Satanico vs. El Dandy, hair vs. hair, 9/18/92 (59th Anniversary Show)
This was the third time these guys had squared off in as many years and not a match the fans wanted to see.
Satanico and El Dandy were great workers, so there were enough touches to make it enjoyable, but it wasn't as good as their previous matches -- which weren't the greatest to begin with. It was kinda in keeping with Dandy's matches against Bestia Salvaje (9/4) and La Fiera (11/27), two competent rudos with whom Dandy had flat performances. I guess when it comes to something like Dandy vs. Casas, it's easier to "create," since there's so much heat to work with. When folks get restless, it becomes harder to get the reaction you want, particularly when it's a match people don't want to see again.
Satanico was more aggressive than their past meetings, talking a lot and nailing Dandy with the kind of headbutts that real wrestling fans appreciate. He extracted a good looking bladejob from Dandy's skull & was generally nefarious. It was Dandy's performance that was a little on the weak side. The thing about technico Dandy is that you still expect him to be an asskicker. Here he was too much of a babyface. There was an awesome punching exchange that led to one mother of a DDT, but not enough brawling.
One minute he's bleeding everywhere, the next minute he's celebrating like he won the football in extra time. The finish was not cool. Satanico did one of the best "cheat to win" victory celebrations I've ever seen, only for some Tunney type to overrule it. So Dandy got a restart. If it was scored on points, Satanico would've won for shoving Atlantis the fuck out of the way on the outside.
El Dandy was beginning to slide here, nearing the end of his great run.
Cicloncito Ramirez, Pequeño Cochisse, Platita & Pequeño Sayama vs. Damiancito el Guerrero, Fierito, Tritoncito & Guerrerito del Futuro
This was a Cibernetico at the end of '97, where the winner earned the right to wrestle in a "regular" tag match.
If you read this blog, then you probably know who won.
Bit of a shame really. There was never any guarantee of seeing the Minis on TV, but this was it for one of the best divisions anywhere in wrestling. There were classics to be had for the CMLL Mini Estrellas Title, but we never did get that Damiancito el Guerrero/Cicloncito Ramirez rematch.
I'm happy to report that they went out in style. It wasn't a classic or anything, but it was quality wrestling and the kind of beautiful exchanges that you rarely see at Arena Coliseo anymore.
Satanico vs. Pirata Morgan, hair vs. hair, AAA 11/26/93
Coming into this fight, I didn't expect it to be any good.
Probably figured Satanico and Morgan had been in one hair match too many, and I just wanted to see what they were up to in AAA, but these guys... These guys were workers.
Pirata Morgan was heavier in this match than I'm used to seeing and no longer the amazing bumper of the late 80s to early 90s. The extra weight hindered his mobility, but it didn't really matter since Morgan was always a worker first and a bumper second. I guess he belongs to a generation that got solid groundings in towns and cities across Mexico.
It's not the same Pirata Morgan that gave such amazing performances against El Faraón and Masakre, and you could be excused for thinking it's a different guy, but hair vs. hair matches follow a rather standard pattern of kick/punch brawling & Pirata brought several touches to distinguish it from the norm. Considering how uncharismatic he seemed at this point, and how rapidy he slotted into the category of working vet, I think that speaks volumes for his professional training and background.
Naturally it helps that he was wrestling the ageless Satanico, who made some pact with the Devil to remain a great worker.
Satanico was once again the star of the match, as he had been more than a year earlier against El Dandy. The guy got so much out of so little.
Satanico was basically throwing punches the whole match, interspersed with some knees, headbutts and the customary biting of the open wound. I defy anyone to tell me it was boring. The guy was a master. He kept punching different parts of the body and in the long final fall, where Pirata was going for the submission victory, Satanico punched his ribs to break the hold.
Hair matches are all about brawling and bleeding. Jake Roberts was at ringside and he had a big shit eating grin on his face. It never ceases to amaze Jake what the human mind is capable of. The great rudos always have one trick up their sleeve. In Satanico's case it was claiming the foul when there was none. If you've watched any amount of Lucha, you know Satanico will pull a deliberate foul later on.
It seems simple, but it's becoming a lost art.
Another great moment -- Satanico has Pirata's shoulders pinned on the mat and really leans in on him to get the three count. Of course Morgan's trying to fight it, so Satanico starts pumping his legs to counter the resistance. None of these flashes pins, Satanico had just enough leverage to hold Morgan for a three count.
How about Satanico's shriek every time Pirata catches his leg for a takedown? Or the way he sells the back of his head on every back bump?
