Negro Casas/Fuerza Guerrera vs. El Hijo del Santo/Octagon, Cd. Juarez, circa 1990-91
I'm hopelessly out of the loop (not that I was ever really in it to begin with), but it looks like some Mexican channel is re-airing footage from the Cicudad Juarez territory that Alfredo Esparza grew up watching in El Paso, which is pretty cool to say the least.
To me the single most interesting thing about this bout is watching Casas work with Octagon. It's almost like watching a proto version of the Casas/Dragon feud, and you can almost imagine an alternative universe where Octagon doesn't lead the jump to AAA and Casas becomes one of his regular opponents. Casas does some slick defensive takedown work in their opening exchange and makes Octagon look like a proper threat as a martial artist, which is impressive. I have a soft spot for Octagon as a poor man's version of Black Man zipping about the place, but not even Blue Panther or Satanico bothered or managed to make Octagon look this good in close quarters. Casas does this tremendously intricate sell of a front face lock that most wrestlers wouldn't bother doing so early in a match (if at all) where he's fighting it every inch of the way and trying to get his chin over the top of Octagon's forearm to alleviate the pressure. He counters with a backdrop suplex, staggers for a bit, then backs away grasping at his teeth. At that's just the detail he put into the opening exchange.
He also does a tremendous job of selling Santo's matwork. Santo is super aggressive, but Casas is on another plane here. He makes Santo's signature mat spots look like Santo is out to get a piece of him and puts them over like nobody I've seen before. The Fuerza/Santo exchanges are fairly tame by comparison. Not bad per se just regular. Fuerza bumped harder and faster for Octagon than anybody else, and made his armdrags look like a million bucks, but this was a quiet night for him.
Really great standoff between Casas and Octagon to end the first caida. Casas looks to assert himself physically and gets his feathers ruffled. You can see his temper flare as he points at Octagon and it proves his undoing as he rushes him, which is exactly what you don't want to do against a worker like Octagon, who if nothing else had fantastic reflexes.
After spending most of the bout getting roughed up, Casas pops Octagon with a straight shot. The ref questions whether it was a closed fist and Casas threatens to pop him one too. Then he takes Octagon to school. There's something Ric Flair-ish about Casas at times. Different offense, but a similar approach. His barrage of kicks here is definitely a forerunner to the Dragon feud where he'd also add insult to injury by showing he could "shoot" too. Casas crouching low as they prepare to lock up and delivering a type of low angle enzuigiri kick is probably my favouite spot of the match. Octagon tears Casas to pieces with his retaliatory blows and Casas' selling is again sublime.
The rudos finally get to assert a bit of control through the end of the second caida into the third, but they're dealing with superheroes in the classic tednico sense here and it doesn't last long. I can't stop talking about Casas' selling, but it's just non-stop great. He manages to get Santo in a hold for a few seconds until Santo grabs Casas' foot and begins his counter. Few wrestlers would sell agony in another worker taking the leg, but that's exactly what Casas does. He's just on all the time. He even fights the counter instead of giving up position, which a lot of lucha workers do when they're transitioning. Then he limps to his corner when Fuerza breaks the hold. That level of commitment on a run-of-the-mill Juarez appearance is impressive.
The tercera caida doesn't have a whole lot of pizzazz to it despite some signature stuff from the tecnicos. The workers look a bit tired toward the end. Still, a pretty good match with an outstanding performance from Casas.