PERRO AGUAYO VS. UNIVERSO 2000, hair vs. mask, CMLL El Jucio Final, 3/30/01
So here's the deal: 2009 is almost over, and I'm no closer to figuring out what the best matches of the decade were, so from now until whenever we drop this project, Raging Noodles and I will search for the likely candidates. Judging by the wrestling this decade, we'll probably watch anything and everything.
First up is a mascara vs. cabellera match from Perro Aguayo's lengthy retirement tour.
Wow, this was far better than I was expecting it to be. Crowd heat is incredible for this, and Perro looks like he belongs more in a wheel chair than he does in the ring. But even though Perro looks like he could barely walk, I'm surprised to see him taking bumps off of Universo's offense in the early portion of the match. Universo tries that spot where you fall back and monkey flip a guy over you, but Perro just stomps him in the face. Smart man.
Perro then clotheslines Universo to the outside, and follows up with a tope! I would be dishonest if I did not admit that it might be the worst tope in the history of Arena Mexico, but it was gusty as hell and made Aguayo look like an insane old crippled man that doesn't give a fuck. So, that was awesome and I loved it. Mascara Año 2000 is Universo's second, and he starts to beat the shit out of Aguayo. While this is going on, Aguayo's second Villano III, is furious and starts to argue with the referee Tigre Hispano. Back in the ring, Universo misses a charge in the corner and takes a great back body drop bump and then takes another one of those to the outside. Man, Perro seems to be in a lot of pain yet he still busts out la silla spot. Some more interference from Mascara Año 2000, and Hispano attempts to restrain a furious Villano III. Whoever laid out this match deserves all the credit in the world for how great of a spectacle it's turning out to be. Back in the ring, Universo attempts to submit Aguayo and then gives Aguayo a back body drop which must have felt like hell for Aguayo. Aguayo is sent out to the floor, and Universo accidentally wipes out his brother with a tope. Perro starts counting Universo out, but Tigre Hispano continues to be a dick and refuses to count Universo out. This is really entertaining. A rudo referee breaking up the rhythm of a Santo/Panther match in Monterrey is really stupid. But this stuff here is really smart and it's working.
Perro is now in control and starts to unleash some of his usual offense to try to put Universo away. Perro does a nice samoan drop and hits a big senton off the ropes for a cover. Perro continues to be in charge until Mascara Año 2000 trips Aguayo and Universo hits a low blow on Aguayo. Villano III is awesome as the second, and his reactions to all this interference is incredible. Universo goes to the top rope for a big move, and Aguayo moves out the way and quickly goes for a pinfall. Tigre Hispano refuses to count up to three, and Dr. Alfonso Morales screams that it might be arthritis that's preventing him from making the three count. That was hilarious. Aguayo knees him in the face and hits an elbow drop, and Hispano refuses to count to three again. Perro Aguayo can't believe this and is flabbergasted at all this bullshit. Perro's acting and body language has always been one of his strongest points. Probably the best thing he does in this match is the masterful job of being able to convey all his emotions to the Arena Mexico crowd. Universo fails to clothesline Perro, but hits Tigre Hispano and the ringside commissioner orders Tigre Hispano to the back. Aguayo is awesome at stirring up the audience to chant for Hispano to leave the ring. In the brief moments where there is no referee, Mascara Año 2000 just pops inside the ring and both brothers double team Aguayo. Roberto "El Guero" Rangel comes out! Awesome, Rangel blocks a martinete attempt from Universo and orders Mascara Año 2000 to the back. Behind Rangel's back, Aguayo hits a low blow for a nearfall. After a couple of more false finishes from Aguayo, and with the crowd chanting "Si Se Puede!", Aguayo finally sets him up for La Lanza. He hits it, does a huge fun celebration and is in a state of ecstasy about it. But when he makes the cover, a "fan" with a Pierroth mask, throws a drink in his face to blind him. As soon as Universo recovers, he picks up the blinded Aguayo and hits the piledriver for the win.