I guess this is the type of match that flew under the radar in the Rey Mysterio era. From memory there's not a single dive.
If you prefer your Lucha to be fundamentally solid, I recommend checking this out.
Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. Mr. Niebla, 9/3/97 (CMLL World Light Heavyweight Title)
I wasn't sure what to make of this match.
They worked hard on an Arena Coliseo show, and you never want to criticise something like that, but it was pretty much the epitome of the modern style.
Wagner's a guy I really like, but I kept wishing he'd do something special. Niebla couldn't work the match from the ground up and wanted to head straight into the spots. It was up to Wagner to school him in that regard, but he pretty much rolled with it.
The big difference between then and now was the third fall. They went longer and did plenty of cool stuff that today's guys should crib, but it was very much riposte grappling and the good doctor showed why he was so successful on tour with NJPW.
Good for what it was, but even the Wagner heat segments lacked something.
Dr. Wagner Jr/Mano Negra vs Super Astro/Ultramán Jr, 10/28/07, Arena Coliseo de Monterrey
This seemed like a good opportunity to see Wagner work.
I mean actually work.
His first exchange with Ultraman was really good. It was pretty much test of strength stuff, but both guys have great grappling stances and there was real strength in the takedowns and the way they tried to hook each other. Niebla couldn't grab an arm and do anything with it, so this wasn't bad, but it was soon apparent that it was ALL Ultraman.
Wagner was in the ring for almost the entire match, but boy was he content to get away with the bare minimum.
I'm not sure what he's getting at with most of his posing. He looks like an exotico half the time.
Ultraman battled away valiantly, making Mano Negra's stuff look really good and launching his combination punches on the doctor, but I'm having my doubts about how good a worker Wagner really is.
Bit of a disappointment, though I had forewarning.
Super Astro's tope is still a thing of beauty.
Satanico vs. Sangre Chicana (Classic Lucha 5/28/1989)
This was mano a mano and these two were men.
Satanico has a buzz cut from losing his hair the month before and right from the start he's hunched over in his grappling stance, fingers stretched, ready to rearrange Chicana's face. The first lock-up is a beauty. In rugby we call it niggle, in wrestling it's a red rag to a bull.
This isn't a great match by any stretch of the imagination, but it's awesome to watch the bout disintegrate. Chicana's none too happy with Satanico's aggressive start and he sends a bit of a message with a rougher than usual submission around the head (and face) area. A facial, if you will, to continue with the rugby parallel. And since he knows exactly what he's done, he starts the next fall by walking over to Satanico and delivering an apologetic open handed slap. Satanico spends the rest of the match slapping himself in the face.
It's a pity this didn't turn into a bigger brawl than it was, though they did go into the crowd a lot, which in 1989 means everyone crowded around to get a better look. No blood, but Chicana had a punching combo Ultraman would've been proud of.
The ref called the whole thing off, but even then they weren't paying any attention.
Aborted greatness. Worth watching if you're a Satanico fan.
Satanico vs. Jerry Estrada, hair vs. hair, 3/23/90
Jerry Estrada again.
I swear if you can't work a hair match with Satanico then you can't work.
If I didn't have such a huge dislike for the guy, I might be able to appreciate what he did here, but it was crap.
It was Estrada's match from the start, yet it was nothing like an Estrada match. He seemed more sober than usual, perhaps that was the problem. He developed a strange fixation with Satanico's shoulder and you could feel the match waste away as he worked over Satanico's arm. Brawl motherfucker! Nobody wants to see that in a lucha libre hair match. If there was ever a time for Estrada to take mad bumps, blade and be thrown around like a ragdoll this was it. Satanico should've pummeled the fuck out of him.
A clever piece of "psychology" from Estrada to take away the punch? This is lucha. It's a hair match. That's a form of mano o mano. You take a punch, get up and punch the guy back. Working the arm doesn't have a place in this kind of match, unless you're particularly excellent at hurting someone. Worst of all, he didn't give The Master room to sell the arm.
Satanico should've taken this one by the scruff of the neck, but he didn't. I'm throwing it away.
Mano Negra & Negro Navarro vs. Solar I & Super Astro, 10/14/07
There was some beautiful lucha in this match. Nothing amazing, just age old pros working a classic lucha style.
Solar was in fine form, particularly in the vintage second fall, and Super Astro got amazing height on his springboard tope. Watching Super Astro float is a sight to behold. I thought the rudos were a little quiet in this, though Navarro was always lurking. Anytime Navarro and Solar square off, you expect something special. Once again it wasn't just the holds, but the way out of them that was so impressive. And there's no half stepping the finishes either. These guys put some thought into each pin. They were out there, they were wrestling. A flick of the wrists and it could be all over.
