La Fiera vs. Babe Face, hair vs. hair, 8/15/86
This was a good match. It didn't really deliver like a great hair match does, but still worth a look.
The first time I watched it I thought the first two falls were a bit innocuous looking. I always get defensive when people say the first two falls in lucha are nothing falls as most of the time I think they work within the rhythm of a lucha libre match, but with these 80s matches the crowds are so poorly mic'ed that it's difficult to get a feel for the rhythm at times. Watching it again, Fiera gave a slightly more nuanced performance in the opening falls than I realised but there were still a few things I had a problem with. One of those problems was Fiera's offense: I'm not a big fan of Fiera's high kick offense to begin with, but I thought it looked particularly strange with the size difference between the workers and Babe Face not being a big bumper. I also thought he used too much high end offense for the first fall of a hair match. I prefer hair matches to be straight out brawling; if they use big moves to try to win the match in the final caida then that's understandable, but I think the matches should start with some haymakers. These guys had some pretty good trash talking/finger pointing going on before the bell, and this was the 80s where a worker would show up for a hair match in some kind of awesome jacket and cut a promo at ringside directed at his opponent; but they went with a slow burning, smouldering start to this match and although there was blood I thought Babe Face's transition back onto offense and his winning submission was weak by hair match standards.
Where this match got good was in the third caida. There wasn't any major catalyst for the improvement in the match; they just started brawling in earnest. Fiera's selling was top notch. I loved the slight delay on his flailing bump anytime Babe Face delivered a headbutt or knockdown punch. He was also excellent at pacing his way through the opening section of the fall. He had his back to the canvas a lot and was in danger of succumbing to a second straight submission, and his first comeback attempt was for naught as his arm was too weakened to punch properly. The rest of the match was filled with lots of great little details as that big Fiera offense I mentioned left him increasingly groggy every time he tried to land a knockout blow. The highlight of the match was a face plant he took off a missed plancha from the apron. True dedication to his art. I was just getting into this match and there had just been a moment of typically great controversy in a match like this when all of a sudden it ended. That was a real buzz killer. I thought they could have gone a few minutes longer, though it was pretty obvious that it was Fiera doing all the work. I'm not sure that Babe Face had much chops, at least at this point in his career. Still for what this was I enjoyed it and it was good to see some prime Fiera.