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[1973-10-09-AJPW] The Destroyer vs Mil Mascaras


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Watched this for the first time in a while and this blew me away.

It's hardly some hidden gem as it's been a favorite among tape traders since forever ago, but I guess some combination of me forgetting just how good this match is and me not being attentive enough in my viewing when I first saw it led to this really surprising me. I love it from the opening bell with the amateur style positioning work they did. They did a really good job working at a stalemate with lots of great struggle like you'd see in Golden Age matches. The boston crab spot was so good. I got a kick out of it being a tight headlock that leads to Destroyer pulling out the strikes and ultimately losing the first fall. The beginning of another one of my favorites in Kawada/Kobashi 6/12/98 follows as a similar structure as the first fall of this.

By the second fall it looks like Mascaras starts to have Destroyer figured out. Destroyer starts looking like the clear underdog in the match, but it's hard to count him out as he's known to be crafty and the commentators even bring up his stuff with Rikidozan at one point I assume to put that over. I love the detail work in how Mascaras moving really quickly out of the way in a rope break because he knows how sneaky Destroyer can be. Soon, though, Destroyer manages to surprise him with a figure four and Mascaras's selling is fucking great as mentioned. Love the ring attendants coming in at the end of the fall to break up the hold to get over just how deep Destroyer had it locked in.

Third fall is what really puts it over the top as a classic. It's ironic Mascaras has a rep for not selling considering how great he is in selling the leg in the fall. Just so much great drama as he tries to come back with the tables suddenly turned on him. Awesome watching him even resorting to cheap shotting Destroyer. Great nearfall as well with him hitting the cross body on Destroyer. The actual finish with him taking a hard bump to the outside and just barely being too late in beating the count is tremendous. Great show of respect after the match too. 1973 MOTY and a strong candidate for 70's MOTD. ****3/4

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  • GSR changed the title to [1973-10-09-AJPW] The Destroyer vs Mil Mascaras
  • 5 months later...

This was one of the first puro matches I've ever seen at it really got me into the whole old school wrestling. I soon had to watch every Destroyer match I could find. And well this holds up extremely well. It is considered the „precursor to the classic“ in regards to their 1974 match, but this match by itself is better than a lot of „classics“ in other match series. The grappling rules as it's almost 70s shootstyle. I'm guessing Mascaras was so uncooperative Destroyer basically just stuck to shoot throws and holds he had no way of preventing. Just really stiff (as in high resistance, no obvious going along), tight hold for hold work. After some trading of semi-carny holds Destroyer is able to sneak in a blow to Mils mid section, which feels like Volk Han getting punched in the liver, and he immediately follows up with shoulder blocks to the mid section holding Mascaras tights, with Mil looking like he really wanted to avoid those shoulder blocks. The finish to the 1st fall is really good with moves being teased and missing before a combination decides it. The 2nd fall immediately grabs the crowds attention by continueing from the finish of the previous fall. Mil Mascaras has his critics, probably rightfully so, but his uncooperative nature and tendency to eat a match up made for compelling pro wrestling here as the Destroyer really had to work hard to get a fall on him and try all kinds of different things. There are several Figure 4 teases, things get chippy, an had when Destroyer finally gets the hold Mil is awesome trying to get out of the move like a shootstylist by contorting his body. In the 3rd fall Mils selling was money, no questions about it, as he was hobbling around, trying to create space, stretching his leg as if to fix it, and desperately trying to fend off the Destroyer, who was just as desperate to pounce on the legs and get that darn Figure 4 again. Actually great finish which again plays of the 1st fall. So here you had an extremely psychologically sound, smart match that draws you in while delivering plenty of really good grappling. The 2nd fall doesn't quite hold up the intensity, but no qualms about it. This is the best match outside England that year in a cakewalk.

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  • 4 months later...
  • 9 months later...

Mascaras gets a bad reputation for being restrictive, and that's totally true, but in this case, Destoryer is equally restrictive. Neither are willing to give much up so the match is a total struggle and it's so compelling to watch. Two masters of their trade scratching and clawing their way through snug holds and stiff strikes. And when they do get more easy with each other, the high spots come off so much more grander. Mascaras' selling of the figure four hold stands out and puts over the hold perfectly. Destroyer takes advantage of that to win the final fall and the match overall. Excellent match. ****1/2

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  • 10 months later...

What a beautiful display of masterful pro wrestling. I've seen the main event of this show before but never this match, what a one two punch for these fans to be lucky enough to experience live. Hearing their appreciation for this match grow and grow was awesome. I loved seeing this more straight forward approach from Destroyer although when this one got chippy both guys snuck in some nasty shots. This never lost its sense of struggle while still being an amazing sporting exhibition, in fact it might have struck as good of a balance between the two as I've ever seen.

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  • 3 months later...

Fantastic mat-based match that builds up the tension nicely. Mascaras is the better athlete and you can slowly see The Destroyer's piss beginning to boil every time that he's bettered in an exchange. I think The Destroyer is a great guy to watch if you haven't seen much pre-80's footage and want to dip your toes into some vintage wrestling. He's got buckets of charisma, he's technically sound and he even works in some comedy spots that stopped the action from feeling too dry. They eventually start to brawl after they get hot-headed during the grappling. Destroyer is a pro at making every Figure 4 attempt feel dangerous and Mascaras sold his leg injury very convincingly. I didn't have a problem with the count-out finish, as it made Mascaras look strong in defeat. ★★★★½

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  • 1 month later...

The Destroyer vs. Mil Mascaras - October 9, 1973.
Mil Máscaras is one of the most important wrestlers in the history of Mexico. He did not reach the popularity levels of El Santo or Blue Demon, but, unlike these, Mascaras had great international success, both in the United States and in Japan. The immensity of his career can only be matched by the size of his ego. He's possibly the most self-centered guy in the industry. The Destroyer is also a masked fighter, but he is American, and a technical and tough guy. The fight is the best of three falls. In the first, we have all this wrenching, and it ends when Masks applies several of his flying heads to his rival, which are one of his main weapons. (12:25) In the second fall, we continue the same, with the same quality in the application of techniques. But the Mexican's luck is cut short when he hurts his leg after the Destroyer's attack. Masks, it must be said, sells this very well. He is very lame, and can hardly stand up. Destroyer attacks his leg, and closes a Figure four leglock. After resisting for a long time, Mil ends up giving up. (11:36) In the third fall, Mil Máscaras begins to suffer, again, in his leg, but he recovers, until he takes the initiative again. He searches endlessly for the flying headbutt, because he already wants to end this. He applies it several times, but, when he goes for the final one, The Destroyer takes advantage of his jump to project him out of the ring. Mil Máscaras fails to recover in time, and loses the fall for count-out. (4:20) The Destroyer won a very good fight, very serious. (28:21) An instant classic from the early days of All Japan. Rating: ****3/4

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