Not a bad one to kick back to.
La Sombra, Sagrado, Volador Jr. vs. El Hijo Del Fantasma, La Mascara, Valiente (Mexican National Trios Titles), 04/30/08
There's no way I'm going to criticise this match, since that would be completely dickish.
Instead I'm going to focus on the good points:
* Valiente is awesome. Not since the days of Halcon Negro has there been such a fun guy on the undercard. Rudo Halcon Negro had the shtick and bump spots, but the plumper, rounder Valiente has Super Astro's footwork and agility & can roll with a wristlock like a legendary fat man.
* El Hijo Del Fantasma, La Mascara and Valiente have a good look about them. The highlight for me was their decision to dive as one. Go boys!
* The kids aren't allowed to climb the ring anymore, but there were plenty of kids and babies. Love the publico.
* And the kids got what they wanted to see, big moves and a tit for tat finish. It was a match for the kids and thoroughly entertained them. Like the best kids' movies, a fair few adults enjoyed it too.
* Valiente's three step springboard is an adventure into another stratosphere where fat men fall gracefully from the sky.
* The ending, where all the men raised each other's hands, capped off the spirit the match was worked in.
Mascarita Dorada/Tzuki vs. Pequeño Damian 666/Pierrothito, 3/30/08 Guadalajara
When I said lucha had lost its charm, I clearly forgot about Tzuki.
I have all the time in the world for these guys, because they work like rudos v technicos.
The rudo work wasn't great here, but the technicos were oustanding. I'm not a fan of modern lucha offence, but it's amazing how much better the minis are at pacing and set-up (or perhaps they just look awesome running the ropes.) I don't even mind how many rotations Dorada does, because he looks so spectacular going round and round the bend.
If they'd upped the ante a little, they could've tore the roof off the mother, but props all the same. The dives at the end were amazing. The rudos deserve credit for being on the receiving end, particularly when you see the slow motion replay of Dorada's descent.
Too many highlights to name -- Tzuki wanting to box, Dorada's snazzy footwork (signalling his charge into the ropes), Tzuki signing autographs for the kids and high fiving babies... My personal fave is the fake out spot Tzuki does when he's inchworming the middle rope.
The minis are the crew to watch.
Perro Aguayo vs. Villano III, WWF World Light Heavyweight Title (UWA - 12/5/84)
I'd love to say that Perro could go back in the day, but he was a pretty limited worker.
His approach was pretty direct, either going straight for the pin or submission or throwing out a clothesline, piledriver, tope, senton, double footed stomp, that sort of thing. Similar to his son, though the younger Aguayo is far more athletic.
This was essentially a juniors match and had the same flaws as other matches from the time, namely the "get up and go" mentality. I liked Villano's submission work and his tope attacks, but that was about it. I'm not a huge Villanos fan, but I prefer their brawling to the scientific stuff. We need to bring back that term scientific.
The match was OK. UWA can be either gold or wildly disappointing.
Blue Panther/Shu El Guerrero vs Black Terry/Villano III (2004?)
This is the match that Black Terry's son put on youtube for us.
It's thirty minutes of old school lucha, worked entirely on the mat. I've watched it twice now, and of all the mat based lucha that's ever been pimped, this is up there with the best of it. Of all the small show, veteran matches that have been pimped this decade, this is almost certainly the best. You almost have to watch it twice to catch all the subtleties. The highlight for lucha fans is watching Blue Panther in a match like this & his exchanges with Villano III in the first fall are AMAZING.
You don't have to be a lucha fan to enjoy this, just a pro-wrestling fan, as Robert on DVDVR said.
Non-lucha fans will enjoy the physicality of the mat work, which is sometimes mistaken as being loose in lucha, while lucha fans will be blown away by how much further they take some well known spots.
One of my favourite matches this decade.
More of a heads up than a review.
If you've never seen the Villanos/Brazos masks match, it was uploaded onto youtube a few days ago.
It's not that easy to watch, because of the low tape quality and the guy playing with his camera functions, but it's a big match with an incredible atmosphere. The third fall is a great lucha brawl. You don't get a great look at the dive train or the finish since people are standing, but you do get to see the wrestlers leave the ring, which is footage you rarely ever see. The Brazos make a quick exit, while, one by one, the bloodied and battered Villanos stop to acknowledge the crowd, as they step through the ropes out onto the apron.
You have to squint a bit and miss a lot, but it's pretty much worth it for moments like that.
