Thanks as always to Black Terry Jr for making these reviews possible.
I thought both the 8/1 and 10/13 Black Terry/Negro Navarro vs Super Astro/Solar maestro tags were excellent. In fact, I thought they were the most balanced, best worked maestro tags since Black Terry Jr began filming their matches. That may be time and distance talking since I was so wildly out of the loop last year, but I watched these matches more than once before commenting and enjoyed them immensely each time. They're not story matches and they don't even have much of a narrative, but what I liked about them was that they captured the spirit of pure lucha exchanges. I don't have much time these days and I've been trying to multi-task, so I've been watching these matches while listening to 60s jazz, and while 60s jazz and lucha libre may not have a lot in common, I've been able to get into the groove of these matches. The Solar/Navarrro stuff in particular cranks, but the stories of Super Astro's demise have been greatly exaggerated. He's not the worker he once was, but he rollled around on the mat with Black Terry in cracking fashion and was able to do his tope. I can see folks wishing they'd do more -- perhaps more Terry/Solar or Terry and Navarro being the murders' row tag team that we know they can be -- but when you see some of the counters and reversals that Solar and Navarro can do you can understand why the others clear out of the way and let them do their thing. When I first got into lucha, one of the things I loved most was watching a guy like El Dandy hit the ring. When Dandy stepped through those ropes it didn't matter whether the guy on the other side of the ring was Emilio or Casas or Super Muneco, you knew the exchange was going to be amazing, and that's the feeling I get from these matches. To tie it back into music, it's like this cool bar I went to recently that was stacked with wall to wall soul records. The barman would drop another record while you slipped on your drink of choice and you just kicked back and enjoyed the music. Watching these matches, I kicked back and enjoyed the lucha.
I have no idea when Cerebro Negro returned to IWRG and why he was feuding with Dr. Cerebro. I'm not sure I could even recognise him with the look he's sporting at the moment, but I thought their 12/16 match wasn't too bad. Better than a kick in the pants at any rate. There wasn't much to the falls, but the work was direct and physical and the finishes were cool. I could have done without the weapon shots, but they weren't too bad. The match stalled a bit in the third caida and the lightbulbs weren't really necessary, but there was more good than bad on show here. I really dug the spot where Dr. Cerebro was draped over the ropes from the apron in and Negro dropkicked him in the face. That was badass. The doctor turning his submission finish into some form of sitdown driver was ultimate badass too. I always forget that the good doctor is out there being probably a top 10 luchador at any given time. I've got to keep tabs of his work.
First off, thanks to Black Terry Jr for shooting these matches and making them available. Terry is selling his videos here from now on -- http://tvluchadelpasado.wordpress.com/
Solar vs. Navarro is still the best mat wrestling on the planet as evidenced by their 8/17 match. The excitement of seeing this match crop up isn't the same as when we only got to see it once a year (or not at all), but that's the funny thing: as lucha fans, we're always wishing we could see more -- more from a worker, more from a specific match-up, more TV from the 80s, most of which we'll never see. It's something you have to come to terms with if you become a serious lucha fan otherwise you'll be sorely disappointed. Yet when we get more than we bargained for, such as with Solar and Navarro, we tend to get all analytical and go into critique mode. I've done it many times in the past and am by far the worst offender, but if you'd told me five years ago that we'd get to see this match-up on a regular basis and people would get fed up with it, I'd have told you they were looking a gift horse in the mouth.
That's not to say that this match-up is perfect. Despite the fact that they're able to organise the events in the match into a reasonable narrative structure and that there are clear stretches of one worker in control and the other selling well, they don't make much of an effort to create the same sort of drama as Casas/Panther or the Santo tag. If you were to label their bouts as exhibition matches you wouldn't be too far off the mark. I tend to prefer their work in trios because of the speed they work at, and I'm still hoping that one day (just one day) we'll see a Black Terry vs. Navarro match in full, but... this is still the best mat wrestling on the planet. Casas and Panther are nowhere near as quick with their holds. Virus and Valiente are slicker, but don't have the same submission knowledge. Navarro still looks like the best worker in Mexico to me and I don't think Solar gets enough credit as a worker, a mat wrestler or for being one of the three or four best masked technico workers in modern, taped, lucha libre history. The familiarity that people have with Santo or Atlantis should be extended to Solar, in my opinion. The lifeblood of lucha is its masked technicos and few have been better for longer than Solar I.