Dr. Alfonso Morales is screaming about this injustice and is furious at everything that has taken place. He starts interrogating the commissioner, Roberto Rangel, Mascara Año 2000, and screams at Universo 2000 that he couldn't beat Aguayo like a man. Morales also goes on to accuse him of getting one of his family members to throw the drink at Aguayo's face. Morales is awesome as a pissed off, truth seeking journalist trying to get to the bottom of this conspiracy against Perro Aguayo! The audience appears to be shocked and appalled at seeing an unconscious Perro getting his head shaved.
As much as I love Perro Aguayo, he was so limited and broken down at this point, that it's a miracle to see how awesome this turned out to be. Universo 2000 deserves a lot of the credit for carrying Aguayo along the way, and I would love to know who was in charge of booking all the smoke and mirrors bullshit.
Eight years ago, I wouldn't have watched this match. Nowadays, I figure that if anyone can make a CMLL match work it's a 55 year-old Perro Aguayo and a 37 year-old Universo 2000. It's not that I automatically distrust anyone under the age of 40, it's just that a match like this needs a whole lot of bullshit and a whole lot of heat, and these guys spent forever working that style.
The Arena Mexico is set-up these days, the way it's lit, and even the way they shoot the matches, means you have to be a big match worker to pull this shit off. Many of the lucha classics would look out of place in present day Arena Mexico. They'd be better suited to smaller venues like Arena Coliseo. It's possible that past workers could get heat for their rudo tactics, but not at the same pace. There used to be an unbearable tension to the way a rudo would brutalise the technico. These days, they've filled in the "down time" with crooked refs and over involved seconds. You need to be larger than life to stick out from all the bullshit, and that was always one of Perro's strengths. A lot of workers are poor at playing to the crowd, even great workers who've been in the business for decades. Blue Panther, for example, is hopelessly bad, but a lot of other masked luchadores struggle with this as well. Perro was a guy who got over by channeling his intensity into a confrontational style. Win or lose, he set about making an impression, and was able to project that intensity onto the entire arena.
55 year-old Perro was difficult to watch at times, but he worked this match like he would've ten years earlier. In fact, the booking was straight out of 1992, right down to the heel ref being ejected and Rangel taking his place. I guess it's no surprise that two guys who headlined "Pena style" main events in the early 90s were so successful in this match. In many ways, it was the culmination of not only Aguayo's feud with Los Hermanos Dinamita, but a bookend to the Pena driven boom of the the early 90s.
Matches like these are full of bullshit, but when it comes to booking, there's good bullshit and bad bullshit. The bullshit here was phenomenal. The key to the match's success was that they booked it as a single fall contest. If they'd booked it as 2/3 falls, they would've had to chop up the fifteen minutes and overbook the finish to each fall, similar to wager matches of late. With a single fall, it meant they could work a simple match where Perro kept having his offence cut off and was a step closer to being screwed over. But the clincher was the finish. I have no idea what the feeling was at the time, but watching the match it seemed just as likely that Universo would lose his mask. I've got to admit that I had no idea whether the fan was a plant or not, but Perro taking the martinete on his back neck came as a complete shock. To have a legend like Perro Aguayo laid out like that is just about the ballsiest finish I've seen in lucha.
Aguayo deserves credit for jobbing like that. It was only his second apuestas loss in fifteen years. Granted, he'd had the better of Los Hermanos Dinamita over the years, but it was an awesome way to put over Universo. I know there's been a reappraisal of Los Hermanos Dinamita in recent years, but up until now I haven't really bought it. I like their early 90s stuff, but I don't think they were good in the 80s. Watching the bullshit here, it kind of dawned on me that Universo was better than any other point in his career. The work here was pretty basic, but his bulked up frame made him a tougher looking proposition than his prime years. I think this match turned me into a Capos fan.