Atlantis vs. Blue Panther, Arena Mexico 07/11/08
This was a match to mark Atlantis' 25th Anniversary in wrestling.
Atlantis was one of the great technicos, but he doesn't hit the small shows much, so we don't get to see him work an older style. Some of his Guadlajara stuff is alright, but you know the small show mastery I'm talking about. Fitting then that Panther was chosen to be his opponent, since they had the most pure of title matches in 1991, a match which more than any other shaped the way I think about lucha libre.
The match was nothing special, but satisfying enough. Neither guy is a patch on what they used to be, but both take pride in their work. I wanted 20 minutes of matwork, but they had to move it along for the Arena Mexico crowd. Panther was there to job and Atlantis to take his bows. Might've been better somewhere else, but Atlantis was clearly moved by the whole occasion. Some tenor sang for him at the beginning and after the high note Atlantis lept over the ropes to embrace him.
Perhaps the best they can do these days.
1. Ciclon Ramirez/La Pantera II/Aguila Solitaria vs. Arkangel de la Muerte/Guerrero de la Muerte/Guerrero Negro
It kinda reminded me of those travel shows where they do a feature on lucha libre. They usually focus on lucha as a live show, as though you've got a front row seat. CMLL TV doesn't give you the same pick-ups from ringside, but this felt like a live match. They could probably fall out of bed and have this trios, but it was good stuff from guys I don't usually write about.
The technicos outwitted the rudos through superior technique, leaving them all at sea and bickering with one another. There were the usual appeals to the crowd about who the bigger dickhead was, before the rudos took it out on the technicos. It all led to the night train where Ciclon Ramirez, the greatest practioner of the tope, gave the crowd the type of souvenir those TV presenters never receive.
I can't think of anyone who did the tope harder or faster. He took out the end of three rows.
2. Ringo & Cachorro Mendoza/Mogur vs. Kung Fu/Hombre Bala/Sultan Gargola
For some reason I get a kick out of Ringo Mendoza, even if everything he does looks soft. I even got a kick out of his tag partners. Something about the whole thing screamed babyface to me, I could just imagine them doing muscle poses for the lucha mags. They weren't too bad actually, since they had Hombre Bala bumping and stooging for them, something the great man deserves a lifetime achievement award for.
These matches usually have an odd man out, but it wasn't the Gargola guy. Kung Fu looked RAGGED. I'm not a fan of Kung Fu gimmicks, but that motherfucker Octagon stoooole the Los Fantásticos gimmick. Anyway, the maskless Kung Fu was supposed to be a pint-sized, pissy little heel who used nunchukkas and foreign objects. Dunno if it was a Pena gimmick, but he looked like a wiry old man.
3. Blue Panther/Fuerza Guerrera/Emilio Charles Jr. vs. El Volador/Blue Demon Jr./Misterioso
Good Lord, Fuerza Guerrera's purple and yellow get-up was awesome.
This was the type of match that would soon crossover into AAA, I'll spare you my thoughts on how much better it was in CMLL.
Misterioso had shocked Fuerza for the NWA World Welterweight title the month before, so his whole purpose here was to make Misterioso look like a dick on national television. The rudos won in straight falls, which'll hurt any technico's pride and sure enough the post-match was wild, especially Fuerza hitting a takedown that spilt through the ropes. The best part came while Fuerza was giving an interview at the end. As Fuerza demanded a title shot, Emilio propped Blue Demon Jr. up behind him for an awesome right hand from Panther. BD went down.
As an aside, Emilio was insane. It's no wonder his body is shot. He took by far by the biggest bumps on the show. I thought Pirata Morgan was crazy, but Emilio didn't give a second thought about catapaulting over the ropes. Jeepers.
Pierroth used to be the same way too, until he damn near killed himself and then he didn't bump anymore. After that he was a little stiff in the way he moved, but he made up for it by being a rudo extraordinaire...
4. Los Brazos vs. Los Intocables (The Untouchables): Pierroth Jr./Masakre/Jaque Mate
If there was ever a trios carried by a rudo personality, it was Los Intocables.
Los Intocables were PIERROTH. He couldn't move very well and wouldn't bump, but he knew how to punch a man. Just as Satanico would punch different parts of the body, Los Intocables used all sorts of ways to hold a man down while Pierroth rearranged the guy's face. The three on one beatings in this match were awesome, especially when the Brazos spat in Pierroth's face and got nasty fish hooks in return.
