Atlantis, Tarzan Boy & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. vs. El Satanico, Cien Caras & Bestia Salvaje (CMLL 03/02/00)
Stone Cold! Stone Cold! CMLL is getting more WWF by the second. I liked how you had all these old school luchadores working a classic rudo beatdown and suddenly there were run-ins and shit. That wasn't unprecedented in Mexico but for CMLL it was like reinventing the wheel. A couple of things stood out to me here. The first was that they did a nice job of intertwining the various story threads in the match. You had the eternal feud in Rayo vs. Caras, the recent humiliation of Satanico by the upstart Tarzan Boy and Stone Cold vs. The Rock They also mixed up the pairings which is an underrated aspect of lucha trios matches. I really liked the part where Satanico gave Atlantis a working over. There was no reason for him to have a beef with Atlantis but he was keenly aware of his fellow rudo's vendetta with him and did his best to soften Atlantis up for Villano. In fact, the Satanico vs. Atlantis segment was so good I half-wished it was Satanico taking on Atlantis at the PPV. That wouldn't have been anywhere near as monumental as one of two legends losing their mask but I thought Satanico in this bout looked better than Villano has at any point during the build. Satanico's handprints were all over this and he looked badass with his shaved head. Few workers manage to be a ring general and a superstar but Satanico is right up there with Casas as the cream of the crop. Really fun TV match in this new era of CMLL booking.
El Satanico, Rey Bucanero & Ultimo Guerrero vs, Lizmark, Olimpico & Tarzan Boy (CMLL 03/07/00)
This was heavily clipped but from what we saw there was a clear throughline. The opening fall was sloppier than we're used to from the Infernales but it established a clear narrative: the Infernales were out to extract revenge and it was up to the tecnicos to prevent themselves from being bullied. Tarzan Boy wasn't a natural aggressor, but fortunately for him, Lizmark and Olimpico managed to fire up in the second caida and Olimpico, in particular, was hellbent on using his skill to outclass the rudos. I liked the part where Tarzan Boy took the fight to Satanico and Lopez shook him off, ready for a fist fight. Unfortunately, it disintegrated into a screwy finish instead of rabid brawling. Still, the tecnicos got the moral victory even if it left Tarzan Boy with sore balls.
Pierroth vs. Mascara Ano 2000 (CMLL 03/10/00)
This was a fun mano a mano from two broken down gladiatores. The use of plunder and the backstage brawling was arguably the most WWF thing that CMLL has done yet, but a nasty blade job from Pierroth and some gritty ringwork made this feel more like cockfighting than your average WWF bout. This probably would have been pretty bad if the blood hadn't made it so edgy. I guess what this proved was that Satanico vs. Tarzan Boy could have been more like bloodsport if they'd wanted it to be. But then Tarzan Boy is hardly the kind of worker that Pierroth was. In any event, this surprised me. Much more worthwhile than I would have expected and I'm already a certified Capos fan.
Atlantis, Perro Aguayo, Mr. Niebla & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. vs. Villano III, Shocker, Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr. (CMLL 03/10/00)
I enjoyed what we saw of this. It doesn't get much more emphatic from the rudo side than Villano III pulling off Atlantis' mask while Los Guapos destroy Perro Aguayo Sr. You could feel the WWF influence with the Villano Bros. run-in, but without the pyrotechnics and all of the bells and whistles it really did feel like 1980s Crockett, especially since the Villano Bros appear to shop at the same menswear stores as the Andersons. Honestly speaking, I don't really rate Atlantis as a brawler and I have a problem with how easily he applies the Atlantida at times. He also bounces up and down a bit too much not unlike the overselling he did when he was younger. But I'm expecting the emotion of the mask match to overcome all that. We'll find out shortly.
El Fierito & Pierrothito vs. Cicloncito Ramirez & Ultimo Dragoncito (CMLL 03/14/00)
All right, minis! This was perhaps the most classical lucha match we've seen thus far. It had mat exchanges, arm drags, ropework and even a little bit of character work. There were multiple dives and some pretty decent back and forth action. It wasn't entirely smooth as Fierito wasn't the most fluid worker but it was a nice holdover from the classic minis period of '96-97 and it was nice to see some of those names again. Plus it had two falls end on a count out which is pretty rare in lucha.
Blue Panther, Black Warrior & Mr. Mexico vs. Tony Rivera, Ringo Mendoza & Emilio Charles Jr. (CMLL 03/14/00)
CMLL is new school and old school at the same time. The vignette with Rivera judo throwing everyone in the gym and Mr. Mexico disguising himself as the ref was straight out of a WWF quarter hour but an apuesta match every other week is straight up old school booking. This match demonstrated the power of a gripe in lucha. Give two workers a reason to dislike each other and lucha is every bit as easy to follow as Puerto Rico or a Southern territory. Rivera was a bigger version of Tarzan Boy and Mr. Mexico far down the list of marquee lucha heels but it didn't matter. A bladejob from Mexico and some frantic action was enough to carry this to a satisfying conclusion. The best dive train of the year was followed by some classic foul shenanigans and a bout you could have easily cut when scanning match lists turned out to be a bonafide piece of fun. CMLL has been nonstop feuds thus far.
Mr. Niebla, Ray de Jalisco Jr. & Tinieblas Jr. vs. Bestia Salvaje, Pierroth Jr. & El Satanico (CMLL 03/14/00)
Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice, Los Campeones de la Justicia meet to discuss the threat of Villano Tercero. Alushe has grave concerns while Atlantis and Niebla prove luchadores can wear a tracksuit anywhere. This was fairly unspectacular given how good the rudo side was but there were some nice moments. I liked the way Bestia interacted with the crowd and the part where he slapped the shit out of Niebla. Tinieblas looked like less of a freak when partnered with Rayo and Niebla and I enjoyed his dust-up with Pierroth at the end. Pierroth continues to be the most unexpected surprise of 2000. This Puerto Rican gimmick sure is doing wonders for him. He almost reminds me of a Mexican Invader 1. I'm keenly awaiting the Los Boricuas vs. Los Capos feud now. That should be a fun series of brawls.
Tony Rivera vs. Mr. Mexico (CMLL 03/21/00, Hair Match)
This was a solid apuesta match but they clipped a chunk out of the tercera caida which hurt the overall impact of the bout. Instead of building toward the big moment, they cut straight to a submission nearfall for Mr. Mexico and Rivera's match-winning Gori Special. We missed out on the excitement of the tercera caida swinging back and forth but what we did see was solid. Mr. Mexico was a better in-ring talent than I would have ever given him credit for prior to this feud and Rivera was seasoned enough to feed off his rudo charisma and win the people's favour without a stripper gimmick like Tarzan Boy. So long as you don't expect Chicana/MS-1, Chicana/Aguayo or Dandy/Satanico, this delivered a decent standard of work.
Villano III, Shocker & Bestia Salvaje vs. Perro Aguayo, Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & Atlantis (CMLL 03/31/00)
Coming off an all-time great apuesta match and a strong PPV overall, the question now is whether CMLL can maintain its momentum. This was a storyline match with Villano Tercero refusing to engage in rudoism and frustrating his partners. In typical CMLL fashion, it looks as though they'll draw things out for another couple of Fridays. Less typical of the serious and stable CMLL was the Los Capos run-in. Not exactlly lucha crash TV but I'm not sure it sat that well with all of the CMLL brass. In fact, the situation reminds me of 1990 and the Pena driven changes to the conservative CMLL booking. As far as segments go it was fairly uninspiring but let's see whether the Perrro vs. Capos and VIllano Tercero turns can escalate into feuds worthy of the benchmarks CMLL have put forward this season.