The 4/9 Gran Apache/Trauma I/Mari Apache vs. Negro Navarro/Trauma II/Fabi Apache trios was a blast. One of the things I love about lucha the most is that it can be so off the cuff and fun. This was only a single fall, but it was a great ensemble piece. Loved the quick exchanges between Gran Apache and Trauma II, thought the father and son stuff was really good without being overbearing and that Fabi and Mari's stuff was a nice change up. To my mind, rhythm is the most important thing when watching wrestling. If you can't get into the rhythm of what the workers are trying to do or the rhythm of a particular style, you're going to struggle. You often hear people say that a lucha fall was rushed because it wasn't long enough or shorter than the falls surrounding it, but I sometimes wonder if those people haven't gotten into the rhythm of lucha libre yet. This match had rhythm. The exchanges built on top of each other and it was worked at a fun pace. The ending was the kind of mano-a-mano showdown that I love in IWRG matches and I came out of the whole thing as satisfied as I would've been had it been three falls. Gran Apache is so underrated. I always forget him when it comes to judging the best workers in Mexico. If you asked me tomorrow who the ten best workers in Mexico are, he'd probably slip my mind. I don't even know how active he is these days, but man is he good. Those opening exchanges I mentioned were so much snappier than the usual IWRG matwork and like the match in general made a nice change from the norm.
I went into the 12/20 Fuerza Guerrera vs. Black Terry match with low expectations as I'd read it wasn't the type of match they could have had if they'd put their minds to it and that it was basically an angle to further the hostilities between their two wrestling schools, but it was Fuerza and Terry in a singles match. It wasn't a Black Terry special like some of the carry jobs he's done in the past, but there was plenty to like from the point of view of it being two of the biggest legends of my time taking off the gloves. Would've been nice to see them settle it like men, but the interference was what it was. Can't say I blame them for trying to give the rub to their students.
Another match I really enjoyed was the 4/28 Black Terry/Negro Navarro vs. Solar I/Super Astro maestros tag. I'm not sure if it's because I haven't watched a maestros tag for a while and was watching with fresher eyes, but this seemed to have a better flow to it than the last round of maestro tags I watched. The Navarro/Solar exchanges were excellent without being overbearing, they changed dance partners more often and the match had more of a three part rhythm than usual. I'd read all the comments about Super Astro's decline and while he does have trouble doing his signature spots these days, the fact that I'd braced myself for it made it less jarring than I expected. He's the guy I'd most like to see everyone in the lucha world wrestle and for that reason takes my top spot.
This was all pretty fun stuff, and again, thanks to Black Terry Jr for making it possible.
I'm hopeless at keeping up to date with lucha, so I thought I'd throw out some thoughts on what I watched over the holidays.
Apparently, CMLL had an awful year business-wise. Personally I enjoyed the in-ring product more than I have in years.
Virus vs. Fuego, 10/1 was an excellent, old-school style title match. The matwork wasn't as fluid as classic lucha, but it was similar to IWRG matwork in that both guys seemed to be laying down a challenge. I thought Fuego's bridging spots were a fantastic response to that challenge, and although many of the holds were static, I was impressed that they managed to avoid the pitfalls of "your turn/my turn" through natural athleticism. Fuego impressed me in general. I thought he hung with Virus tremendously well and even added plenty of his own touches. The transition on the outside where Fuego pulled Virus from the apron after the big tope spot was clever stuff. I think that's what I've noticed most about CMLL this year: instead of the same telegraphed transitions in every match, the work has been tighter and the rhythm a whole lot better. I'd probably put this third behind Panther/Casas and that Santo tag at this stage.
