that delivers more of the same, especially in a promotion as poorly booked as CMLL. They weren't the only ones going off, however. Atlantis and Emilio did their usual routine, we got a throwback to Dandy vs. Charles, and there was even a bit of Emilio/Rayo, which I don't remember seeing before. All of the stuff with Kamala was great; roughly a thousand times better than the Andre match which made the Death Valley Driver set, and this was basically one fun exchange after another in a match of little significance other than to remind people that Kamala was back in town. Kamala had a feud with Mil Mascaras on the Sunday shows that built to a cage match, which was only the third time the gimmick had been used. The TV of course was a mess with Pierroth, and Black Magic, and all sorts of shit that didn't lead anywhere unless you count Gran Davies being splashed by Kamala as the blow off. CMLL was a success despite itself in the television era, and this match was in part entertaining because of how hot the promotion was.
Atlantis/Sangre Chicana/Octagon vs. Blue Panther/El Satanico/Jerry Estrada, CMLL 9/13/91
This is the kind of match where you look at the names and immediately start thinking: "Chicana vs. Satanico? They never settled anything in '89. Satanico vs .Atlantis? Classic rivalry. Panther vs. Atlantis just weeks removed from their classic. Chicana vs. Estrada? Don't think I've seen that before. Shit, even Chicana vs. Panther seems interesting." Then you watch the match and it's an angle to turn Chicana heel. Welcome to the kick in the balls that is lucha. Not only do they waste that sort of match-up on an angle, the two matches that could have come out of it (Chicana vs. Atlantis and Chicana vs. Satanico) never materalised
MS-1/Masakre/Jerry Estrada vs. Ringo Mendoza/Super Astro/Black Magic, CMLL 10/18/91
I have a lot of respect for the way Smiley was able to adapt to Mexico and become comfortable working the style, but it's fair to say it didn't happen over night. He looked tentative in this bout as though he wasn't sure what to do other than to continue stepping forward and cutting off his opponent's offence. Fortunately everyone else was on point, and this was a brisk trios that like Smiley never took a step back. I was really high on MS-1 when I first started buying tapes then I just sort of forgot about him; but he was really good in this, especially the way he worked with a much smaller man in Super Astro. They had some excellent cat and mouse style exchanges where Astro was zipping about trying to elude the grasp of those lengthy MS-1 arms. Masakre was also solid, though not at Fuentes level. Together they reminded me of why I loved the Masakre version of the Infernales, which even today is underrated in comparison to the Morgan runs. I was also really impressed with Estrada in this, who had a stellar (read "clean") night. He pulled out a great bit of comedy when he bumped to the outside and deliberately walked into a fan who was returning to his seat. He sold that beautifully just as he did Super Astro's wild hay maker, which not only cleaned his clock, but left him checking for loose teeth. Ringo was also solid with a variety of high tempo takedowns that run contrary to the opinion people sometimes him slowing these bouts down. The finish was nuts as Super Astro had some kind of death wish on a springboard plancha. He undershot it so bad that Estrada had to lunge forwards for Astro to even clip him. Mental. Just a word on Astro -- he was balls out here. I haven't always put him over as a worker, but his full throttle bumping and leaping about made this a thousand times more memorable than it would have been otherwise. Coupled with the Chino title match, he's doing well in the "what have you done for me lately? stakes, that's for sure.
Negro Casas vs. Mocho Cota, hair vs. hair, CMLL 9/23/94
This was the main event from the first weekend of Anniversary celebrations in 1994. A show which only drew 4,000 people; a shockingly poor number for a CMLL Anniversary Show. For some reason, the promotion decided to make it an una caida one fall, presumably because of the glut of apuesta matches they ran over the Anniversary Show weekends.
I may as well get my first bias out of the way and confess that, outside of tournament lucha, una caida lucha is something I'd usually turn my nose up at. And an una caida apuesta match is just wrong. It changes the entire psychology. The old Ventura talking point of being up a fall and having the leverage to drop one is thrown out the door, so you have guys refusing to give in to holds they'd ordinarily submit to, which stretches out the match and disrupts the rhythm. Luchadores are so used to working two out of three falls that an una caida match presents a unique challenge. The glass half full perspective would be that it changes the complexion of the match and that it's interesting to see how the workers adapt, but to me an apuesta should be a crowning moment and not an experiment.
Casas, playing a pure babyface this year, borrowed Dandy's old trick of being beat up while still wearing a jacket. He wore this stonewashed denim jacket with a picture of a tiger on the back, which was a strange fashion choice for Negro Casas but typified how everything about the bout was a little bit off. He bled immediately, and would have lost the primera caida straight away if this had been an ordinary apuesta bout; but instead there was a prolonged beat down which revolved around Casas injuring his leg on the apron and his ankle buckling when he did a back flip off the top turnbuckle. Cota naturally smelt blood in the water and began stomping on the leg before twisting and contorting it into all sorts of unnatural positions. Cota had been pretty good up until this point, dragging Casas about by the hair and giving him these short knees to the head. Casas was a bit patchy. His selling was okay from a distance, but up close his acting wasn't that flash and the cut didn't look so nasty. I didn't like his attempted comeback either. He was pandering to the crowd with a guillotine move to send that fuzz of Cota hair flying, but it wasn't angry enough. If a guy's beating the crap out of you, it's probably better to strike back instead of playing to the gallery. Call me picky, but it was like watching the shine in a comedy match. (I think that's the first time I've ever used the term "shine." Matt D is rubbing off on me.)
