Been watching a lot of rudo-driven matches this week, so this one's a tribute to rudoism.
Rey Bucanero, Satanico y Emilio Charles Jr. vs. Apolo Dantes, Black Warrior y Dr. Wagner Jr., CMLL 3/21/97
This was a one fall, rudos contra rudos final to decide the vacant trios titles. Since it was a title match, the rudos kept with tradition and worked a technical match instead of brawling with each other. For a single fall match it was a well worked bout and could have been something special if it had been three falls. I loved seeing Satanico work the mat with Wagner. Wagner was one of the unsung heroes of '97 and Satanico was still an extraordinarily talented wrestler at this point. He had a diminishing role within the company after his return from AAA, which I can understand from the promoter's point of view, but as the biggest Satanico mark I know there are so many match-ups I wish we'd gotten with Satanico as a lead guy. This was cool, though, because you weren't getting Satanico vs. Wagner without a turn. The spot where they butt heads with both hands behind their backs should be aped in twenty thirteen.
Mascara Año 2000, Universo 2000 y Miguel Perez vs. Pierroth, Apolo Dantes y Emilio Charles Jr., CMLL 10/6/95
This was rudos contra rudos the way it's supposed to be. If Dusty had been calling this, he would've hollered: "there's no honour among thieves in the first place, Alfonso Morales!" This had it all really. Emilio was stretchered out with a rib injury only to return later in the match and have his ass handed to him. Pierroth and Apolo Dantes fought against their opponents three on two, Dantes bladed, the Dinamitas came within a whisker of turning on Perez for eating a fall, and there was a general feeling that this wasn't your regular night out at the wrestling. And to make matters better, it ended in excessive rudosim.
Tinieblas Jr, La Fiera y Negro Casas vs. Los Villanos IV, V y Bestia Salvaje, CMLL 7/3/98
Satanico, Black Warrior y Villano III vs. Tinieblas Jr, El Felino y Negro Casas, CMLL 7/28/98
One good thing about 1998 is that you get a lot of Casas vs. Villano III. Sometimes in lucha, trios are the only way you get to see particular match-ups and you're left with these fleeting exchanges to satisfy you. On the other hand, trios teach you which workers were good at working with anybody and are a great leveler in that respect. It's one thing to have an exchange with Negro Casas for the ages and another thing entirely to make Tinieblas Jr. look worthy of stepping in a ring. Tinieblas' biggest problem was that he was a billed 6'4", which was closer to his real height than a worked figure in respect to the size difference between him and most luchadores, and he stuck out like a sore thumb in terms of being less talented. Satanico showed his class by carrying him through some respectable exchanges and Villano IV wasn't far off, but the notable thing about these trios was how good Casas was. I've mentioned before that I don't like the direction Casas took post-97, but these matches were cause for reappraisal. The intensity with which Casas worked and his selling ability made him seem like the best guy in Mexico in 1998, possibly in the world. What we don't have are the singles matches to drive that home, as Casas worked a three match stint with Panther and Satanico to lust for but nothing that made tape. Still, if you're a Casas fan you're going to want to track his starring roles in matches like these.
Scorpio Jr. vs. El Hijo del Santo, Leyenda de Plata final, CMLL 7/31/98
This was nice in that the rudo won in front of his father and all but the match itself lacked imagination. Scorpio Jr. looked several times worse than in his '97 trios matches and I couldn't help but think that if Casas had been his opponent it would've been a much better match as Casas was a level above Santo at this point, particularly at selling where there was no real comparison. In fairness to Santo, the match was truncated and he couldn't work the typical El Hijo del Santo formula, but as I said with El Dandy and Signo recently and saw again with Casas and Satanico in this week's viewing, some workers are able to make any exchange look good even against a borderline stiff like Scorpio through their selling and body language, and I'm not sure that Santo was one of those guys. He'll probably prove me wrong in some random trios to come but it didn't happen here.
Scorpio Jr, Bestia Salvaje y Pierroth Jr vs. Atlantis, Hijo del Santo y Negro Casas, CMLL 8/20/99
This was total carnage. My enduring image of this was the conclusion with bodies lying everywhere, Santo needing to be stretchered and Casas, having leapt from his own stretcher bed to re-enter the cauldron, surveying the battle scene from the ramp. The technico side was stacked, but the rudos leveled the playing field by making this a pure brawl. Pierroth was never the same after 1992, but he was good value here as the kind of prick who'd partner with Scorpio and Bestia. He cut an awesome promo with Morales where he stopped halfway through to beat up Atlantis some more then kept cutting the promo. Damn I love lucha.
Felino, La Fiera y Negro Casas vs. Dr. Wagner, Jr., Black Warrior y Scorpio, Jr., CMLL 4/2/97
This was your typical rudos driven trios where it's mostly slower, more methodical brawling interspersed with the occasional rally from the technicos. A lot of people find this style of lucha boring, and I can see the case for that, but to me matches like these are a strong measure of how creative a rudo is. To prevent these matches from becoming a bore, you really have to make the control segments interesting and I think Wagner around this time grew into one of the rudos capable of doing that. In fact, Casas vs. Wagner is one of my favourite match-ups from '97 that nobody really thinks about when they think about 1997. This was just another installment in a series of rolling trios kind of like how there's been a large number of Casas vs. Rush trios this year, but it's one those matches that shows the quality of TV and depth of the roster for this particular year.
Negro Casas, Black Warrior y Emilio Charles Jr vs. Mr.Niebla, El Dandy y Silver King, CMLL 9/6/96
Man, El Dandy must have done some pretty hard living between 1991 and 1996 because he doesn't look anything like he did during his green-eyed, best in the world days. He was still a quality worker, though, and his exchanges with Casas were class. I thought they stole the show a bit from Silver King and Emilio, who were supposed to have the main issue here, but I guess that's a consequence of them being so good. I was also impressed with Mr. Niebla in this match. For once he looked like the future maestro he was made out to be at the time.
Felino, La Fiera y Negro Casas vs. Blue Panther, Scorpio Jr. y El Hijo del Santo, CMLL 11/28/97
This was another "story match" where they shuffled along the angle of Santo turning face and teaming with Casas to take on Scorpio and Bestia. Casas was elite here again. I'm not sure there's ever been a better guy in Mexico at working feuds. He pretty much takes on all three guys at once in this match and you could easily imagine it splintering off into him feuding with all three simultaneously. And his look after losing his hair to Santo is probably the best look he ever had. I'm almost tempted to dub this his "badass" phase for a guy who's traditionally been an exhibitionist who blurred the lines a bit about his sexuality. Bestia was at ringside with that fucking nose. Jesus, he looked like W.C. Fields with that honker. Scorpio & Bestia did their horsemen act on Casas, Santo objected to it on principle and the promotion continued the slow tease on the Mega Powers combining. Felino and Panther were superfluous to requirements, but did a few good things. I can't remember if Santo did his tope during this match, but throughout this week's viewing I kept thinking about how Santo's tope has got to be top five. It just looks so good every single time.