Casas/Oro, 9/2 was also good. Someone once joked that Casas sleeps upside down in the CMLL booking office like a vampire bat, but I think the key to his longevity is the way he's tweaked and adjusted his offense over the last decade or more. There was a period where I hated watching Casas work these modern matches, but I've got to admit he's really good at the tit-for-tat modern style. This was counterrific and extremely even. Casas gave Oro a hell of a lot, and while I don't watch many Oro matches, I assume he looked better than usual. So it was a job well done. Casas/Maya Jr, 12/25 was soft, though. Some of the spots were okay, but Maya didn't seem up for it. You know it's a bad sign when I'm looking at the grey in Casas' hair and thinking how distinguished he looks.
Hijo del Fantasma/Rey Cometa/Valiente vs. Niebla Roja/Puma King/Virus, 9/21 had a typically excellent opening exchange between Virus and Valiente who arguably work together better than any other pair in lucha. The rest of the match was "there" and I had a hard time giving a fuck about what anybody else did.
Shigeo Okumura vs. Valiente, 5/1 was a cool showcase for Valiente, who is still obscenely underrated. He's such a fantastic worker. I really have no idea who Shigeo Okumura is, but considering how I usually dislike watching non-luchadores in lucha I thought he did a pretty good job. Match was far from a Match of the Year contender, and I lost interest in the street run partially because the sound was out of sync, but a Valiente singles match is always worth watching.
Lastly, the Rush vs. El Terrible, 9/14 hair match. I didn't know anything about the storyline going into this match. I'd never seen either guy and I didn't know this was the main event of the Anniversary Show as I wasn't aware of anything that was going on over the summer. The Rush guy seemed significantly better than El Terrible, but Terrible got better as the match wore on. Usually, I'd have a quiet bitch about how there's no-one who knows how to work a hair match properly anymore and how much it pisses me off, but this was like watching something like Rayo de Jalisco, Jr vs. Universo 2000 on speed and how a cool "CMLL is where the big boys play" vibe to it. And there was even blood, lo and behold. Some cool spots in this one, especially Rush's dropkick off the apron and both men's use of the barricade. The finish confused the fuck out of me as I was expecting all of the bullshit that's surrounded CMLL hair match in recent years and instead it ended clean as a whistle. Had to "rewind" it as I didn't know what was going on. Fun match, but neither guy has quite mastered the type of Perro Aguayo/Los Hermanos Dinamita flair for the dramatics in this sort of big match setting.
Emilio Charles, Jr vs. Atlantis, NWA World Middleweight Championship, 8/14/92
Emilio Charles, Jr was one of the first luchadores I became a fan of. In fact, it was Dean or one of the other playa's review of the 12/89 Charles/Dandy title match that sparked my interest in lucha in the first place. After I saw that match, I tracked down the rest of their '89 feud, kick starting one of the more satisfying love affairs with any style in my wrestling fandom history. I was shocked to hear of his passing the other day, as I'm sure everyone was, and decided to watch one of his matches.
Having read about Charles before I ever saw him, the first thing that stood out about him was his name. In a world filled with Satanicos and Villanos, Emilio Charles, Jr seemed a tad bit ordinary for a heel. It reminded me of a cross between Emilio Estevez and Charles in Charge, but it had a certain ring to it, and sure enough if there's anything to be said about Charles it's that the man had personality. He was as entertaining doing apron work as he was in showcase matches, and even in the smallest of bit parts his trios work was always memorable. He had a face only his mother could love and hair that practically goaded opponents into wager matches. And above all, like every great heel, he had a shit-eating grin the size of the gulf of Mexico. He was a great worker, as equally adept at grappling as he was brawling, and he was a fantastic bumper, rivalling at times even Pirata Morgan. Like all the great bumpers, his body eventually broken down, as I've mentioned a thousand times on this blog, but he was always savvy even if it was a slippery slope down from his late 80s peak.