The catch to it all was that Pierroth was absolutely chicken shit when he didn't have a 3 on 1 advantage and since this the type of fight where Porky ditches the comedy and is stiffer with his spots, Pierroth was soon running scared. Man can the Brazos can take care of business, especially when Porky's focused. They ripped Pierroth's mask off completely, the ultimate insult for a guy who hooking the mouth only moments before.
He returned with a new mask and a shit lot of attitude on the house mic, there were challenges galore and Porky wanted to go rounds with Jacque Mate. He even feigned kick boxing. As a brawl it never got off the ground, but in terms of the amount of mayhem that can stem from one man, highly entertaining.
1. Los Brazos vs. Pierroth Jr./Masakre/Jaque Mate
This was a rehash of their January match. If you were expecting them to kick on and ratchet it up a notch like I was, you'd be greatly disappointed. There was some amusing stuff, like Masakre and Jaque Mate pin pointing the pressure points on Porky's gut, but it was too low on the card to deliver.
2. Ultimo Dragon vs. Blue Panther - Non-Title match
It sucks how much of Blue Panther's prime was wasted on being a fall guy for shitty workers. Ultimo Dragon didn't attempt to work a lucha style and this was the lowliest of junior matches.
3. Atlantis/Solomon Grundy/Rayo de Jalisco Jr. vs. Cien Caras/Mascara Ano Dos Mil/Universo Dos Mil
Is there anything more awesome than the Rayo vs. Caras feud??
Rayo brawled in his Mariachi get-up and threatened the rudos with a PISTOL, I kid you not. This was pretty wild for a match that featured a bunch of loose, theatrical workers. Rayo shoved the ref into the front row, some fan got caught up in the brawling and took a bump with the rudo, Universo 2000 had all sorts of novel ways to work Solomon Grundy over in the corner, sitting on his shoulders and twisting his head... even the finish was inexplicable as a second Solomon Grundy did a run in. Double Doink.
4. Octagon vs. Fuerza Guerrera - Mexican Middleweight Title
This was a poor man's version of their "as close to a classic with Octagon as you can possibly get" 11/91 match. Comparing the two is like Richie Rich and a street kid.
Sure Fuerza did some cool shit with Octagon, but there was too much heat on their seconds, Cien Caras and Konnan. With the amount of cross cutting they did between cornermen, you knew an angle was on the cards. Caras looked like some asshole dad or football coach here and his low blow of Octagon was pretty classy, especially when a woman leapt to abuse him as Caras wagged the finger, "no, no, no." But it led to one of the most hideous, bare chested displays of ring clearing ever witnessed. Konnan looked like a prize dick.
Fuerza provided one last classy moment when he used Konnan's shirt to choke Octagon out, but the whole thing left a sour taste in the mouth.
1. Los Destructores: Tony Arce/Vulcano/Rocco Valente vs. Love Machine (Art Barr)/America/Mano Negra
Los Destructores were really good in this. It's a bit difficult to tell one from the other, but they worked well as a trios. Plenty of good "routine", particularly their two and three man bumping act. The highlight was Mano Negra taking all three on at once in a beautifully coordinated sequence. Los Destructores have a neat trick they do where they sit on someone's lap to dissuade the technico from diving. The only dive in this was America (El Pantera) launching a springboard senton off Mano Negra's shoulders. Just a nice match. Even Art Barr was solid, particularly on the mat. I'm not declaring myself a fan yet, but of all the guys who made it south of the border he got it better than most.
2. Los Infernales: El Satanico/MS1/Pirata Morgan vs. Los Intocables: Pierroth Jr./Jaque Mate/Masakre
PIERROTH disappoints again
It started off like the awesome Rudos vs. Rudos feud you'd expect, but there was such a huge gulf in class between Los Intocables' half-assed brawling and the way Los Infernales take a man apart. In particular, I loved the way they treated Jaque Mate like he was a piece of shit, trying him up in knots and delivering a trio of headbutts, before pressing him over the top rope and getting rid of him completely. The match fell into a lull before Satanico turned it on like a man possessed and fought all three at once.
Pierroth lost his mask a bunch, the finish saw the usual challenges. A woman in the crowd thought it was the best thing to happen all year in Arena Mexico, but I was waiting for Pierroth to crank it up.
3. Los Brazos vs. Rayo de Jalisco Jr./Solomon Grundy/Vampiro Canadiense
This was the worst Brazos match I've seen. The highlight was Porky bringing a small pig with him, literally.
4. Bestia Salvaje vs. Huracan Sevilla - Hair Match.
This was an extremely good match between a youthful looking Bestia and the former Huracan Ramirez knock-off.
