Villano III vs. Flama Roja, mask vs. mask, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua 5/87
This was uploaded by DJSpectro a couple of years ago, but the video quality made it difficult to follow, and I never got around to writing about it. Recently, a more complete version surfaced which is easier to watch. It's not the biggest mask match of Villano III's career and it's not the most important, but it's from smack dab in the middle of his prime and any addition to the 80s lucha picture is most welcome.
Flama Roja was a wrestler of some repute in Cd Juarez. He was trained by the legendary Diablo Velazco and was such a cold blooded rudo that he earned such nicknames as "The Lord and Master of the Scandal" and "The Scourge of Technicians." I love that second one -- The Scourge of the Technicians -- not only is it the epitome of what every technico hating rudo should be, Roja faced a litany of face talent in the 70s and 80s in both Texas and Juarez. By '87, he was in his early 40s, which nowdays would make him a maestro but in the talent rich 80s made him an older wrestler looking for a payday. Make no mistake about it, this wasn't a shabby mask for Villano to win, and they did it very professionally, but I doubt Roja got too many more payoffs like this one.
The match itself was a pretty traditional mask vs. mask match. Mask vs. Mask tends to be different from hair vs. hair in that the first fall is often wrestled like a title match with an emphasis on submissions. Lucha is often a show of superiority and making your man submit in a mask vs. mask match is the ultimate expression of this. There's also a sense of how important the masked wrestler's identity is and what a match like this means in a worker's career, hence the slow burn on the mask ripping and violence. Thus, the opening fall was a real arm wrestle with Roja showing his strength in submitting Villano first. There were some technical problems with the video and it skipped ahead deep into the third caida before cutting back to the finish of the second caida. The third fall was your meat and potatoes tercera caida. It had everything from a really nice tope from Roja to blood to Villano attacking the rudo's leg. There were plenty of cool submission attempts and nearfalls and Roja went down swinging, which is all you can ask from the loser in this type of match. It was a pretty cool match, easier to follow than the Rambo mask match and probably a top 30 contender if it had been included on the DVDVR set. It wasn't the kind of match where Villano comes out of it with his reputation enhanced even further, but it was a good watch. The final images of Roja unmasking and Villano holding up the mask to show the crowd the respect he had for his fallen opponent were the stuff that lucha fandom is made of. Make sure you check it out if you're an aficionado.