Nothing bugs me more in lucha than the lack of critical appraisal that El Dandy and other all-time greats receive. I can understand there not being as much evaluation of Dandy as workers we all grew up on, but to me it's a sign that he's not taken that seriously. Of course when you watch El Dandy for the first time, as many people did on the 1990 Pro-Wrestling Only Yearbook, you're struck by how good he was -- one of the best in the world that year, and possibly one of the best of all-time -- but you wouldn't base your entire opinion of Ric Flair on his best year and neither should you with Dandy.
Don't get me wrong, I love Dandy and have done for close to a decade now, but here on the Great Lucha blog I've always tried to turn a critical eye not only towards workers I dislike but favourites too, and particularly the workers who people seemingly do nothing but praise, the Negro Casas, the Blue Panthers and the El Hijo del Santos. It may come across as negative at times, but that doesn't bother me so long as it's fair. Recently, I've been a bit disappointed in how Dandy's come across in Vintage Negro Casas of the Day particularly in comparison to Casas, so I wanted to take a fresh look at him away from Casas but still in the same era. Here's what I came up with:
El Dandy/La Fiera/Apolo Dantes vs. Pierroth Jr./Bestia Salvaje/Mano Negra, CMLL 4/29/94
Bestia's nose was well and truly like W.C. Fields at this point. Mano Negra was still sporting his Dave Finlay look and hammed it up for the camera as George Thorogood blared through Arena Coliseo.
There's no way a match with this many good workers should be a lame duck. It was a stock trios; one you've seen a thousand times before where the technicos get the better of the early exchanges, the rudos beat them down as penance, and the technicos make a comeback. But there was a strange disconnect between the workers as though they weren't paying attention to what the other pairs were doing. It didn't help that the match wasn't filmed very well, but talk about another Arena Coliseo stinker. Pierroth kept bickering with Negra, which is a pain in the ass as it distracts from the match and meant that Negra couldn't continue his rich vein of form. The rudos also chose to beat on Fiera, who was caught on camera making no effort to sell whatsoever. It was embarrassing really.
These were hard times for CMLL and even good workers like these were struggling for motivation. Dandy had gotten back into shape in '94, suspiciously so it must be said, but didn't add a single bit of spark to this. That's a big difference between Dandy and Casas and even this Dandy and the 1990 version. In 1990, business would pick up every time he was in the ring. It was magic the way he'd dazzle the crowd whenever he stepped between the ropes. Here he had the chance to do something special with Dave "Mano Negra" Finlay and didn't take it. In 1990 he would have been all over that action.
El Dandy/Atlantis/Pierroth Jr. vs. La Fiera/El Satanico/Emilio Charles Jr., CMLL 11/13/92
Now this kicked ass. They did a rare pre-match angle where Dandy was being interviewed back stage and was jumped by Fiera and his boys. Fiera was great here wearing a jacket and shades and looking every bit the sleaze thread material that he was. The technicos escaped to ringside, and the camera stayed on the rudos as they did their jackets up for their entrance, which was unintentionally awesome. The rudo beat down to begin this was one of the best rudo beat downs I've seen in a long, long time. The vigour with which Emilio got stuck into his work was brilliant. He was such an unbelievably awesome worker. I still think he's under-appreciated even by hardcore lucha fans. Gregor mentioned recently that Emilio taking the monkey flip from Atlantis and charging into the backbreaker is a routine he wants to see every time and I wholeheartedly agree with that position. Satanico and Pierroth also teared into each other. They still had a lot of heat from the Infernales/Intocables feud, and what you basically had here were three great match-ups where the guys were all feuding with each other. Dandy bled (yeeesss), the technicos made their comeback and Fiera bled (yeeesss), and then his chain got involved. The whole thing was very Memphis and a throwback to the early 80s Arena Mexico shows. This really made me want to see the Fiera/Dandy hair match again even though I recall it being disappointing.
El Dandy/Atlantis/Ultimo Dragon vs. Bestia Salvaje/Felino/Mano Negra, CMLL 8/20/93
We get an erotic workout video to start this. It must be apuestas time if they're showing gym workout videos. The Atlantis vs. Mano Negra feud wasn't very good. I'd dearly love it to be, but I just got done popping for the hundredth time as Atlantis and Emilio did their signature spots and didn't pop once here. I don't know how they could have made it any better actually. The limb work they did was boring, but mask ripping and having Atlantis face to canvas covering his identity would have been just as bad. They just didn't have any chemistry.
Dandy was in a secondary role here, but still found a way to be unimpressive. One of the great disappointments of 1993 CMLL has to be any time Dandy and Felino square off. Felino was trying too hard to be charismatic in '93 and his humour came across as forced. I can't say I blame him for overacting since his push was new and he was in his brother's shadow, but even today he's a ham actor. He gelled more with Ultimo in this match since they did pure workrate stuff. Bestia might as well have had a table cloth draped over him for as much of a part as he really played in this. It's amazing what an afterthought he became after an excellent 1992. Things were definitely going south for him. It's rare that you see a match like this where something's always happening yet none of it is interesting.
Los Infernales vs. El Dandy/Ultimo Dragon/Atlantis, CMLL 09/11/92
This was better than most of the build for the 1992 Satanico/Dandy hair match, probably because the Infernales were involved, but still a case of diminishing returns. Dandy bled, which was a good thing, and the Infernales were lack of a pack of wolves in the opening caida working over the cut. Satanico really grew his hair out for the Anniversary Show, so he definitely looked the part even if he was the wrong wrestler for the match. Wrong match or not, he did an excellent job of working Dandy over here and had a few women in the audience engaged in running arguments with him. Dandy was good, but this was mostly a Satanico special. The other Infernales contributed nice little touches and I loved the way they bumped and sold for the technico comeback, which was build around a pair of dives from Atlantis and Ultimo Dragon. The technicos were excellent as well with snarky little stomps and kicks. I liked the way Atlantis laid the boot in after Pirata had taken his back crawl bump to the outside. Not a very long match and no big comeback from Dandy to show where he was in this match work wise, but like I said it was the best piece of build in a largely forgettable rematch of a rematch of a rematch.