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[2012-03-02-CMLL] Negro Casas vs Blue Panther (Hair vs Hair)

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This also wasn't your granddaddy's apuestas.

All four of the hair/mask matches I've watched over the last couple days have been approached in different ways. 2012 CMLL is not 1986 CMLL so this was never going to be Fiera/Babe Face. You were never going to get buckets of blood and guys biting chunks out each other's forehead. It didn't go the Ultimo/Aguila route either and we thank the old gods and the new because, you know, that was fun and all but you want a little more from two of the all-time GOATS. We sure got that and this was everything that was promised.

I remember watching the lead-in trios and lightning match at the time and kind of being in awe at how much they were kicking the living shit out of each other. You don't typically associate lucha with stiffness and potato shots, but these two were working stiff as a bastard and being as vicious as possible. The first caida of this was basically the best possible five minute WAR midcard match and it was incredible. Casas headbutts Panther in the cheek three seconds in and it was one of the meanest headbutts I've ever seen. He was throwing kicks to the chest and stomps to the head like Kitahara working over a trainee. Then Panther nailed him with a Tenryu right hand and grabbed a flash Fujiwara armbar that the man himself would've been proud of. It was a wonderful little stretch of violence and suddenly you don't miss the disgusting bloodletting so much after all.

Second fall was short as well, but you had Panther working over the shoulder and it was as gritty as you'd want. Casas reversing the surfboard into a stretch muffler is an absurdly great counter in isolation, but what made it even better is that it led to Panther selling the leg, which in turn gave Casas the set up for tying the match (a dropkick to the knee followed by the magistral). In between the segunda and tercera Casas continued to go after the leg and did it in super nasty fashion, like bending it at a hideous angle over a barricade and smashing it into the ramp. Casas' mocking of Panther to start the fall was unbelievable. They're both the same age, but Panther with his balding pate and slightly sagging physique actually looks like a man in his fifties, and that was before he was hobbling around on one leg (this was some phenomenal hobbling, btw). On the other hand, Casas practically looks the same as he did twenty years earlier. Maybe a little more grey on the sides, but to look at him you wouldn't have thought him a man of 52 years. He had two good legs and Panther only had one, so who gives a shit about humility? Then it went on and Casas seemed to come to the realisation that Panther may look like an old man but he sure doesn't fight like one.

The tercera really was sensational. If you can't have a gorefest then something like this will do in a pinch because the violence never dropped, there was never a point where it didn't look like a struggle, and the attention to detail was astonishing. Hardly anybody works in and out of holds like this anymore. I'd need to watch it twice just to pick up on all of the amazing little micro details, but they were myriad and even if you're not into lucha I can't imagine you not getting something out of this. I think my favourite part was when Panther was on the apron and Casas grabbed a choke, and Panther lying on the floor afterwards staring at the ceiling was quite the visual. Panther then dragged Casas off the apron into a brutal armbar and followed up with a bullet tope that about put him head-first through the barricade.

I guess my one complaint is that the limb damage they established in the first couple falls was dropped a bit suddenly. Panther's selling to start the tercera was tremendous, then not long after that it didn't seem to matter. There wasn't really a bridge between the leg being useless and it no longer being an issue. It doesn't bother me too much because it didn't need to be a bigger part of their story than it was, but you know I'd criticise a Tanahashi or Okada for the same thing. I'd rather a more decisive finish as well, but they sure nailed the one they did go with. As far as bloodless wagers matches go this might be the best there's ever been.

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