I was expecting this to be an early Bestia carry job, so I was a little surprised by how well Sevilla did. He was so cocky and sure of himself in the introductions, with a leather jacket and the classier ring girls in his corner, and they worked a smart heat ploy involving the heel ref, his second Norman Smiley and the crowd.
This was UWF Bestia, just absolutely rock solid as a base. His stuff always looked stiffer than most workers in Mexico and I think it was because of his accuracy. Even off a shoulder block, he'd look at where the technico landed before making his charge into the ropes, and in the second fall when Sevilla was throwing wild punches, Bestia's cut offs (punches to the back and kicks to the calves) looked right on target. It helped that Sevilla was bumping and selling like Satanico, but even Salvaje's drop toe hold into the submission finisher was class.
The match opened up beautifully in the final fall, with Bestia working his man from pillar to post. The ref screwed Sevilla throughout and sweet, sweet payback followed. Bestia bleed and took head first bumps off the ring post. El Brazo and the ref tried to spare his life and the whole thing was almost perfect lucha. To top it all off, Bestia got incredible height on the back body drops oover the ropes and took Sevilla's topes with full contact.
They took it home with one of the better finishing stretches you'll see in lucha, a mix of the ref helping Bestia cheat and Bestia taking it to the top rope with either ungodly planchas or huge missed sentons. Bestia's not with us anymore, and he never did his body any favours, but fuck it if he ever held back. He even made tucking your knees to counter a senton look like it wasn't co-operated, though I should reiterate that Sevilla's selling was great as he swam backwards on the mat to sell it.
It was one of those matches were never guy would quit and sold in a believable, convincing way. From the huge dives at the end to the ref LEAPING over a cradle attempt when he realised Bestia had the hold, the last fall was awesome. Neither guy could put the other away and they just duked it out. I can't even begin to describe how awesome it was when Sevilla sold his leg giving out on him only to monkey flip Bestia all the way over the top rope. Bestia just soared. And the finish was controversial, beautiful and so much more of a punch to the guts than the usual rudo way out. Sevilla giving his hair to both Bestia and the ref was the finishing touch to a classic.
One of the great matches of the whole '89-92 period.
Pierroth vs. El Supremo, mask vs. mask, 12/08/92
This was a return to greatness for PIERROTH.
I fucking loved this.
-- I should note that the version I watched was letterboxed (which it made it seem like a rare piece of lucha footage) and for some reason the sound quality was better than usual. Arena Mexico never sounded so good.
At some point in 1992, Pierroth turned technico and was a huge hit with the crowd.
Supremo was an older luchador with a classic look -- huge chest, beautiful mask. He had that graceful way of moving that you don't see much of anymore. It was beautiful to watch, especially how he'd whip his man into the ropes. Great hands. He wrestled as he might have done whenever he was a technico, but broke that code of conduct.
What I loved most was how simple and succinct it was. The heel ref Gato Montini gave Supremo leverage to cheat and Sangre Chicana was fucking brilliant hitting Pierroth with the towel and picking his spots to punch him. Pierroth was choked in the ropes, busted open and had his mask stretched across his face, giving him plenty of opportunity to work his magic. It was your basic pearl habour of a charismatic technico, but Pierroth was awesome in the role. The crimson mask. The hair sticking out the top. The biting & tooth and nail scraping.
His second got taken the fuck out of the equation too, which ruled.
Pierroth used the force of his personality to fight his way back into the match. I loved the way he worked out of a corner and it was brilliant how they sold their hands after punches or chops.
Great start and end to the year for Pierroth.
Fuerza Guerrera vs. Gallo Tapado, hair vs. hair, 3/8/91
Gallo Tapado was a character wrestler from the 70s whose mask was "a rooster's spur around the eyes and a line crossing the mouth to feign a belt from the charro's hat whom made roosters fight in los palenques, making him an excellent character, since sometimes in the ring [he] jumped joining his ankles like sharping his knives as roosters do in a fight." (Credit: lucha wiki)
He was 48 years old here and practically a 30 year vet, so there wasn't much pomp. It was a familar story, I guess, an old guy looking for one last pay day. He kinda reminded me of a Villano in the way he moved and his ability to hook on a submission, so I imagine he was a pretty decent worker in his hey day. He was actually Fuerza's maestro, so Fuerza came pretty damn close to losing his mask. GT brought some sort of live chicken or cock to ringside, which Fuerza beat him with, and then the tape started splicing between the first and second falls and looped back round again.
It was a slower, more methodically paced match than the usual Fuerza special, but as always he added a little something extra to each of his bumps and I don't think I've seen a guy who was better at breaking a cradle or submission attempt.