This was a much better match than I remembered. I think I was turned off it the first time because people had praised it as a mat classic. I don't think some arm work and a couple of cool submissions from Emilio make for a mat classic, but this match is something different. You don't often see the type of sustained armwork that Emilio works here or the long term limb selling that Atlantis exhibits, and luchadores usually tap instantaneously rather than fight for all death like Atlantis does here. I don't know what prompted them to work the match like this. Emilio wasn't Atlantis' best opponent (that would be Blue Panther) and Atlantis wasn't Emilio's best opponent (that would be Dandy), but they had a certain chemistry together which is best evidenced in their match from '88, which is sometimes confused as being from '84 and is really fast paced, cutting edge lucha. Rather than being great on the mat together, they were awesome at fast paced rope work, slick counters and exciting nearfalls. All of those trademarks can be found in this match, but there's also the narrative of Atlantis surviving a ton of work on his injured arm. It's actually quite a superhuman effort if you look at it from a technical viewpoint of what Emilio actually did his arm, and I suppose there has to be question marks over how believable it was, but I kind of looked at it from the perspective that Atlantis had held the belt for over two years and defended it at least twenty times (with a worked, possibly real number that was even higher) and they really wanted to put Emilio's challenge over out of respect or some other reason. That's what I'd like to believe anyway as they really went out of their way to make it seem like Emilio could win. I didn't think it was one of the truly epic lucha title matches, but it was rock solid. I've never had a problem with the rapid fire, equalising fall as I think it's a great storytelling tool and helps turn the momentum, and the finish didn't bother me other than the fact that the rhythm could've been better. All told it was a fine defence and Emilio looked good for 1992 Emilio.
It's hard to believe he's gone, but y'know, I was having this conversation with my co-worker the other day about how weird it is when you're watching an old movie and you suddenly realise that everyone in this movie is dead, and I guess that Emilio's career will keep playing out on youtube and grainy VHS tapes for decades to come. Always young, always great, always one of the very best. Emilio Charles, Jr.
Emilio Charles Jr. vs. Dr. Wagner Jr. (CMLL 2/20/98)
This was rudo contra rudo from what I could gather, but since Emilio was about to turn it was set up to garner him face heat. Broken down Emilio had his moments (as we'll see later), but a match this length was beyond him. He kind of struggled in that '93 hair match against Dandy let alone in a singles match five years later, and while I like Wagner he wasn't a good enough worker to make this interesting. They did all the things you're supposed to do in a mano a mano bout but with none of the intensity of say Santo and Casas. There was a title match the week after, but I'm not in any hurry to watch it.
El Hijo Del Santo, Emilio Charles Jr. y Satanico vs. Shocker, Mr. Niebla y Negro Casas (CMLL 3/23/98)
This set up the Emilio Charles Jr./Satanico hair match and was the catalyst for Emilio's face turn I suppose. Halfway through the match, Satanico was holding Shocker on the outside for Emilio to hit with his tope when Shocker ducked out the way. Emilio dove straight into Satanico's shoulder area and Satanico spent the rest of the match selling the injury. Apparently, accidental collisions between rudos do more damage than Emilio's tope would have done to Shocker, but bear with me. Later on, Satanico tagged in, but he bailed out and Emilio took his place. Emilio was on fire and cleaning house when Satanico suddenly attacked him. The execution of all this was a little off, but the brawling was good. There was one punch from Satanico which absolutely clocked Charles. Other than that it wasn't much of a trios. Rudo Santo was really old at this point and I was sick of Santo vs. Casas no matter how good their chemistry was.
Lizmark and Atlantis vs. The Head Hunters (CMLL 10/25/96)
Not a fan of tag matches in lucha. Trios are brilliant, but regular tags aren't something luchadores do well and this match was no exception. Lizmark and Atlantis are two of the greatest technicos of the latter half of the 20th century as far as classical, masked luchadores go, but at no point in this match did they seem like a great tag team. There just isn't the culture of standard two on two tag wrestling in lucha that there is in the States, for example, and I dislike the parejas psychology where one member from each team is pinned and effectively eliminated. It also didn't help that I wasn't into the spots that Atlantis and Lizmark did with the Head Hunters compared to the sort of things I saw Satanico, Dantes and Wagner do the other day.