Next, Casas loosened the laces on his boot, possibly because his ankle was swelling up and he wanted the doctor to take a look at; it was hard to tell because they cut to commercial then replayed the injury. Suddenly, Casas' boot was off and he was hobbling about with one boot on and an extremely exposed sock. Cota went after it well; kicking at the exposed limb while Casas winced in the corner. He never failed to remind Casas or any of the folks watching that it was a hair match as he grabbed Casas by those greasy locks any time he transitioned from stomping on Negro's foot to putting him in a submission hold. There was a nice touch of Negro struggling to get his footing even when Cota pulled him up by the hair, and to Casas' credit he struggled well while in those holds. Casas was looking for a time out in the corner after taking another mangling in the ropes, and when he slipped out onto the floor, Cota flung his boot into the air. Thus began the mystery of what happened to Casas' shoe, which I became preoccupied with the first time I watched the bout. I liked Cota's strikes in the corner and the knees, and Casas' ineffective attempt at a lariat escape out of the corner, which Cota was able to shrug off and keep on his man. All of this was good stuff albeit utterly dominant from Cota and aching for a payoff.
Watching it a second time, I really couldn't fault anything that Cota did in the beat down phase. The issue was with how stretched out the fall was. If you're a fan of limbwork -- and they're out there those limbwork fans -- the consistency with which he targeted the leg and focused his attack on it, while still pulling Casas about by the hair, was impressive heel work. As I said, Casas' selling was good from a distance but looked too much like whining close up. There were times when it looked good and times when it didn't, but it was a difficult proposition for Casas as he was forced into prolonged selling in a situation where he should have submitted a million times over. After a while, it went from being heroic to plain stupid as the beat down wore on for far too long and became something quite unnatural in a lucha libre context. I can appreciate the quality of the work in the passage where Casas threw a punch and Cota shook it off and stomped the crap out of the leg again (and man are his boots cool -- check out the rad hand design), but even Jesus didn't suffer that much on the cross. There's just no way that Casas should have been able to withstand all that. Even if you use the rationale that luchadores usually submit because they have a fall in hand (meaning it doesn't make sense to sustain any further damage) and that in fact they're capable of enduring far more pain if the rules are different, which in this case they were, it was still too bloody long! And do you really want prolonged limbwork in your apuesta matches? Hell no! You want a babyface comeback that's just as violent as the rudo's attack. Apuesta matches are part survival, part revenge, and there simply wasn't enough vengeance in this bout.
Anybody who's ever watched a pro-wrestling match knows that Casas is going to win after taking such a beating. It wouldn't be just for him to lose or make much sense in the context of this worked sport. The key then is how satisfying it is. This is where they began to err as instead of Cota getting his comeuppance he continued to take too much of the bout. Even when Casas pulled his old rudo trick of a low blow, and smiled to himself in the ropes, Cota sold it ever so briefly and went after the leg again. There was no breathing space on that at all, and he went to the well again on the pin attempts. Cota was an excellent worker -- even the broken down version you see here. He was a weird looking dude, and that was off putting for people at the time, but the shit he does is cool, like that diving stomp from the second turnbuckle, which is the antithesis of top rope moves during the height of the mid-90s workrate phenomenon. Even so, he wore out his welcome here. The idea behind the finishing stretch appeared to be that Cota had been so utterly dominant that each of Casas' attempts at a counter were brushed aside. And Casas seemed to be playing with the idea that he was badly injured and had taken so much punishment in the bout that a flash pin or a submission out of nowhere was the only way that he was going to realistically win the bout. But Bret Hart playing possum he wasn't and the finish was shit. That's what I'm going to call it -- shit. I put some thought into that and I'm sticking with my choice -- shit. You win on back suplex (into a side slam or whatever it is you call that) when the guy was able to fight the waistlock? And he kicked out right after the three. I mean I hate to sound like Monsoon, but he didn't even hook the leg. How could Casas possibly have held Cota down for a three count on that move? It doesn't make any sense. Cota's brushing aside everything because he hasn't been worn down enough and a back suplex and lateral press is enough?
Una caida lucha -- not my thing. Sustained selling and limbwork in lucha -- not my thing. Apuesta matches that are light on blood and don't have great selling -- not my thing. Lopsided bouts that end with ridiculous pinfalls -- not my thing. Cota's limbwork was outstanding if you value that sort of thing, and his rudo performance was more than solid. Casas wasn't at his world beating best, but I don't expect people to be quite as finicky about his performance as I was. It wasn't a great bout, and suffered I thought from an unnatural psychology that greatly hindered what you'd usually expect from a lucha apuestas bout; but it was worth watching for no other reason that it's overlooked Cota, and Cota is a guy where we can basically digest everything we have on tape. The mystery of Casas' missing boot was resolved when an old guy tried to give it to him at the end of the bout. At first I thought he was a member of the public who picked it up and kept it safe until the end of the bout, but then I noticed that he took Casas' jacket from a guy in the front row who helped Negro remove it early in the bout. I guess he was the props guy. Come to think of it, I don't recall either guy having a second, which was odd.
My eternal thanks to alexoblivion for providing the bout. I'm sorry it wasn't my cup of tea. I imagine there are plenty of people who would enjoy it more than me particularly if they don't care so much about traditional conventions of lucha libre or they're not so picky about whether Negro Casas is making adequate facial expressions or not. Still, 4,000 for the show. What a disaster.