GT was selling his arm at the end, using the strap of his tights as a sling. I don't know if it was real or not, Huracan Sevilla did the same thing the night he lost his mask, but if it's a work then it's a pretty awesomw way to bow out.
A small, somewhat interesting piece of lucha history.
Sangre Chicana vs. La Fiera, hair vs. hair, CMLL 7/2/93
Ah, 1993 CMLL.
AAA was doing big business at the time, and if this was CMLL's way of rolling with the punches, I have no idea why they ran such slow, plodding matches.
Not that I'm complaining. Sangre Chicana is just about my favourite wrestler for doing absolutely fucking nothing and getting heat for it. He spent the entire match measuring La Fiera with punches & walking off into the crowd to jaw with the public. He had a fair bit of support from rudo fans in the front, who clued him in to Fiera dragging his bruised and battered sides toward Chicana. Chicana working the rib and kidney area was awesome and made it all the sweeter when he'd slip one in on Fiera's chin. Guys don't work the body enough these days. That's a fact.
Fiera, who had turned a short while before this, wasn't the greatest technico to ever mount a comeback, but Chicana sold everything like it just broke his nose or sent spasms to every corner of his body. The highlight of the match was Fiera's all or nothing tope. Chicana didn't catch it particularly well, but Fiera swan diving over the top rope was pretty spectacular and looked tremendous. There was only gonna be one loser after that type of move and the barber wasn't three quarters finished before they launched into an extra round. They brawled away the way to the back with more intensity than they showed in the fight, so either Chicana was fucking around too much or they wanted to go further round the horn.
No blood and not a hidden gem, but 1993 CMLL is always worth a look. They worked this really long lock-up at the start that was an interesting counterpoint to AAA in itself.
Bestia Salvaje vs. Kato Kung Lee, hair vs. hair, 3/13/92
I can't get over what a good worker Bestia Salvaje was in 1992.
This was a minor match, a veteran losing their hair to continue Bestia's push as a top rudo, but it's hard to imagine anyone getting a better match out of Kato Kung Lee this late in the game.
Without the mask Kato looked like a regular Joe. He reminded me of a bit part actor in an old movie, the kinda guy you could cast as a newspaper man in one film and a heavy in the next and if he had a speaking line he'd get paid a little extra. What I'm trying to say is that within the mask he was never gonna draw, especially in that outfit, but Bestia gave him a fair shake. It would've been easy for Bestia to nab a scalp here, but I guess he had the dreaded respect for the business as he made Kato look like he still had deadly hands.
The interesting thing about Bestia was that he was a new breed of rudo. He had the kind of attention to detail that all the great rudos have, but he also had moves. A fucking boatload of moves. And he liked to use them too. Normally I'd think that was out of place in lucha, but somehow Bestia put it altogether. Some of his other trappings weren't too good for his health, but I wish he was still around to impart some wisdom to today's move happy rudos. Later on he became a sleazier rudo with the women and the suits, but here he was a hard working "youngster" who you figure just happened cross over onto the wrong side of the tracks and be broken in by some rudos. I'd love to know what the story was with his nose. Legend has it W.C. Fields got his nose from constantly fighting with other street kids. I wonder if there's a similar worked story for Bestia.
[He was actually 30 here and had 10 years experience under the belt, but lucha is deceiving like that. I always forget that Fuerza made his debut thirty years ago and so on.]
The match is nice, though nothing outwardly special. Kato had his head shaved while lying on the mat, which I don't think I've seen before and his second, Ciclon Ramirez, was wearing a fucking awesome get-up and taped Kato's wrist between rounds. Again with the details. That has to be the greatest thing about lucha. Almost every exchange was picture perfect "neat."
The more Bestia you watch from '92, the more you realise how disappointing the Dandy vs. Bestia title match was. Dandy completely peaked with the Casas feud. Bestia would've overtaken him if he'd been perhaps a bit more charismatic or a tad less ugly.
El Hijo del Santo vs. Negro Casas, UWA 1/12/92
This is the famous "no sound" match that was wrestled almost completely on the mat. (Well, famous to me.)
The more UWA Santo I see, the more I feel like I'm watching a completely different wrestler. This was the absolute peak of Santo's work and the closest he came to wrestling like his father. It's becoming harder to watch latter day Santo knowing he was once like this. The creativity and inventiveness in this match is staggering, such as the camel clutch spot with the fighting, twisting & turning. Working one hold into another, faking a match yet having reall skill. Actual skill. Knowledge of holds and how to apply them. Here Santo was a worker who could literally do anything.