Misterioso, Volador y Mano Negra vs Javier Llanes, El Supremo y Espectro Jr. (CMLL 5/31/91)
This was good stuff. You can tell a promotion is doing well when its lower card stuff is this enjoyable. The rudos didn't do much but the technicos were exciting. Match flowed well.
Olimpico vs. Damian El Guerrero, mask vs. hair (CMLL 8/6/96)
This was a really good lower card, almost junior-esque hair vs. mask match. It was mostly big dives with some brawling mixed in, but they really nailed it. The crowd threw them money after it was over and Olimpico was asked to kiss a baby.
Universo 2000, Mascara Aņo 2000 y Dr.Wagner Jr vs Atlantis, Hector Garza y Canek (CMLL 11/24/95)
This was also really good. 1995 was right around the time that Wagner started to get good and he had great chemistry with Atlantis here, but the guy who has impressed me most during all his random viewing has been Hector Garza. I don't think it's any secret that I don't really like young workers, but Garza in '95/96 was quite possibly the most exciting young worker I've seen. I don't find him charismatic like I did with a young Dantes, but offensively he was insane and I swear I almost popped for the win he gets here. The match almost descends into the type of mask removing that gets a bout thrown out, but it gets back on track and features some great action.
Villano III vs. Atlantis (CMLL 2/11/00)
This was a title match that was part of the build-up to the famous mask match between these two. It was also proof that bullshit finishes involving the Villanos began as early as 2000. Atlantis injured Villano with his torture rack to end the second fall and it seemed like he was primed to take Villano's Light Heavyweight title until Villano IV draped his brother over his shoulders and took him backstage for what I guess amounted to an injury break. The ref began counting him out, but when he returned he had recovered enough to win, at least I think that's what was going on. Before all that was some pretty good wrestling. Not as good as what they had been capable of only a few years earlier, but some of the stuff they did was fantastic and made you wish they'd had a straight up title match instead of an angle. These two in particular really brought the fantastic submissions you think of when you think of lucha.
Emilio Charles Jr. vs. Silver King, hair vs. hair (CMLL 9/27/96)
I can't remember if I've seen this before, but I think I would have remembered it because it was really good. In fact, it's probably the best match I've seen Silver King have. I'm probably wrong in saying that, but I really dug this. It started off with Silver King getting a quick pinfall off a hot start. I guess most people dislike that trope in lucha, but his timing was perfect and it looked really good. Emilio's transition onto offensive after being rocked early was awesome. Silver King went for a plancha suicida and Emilio caught him with a punch. From there they bled and fought and all of the nearfalls were great. I think the key to the match was that it wasn't that long, which helped with Emilio's stamina issues. Emilio with his beard keeps reminding me of Helmsley if Helmsley ballooned out and suddenly had the body of Jim Duggan, but I think to a certain extent that the good part of his career was longer and more productive than I imagined. This was certainly choice.
Brazo de Plata vs. Gran Markus Jr. (CMLL 5/29/98)
In my world this should headline the Anniversary show.
Mascara Aņo 2000, Fuerza Guerrera y Herodes vs. MS-1, El Dandy y Astro de Oro, circa '89
For some reason El Dandy and MS-1 were on the same side here. That didn't last long. Match was pretty much an angle to set up Dandy vs. MS-1 and Mascara Aņo 2000 vs. Astro de Oro matches. Wouldn't mind seeing that Dandy/MS-1 match if it ever took place.
Satanico, Apolo Dantes y Dr.Wagner Jr vs. The Head Hunters y Emilio Charles Jr., circa '98
This was a lot of fun. Satanico was sporting a skinhead here and I'm guessing this was after Emilio took his hair as the rudos paid Emilio plenty of attention. Broken down Emilio was pretty spry here. The rudo side was really solid and he had to fight his way out of a number of predicaments. It's times like these you need a pair of fat men in your corner. The Head Hunters slotted into lucha well, which isn't usually the case with foreigners but these guys got a lot of mileage out of their girth. The rudos had a field day with the sight gags they were able to create but there was also some good hard hitting action. Most of all I was impressed with the amount of effort Emilio and Satanico put in to this midcard spot. Once a pro always a pro.