Mistico vs. El Averno, 2/11/05
Mistico vs. Ultimo Guerrero, 2/25/05
Dr. Wagner Jr./Mistico vs. Ultimo Guerrero/Rey Bucanero, 3/12/05
Mistico vs. Perro Aguayo Jr, 5/13/05
El Hijo del Santo/Mistico/Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. Ultimo Guerrero/Averno/Mephisto, 8/26/05
Perro Aguayo Jr, Mr Aguila, Halloween & Damian 666 vs. Pierroth, Apolo Dantes, Mascara 2000 & Universo 2000, 10/14/05
El Hijo del Santo vs. Atlantis, 11/05/05
Halloween vs. Universo 2000, hair vs. hair, 12/02/05
El Hijo del Santo/Negro Casas vs. Averno/Mistico, 12/16/05
El Texano, Negro Navarro & El Signo vs. Super Astro, Ultraman & Solar, IWRG, 02/10/05
OK, so I idolise late 80s-early 90s CMLL and pretty much anything from before then, with this being my first real foray into recent lucha. It's not the lucha I know, so let's see if I can get to grips with it.
Might as well start with Mistico... I wasn't expecting him to be a great worker, so it wasn't much of a surprise... His timing is good & he's unbelievably quick. Gets amazing height. What he really lacks is poise. Back in the days of matwork, technicos would string together a sequence that left the rudos reeling... A rudo would back himself to go mano a mano, they'd trade holds and then -- like pulling a rabbit from a hat -- that show of superior technique... I can hardly remember anything about Mistico vs. Averno, except that the rudo worked at the pace of the technico, matching him hold for hold. I could hardly tell you who upstaged whom, where, what, when... It was all a blur. Shortened matches have really upped the pace. I suppose we're beyond the point where an armbar is magnifico, but Mistico needs to learn rhythm; how to work those spots so they really mean something. If you look at 1984 Atlantis he hardly had it together, but he ended up building a magnificent technico career out of the same repeated spots. It's all about poise.
The Mistico/UG match accomplished a fair bit in 10 minutes & the Perro match was quite good. I don't buy into Mistico as an underdog, but he's a decent technico (which isn't easy) & has the crowd behind him. The act just wears a bit thin after a while. The best lucha always feels like improv, even when it's not. That's something heel Atlantis struggles with. Long serving, excellent technico, but sucks as a rudo. Wagner, on the other hand, is ungodly charismatic. Wagner never used to be this good, now it feels like everything he does is off the cuff. He's gotta be my favourite guy in Mexico.
The Perros/Capos stuff was OK. The hair vs. hair match was... listless. I'm all for broken down rudos working hair matches, so long as they're actually brawling.
I haven't really cared for the Santo/Casas team since they were feuding with Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio, Jr. I don't like the way they bought into the new workrate style... Averno and Mephisto have cool entrances and aren't bad workers, but as rudos they're workrate machines & sadly recyclable. Don't see how they're different from Los Guerreros del Infierno, to be honest.
The Los Misioneros de la Muerte trios is still the best match I've seen from 2005. Once a year Negro Navarro shows up on tape to remind us what real lucha is like.
El Hijo del Santo/La Mascara vs. Blue Panther/Tarzan Boy, 1/1/06
Mistico/Negros Casas vs. Averno/Mephisto, 4/14/06
El Hijo del Santo/Negro Casas/Mistico vs. Atlantis/Black Warrior/Ultimo Guerrero, 8/04/2006
El Hijo del Santo vs Perro Aguayo Jr, 8/25/06
Black Warrior vs. Mistico, mask vs. mask, 9/29/06
Negro Navarro/Villano 4/Villano 5 v. Dos Caras Jr./Heavy Metal/Solar 1, AULL 11/2/06
While searching for this stuff, I kept reading that CMLL didn't have a good year in 2006. Still, I liked these better than the matches from 2005.
The Mistico/Casas tag was really good... Probably the best match I've seen in the new style. It helped that the third fall was long & they worked a bit of story into it. It was obvious to all and sundry who was gonna win, but lucha is satisfying like that. Personally I've had a problem with Casas' offence since the mid-90s onwards & I'd love for Averno and Mephisto to have more rudo shtick, but this was great work even if it was aping New Japan juniors.
The Mistico/BW match was also a perfectly acceptable two out of three falls sprint. I think I saw an edited version, but it doesn't matter. As important as masks are in Mexican wrestling culture, the majority of mask vs. mask matches are amazingly shitty, and since the thought of Black Warrior being unmasked leaves me unmoved, this sufficed.
The Santo/Panther tag was weak... Panther's always been a better worker than Santo, IMO, and showed it again in his brief exchanges with La Mascara. Santo's always been predictable, he just gets away with it because even predictable Santo is excellent. As far as being a big match singles worker, he can still bring it in spades. The match with Perro wasn't as good as their match from 2004, but it was good stuff. I kinda get the impression that Perro thinks WWE is cool, though.
Once again, Negro Navarro shows up and is part of a really great, old school trios match. In a sense it was bread and butter stuff, and I was just excited because it built in a way I'm familiar with, but an entire fall of mat wrestling in the latter part of this decade is like mana. It really is.
