Blue Panther vs. Negro Casas, lightning match, CMLL 1/27/12
-- for a lightning match this was extremely good. Ten minutes can either be too short or too long in a lightning match, and many workers struggle to deliver something substantial, but this was as close to a proper match as you'll get with this stip. It wasn't perfect as they couldn't transition into the finish very well and the finish itself was contrived, but what shone through was how good these guys are at keeping things interesting. Panther was especially good with his selling and transitions, but both guys dug into their bag of tricks and the time simply wasn't an issue. It wasn't a MOTYC or anything like that (that's a bit of an overreaction), but as far as setting up a hair match goes it was as good as anything I can remember.
Atlantis vs. Ultimo Guerrero, CMLL 2/3/12
-- this is the sort of match I'd usually give a wide berth, but I was impressed with both these guys in that January trios so I thought I'd give them a chance. Ah, I thought it was all right. They tried to have a physical match with mask ripping and punch combos and plenty of body shots. A few people commented that it was indicative of the modern CMLL main event style, but there's nothing special about trying to have a huge tercera caída in a lucha libre match. Atlantis has been working this way his entire career. Things petered out on this occasion, but at least they tried to add something extra to each transition. It wasn't Casas vs. Panther, but it wasn't exactly spotty either. Atlantis is looking good this year, but I was kind of shocked by how grey he is.
Negro Casas vs. La Sombra, NWA World Welterweight Championship, CMLL 2/20/12
This was an excellent match. I'm struggling to think of any Casas matches I enjoyed more than this in the past 14 years. I don't know why everyone's working so hard lately, is it because business is down? I don't know what it is, but my opinion of CMLL has changed dramatically in the past few weeks. I haven't had this positive a vibe about the promotion since I first started this blog. This wasn't the classic lucha of 20 years ago, but it was smart and provided the perfect framework for how to have a modern match with a little bit of thought put into it. Sombra's been in more exciting matches than this, but I doubt he's been in anything as well worked. Casas was fantastic in this. His selling has always been his stock and trade, but what really stood out to me were the clever transitions. I'm starting to sound like Herb Kunze in this entry, but in the transitions in CMLL (and all wrestling really) have been so telegraphed for so long now that the work I'm seeing of late is exciting. Really smart use of a striking game against a bigger man and two big counters in the third caida that were sold about as well as the guy on offense can sell. Suddenly, I'm looking forward to CMLL matches.
Fuego/Valiente vs. Arkangel de la Muerte/Virus, CMLL 2/21/12
Here's another excellent match. What is in the water? This was fabulous. Just pure lucha. The opening exchanges between Arkangel and Fuego weren't the greatest, but I'm not sure everyone appeciates the beauty of cooperative lucha holds. They didn't get the rhythm right here but it's a beautiful thing when they start flipping holds. The closest comparison I can make is a "veronica" in bullfighting. Valiente and Virus were outstanding. They're such a natural pairing and their opening exchange was gorgeous. I've never really made the connection before, but Virus reminds me of Dandy in a way. One thing that was really noticeable was how much better Arkangel's exchanges were with Valiente than Fuego. The monkey flips were awesome as was the begging off. Those are the moments to savour in lucha and a good example of what I'd like to see more of in those maestro tags where Navarro and Solar never wrestle anybody else. I know I've been saying this a lot, but I can't remember the last time I saw a rudo comeback this good. Perhaps it's because I didn't watch lucha much last year, but that karate chop foul was brilliant. And how much fun was the third fall? It was a bit short, but the rudo beatdown, the technico comeback, the fast paced exchanges, tope and the all in finish were fantastic. I feel like I'm being spoilt.