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  1. Watching a good apuestas match is like eating a good soup. It's comfort food, easily digestible and hard to get wrong. Stuka and Atlantis Jr. aren't exactly reinventing the wheel here, but they didn't need to. Atlantis Jr. comes out of the gates hot, running up the stage and diving onto Stuka. Atlantis Jr. comes up favoring his knee after a topé suicida. It's a small detail, but one that adds heft to crucial moments of the match. Stuka dumps Atlantis Jr. into the crowd with an Irish whip, and the latter hits the barricades with the momentum of a runaway train. When Atlantis Jr. goes to the top rope for a dive, he takes a moment too long, and Stuka capitalizes with a superplex. Another thing I love about apuestas matches is the crowd shots. From the camraderie of fans cheering on their favorites to people crying as the stakes set in, it all carries a certain emotional weight. Atlantis Jr. heads to the stage for a another running dive, but Stuka has him scouted. Stuka connects with a Stuka Splash on the stage shortly thereafter. Both competitors threw caution to the wind, their desperation to maintain their family's legacy seeping through the screen. Atlantis Jr. takes one of the nuttiest bumps I've seen all year, diving head-first into the barricade. At this point, the match begins to reach its apex. Hopelessness begins to set in for Stuka, with Atlantis Jr. kicking out of his signature Stuka Splash. Stuka heads to the well once too many times, and Atlantis Jr. reverses it into a pin. Atlantis Jr. locks in La Atlantida and gets rolled up for one final near-fall, but he applies the submission again and steals the win. What a joyful experience. Lucha is rich in emotion, colorful characters and tradition, and this match is no exception. Set aside twenty minutes or so, maybe grab a snack, and soak it all in.
  2. This was a big, dumb, bombastic fireworks show with all the bells and whistles you'd expect from two of the most promising young high-flyers in Mexico today. Is it great? Not exactly. For one, the selling is virtually non-existent and only occurs when they're slowly inching across the mat to pin each other. The connective tissue between moves could also be better, as they'd often perform a move only to get hit by the same or a similar maneuver moments later. Soberano also showed off his best "I can't believe he kicked out" face. I could see any number of these things being a turn-off. If those quibbles sound like they would annoy you, chances are, they probably will. Still, what worked, worked. From the outset, this felt a little meaner than their previous encounter, with both competitors exchanging headbutts during a lock-up. But once you get into the meat of the match, it's all about cool moves, and Soberano Jr. and Templario delivered plenty on that front. Soberano took a gnarly bump early on, missing a plancha and eating the guard rail. They gradually built to bigger moves. Highlights included a Canadian Destroyer from the ramp into the ring, a suplex off the steps, and an armdrag from the ramp to the floor. Templario strung together a chain of offense, finishing off Soberano with a Powerbomb/Back Breaker combo. Even the imperfections, while plenty, weren't enough to keep me from enjoying this match. This was far from ideal, but it was still heaps of fun and well worth seeking out if you're a fan of either competitor. With some guidance, these two could be capable of creating something exceptional.
  3. Fuerza Guerrera against Negro Casas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think Villano III paid off fans for their seats, so his brothers could set front row! Take that Ted DiBiase. First fall is quick, highlighted by Atlantis and Villano III doing an awesome exchange ending with a vicious Atlantis tope. Then we get the dream between Casas and Fuerza which does not disappoint, before the tecnicos quickly wrap up the fall. Falls ending does not stop Villano III and Atlantis as they brawl all around ringside. With Atlantis ripping up the mask in revenge from the previous match and even beating up Villano III right in front of his brothers.Atlantis tries to freaking rip the seat off a chair to use to kill Villano III. This feud is the best. Casas' reaction to Salvaje coming at him was priceless. Salvaje gets one shot before Casas loses it on him, although the rudos use their numbers to tie up the match. Casas is a house of fire in the third fall. I truly think Casas would had been the best hot tag wrestler in southern wrestling he was so great here. Atlantis clears house and goes for a tope, but the Villanos brothers jump up and stop him and drag him outside the ring to kick his ass. An old lady tries to get the referees attention to get him to turn around to see the cheating, but he ignores her. Camel Clutch by Villano III seems to get him the win over Atlantis, however some dude in a suit lectures the referee. The referee ignores the lecture and raises the rudos hands! I loved this, but it was pretty short. Maybe *** 3/4.. maybe ****.
  4. The first fall established Averno's dominance. Averno jumps Guerrero on the ramp, whipping him with his jacket. Guerrero monkey flips Averno into the ring and follows up with a quick flurry of offense, but Averno takes the fight outside and whips him into the barricade. Back inside, Averno shuts down Guerrero with a double underhook facebuster, following up with a cross arm breaker to submit Ultimo. Picking up where he left off, Averno targets his opponent's arm. Averno is a wonderfully slimy rudo, snapping Guerrero's bum limb across the ropes, putting the boots to him, and chopping his chest into raw meat. Averno revels in the boos of the crowd, almost as if he's mocking them at points. Guerrero fights back, but his temper gets the better of him, causing the referee to separate the two and allowing Averno to take a cheapshot. A missed splash in the corner allowed Guerrero to hit two consecutive Sentons de la Muerte, and he picked up the second fall. Averno begs off to start the third fall, signaling to the crowd for a timeout. Guerrero heads out after him, but it's another ploy, as Averno uses the diversion as an opportunity to kick Último. Guerrero fires up and hits a low dropkick off the apron, sending Averno crashing to the floor. Guerrero is the consummate técnico, high-fiving fans after diving across the barricade and onto Averno. Showing a bit of learned psychology from the previous fall, Averno counters the Senton de la Muerte by booting Guerrero in the chest. A simple counter, sure, but an effective one nonetheless. Guerrero attempts a moonsault, but Averno is there to yank him off the apron again. Everything builds to a crescendo, with Guerrero's dive off the top rope to the outside feeling monumental. The match admittedly starts to lose a bit of steam in the final act. The cascade of top-rope moves followed by near falls is long-winded, and they take their sweet time getting to the finish after Guerrero's dive, which feels like the apex of the match. But the atmosphere was enough to carry even the weaker portions of the contest. Averno hits a cross armbreaker off the top, but Guerrero narrowly escapes. Averno attempted a moonsault, but Guerrero recovered in time to hit a reverse superplex for the victory. Post-match, Guerrero calls out Averno for a hair match. They may no longer be spring chickens, but Guerrero and Averno delivered a bout that projected the feeling of importance more than almost anything I've seen all year. It wasn't flashy, but it didn't need to be. The raw emotion of Guerrero fighting valiantly to defend himself and a hot crowd wanting to see the villain get his comeuppance were enough on this night. I can only hope some younger luchadores come away from this match with the lesson that less is more.