Rayo de Jalisco Jr. vs. Cien Caras, mask vs. mask, 9/21/90
This has got to be one of my favourite lucha matches of all time.
I don't know if either guy could ever work; the stuff they do here is really simple, but the heat is amazing. One of the greatest things about lucha is that two 40 year old guys can have a mainevent with this much at stake. Where losing the mask really means something. The match is beautifully laid out... Caras attacks Rayo on his way to the ring, smashing him over the head with a guitar & from there it's just heat building. Slow, methodical rudo work & crowd inspired comebacks from the technico. Great lucha. And the finish is fantastic -- it comes from nowhere & may not have been an actual three count, but it means the rudo has to unmask & there's a fucking swarm of photographers jumping over each other's backs. Caras has one of the great unmaskings, as he simply refuses to take his mask off & they end up brawling while the photographers scurry for their lives. Magic.
Javier Cruz vs. Ciclón Ramírez, hair vs. hair, 6/10/94
Javier Cruz was a fucking great worker.
As a technico, he could play a fired up babyface without ever being a dick about it. He'd just act pissed the whole time. As a rudo, he was a dick without being showy about it. Man do I love the black studded glove and the whole scattered wasteland of 1994 CMLL. As for Ciclon Ramirez, well life changes after you drop the mask. He was a great flyer in his day, here he's trying to make his way as a latter day Sangre Chicana & he does a great fucking job of it. He still has an insane tope (one of the best ever, as far as I can tell), but you've gotta make your living a different way after you unmask and his brawling is great. The whole thing is great. Even the fuzzy reception is great. Cruz does a splendid blade job & this is as good a hair match as any other I've seen. Cruz isn't the rudo that an MS-1 or Pirata Morgan was, and Ramirez is not at the level of Chicana or El Dandy (to quote two of the great hair matches), but man do they make it worthwhile.
Mistico vs. Averno, 1/6/07
Mistico vs. Perro Aguayo Jr, 3/2/07
Mistico vs . Dr Wagner Jr, 7/27/07
The formula for Mistico's big matches in 2007 seemed to involve the rudo dominating for long stretches, Mistico taking a beating, having his mask torn or ripped off and even blading. The matches were longer and there was a lot of heat. This was effective against Perro and Wagner, since Perro has the offence and gumption to do nasty things to Mistico and his mascot buddy & Wagner is a master at getting heat. Perro loves himself a little too much, but he has a great shit-eating grin and -- when it comes down to it -- a vicious streak. Wagner did all of a dozen moves in their match, but had the crowd eating from his palm. There's a lot to be said for letting heat build. Mistico sold a lot & his offence was limited to comebacks. Whether he blew stuff off, I dunno. He was roughed up pretty good. I probably enjoyed these Mistico matches more than his previous stuff, though I question how long you can book him like this for.
I can't fault the effort in the Averno/Mistico match. They're trying hard to build a great rivalry. They varied the pace and there was a long third fall, but Mistico burnt through his offence. Averno's rudo spots are weak and I still think he matches Mistico's pace too much. One of Mistico's biggest problems is that apart from kicks and the arm submission almost all of his offence is off the ropes, which would be OK if it were used to end a fall or in a third fall diving sequence, but in Mistico's case it's the whole match. He really needs to develop some so-called "mid-range" offence and save his flying for later. I'm sure I'll remember Ciclon Rameriz' tope for longer than all the spots Mistico did in this match & that's bad because Mistico is burning himself out on so many levels.
Ciclon Ramirez vs. Felino, mask vs. mask, 7/9/93
Ciclon Ramirez was such a great luchador. The key to being a great luchador, I think, is whether you can work the mat. Mat wrestling's not something you can cheat. You can either wrestle or you can't. If you can, it gives you presence far beyond the mask and how well you pose for magazines... It may be the ultimate display of a technico's merit.
This is a good example of luchadors matching each other -- not hold for hold, but moment for moment. The match has a classic lucha structure -- Ramirez dominates the first fall with mat work; in the second fall they pick up the pace & run the ropes; in the concluding fall they pull out the dives and big spots. It's a beautifully worked match in the lucha style, but there's also a lot at stake (being a mask vs. mask match) & the reminder is there in how they sell the falls and near falls. In lucha, a fall can end in the most simplest of fashions, but like any wrestling, it's how you sell it that really counts. In the end, when Felino takes the deciding fall and leaps for joy, inviting his son to the ring while it all sinks in for Ramirez... And the announcer comes to the ring to take down Ramirez' real name and place of birth, while he stalls and delays the unmasking... Those are the moments that tell a story.
1993.04.08. CMLL - Corazón de León, Negro Casas & La Fiera vs. Mocho Cota, Emilio Charles Jr. & Bestia Salvaje
1993.07.09. CMLL - Atlantis, Corazón de León & El Dandy vs. Mano Negra, Javier Cruz & Black Magic
The best of a bad bunch of CMLL I watched, including a disappointing 40 min tag between Corazón de León/Ultimo Dragon and Negro Casas/El Dandy (though Casas was typically awesome.)
Trios matches are at the heart of lucha libre wrestling & if you've watched a bit of lucha you're probably aware that they can mix it up whichever way they like... The first trios is a complete brawl, instigated by the rudos and continued by the technicos. Emilio Charles, Jr. goes straight after La Fiera, busting him open, and Mocho Cota has a field day roughing Casas up in the corner... This all leads to the kind of outburst only Casas is capable of (in knee high socks no less) & a fucking awesome tope from La Fiera, who catches Emilo gloating on the outside. Lots of great brawling, punches, crotch shots & a DQ for excessive violence. Makes you wanna see Emilio vs. La Fiera in a hair match. Jericho didn't have a clue what to do, but it was up tempo & didn't really concentrate on his stuff with Bestia.
