Ultimo Dragon vs. Emilio Charles Jr, UWA World Middleweight Championship, CMLL 4/27/93
People shit on Ultimo a lot these days, but you won't find me badmouthing him. This won't make you forget 90s classics like Dandy vs. Azteca or Blue Panther vs. Atlantis, but it was on the same level as Emilio's matches with Azteca and a step down from his work with Atlantis, which is pretty good for a non-luchador. Had it been a classic it would have been a point in both men's favour, but as much as I love him, Emilio didn't exactly roll out the classics. Besides, great matches were thin on the ground in 1993 CMLL so you take what you can get.
What we got here was the definition of a three star title match. Everything they did was good, but none of it was great. Emilio didn't take enough of the match, particularly on the mat, so it felt a bit lightweight at times. He wasn't able to put his imprint on the match through any of his characteristic work, and couldn't hang with Ultimo's Japanese offence, which also made it a bit one-sided. But the real problem was the length. At 15 minutes or less, it didn't have time to develop. On the positive side, Ultimo was again phenomenal between the ropes, and the transitions were smarter than you generally get in lucha matches. I really liked the knee lift Emilio used to lay Ultimo low in the opening fall, and Ultimo was very good offensively even if it wasn't exactly lucha friendly offence or laid out for full dramatic effect.
Jerry Estrada vs. Stuka, hair vs. hair, AAA 10/31/94
These guys did a good job of straddling the line between an up tempo AAA style match and a traditional cabelleras match. There was just enough blood, just enough brawling and just enough highspots to keep everyone happy. An example of this would be Jerry Estrada's slingshot somersault senton onto a blood stained Stuka. Estrada got by far the worst of it and ended up landing on the guardrail. He crawled under the flimsy barricade AAA had and the two continued brawling on the floor. Another thing they did well was put over the physical toll the match was taking, so even though they did a lot more dives and arm drag exchanges than you'd usually expect from an apuesta match, they were clearly exerting a bunch of energy and the desire to win was strong. The match wasn't without its flaws. Stuka looked like he was working in slow motion at times and some of his transitions were poorly timed, but his bladejob was beautiful and you'd have to go a long way to find prettier planchas.
Everybody knows how I feel about Jerry Estrada, but I thought this was a standout performance from him. It felt like he transplanted one of his Monterrey performances to an AAA ring, though to be fair, Moncolva (where they were wrestling) has had its share of bloody apuesta matches. Estrada was particularly good in the third caida where he carried a lot of the action. I loved his retaliatory abdominal stretch where he applied the fish hook. That was an awesome throwback to old school hair matches. The finish was screwy (a common theme with 1994 AAA), but it actually worked here, and Estrada delivered a nasty piledriver to put the exclamation mark on this puppy. I'm not sure that I'd call it an AAA classic, but for bloody wager matches it's up there with Satanico vs. Morgan and Rambo vs. Villano from the same era and certainly a match you should watch.
El Hijo del Santo, Angel Azteca y Super Muneco vs. Satanico, Psicosis y La Parka, AAA 5/30/94
Matt D recommended this to me and holy shit is the technico offence off the chain. It may legitimately be the best technico offence I've seen, and a match I'll recommend from now on if you want to see great technico work.
It started with a ferocious lock-up between Satanico and Angel Azteca that was like two wildebeest locking horns. It's well documented in these pages that Satanico was in decline around this time, but this was a vintage opening exchange from him. His defence and counter wrestling were brilliant, and I have no doubt on a different night when the exchange went for longer he could have pried open Azteca's defences and got the opening submission. Psicosis and La Parka let the crowd get to them in amusing fashion and Satanico being the brains and the nucleus gathered them together on the outside to regather their thoughts. Santo then launched into his headscissors routine, which ended up with La Parka crashing hard into the barricade. Super Muenco hit the ring and did his wobbly head shake taunt, and Psicosis' reaction was priceless. He bailed from the ring and mocked what he'd just seen with this classic "what the fuck was that head shaking shit?" indignation. He dove back into the ring with his tail up and of course got his ass handed to him. The great thing about it was that as Super Muneco was doing his Super Astro style celebration at clearing Psicosis from the ring, Parka tried to attack him and Muneco danced in his face. Parka was incensed and took it out on the bottom rope. The effortless interweaving of comedy into the fall was brilliant.
Satanico and Azteca went around the horn a second time and cut loose with the armdrag exchanges, and it was fucking great. Hardcore lucha fans will hear me, you know you're into something when you pause to see whether there was a singles match or who Satanico fought for his hair in '94. He was growing it out in anticipation of fighting someone, but it looks like no-one booked him in a hair match until '95. Man was he good in this. You all know he's my favourite luchador and the guy who I think is the best luchador of the past 35 years, but this was a 1990 throwback and pretty special.
The technicos then bamboozled the rudos with a tricky and intricate pinning sequence, and as Pepe Casas held their hands aloft it was a beautiful thing. The rudos licked their wounds on the outside and La Parka got into it with a fan. He threatened to climb over the barricade and continue the conversation, but Psicosis held him back. Psicosis then got pissed at the same fan while Parka puffed out his chest. Both guys were in fine form here. Super Muneco tried to the same wobbly head fake shit on Satanico and he just stepped back and popped the clown. Then a couple of exchanges later, Satanico showed some ass. I usually dislike Super Muneco but this was wildly entertaining. Azteca and Psicosis worked at a rapid pace, but Santo and La Parka was just mental. Maybe one of the all-time best El Hijo del Santo trios exchanges, and a lot of credit should go to La Parka for his crazy bumps into the ropes. The rudos wisely slowed things down from there by picking on the weak link Super Muneco. Satanico was the ring general here and orchestrated the rudos' second fall victory. They did a clever job of double teaming the danger man Santo and systematically took apart Azteca.
Unfortunately, the third caida had some boring mask ripping and descended into the mediocrity so common with AAA trios, but there were still some golden moments. Satanico continued to brawl like a mofo and had a great punch exchange with Super Muneco and Psicosis took an awesome ring post bump on the outside. Azteca and La Parka ended up swapping masks, which I'm guessing was some idea of Pena's that he was overly fond of. The finish was kind of dumb after such a hot match as the rudos got DQ'ed for a miscommunication spot, but it did leave us with the fun image of the rudos trying to pick a fight with El Tirantes as the El Hijo del Santo's music played. Bad finish aside, I went back and watched the first two falls as soon as it was over, so that should tell you how good the majority of the bout was.