Angel Blanco Jr./El Hijo del Solitario vs. El Hijo Del Santo/Villano IV, TXT 2/25/12
This was an excellent match and a vintage Santo brawl. I guess the surprising thing about that is that Santo didn't feature prominently. With the focus squarely on El Hijo del Solitario and Villano IV and an excellent performance from Angel Blanco Jr, Santo was left to do his bits. Santo being Santo it was all very crowd pleasing.
The most outstanding thing about the match was the amount of blood. All four guys bled buckets and by the end of the match both Santo and Blanco's masked were stained red. It was an authentic lucha brawl, perhaps the most authentic we've seen in a while. You could've taken any number of still shots, printed them in grainy black and white and imagined you were reading an old-school lucha libre magazine. But it also had a clever structure. What seemed like it would be an easy first up fall for the technicos was cut off and turned into a long beatdown. El Hijo del Solitario and Angel Blanco Jr, neither of whom is a worker of note, spent a long period working the technicos over, and you know it's not easy to make ripping a guy's mask open interesting. They actually spent longer working a cut than a rudo typically would in one of these matches and the fact that they could keep it from being dull was commendable. I watched the match twice and the second time I was tracking Angel Blanco Jr during the rudo control segment and I really felt that he contributed some excellent spots, including my favourite spot where both he and El Hijo del Solitario began punching Villano IV simultaneously on the mat. El Hijo del Solitario is a tall, sort of thinnish worker, who reminds me of how Cien Caras used to move in the 80s. His stuff doesn't look that good and he has these sort of swiping punches that almost look like open handed strikes (only his fist is closed), but either he was hitting Villano for real or Villano was selling them like a champ because it was all pretty effective. After so much abuse, the technicos' comeback was super hot. The Villano boys know how to brawl and there was plenty of swinging chair shots and sweet payback. A lot of people moan about lucha structure, and in truth the technicos probably took over too easily in this fall, but it's the heat for the comeback that really matters. The third fall is always a back and forth slugfest, but the point of the second caida is to give the technicos momentum heading into the final fall and show that they can deliver later on in the match. That momentum came in the form of Santo's famous plancha to the outside, which is one of the most perfect spots in all of wrestling and still breathtaking after all this years. The twist here, however, was that the technicos couldn't take the fall and so that momentum eventually whittled away. The rudos winning in straight falls was a smart piece of booking, I thought. The finish was great and the post-match wet everyone's appetite for the mask match at the end of this month. The rudos definitely came of this looking stronger than anyone could have possibly imagined. It also showed, from a structural point of view, that those easy falls that people complain about in lucha are only small windows of opportunity much the same as any other sport. You don't see that type of psychology in lucha often, but it exists.
I will say this, though: it didn't grab me as the Match of the Year. The latest in a run of excellent matches coming out of Mexico, but not the Match of the Year. We'll have to wait and see about that.