The second trios has a long first fall with some cool matwork between El Dandy & Black Magic, trying really hard to be a rudo. Javier Cruz keeps breaking up Dandy's pin attempts & that leads to an awesome Dandy punch that sends Cruz flying from the apron. Another match you wanna see booked. This is really about the Atlantis/Mano Negra feud, however, & may be a high point because their mask match was dire. (I like the 80s stuff I've seen from Negra, & Atlantis is a favourite, but he peaked in '91 and they were both several steps slower.) Jericho is lost, but there was enough greatness elsewhere.
Solar/Mano Negra vs. Negro Navarro/Black Terry, AULL VIP 3/10/07
This was such a great match. I wanted to write about how this is real lucha & how young guys in Mexico don't know how to work anymore, but I'm trying to keep an open mind about that, so instead I'll praise Mexico for being a place where veterans can work a match that's not only "old-school", but as good as any lucha I've seen. I mean, Solar is 51. Mano Negra is 56. Negro Navarro is 50 and Black Terry is 55. It's obvious you're watching 30 years of wrestling experience when you see mat work like this, but who lit a fire under Mano Negra? He sure as hell wasn't working like this when he dropped his mask. I saw bits and pieces of Todo X El Todo on youtube & those guys were working hard too. The exchanges between Santo & Dos Caras were almost as good. I dunno if it's for money or pride, but they're outworking everybody.
Made me wanna check out more Black Terry, so I tracked down a singles match against Santo in Hamada's UWF. He was quite the bumper. Quite the bumper indeed. He can still fucking go too.
Negro Navarro vs. El Dandy, IWRG 11/18/01
I liked this more than I did three or four years ago. At the time I was really into Dandy in his prime, so I found this a bit slow. You're never too old to learn a different kind of rhythm, I guess. Having said that, I'm not gonna pretend I love it because it's Navarro and Dandy working the mat in a longish title match. The match is wrestled at the same pace throughout, since Navarro doesn't really have the stamina to work a longer singles match at his age & the selling isn't the greatest, so it has the same rhythm across each fall. Lately I've been doubtful about how good Dandy really was/is on the mat & while he wasn't schooled, I thought there was a gap between what he can do & what Navarro does.
El Dandy/Ultimo Vampiro/Fantasma vs. Negro Navarro/El Pantera/Bomber Infernal (IWRG - 3/4/02)
Fun match. The Dandy/Navarro exchanges were awesome, especially the punching segments. The others were along for the ride, so I wouldn't call it a great trios, but it was good.
El Texano, Negro Navarro & El Signo v Villano III, IV & V, IWRG 12/04
What can I say? I thought this was terrible. Slow, plodding, awkward. Signo was awful. i liked the ending where they start punching each other, but this was the flipside of veterans still working.
On a positive note, the youtube clips of Solar/Kenzo vs. Panther/Navarro are awesome. As much as I love Navarro, his age does show at times. There's a Blue Panther/Navarro clip on youtube that's disappointing in that respect. His work is much better in tags or trios from a standing base.
Man am I ever digging Black Terry, especially now he has a moustache.
Seems daft, but I managed to find his hair match against Cerebro Negro from November, music videos of his feud with Fantasma de la Ópera & February's match against Multifacetico.
The kids aren't up to much, but Terry can still go. He moves incredibly well for a guy his age and can still bump. And he's like this journeyman, who can work the mat lucha style or do all the indie shit that these youngs are into. Plus he has a great welterweight punch. And his moustache is just awesome.
CMLL June/July 1997
Scorpio/Wagner/Santo vs Fiera/Dragon/Casas, 6/6/97
Scorpio/Wagner/Santo vs Fiera/Dragon/Casas, 6/13/97
Santo/Emilio/Wagner vs Casas/Ultimo Dragon/Felino, 6/20 or 6/27/97
El Hijo del Santo vs. Felino for the WWA Welterweight Title, 7/4/97
A lot of people are familiar with the Santo heel turn & the mask vs. hair match from the 64th Anniversary show, but man was the TV leading into that match great. Here you've got a month's worth of trios building to the Santo/Felino title match; heated, brawling trios, all spun around the Casas Brothers vs. Santo feud and all of them fucking great. You couldn't ask for more.
All that heat & brawling leads to a straight up title match between Santo and Felino that's wrestled exactly like a lucha title match, with Negro and Bestia as seconds. The first caida is almost entirely mat work & it's some of the best I've seen from Santo. Around this time, lucha guys started to get a lot stiffer & work the mat like Japanese promotions... There were more lariats & powerbombs & moves that make it easy for people who don't like lucha to like this stuff. I was never happy with the way Santo and Casas work the mat in the Anniversary show match, since it's just not lucha. But there's no denying that this was a great match even in that style. The matwork and stiffness seems nastier. The match is fantastic. The ending beyond awesome, recalling all the great second moments in lucha libre history. Outrage and talk of mascara contra mascara. CMLL was shit-hot in 1997 and this was great booking.