  5. Wanted to create a thread for this because I personally think this is not only one of the best Satanico matches but one of the best of all time. Unique and brilliantly executed story of the Local anti-hero taking on the invading foreigner. Perfectly paced and structured. Amazing brawling and selling. Clever and poetic finish + an awesome post-match. This has it all. ****5/8
  6. I thought this was a master class in rudo wrestling from Satanico, from his great selling of everything Atlantis does, to the mask ripping, and committing fouls so quickly that he turns rulebreaking into an art. Lots to like in a very good match. You can read my full review, as part of the 365 Wrestling project.
  7. Really cool lightning match noteworthy for Hechicero clowning Titan. It all starts with Titan going for his headstand spot where Hechicero just shoves him off and kicks him in the arm, which starts a very good armwork segment where Hechicero got a chance to use some really cool offence, in particular he did a kneedrop using the guardrail on the ramp that came out of the blue. Titan got to get his dives in and they looked good, but really you want to see this for Titan going for one his flip-flops and Hechicero just leveling him with a chest slap. Not being to able to lock an armbar properly is more than I expected from Titan's selling, which was otherwise limited to holding his injured arm inbetween spots. ***1/4
  8. Psycho bomb throwing war which has to go down as the carryjob of the year. Vampiro was basically a stiff trying to be a video game wrestler here. However, his recklessness may have added to the match as he seemed to be self destructive hitting moves (e.g. knocking himself loopy with his own suplex, injuring his leg hitting a spin kick etc). It really adds to the suspense when you think this washed up drug fiend is going to blow his knees out any moment. Whenever Vampiro was in danger of getting lost, Bucanero engaged in some vicious brawling. I especially loved the segment on the ramp that started with Bucanero just clocking Vampiro in the back of the neck. He also had some really great brief work on the shoulder. The whole match made sense and was never boring as they just kept doing bumps and dives. The one weak point was Vampiros superman comeback which knocked the match down about 15 places in the MOTY list.
  9. Ah, 2002, when Shocker was a great worker. I really liked the brief opening matwork, with Shocker flipping around and Guerrero catching him in a great flash Fujiwara Armbar. 2nd fall was short but had UG working Shockers arm over with hurty wristlocks and takedowns. Then Shocker made this great comeback and trying to boot his head off. Shocker looked damn good here, even throwing a great punch combo. The 3rd fall was your typical UG end run where they exchange big dramatic kickouts. Not my favourite thing but it was awesome to watch these two crush eachother with huge chunky guy highspots.
  10. This was one of those matches that had a lot of good moments which didn't really fit together. I can see people liking a lot of them, but at the end of the day you have an apuestas match in which things started off almost gentlemanly, Sangre Chicana threw away a fall for no real reason, and Fiera won with a fluky and botched rollup while not looking like a conquering hero. Even in the prematch video package, included to make this feel like a bigtime event, something felt off, as you could see that it wasn't even Chicana who turned on Fiera first. And the bottle shot made no sense. It was a cool image and everything, but it's not like Fiera had been making a comeback or done anything to piss Chicana off. Why wantonly pick a moment in the second fall to take all that anger out on him? I guess you could argue that it fit with Chicana taking random breaks from the fighting to talk to members of the audience, but it's still the weakest way possible for a tecnico to even things up. On a positive note, Fiera's selling really was outstanding, and I liked how committed they were to those ribs. I'd have preferred wild violence to working over a body part, but if you decide to go the latter route then at least make it mean something. Less than the sum of its parts match.
  11. The best pure brawl of all time, IMO. One of the big reasons is that it is so different, completely rejecting the standard structure and themes of 2/3 Lucha brawls and 80s US bloodbaths. This was all about Satanico willing himself to stand up to master brawler Sangre Chicana. Satanico is working from underneath but he is still a rudo and doesn't hesitate to resort to dirty tricks including an awesome eye hook. Chicana uses cool psychological tactics to gain the advantage. Felt like an incredibly gritty yet strategic fight and where they are trying to claw and maim each other but remain somewhat cerebral in their approach even as the intensity ramps up. Includes the best punches ever thrown in wrestling, out of this world great selling from Satanico and the best use of a non-finish ever. Satanico is THE wrestling genius and Chicana is an all time great brawler and so they were able to construct something so unique and great. A breath of fresh air and a big middle finger to the formulaic American and Lucha brawls we keep seeing a millions times. ****5/8
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