Negro Casas/Bestia Salvaje/El Felino vs. El Dandy/Ultimo Dragon/Blue Demon Jr., CMLL 7/17/92
There are times when I'm convinced that Casas' first few months in CMLL represent the absolute peak of his career. It's difficult to describe the excitement generated by his arrival. The fans had been used to the independientes coming in and working EMLL shows, but Casas was special. Not only was he at the height of his powers; it was like watching an artist unleashed.
We don't have much of Casas' early work from the 90s, but what we do have is nowhere near as irrepressible as these first few months in CMLL. The booking in UWA after Flores' death was largely stagnant (and perhaps before then too if we had proper records.) It's clear that Maynes, and whoever was booking at the time, weren't paying special attention to the lightweights the way Flores had done. Watching Casas in his early days with CMLL is like watching a guy turn into a big fish right before your very eyes. The fact that he still holds his spot, like a barnacle cling to a rock, makes witnessing that transformation all the more impressive.
This was a quick-fire trios bridging Casas and Dandy with their next two feuds, but man did I love it. I watched it while having beers and listening to the Minutemen's cover of Have You Ever Seen the Rain? so I may have been a bit loaded at the time, but for such a short trios this was a hell of a bout.
There was a huge "Dandy! Dandy!" chant when he was introduced with the crowd still abuzz following his victory over Casas two weeks prior. Casas, as you'd imagine, took it all in his stride, flashing that by now iconic Casas smile. They launched into an opening exchange that while fun was far from the best the pair had produced. Casas was really just testing the waters and backed off when he copped a knee to the face. There was an element of them not wanting to steal any thunder from the newly created match-ups, as well as generally holding back for the kick ass exchanges to come as this was the type of trios match that doesn't slow down.
Demon and Felino worked a decentish exchange punctuated by Demon ducking on Felino's baseball slide to the outside and delivering an uppercut followed by a dropkick, and Ultimo and Bestia pushed the tempo further with a series of fast paced exchanges based around Bestia's big bumping style. Dandy re-entered the ring with a forward roll that startled Casas. He stepped back through the ropes on to the apron and did a Fuerza style slip which the crowd latched onto straight away. After the heckles, he took advantage of Bestia attacking Dandy from behind to dropkick him out of the ring, raised a defiant arm to the crowd, and immediately tagged out.
That set up a second go round between the match-ups which quickly turned into the finish. Felino missed on a moonsault like a guy aiming for the pool and hitting concrete instead. Dandy, meanwhile, challenged Casas to step in and take him, but Casas didn't want to know about it and stepped off the apron for the safety of the crowd. He stood with his arms folded while Dandy complained about how much of a pussy he was. If you're one of those people who complain about how guys charge into the ring in lucha only to be pinned, you'll appreciate Casas not wanting a piece of it.
The switch from Dandy vs. Casas to the new feuds came in the second caida. Dandy wanted to wrestle Casas, probably to give him a receipt for the dropkick to the outside, but Casas refused under the guise that everyone was switching partners. Blue Demon nominated himself for Casas, but Casas ignored him. Back in high school, we had a Vietnamese teacher who couldn't pronounce the word "shirt" properly. Whenever he wanted us to tuck in our shirt, he'd say: "your shit, kid." It became a running gag among students; a way of instantly dismissing another person's merits. Casas ignoring Demon was one of those "you're shit kid" moments. He went over and whacked Ultimo in the head and they had a really fantastic exchange where Ultimo kept battering him with kicks. I've been really impressed by the way Casas sells Ultimo's kicks. My first instincts about the Casas vs. Ultimo match-up, and the idea of Casas working with a guy who works a martial arts style, would be: it won't work; it'll be lame; I'd rather see Casas work a more traditional lucha style against a more traditional lucha opponent. But it works well. Remarkably well, actually. It brought out a different side in Casas: a more serious, intense side. It was like a switch being flipped between the cocky, flamboyant show pony and the kick ass serious wrestler. He couldn't really go toe-to-toe with Ultimo in a stand up contest and wasn't really known as a guy with a lot of shooting ability; what makes the contest so interesting is that he's on the back foot trying to block these kicks and absorb the impact, and he has a really limited striking game that's so scant it even includes hard shoves, but they do these cool exchanges in and out of the ring that look like out of control sparring sessions.
Bestia went after Dandy with hard chops and punches to the face. Their feud was started over significantly less than Ultimo and Casas, but Bestia was uncorking his shit. The ship had already sailed on Bestia being a singles star to the level of either Dandy or Casas, but he had the talent. Dandy vs. Bestia is a feud that needs revisiting and hopefully we'll be able to do that soon. Back in the ring, the editor missed an important foul by Casas on Ultimo, but we saw Ultimo wriggling about on the mat selling it. Casas backed Ultimo into the corner and began kicking the shit out of him while taunting him to get up. If you thought Casas' taunting of Maximo was special, I would offer this as an example of Casas being vicious in his disrespect for another competitor.
The third caida began with the rudos parading about surveying the carnage they'd created. Felino tried really hard to keep up with the others and beat the crap out of Blue Demon Jr., but there were obviously more important storylines going on. Ultimo vs. Casas Rd 2 was just as intense as Rd 1 w/ Ultimo starting to bust out the Japanese suplexes and finally breaking through Casas' meagre defences to knock him to the canvas. You could maybe argue that in terms of sheer fighting ability Ultimo should have been able to wipe the floor with Casas, but let's just enjoy the pro graps. As I said that, he followed up the knock down with an overly long headlock spot, which was kind of lame. Maybe Felino should have come in and broken it up sooner. Demon dropped a big knee on Felino, which was cool. You're not so shit after all, kid! Dandy vs. Bestia Rd 2 also kicked major ass. Dandy was so fed up he belted Bestia with a right hand then dropped the diving headbutt on him. Not content with that, he took a huge swing at Casas on the apron, who sold his jaw like he was crumbling in his hand. Casa gave him a receipt with a kick to the face while he had Bestia in a hold and it was all on from that point. Casas and Dandy traded blows. Ultimo stepped into the ring and resumed kicking the shit out of Casas, but this time Casas shot on him, took that bastard down and dropped the elbow. Folks really need to watch that sequence as it was so effing cool. Demon sent Felino tumbling to the outside with a dropkick then hit a big tope on him that was possibly the coolest thing I've seen Demon do. Dandy and Bestia then got the mano a mano part of the fall and Bestia wrapped Dandy up in the most beautiful looking, complex pinfall maneuver. It was pretty to watch.
Bestia wanted Dandy's belt, Dandy wanted Bestia's hair, the replay showed just how great Demon's tope had been, Casas blew kisses to the crowd like his hands were six gun shooters, and we were out of here.
Kick ass trios.