Love Machine, Eddy Guerrero & Hijo Del Santo vs Fuerza Guerrera, Fishman & Blue Panther, AAA - 7/23//93
I've never really liked AAA no matter how many of their workers I like or how good the booking might have been. Something about the style, I guess. That goes double for Gringos Locos. The Panther/Love Machine hair match, the 11/93 45 minute tag, the WWC hair vs. masks match. I don't like any of it.
This, however, is a classic trios. Most people remember it for the double (or is it triple?) switch -- Love Machine tricking Eddie into turning on Santo & Panther coming to his rescue, but the match itself is great, which obviously makes the angle even better. Even a washed up Fishman can't drag this down. Love Machine was on point here. I dare say he never looked better. He broke up the Santo/Panther matwork, but never you mind... Because that's clearly rudo & Santo's not happy. In between Love Machine wanting to kick the shit out of Panther and rip his mask off, and Santo insisting that the righteous never do so, there's the usual masterful performance from Fuerza Guerrera, who, if I remember correctly, had a really beautiful exchange with Eddie that rekindled my appreciation for Guerrera as a worker. Of all the guys who jumped to AAA, I think Fuerza's the one who shone the most, even if it was in trios.
The angle is slow burning & great & moreover convincing, as it's set up really well. I don't wanna spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it, just let me say I've enjoyed a lot of great rudos & Love Machine was on point here. I'll watch more AAA because of this.
Atlantis/Emilio Charles Jr./Felino vs Black Warrior/Blue Panther/Dr. Wagner Jr, 1/22/99
This was a really good trios. The heel/face dynamic was a little weak, so it wasn't as good as the stuff from the early 90s. but Atlantis was channeling 1991 in his matwork with Panther & the way he sold and bumped for everyone else.
Apollo Dantes/ Fuerza Guerrera/ Villano 3 vs Brazo de Plata/ Olympico/ Emilio Charles Jr, 2/99 TV
Searching for great lucha is like searching for the perfect beat. Here's a match to remind you that above all lucha should be fun. Super Porky's been doing his shtick forever. Fuzera's been doing his shtick forever. Never gets old.
El Hijo Del Santo/Negro Casas vs Bestia Salvaje/Scorpio Jr. (Mask/Hair vs Hair/Mask), 3/11/99
This is really classic CMLL booking -- trios after trios after trios, building up a feud until the public finally want the big hair match, big mask match or in this case both. Negro Casas and Bestia Salvaje had been feuding for years at this point. Hell, this match doesn't even end the feud, but it's for all the money. Perhaps not the best match to watch cold, but you'll figure it out. Looking back at old reviews, Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr. were maligned in favour of the Black Warriors, Shockers & Mr. Nieblas of the day. I'm late to the party, but I gotta say Bestia & Scorpio Jr. are a hell of a lot more solid than those guys ever turned out to be. Solid rudos. Hombre Balas with a push. People didn't like how they'd slow a match down, but slow, methodical rudo work is how you shape the rhythm of a match.
Negro Casas/Shocker/Mr Niebla vs. Apolo Dantes/Dr Wagner, Jr./Scorpio Jr., 5/99 TV
And the feud continues... This was a lot of fun. The rudos gave Casas a ton of shit & Casas was in full on technico mode, brawling with all three at once. The great thing about Casas as a technico is how his ego switches. He was such a cocky rudo, yet as a face he won't tolerate the slightest insult. Ha. Casas is classic. He'd switch back in a second. Match also continued Shocker's turn, but Casas could give a fuck because Scorpio just pisses him off.
I guess over the next few years, people will start talking about the best matches of the decade. My goal is to find 20 lucha matches that I like. Maybe not the greatest matches, but matches that I like.
So far, I've got Atlantis/Villano, both Santo/Panther Monterrey matches, Santo/Perro 8/04, Misioneros vs. Space Cadets, the Negro Navarro/Solar tags & maybe El Dandy/Negro Navarro.
That leaves about a dozen matches.
La Parka vs Ultimo Guerrero (CMLL Light Heavyweight Title), 09/17/04
This is actually the match that made me wonder what the fuck is wrong with lucha these days. Well, it's a few years later and the sky hasn't fallen, but this is still a cheap match. Ultimo Guerrero's a good worker & Parka was making one of those resurgent lucha comebacks in 2004. Hate to see that cheapened by throwaway, ten minute matches.
El Dandy v L.A. Park, ENESMA, 10/29/04
I liked the ideas in this match, about how to pace and sell a lucha title match... Which automatically makes it better than the above match, even if El Dandy is slow and limits his bumps. I don't mind if guys are half a step slow if they've got the right ideas. But the finish sucked.
Atlantis vs Rey Bucanero, CMLL 7/22/07
This was SHOCKINGLY good. Atlantis sucks as a rudo & I don't like Bucanero one bit, but forget about all that... Atlantis still knows how to work a lucha title match. Match was edited a lot, so perhaps it wasn't actually this good, but for once there was drama in the Arena Coliseo. If you can get your head around the fact that Atlantis is ancient and slow, I doubt you'll see a smarter match than this for a while, even if Atlantis' working boots are all worn out.
Averno vs. Mistico, CMLL 1/05/05
These guys are forever trying hard to have a good match. I try hard to like it every time. This is supposed to be their best match together. I think I'm about ready to give up.
