Virus vs. Titan, Mexican National Welterweight Championship, CMLL 1/28/14
Of all the older maestros in CMLL who regularly take on young guys, Virus is by far the best at putting young guys over. This was a title defence for Titan, and given the disparity in skill levels, Virus could have eaten him alive on the mat and just about everywhere else, but you never get the feeling that Virus needs to prove himself. He's not busting his workrate chops to prove he can still hang, he's just guiding a young guy through the closest he'll come to an old school lucha title match.
The first fall is a classic lucha title match opening caida, featuring parity on the mat followed by some rope running and a submission maneuver. A mat section in a lucha title match shouldn't be a welcome sight, but too often even maestros forgo mat work against workers they know aren't technically proficient enough. When they do work the mat, they either spend too much time with back to canvas or put the young guy through a labyrinth of holds where the only way out is for the maestro to feed them an arm. Virus, respecting the old school traditions, went hold-for-hold, and while to the trained eye it was obvious that Titan isn't much of a mat wrestler, they successfully created the illusion that he was good enough to be a champion. Virus had the edge because he's a maestro, but he didn't flaunt it.
After opening his account, the challenger did what he does best in working a methodical, slower paced fall where he kept the young flier grounded and stirred the pot for the champion's eventual comeback. Much has been made of Titan "popping up" after so much legwork, but the pop up didn't bother me as he couldn't follow through on his celebration and collapsed to one knee, making it obvious that adrenaline had propelled his pop up. What made me despair was the cartwheel he's added to his hurricanrana. I understand that he's young and concerned with what he can do to stand out and get noticed, but cut that shit out.
The third fall was beautifully laid out and further proof that Virus is the best third caida guy in the business. Titan started to over power Virus on the strike exchanges and wouldn't bite on any of Virus' counters. A monkey flip off the apron led to Titan following up Virus' big bump with a gorgeous moonsault plancha that the crowd had been waiting for. Third caidas are traditionally 50/50 when it comes to offence, but Virus gave the champion a large part of the fall to put over the rising star. A spectacular somersault plancha was a crowd pleaser, with a shot of a little boy getting positively giddy over it. Virus rolled with the punches and drew on all his experience to put up a fight, but the young champion was moving from strength to strength and almost powerbombed the challenger out of his boots. The great thing about all this was that it wasn't rushed. The pace was measured, the camera work picked up on the selling and the crowd were into it. Virus had one last throw of the dice on an insane springboard senton to the concrete below, which led to a somewhat sloppy finishing stretch that unfortunately hurt the quality of the match, but the crowd didn't care and there was a genuine outpouring of emotion as the young champion proved his mettle by submitting Virus in the middle of the ring. Regardless of how I feel about the new breed, it's always great to see them earn a reaction like that, and I'd like to think it was because of the way the match built. Titan's second did a tremendous job of putting the victory over and his enthusiasm was palpable. I don't think this was as good as the Guerrero Maya Jr. match, which was my MOTY for 2013, but it's the best thing in 2014 by a fair distance, and an example of how you can do the modern style well while still retaining some old school sensibilities. Virus is the best singles worker in the company and it's odd that he's still so underrated even by hardcores.