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[1996-10-27-WCW-Halloween Havoc] Rey Misterio Jr vs Dean Malenko

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Interesting match. I'm not sure if I liked it or not, but it was definitely interesting, because Rey and Malenko are really making a conscious effort to do some of the gaga stuff and not just wrestle a match. But because they keep alternating between that and their normal stuff, the flow of the match kinda breaks apart at times. For example, making such a big production of Rey getting his mask back (which required Malenko to sell for way too long) didn't really deserve so much focus when it wasn't a really over part of the buildup.

 

Malenko does look really good in this match and shows a lot more emotion than usual, and for whatever reason, Heenan decides to put Malenko over enormously in this match. Far more of the typical babyface/heel structure than many cruiser matches of the time.

 

I don't like this as much as the Bash and Nitro matches, but I give them credit for trying to "Americanize" (for lack of a better term) their match. I wouldn't have minded seeing them continue in this direction for a while just to see what resulted from it. This could have potentially been failed proof of concept, and did have tons of heat, and at times, it was spectacular.

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I'm with Dylan, to me this is their best match thus far in 1996. Just terrific stuff. The heel/face dynamic and the mask spot just added some much needed charcaterization to the match-up, which had been technically great up until that point anyway. Malenko definitely was at his best ever working against Rey, and in that context, the praise he usually recieves seems warranted. Rey was awesome, of course.

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WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Misterio Jr. vs Dean Malenko - WCW Halloween Havoc 1996

 

They are afforded to have an extended version of their Nitro sprint and they do not disappoint with an unheralded classic. They utilized the extra time wisely to have Rey sell more convincingly and really milk it before his spectacular comeback. Malenko worked a similar heat segment to the Nitro match vacillating between holds and high impact blows and throws. Where the time really came in handy was in the beginning and end. Before the match, Malenko was pissed that he came in with a two match losing streak to the champion and wanted his belt back. So in order to get into his head, he stole Rey's mask to get into his head. Right at the beginning, the usually reserved Malenko wasted no time jumpstarting the match with blows and throws. He even looked to hook up the Texas Cloverleaf early. Rey desperately escaped and seemed a bit overwhelmed. However, once he was able to create some space and use his quickness to keep Malenko off balance he had Malenko looking like a fool tripping on his face. Rey punctuates this great shine segment with a somersault plancha and regains the stolen mask. I love little victories inside a match. I also loved that Rey Rey had to earn that shine over an early Malenko onslaught. Probably, my favorite part of the match to be honest. Malenko catches Rey on a rana attempt and slams him. He works a solid heat segment making sure to pepper in highspots to keep the crowd involved while he worked holds to keep Rey grounded. The heat segment at Great American Bash was world class and it is hard to compare, but this is a step down. There either needed to be more direction or more Rey hope spots to take this to the next level. I thought the Great American Bash match also featured more Rey verbal selling. I really did like the instances of Rey crawling away from Malenko to the apron gets attacked and then tries to crawl to the other side. There was great Rey selling, but I don't think it was as showcased. They both head to the top and they simultaneously punch each off the top, which I was not a fan of that spot, but the finish run we get is just excellent. Rey hits a tremendous springbaord somersault plancha in the ring that Malenko takes beautifully and is a contender for best Rey spot of the year in a year loaded with them. After struggle between both to negotiate a pinfall, Misterio gets a two and follows up on Malenko with a corkscrew Asai Moonsault well there is another one for the highlight reel. Misterio gets the exact hurricanarana that won him the title, but Malenko kicks out. Tony exclaims that he had never seen someone kick out of that predicament. Ruh Roh! Undeterred, Misterio looks to hit the springboard version and rallies the crowd, but Malenko has a different idea with a POWERBOMB! That should have been the finish. Live by the sword, die by the sword is a favorite finish genre of mine so I am biased. Malenko is looking for his Super Gutbuster, but Misterio looks to counter with top rope Frankensteiner, but we end up with a SUPER GUTWRENCH POWERBOMB!

The shine of the Nitro match with the heat segment of the GAB match and the finish of this match and at the very least you have a contender for the greatest match in WCW history. This is just a tremendous series and this match features some of the most exciting moments in WCW Crusierweight history. Rey was just awesome in the beginning, his selling was great in the heat segment, but not as highlighted as before and the finish stretch was paced perfectly with escalation between spots. Malenko worked a strong heat segment that did a go a bit long without action towards the end, but more than made up for it by telling the great story of a man obsessed with the winning championship. He had Rey scouted. He kicked out of the rana that cost him the title and he crushed Rey on the springboard rana. Then when it came down to the end and it was anyone's ball game on the top rope, Malenko showed that he wanted it just that much more. ****1/4

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Put me with Dylan and El-P. This was fantastic, even if it was greatly enhanced by the fact that I didn't know what the result was going in, so I was biting on every near-fall. Loved Dean's mean, aggressive streak and I loved the fact that we got a high-flying cruiserweight match with some meat to the story besides Pure Sports Build stuff (though there's that, too). Maybe Dean's matwork isn't quite as spectacular as it is at GAB, as he's content to use more U.S-style holds here, but those holds are well-worked, too. And it's about 9 million times more effectively laid out and smarter than that match, while also getting more time than their Nitro match. A more than fitting conclusion to maybe the best overall ring-based feud of the year in the U.S.

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Put me in the camp that loved this. The moves and flash of Rey was well executed besides the botch on the outside that was quickly covered up. Dean was an excellent ring general just grinding him throughout the match and working stuff in a very US heavy heel way but effectively. His chinlock means something and the ramp up to the final stretch was extremely natural. I also had forgotten who won this match so the nearfalls off the rana and first powerbomb fooled me. The finish they do utilize is brutal. ****

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I think this was my favorite match of theirs too, but it doesn't run away with it. I didn't think Malenko was quite at his best in control, but Rey was just spectacular. Especially the opening portion was dazzling, especially in the context of 1996 WCW, but it's great wrestling in any era. I felt like it slumped a bit in the middle but they picked it back up at the end with some exciting nearfalls and finished it off with an awesome looking top rope gutwrench powerbomb.

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far from dean best ever match i think his match with his brother is very much the better match in this context lrt alone the contexted of his being fr from Rey's best ever match this is a ***1/2 at best

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