Negro Casas/Emilio Charles Jr./Mano Negra vs. El Brazo/Ultimo Dragon/Oro, CMLL 3/19/93
Negro Casas could do no wrong at this point. It never really occurred to me that 1993 might be the best year of his career. It was such a dark time for the company that you tend to ignore everything that happened, but in terms of physical prime coinciding with in-ring ability, the period from when he entered the company in 1992 through to an as yet undefined point in 1993 represents the best I've seen from Casas.
One glance at the team sheets should reveal whom he was feuding with here. At first you're like, "I don't want to see Casas feuding with some overrated 90s junior who nobody likes anymore," and then you realise that Ultimo wasn't that bad in Mexico (certainly not by tecnico standards) and that they actually had pretty good chemistry together. It's not as cool a follow-up feud to Dandy vs. Casas as Dandy/Bestia, which was a match-up of two evenly matched guys who brought a level of physicality to their matches similar to the Regal/Benoit/Finlay triumvirate, but it works so much better than you'd expect it to on paper. I'm slowly accepting it as one of Casas' career best feuds, even if it seems a bit unluchalike that a non straight lucha match-up would rank so highly.
But enough apologising; Casas abused poor Ultimo in this match with that kicking game I've talked so much about. I find Casas' kicking game fascinating. I'm not sure it's all that good really, but the fact that he uses it so much against a striker like Ultimo is a great piece of character work/psychology. It's part gamesmanship, part arrogance. It's a straight taunt -- goading Ultimo by saying "I can match your strengths and pick apart your game plan" -- but at the same time he gets his fingers burnt (or perhaps more aptly his toes) by getting caught up in these offensive storms where Ultimo starts launching Street Fighter combos at him. Pissed off Ultimo is not really a known characteristic of Ultimo Dragon in so far as people have broken down the characteristics of El Ultimo Dragon, but Casas pushes those buttons. Casas was straddling the whole "rudo who's so popular he gets cheered like a tecnico" thing at Arena Mexico while still acting like a complete prick. I don't know who Casas was addressing when he boxed the ropes in this match (it may have been the tecnico ref), but it was divine. Absolutely divine. Has anyone ever seen a guy box the ropes like that before? And that's just some riff Casas was messing around. He took things too far in this bout by repeatedly stomping at Ultimo's head while Charles and Negra held him in a martyr-like pose, and the big tecnico ref finally called him out for excessive rudoism, but Casas didn't give a shit and retaliated with some of the coolest mask ripping I've seen. Do you know how hard it is to make mask ripping seem cool? Not only did he (mercifully) rip the thing with a single tug; he delivered a tailor made Matt D GIF in the process. You could feel the Ultimo comeback coming like the wind changing before a storm and the birds and animals acting all freaked, but that's pro-wrestling 101: setup and payoff. Ultimo was bleeding, which is pretty rare for him, and he gave Casas a hiding. I've seen a lot of the spots before in other Casas vs. Ultimo matches, but it's still cool whenever Ultimo stops being courteous and busts out the high end Japanese offence that Casas doesn't have a shit show of blocking. I love the short arm clothesline spot they do. That was the death blow right here.
The other guys were secondary to the Casas/Ultimo fury, though Emilio did bust out a balls-to-the-wall tope on El Brazo. He was surprisingly subdued otherwise. Negra wasn't really good during this run until he dropped the hood, and it wasn't the type of match where Oro was going to shine. But you can still watch this to track Casas and watch an all-time great at his absolute peak.