Satanico vs. Lizmark, NWA World Middleweight Championship, 4/84
With both these guys retiring on the Luchas 2000 show, I thought I'd pay tribute to two of my all-time favourite workers.
This isn't a great match, and to be honest, I wish it had been much better, but it's as close as we'll ever get to the heart of the Lizmark/Satanico rivalry.
There's a moment towards the beginning of the match that sets the tone for everything that follows. The ref is giving his instructions to Lizmark and has to call Satanico over to listen. Satanico is as cool as ever, nodding and gesturing that it's fine, but he's somewhat bemused as the ref continues to explain. Suddenly, he gets this glint in his eye and grins at the pair of them. The ref brings them together for a handshake, but Lizmark gets the brush off.
That may seem like a minor detail, trivial even, but Lizmark looked foolish and it was a high class insult.
Watching that moment, it struck me that no-one could outperform Satanico. There's not too many workers you can say that about, but it's true. He was impossible to outperform. I've seen dozens of Satanico matches and the psychology is always the same. He had a bag of tricks he liked to use; brushing off the handshake was one of them, losing his temper was another. But no matter how many times he did them, it never came across as stage craft. He was this supremely confident, supremely arrogant guy, who was quick to anger and prone to tantrums. A lot of guys have played rudo and played it well, but Satanico was a natural.
He was also a fairly demanding worker, who expected guys to work at his level, and nowhere was this more true than in title matches. Steve Sims describes the lucha title match style as "almost always a technical-style match, putting over the championship, where both men wrestle as cleanly as they can to see which is the more deserving of being 'best in his class.'" There's more to it than that, but if you look at the middleweight title histories from this era, you can see that only the most capable of middleweights held the straps. Satanico's credentials as a middleweight champion don't need any introduction, but I think a lot of people are unaware of how good Lizmark truly was.
Unfortunately, only two of their matches exist on tape; this one from '84 and a later one from AAA. Neither of them are classics, which doesn't help my cause very much. It could be that they were too good for each other as opponents, or it could simply be that their best matches are lost, but nevertheless this '84 match pits arguably the best rudo worker in Mexico against the best technico worker.
The first caida is beautiful, with Satanico wrenching on a side headlock and Lizmark looking for a submission straight away. This was a return match, and either Satanico had done something illegal to win the title in December or he'd been baiting Lizmark in trios, because the technico was unusually aggressive here. They needled each other on the first break and it seemed like there was more to it than the brush off.
Satanico lost his cool the way he always does, by being outwrestled and outgrappled. What I love about these temper spots is that Satanico always responds with such authority; this time with a series of throws. He landed a single leg takedown, but was too caught up with swatting away Lizmark's free leg and ended up having the hold reversed. It was one of those cases where the reversal is more painful than the original hold, and as you'd expect, that's how Satanico sold it. Watch the way that Lizmark springs into position. He was such a fluid wrestler in his prime. Just beautiful technique. The armlock reversals to end this exchange are incredible.
One of my favourite Satanico tricks is when he'd appeal to the ref for help. Rudos usually wrestle a title match cleanly. They may wrestle aggressively, they may push the boundaries and be cautioned by the ref, but by and large they adhere to the rules. Foul play is rare and disqualifications even rarer. Occasionally they cheat to win, but the goal is to outwrestle the so-called "technico" with technical wrestling, thus proving their superiority. This was particularly true in Satanico's case, since he was a supremely talented wrestler who believed he was a supremely talented wrestler, but whenever he was down on points, he'd start reminding the ref of the rules and the sanctity of a title match. The same rules he didn't want to listen to at the outset.
It was always a sign that he was getting his ass kicked and boy was that the case here. Satanico didn't have an answer for Lizmark in this fall. Lizmark wrapped things up with a double underhook suplay, which is about as definitive a throw as it gets.
What strikes me as odd about this match is how aggressive Lizmark is in the second fall. Satanico is still feeling the effects of the suplay and doesn't want to lock-up. Lizmark is so pumped up, so aggravated that he launches an all out attack on the head and neck area that not even the crowd are sure about. I can only imagine that Satanico had done something to Lizmark at some point, because it's not the type of behaviour befitting of a technico in a sanctioned title match. It was, however, a sight to behold.
Things get even stranger with Lizmark refusing to break and targeting the eye area. Satanico is unable to mount any sort of a comeback and Lizmark ends up piledriving him not once but twice. Just deserts for the diabolical one? It's not a turn of any sort, but it's not exactly premeditated either. And it's tough for the ref to officiate on. The fall ends with a rather weak Satanico counter, where he falls backwards clutching his head. I dunno where that caida came from, because Satanico didn't put up a fight at all.
The third fall followed more traditional lines with both guys hanging on for dear life. The highlight of the fall was Satanico charging at Lizmark only for the technico to step aside and send him hurling through the ropes. He crashed into the padding, and by the time he looked up, Lizmark was already halfway through a spectacular Plancha Suicida. No-one has ever done that move better. He was an amazingly flexible guy and you could see that in the way he'd contort his body on the mat.
It was sudden death after that, and to be frank, the offence was poor. This was a revancha match that didn't bring with it any revenge and ended in a double pin. Satanico retained the title and had a hell of a sore neck for his efforts, but Lizmark lost his way in the final fall and didn't deserve the win. That's OK in legit sports, but in a worked sport, as lucha libre title matches present themselves, it's pretty average when you compare it with something like Satanico/Gran Cochisse or even Zatura/Trauma II from a few weeks ago.
We'll never know whether Satanico vs. Lizmark ever lived up its billing, but there was enough quality here to suggest that they were pound-for-pound the best in this or any other weight class. But can anybody explain the story to me?