Ultimo Guerrero/Rey Bucanero v. El Hijo Del Santo/Negro Casas, CMLL 11/02/01
Eh, the only thing lucha about this match was the finish to each fall. I like seeing lucha in lucha matches and not just in the finishes.
Shocker vs. Dr Wagner, Jr., CMLL 3/26/02
Shocker vs. Ultimo Guerrero, CMLL 2/14/03
I remember watching the first match at the time & thinking it was a pretty standard, almost pedestrian lucha title match. Funny how it stands out as a quality piece of wrestling these days. The second match I really wanted to like, but too many of their bad habits crept in.
El Hijo Del Santo vs La Parka, 12/23/01
The classic Monterrey bloodbath. I'm not really sold on it being a great match, but I need to remind myself that I liked it & it's slim pickings for this decade. Maybe I'm just difficult to please. Santo was quite happy to play the dickish rudo, while Parka was hardly a saint, I just think the best lucha brawls have a bigger arc than this, possibly because they're wager matches or simply because they turn into more of a fight.
Silver King v. Apolo Dantes, 6/23/95
This is a really good title match between two of the better workers in CMLL at the time. It might not please everyone, since it's kinda small in scope & doesn't bring the drama so necessary to our enjoyment of professional wrestling, but it's well worked & a good example of how you can work in stuff you've picked up from all over the place while still keeping a lucha form. Silver King has always done stuff you don't usually see from a guy his size, and Apolo Dantes was an awesome worker. Very much the all-rounder, with a great rudo swagger.
Rayo De Jalisco Jr. v. Apolo Dantes 5/31/96
I dig a big time Rayo De Jalisco singles match and this was fucking EPIC. I was gonna go into a spiel about how digging a Rayo match is like digging the fuck out of the 50s remake of Ben Hur, even though you know there's a dozen better William Wyler movies, but fuck it, Rayo brought all the matwork, submissions and big-time flying you could hope for. He envoured Apolo Dantes with the size difference; everything looking king-sized. And Dantes busted his ass big-time. I adore Rayo's big, dopey offence, but it was Dantes' selling that took this to such a plateau.
1997 CMLL was stacked full of lucha libre professionales, and since I've been digging the simplest of trios, I thought it was time to rewatch the ciberneticos from early that year.
Dr. Wagner Jr./El Hijo Del Santo/El Texano/La Fiera/Mascara Magica/Mr. Niebla/Shocker vs Black Warrior/El Dandy/Felino/Mano Negra/Negro Casas/Scorpio Jr./Silver King, 3/28/97 &
Atlantis/Brazo De Oro/El Dandy/Mascara Magica/La Fiera/Negro Casas/Shocker/Ultimo Dragon vs Black Warrior/Dr. Wagner Jr./El Hijo Del Santo/Felino/Kevin Quinn/Satanico/Scorpio Jr./Silver King, 4/18/97
The April match is the famous one, considered by many to be the match of the decade. The reason people love it, I'm presuming, is because of the opening matwork -- almost a "caida" unto itself -- the strong individual performances, memorable booking & overall display of lucha libre. And I guess the length & that guy with the fur on his shoulders who runs the guantlet at the end. But I'm here to tell you -- don't sell the earlier match short!
Well, it is shorter. Guys basically hit the ring as hard as they can and try the most creative exchange they can think of. It's like the famous cibernetico without the matwork. That may sound spotty, but it actually has good rhythm. And the booking is great -- pitting technico vs. technico, rudo vs. rudo, while still working in Casas vs. Santo, Casas vs. Wagner and the thinking smarts of La Fiera. It'll never knock the other match off its perch, but it's quick draw stuff & I enjoyed it immensely.
Blue Panther/Mistico/Volador Jr. vs. Black Warrior/El Averno/El Mephisto, 10/20/06
This was very much in the new style, but the pace was good & it had Blue Panther in it, so the exchanges were better than usual. At this point, I'll take a short match with good rhythm. I watched some longer matches from Arena Mexico recently & they were amazingly shitty. This ain't a style that can go longer than 15 minutes.
Anyway, the Mistico/Black Warrior feud was actually quite good, even with BW gyrating every five seconds. I liked his look sin mascara & the way he'd pray to the Lord every time he did something dickish to Mistico or Que Monito. Their exchanges are usually pretty fluid, since BW's been working this style for a while now & they actually work a few payoffs into what they do. It's just a pity CMLL can't book a Mistico feud for shit. You'd think Mistico would be the one guy they actually book well, but nah. Surely Mistico could've taken his hair after brawling for six months straight. Maybe i'm living in a time warp.
Halcón Negro vs Olimpico, mask vs. mask, 10/30/98
Halcón Negro was a short, chubby guy with big hair and an awesome mask (see lucha wiki), who'd wipe out members of the crowd with his bumping & sell punch drunk off a Solar armdrag. Really solid in that short, chubby guy kind of way, which basically means he's awesome. He first caught my attention in boss undercard matches like Karloff Lagarde, Jr./Gladiador/Halcon Negro vs. Ringo Mendoza/Mascara Magica/Solar (5/97 TV) and then he had this feud with Olimpico.
Not the greatest of matches, but there's fun to be had. Everything about Olimpico screams run-of-the-mill, but Halcon carries the whole thing with his bumping and catching. And like all short, chubby guys, he can really motor. Fun matwork & really great use of the top turnbuckle, too. Herodes was a friend of his father's, so unless you fight with yearling bulls, you won't get better tutilige than that.
