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[1974-07-25-AJPW] The Destroyer vs Mil Mascaras


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The first fall of this match is about fifteen of the most beautiful minutes of professional wrestling I’ve seen, combining Destroyer’s methodical old-school approach with the lucha elegante matwork of Máscaras. With Destroyer, every movement has significance, every strain or expression conveys meaning. The transitions, reversals, counters, evasions, and takedowns are all so masterfully executed, not only from Destroyer, but Máscaras as well, who seems more in his element on the canvas than pinballing around the ring. While "Woken Twitter" is quick to proclaim wrestling as an art form over an impressive but largely meaningless aerobatics display, the way these two seamlessly thread their exchanges together throughout the match is a testament to the thought and sensibility put into the telling of a clever, believable in-ring story. There’s something special about the way Destroyer rolls the audience around the palm of his hand like putty, whether it’s his comical “No-no-no-no-no-no”s during Mil’s standing surfboard or the fear he instills when he’s attacking the leg to set-up the figure-four leglock. During the first fall, Máscaras seems as if he's in a perpetual state of change, the way he watches for variations in Destroyer’s step, reading his energy levels and transitioning accordingly if something isn’t working. The sequences are, again, a thing of beauty. As they head toward the finish of the first fall, Máscaras starts to build some momentum as his speed overwhelms Destroyer but when he slips up, Destroyer takes full advantage, driving him headfirst into the corner and following up with the knees to the neck to take the first fall. He lives up to his namesake by continuing to destroy Mil’s neck with elbows, knees, and a neckbreaker into the second fall, which didn't really work, out, as Mil ends up taking the second fall via a flying crossbody. The third fall brings back the fear of the figure-four as Destroyer goes after Mil’s leg a wild dog and when he finally locks it in, the arena freaks the fuck out. Destroyer built such a great atmosphere around it and this final fall features some of Máscaras best selling. Mil gets in plenty of offense with his flying around and his scoop-style suplexes, and the non-finish wasn’t ideal but it also kept in tune with the general unpredictability of the match.


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  • GSR changed the title to [1974-07-25-AJPW] The Destroyer vs Mil Mascaras
  • 2 years later...

This was very similar to their 1973 match, only with even better matwork! The general pace of the first fall, but every hold felt like it had a purpose and it felt like you were watching a game of chess play out in the ring. Give this match the attention it demands from you and you will have a hell of a time with it. Every near-fall feels like it could end the fall. You know your move is over when the crowd shriek in horror when you execute it, as was the case when Destroyer finally got Mascaras in the Figure Four during the final fall. I'm used to non-finishes during this era, but I wasn't a fan of the finish. Mascaras can't continue because of the damage done to his leg and the referee calls this one off. This felt like a cop-out. If you could trim the final few minutes of their 1973 match with the body of this match, then I'd be hard-pressed not to give it the full five stars! ★★★★½

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  • 2 years later...

PWF US Heavyweight Champion The Destroyer vs Mil Mascaras - AJPW 7/25/74 2/3 Falls

The rematch from 10 months prior. Destroyer won with a Figure-4 in the Second Fall and throwing Mascaras over the top on a flying crossbody headbutt for a countout. 

First Fall: These two have amazing chemistry. Very similar efforts as there first match. They are working straight holds for ~13 minutes and it is always compelling. There are some really nifty counters like a leg trip from Mascaras on a hammerlock or a neck bridge from Destroyer. Lots of great body weight and balance work. Really cool, organic entry into a Boston Crab off a Monkey Flip for Mascaras but it is an awkward position so it explains how Destroyer is able to topple him. One key difference from the 74 match compared to 73 match is Destroyer is looking for the Figure-4 the move that won him the day in 73, early and often. They repeat a 73 spot where Destroyer tries to get a Figure-4 out of a headscissors but no dice. Mascaras works his Full Nelson from 73. The one thing I thought made 73 standout a little more than 74, is the holds came a little easier in this bout. It felt a little more routine, more like a standard NWA Championship match less unique than the 73 match. It is still high end matwork just more normal. After not being able to negotiate Figure-4, Destroyer loses his patience and takes two cheapshots in the ropes against Mascaras. Mascaras is rightfully pissed and grabs headlock and pops Destroyer with the heel of his hand. Great stuff. Then the fireworks begin. Mascaras begins the onslaught of crossbody headbutts but keeps only getting one. He winds up for a final one but nails the turnbuckle! Amazing moment! Thought Destroyer had it there, but he needed the Bombs Away Kneedrop to put Mascaras away. The slam-bang portion of this one is pretty damn awesome and coupled with the matwork, this is on track to be another instant classic. Destroyer 1-0.

Second Fall: I love how Destroyer immediately shifts his strategy to focus on the neck after what happened to Mascaras at the end of the first fall. This does NOT last long as Destroyer misses a dropkick and Mascaras applies one of those Lucha submissions that gives Destroyer a bad neck as well. Destroyer tries to turn this into a firefight into the corner, but Mascaras roars back. He rams Destroyer's head in a bulldoh headlock into the turnbuckle pads. It looks gnarly someone should crib that. Mascaras nails his bread & butter BUT goes for Destroyer's Figure-4, will that cost him the fall. No he rams the head into buckles again using a bulldog headlock and a flying crossbody picks up the fall for the Luchador in a tidy ~5minutes. Really fun psychology here. 


Third Fall: Mascaras says "if it aint broke dont fix it", he goes right back to the bulldog headlock ramming Destroyer's head into buckles. Pilderiver gets two. Things look bleak for the US Champion. He backdrops out of a second piledriver. He wants the Figure-4 badly and desperately going after the legs. He finally gets it. Holy Struggle! This is fantastic. They are both working this hold with everything they got. They end up on the apron where the attending wrestlers have to disentangle them. Tremendous. They lay it on thick for Mascaras. Destroyer takes two bad tumbles to the outside, first Mascaras kicks him off another figure-4 and the other is a criss cross where Destroyer catches nothing but air. Each time Mascaras brings him in the hardway but cant negotiate the pinfall. They knock heads on a crossbody headbutt that looks nasty. Another criss but this time Destroyer leads with his head and nutshots Mascaras who sells this for all its worth. The ref has no choice but to call the match. Destroyer ever the sportsman undoes Mascaras' drawstrings. I dont know if I woudl want the dude that just headbutted me in the balls to be touching my junk but I guess it is the thought that counts.

Different than '73 match but also fantastic. I can see why people would like this more. It is a more conventional pro wrestling match. It has more slam-bang action and really strong psychology. There is just something unique about the 73 match or maybe it is just I watched it first. I can see it both ways I am going ****1/2 here, this is sublime wrestling.

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