I think it would surprise people to see Santo slip in the kind of shots you'd expect from Euro workers pre-97, but I guess he'd been traveling to Japan and was a bit awed by some of the work he saw over there. This was a little Japan-ccentric for my tastes, as even the submission variations showed some outside influence, but in terms of matwork and guys really working in the holds, this was a great little match. The only problem was that it was over too soon. For that reason I don't think it was as good as the Espanto Jr. match. Nor did I think it had that special lucha vibe (i.e. a match you could only see in Mexico), but if you like Stephen Regal or Ishikawa and BattlARTs, for example, this was a similar sort of hybrid concept. Think of it as the best match possible in the Hamada UWF style.
I still think Santo and Casas never had the blow away match they were capable of, but lucha tends to not have blow away matches, just incredibly satisfying ones to appease the endless appetite of its fans.
Lucha Azteca La Nueva Era
1. Black Terry, Negro Navarro, Hijo de Pierroth vs. Pendulo, Freelance, Fenix
2. Campeones Vs Campeones:
Escuadron del Muerte: Xibalva, Cyborg, Capitan Muerte vs. Los Oficiales: Oficial 911, Oficial Ak 47, Oficial Fierro
This was closer to the type of lucha I like. Guys taking their time, working the mat and getting into a rhythm. The young guys were balls of nervous energy, ready to explode in a shower of highspots, but even when they veered toward overkill they'd earnt it.
Black Terry & Navarro are still savvy motherfuckers, which makes them two of the better workers in the world. There's not too many workers who impress me just by stepping through the ropes, but Navarro's one of them. Dude's got the build and the stance. Big fucking shoulders and a lifetime of grappling experience. Could probably crush a guy's hand with his fingers. He tied Fenix up in knots, and while he lost his footing a bit, I still came away thinking most motherfuckers can't wrestle like that. Hijo de Pierroth's a big lug, but every trios needs a hard working lug.
This was the first time for me to see Freelance. I didn't know he's so short. He kinda works like he's compensating for it, but still there's something in the way he carries himself. Guy has a similar build to Black Terry, hope he learns the ropes from him. One day lucha will need a veteran Freelance tearing shit up. Great armdrag, plenty of control on his dives. Maybe he's the new Virus. Wants to add that twisting shit to his moves, but it's a young man's world.
Los Oficiales made me feel like an old man. Motherfuckers went all out. I lost track.
I liked the beginning of the match, where everybody was trying to make each other submit. Dudes were walking headlong into submissions, but I liked the way they faced it head on. You could maybe argue that they didn't satisfy rudo vs. rudo expectations, but when these guys cut loose they tear shit down. Great gimmick, three guys who work hard and fast. Not my thing usually, but identical looking guys doing twin dives is awesome. I especially love how their hats are fixed to their masks. Couldn't keep up with the ending, had to watch the replay to see how smooth it was. Nice.
Enjoyed this show a lot. All's not lost.
Blue Panther vs. Villano V, Arena Puebla, 9/29/08
Revenge match in front of a pretty small crowd and my first look at Panther without the mask.
It takes a bit of getting used to, and looks a hell of a lot like old man brawling, but like I said Panther was never the greatest brawler. At one point he threw a pretty decent right hand, but it hardly matters since Villano won't bump.
This was a lot stiffer than their mask match, with Villano dishing out some nasty shots and not giving a fuck about Panther in general. Panther tried to fish hook him and rip the mask, but Villano's tougher than Blue Panther. In fact, Villano could pretty much kill Panther. I dunno if it's such a great idea to have an unmasked, 48 year-old Panther getting swamped.
Anyway, Panther took a beating but saw some daylight and hooked Villano's arm. The Villanos hit the ring, broke Panther's leg and crippled him for life. Panther's a double loser, I mean there he was going for an armbar when the Villanos wanna retire him. Let's say Panther got the submission, what does Villano care? He never quit. Villano has a thick skull and nothing Panther does can hurt him. He tried the tope, but it was terrible by comparison. He needs to work on that right hand, because the mask was more forgiving.
There's talk going round that Panther is wrestler of the year. The way I see it, Panther's got a struggle on his hands to stay credible. Watching Ruleta de la Muerte, Panther could've gone on for years, dumbing down his shit, staying charismatic. Everybody loved that mask.
Black Terry vs. Negro Navarro, Americas Title, NWA Mexico 11/1/08
This is available in various forms on youtube, including one set to Metallica. None of them are complete, but what's shown is EPIC. I kid you not, this is fucking incredible --