Ultimo Dragon vs. Negro Casas, UWA World Middleweight Title, Los Angeles 7/9/94
This was the house show version of a lucha title match, and a US house show to boot, but it was still a lot of fun. Casas had the Olympic Auditorium in the palm of his hand and it was a great lesson in watching him work a live crowd.
There wasn't much mat work to speak of in the primera caida. It was mostly Ultimo getting the upper hand over Casas with some limb work, leading to a beautiful counter to Negro's kip up where Ultimo span and caught him with the arm drag. Ultimo was never the most interesting guy on the mat, so I didn't have a problem with them using counters to set a competitive tone. It wasn't as though they were Atlantis and Panther and forgoing the mat work. But when Ultimo went for a left/right combo with his kicks, Casas feigned that one had drifted too high, and with the ref distracted, delivered a low blow. That got the desired heat, but it was a sign that this wasn't going to be your regular sanctioned title bout. From there they threw title match structure out the window and allowed Casas' natural charisma to take over. He spent much of the second fall hugging the ref and egging on the crowd. In one of those great lucha moments, there was a guy with his own towel helping fan Ultimo. That must have aided him in his recovery as he soon cut loose with a barrage of kicks. Casas was sent flying into an old-school guard rail and lay sprawled out on the floor. Some punk kid ran and whispered something in his ear while another tried to kick him. Back in the ring, Casas tried faking a low blow, which had whole sections of the crowd waving it off to the referee. The referee was this little guy who milked his interactions with the crowd for all they were worth. It would have been annoying in a proper title match, but again this was a house show version. Ultimo took the segunda with another flurry of offence and this likewise began to resemble a 1994 juniors match.
There was a whole bunch of shtick between Casas and his second during the toweling off period that the camera man didn't really catch and I didn't really get, but I think the crowd were taunting him with the "ole" chant. Noodles would probably know. He knows everything like that. As for the third fall, it was basically Casas trying to survive an onslaught of Ultimo's Japanese offence by taking out his leg in the guardrail, which is not a very "title match" thing to do, is it? Casas tried getting Ultimo to submit in the scorpion deathlock then Ultimo popped up when Negro went to the top, which won't delight too many people. Casas took a neat bump from a dropkick, though, and then Ultimo followed up with a cool looking tope w/ the cameraman zooming in on Casas' selling to make you forget that egregious pop up. Casas does great work out on the floor, it has to be said. I loved the way he crawled along on all fours before getting up. Back in the ring, the nearfalls came thick and fast and even Casas went to the mid-90s juniors well with a type of powerbomb. Really good selling from Casas down the stretch. You bought that he couldn't withstand the moonsault at the end after almost biting it on a few of the moves prior. Ultimo winning got a big pop even though it was a bit of a blah-ish sequence of 1994 juniors moves, but hey it was 1994.
Not really essential, but plenty of fun watching Casas do his thing in front of a receptive crowd.