Regardless, all of that fun is so he can unmask. And what an unfortunate unmasking it was. He had a great mask and was a champ. He was never gonna be a champ again after he unmasked. That was obvious. Sad day.
I've barely seen any minis & was ridiculously out of the loop when DVDVR ran their Mini Mini Tourney, so now it's only right that I enter the world of minis...
Mascarita Sagrada vs Espectrito I, AAA 3/12/94
So this is the world of minis? Fantastic introduction, if you ask me. I was hooked from the beginning.
There was talk about this match not aging well & whether Mascarita Sagrada was all that great, but I cut him some slack since he's an actual mini & a great technico. Espectrito carried this; you could tell that by the way he shaped the falls, but Mexico is full of guys plying that trade or learning it from scratch. The key is how to make it big. How to get people standing like they do in this match. You could be Herodes himself & still the people want a charismatic technico. Super charisma is why Rayo De Jalisco & Cien Caras tear the house down & better matches don't. And while I admire everything Espectrito did -- and they were large falls, in a promotion known for bigger matches -- a match doesn't get this good unless the technico is something special. And he really is a charismatic little fellow.
If it doesn't age well it's because AAA was a flashly promotion and flashy stuff doesn't age well, but I still think it's a great match. Three big falls & an awesome ending.
Bracito De Oro/Cicloncito Ramirez/Mascarita Magica vs Damiancito El Guerrero/El Fierito/Pierrothito, CMLL 10/3/97
This was incredible.
A lot of people have a difficult time getting into lucha & trios make it harder. Hell, I had to watch this twice to realise it was an incredible match. The thing about trios is that you really have to watch a shitload of them to understand how they work. Trios have a loose structure. There's a few basic forms, but almost everything can be varied, which is why guys like Dr Lucha Steve Sims use jazz analogies -- improvised free form over the top of basic structures (something like that, I don't remember the exact quote.) What that basically means is you can work a trios any way you like, since there's only a few basic rules. You can vary just about anything -- from the length of the falls to the style of wrestling used; rhythm, pace, order... Workers probably don't think about it too much, but that's what they're doing in the choices they make. It's almost like each fall has a scale & workers can play notes up and down that scale.
At first it's difficult to know whether what you're watching is actually good, but once you figure out the possibilities it becomes much easier. Take this match for example. If you're wondering why it's great, the simple answer is the matwork, fast exchanges and dives. As Phil Schneider pointed out in the original thread -- http://board.deathvalleydriver.com/index.p...503&hl=mini (great read, btw), this is traditional CMLL build. What really impressed me is how they upped the rhythm of each fall. There's not a lot of rudo work in this match, so it's wrestled at pace. In most trios, the rhythm varies between the first and second fall depending on whether the rudos won or lost the opening fall. Here, the second caida is a faster version of the first. Yet it's even more creative. To keep upping the rhythm, while working more & more interesting holds, is the most impressive thing I've seen in a long time. To top that in the third caida is incredible. The first time I saw this, I thought "OK, it's a workrate match, but where's the rudo/technico stuff?" Now I'm thinking I just saw six guys master the workrate form of lucha libre trios.
There's an adage I learnt in screenwriting: ""Anxious, inexperienced writers obey rules. Rebellious, unschooled writers break rules. Artists master the form." There's a lot of guys these days who could do with mastering the form before trying this sort of workrate match.
Cicloncito Ramirez vs Damiancito El Guerrero, CMLL 1/7/97
Another great match. Best three match stretch I've had in ages.
This was a beautiful display of lucha libre. Maybe not as exciting as the first two matches, but definitely one for the afficionardos. Everyone's got their own ideas about what great lucha is, I suppose, but we're all searching for it. When I first saw Atlantis/Blue Panther, I wanted to see more of the same. Problem is, great lucha is hard to find. So when you find a match like Cicloncito/Damiancito; a match as good as any you've seen, you're almost glad they're not a dime a dozen.
And that was the greatest fuck-up of a victory celebration ever. And he sold it too. Awesome.
El Dandy vs. Bestia Salvaje, 9/4/92 (CMLL World Middleweight title)
I was sorry to read about the recent death of Bestia Salvaje. Sorry for his friends and family, sorry for the man himself.. A guy like him deserves to get old & tell a bunch of lucha stories. And I'm sure he had a bunch to tell, as he was a lucha libre "professionale" in every sense of the word.
In many ways, he was the last of his kind. A thick-set rudo, who could lay in the forearms and was plenty stiff when he needed to be. He was a brawler by trade, but was precise on his bigger spots (dropkick, senton, plancha), bumped well & knew his way around the mat. Tradesmen like Bestia are rare these days. A lot of guys these days try to win rudo fans. Bestia never forgot that the rudo is a foil for the technico.
Here, Bestia was a foil for his second Satanico, but it's still a good title match with a prime El Dandy. What really impressed me were the little touches. Dandy was one of the better lucha title match workers, in large part because of his selling, but Bestia throws in all these cool little counters, like fighting the surfboard on the mat, evading the enzugiri & blocking a sunset flip with a takedown. We often look for the flamboyant from lucha, but there's a place for the rock solid. Bestia was all that & more. In Japan, where he could be stiffer, and later on when he was Ric Flair-ish with the suits and gold watches. I swear watching him & Scorpio, Jr. beat down Santo is like watching the Horsemen turn on someone.