Javier Monarca Cruz, Eddie y Mando Guerrero vs. Cachorro Mendoza, Apolo Dantes y Mano Negra, circa '91
This was a pretty standard trios. The match-ups were mostly good but nobody really stood out. I enjoyed watching Apolo Dantes. He was really young here and there was a real fire to everything he did. Watching him here I would have picked him to be a headliner in the mold of Cien Caras. I'm not sure he ever lived up to his potential, but I'm equally unsure that he was given the chance. The highlight of the match was Mando getting right in Apolo's face. He looked like somebody's dad who coaches the local football team, but he sure as hell didn't have any time for snot assed punks. Also worth tracking was Mano Negra, who was always a quietly solid worker. Eddie had a night to forget, including possibly the worst botch of his career. He tried leaping onto the top rope from the apron and fell over face first. I was always under the impression that when this happens in lucha the other worker (in this case Dantes) lays in some stiffer than usual shots to recover, but Dantes went for a rolling cradle where they came out looking even.
Negro Casas vs. El Hijo del Santo, circa '95
I'm guessing this is their September '95 match. This was a really brilliant mano a mano bout. Neither guy could take the upper hand so it descended into this niggly, underhanded brawl with a lot of cheap shots. It was actually the worst I've seen Santo behave as a technico, which laid the seeds for his heel turn presumably. If you like Casas' stuff with Panther you'll love this as his brawling was even better here. He almost had Santo in a mount position and was pummeling him with great looking punches. I don't know if Casas bleed hardway or not, but he wound up with one of the most realistic looking cuts I've seen in wrestling. It was like a boxing cut and provided some great visuals. The finish was this wonderful mass of confusion as the ref caught an elbow from Casas flush in the face, then Santo gave Casas a sunset flip powerbomb off the apron. Somehow there was a DQ in all this and Santo wandered around with his mask torn to shit asking a member of the public whether he thought it was a DQ while Alfonso Morales tried to interview the ref. I need to watch this again.
Pierroth, Satanico y Kung Fu vs. El Dandy, Mogur y Kato Kung Lee, circa '91
I'm not sure what the deal was with this match. There was some sort of karate exhibition before it began, which was embarrasing in how little it resembled karate, and then Satanico cut a promo. By the time all that was over there was only time for one fall. Whether this was a one fall match or the rest of the match is missing or the uploader made a mistake, I'm not sure, but they went through the pairs once and then a second time and that was all that was uploaded. The action was fantastic, though. Even Mogur looked good in this.
Blue Panther, Black Panther y Fuerza Guerrera vs. Hector Garza, El Dandy y El Hijo del Santo, circa '95/96
This was the best of the lot. I don't know if Black Panther was the Puebla worker or not, but he was pretty damn good and led Garza through some pretty decent grappling exchanges to start this. That freed Dandy up to partner Panther and allowed Santo to pair off with Fuerza, two match-ups you don't see enough of. Hardcore fans may be disappointed that they brawl instead of having classic exchanges, but their brawling is every bit as good as you'd expect and the match is packed with wild spots. This was in that period where Garza did insane shit every match and I swear he takes this bump to the outside where his head bounces off the top rope. Deep into the third, Panther's mask is all torn up and it's amusing how easily you can recognise him now with half his face showing. Fuerza also has a torn mask and it never really occurred to me how much hair he has packed under that thing. Match ends with a sensational dive train: Garza's corkscrew plancha, Santo's plancha suicida and a double topes from Santo and Dandy that made them look like the greatest tag team that ever lived. Excellent match.
Ultraman, Stuka & Kung Fu vs. Herodes, Masakre & El Satanico, Arena Coliseo 80s
This seemed like an exciting match on paper, but it was very much a houseshow match. That wasn't so bad, however, as there were a couple of good laughs. The first half of the match featured a bunch of physical comedy designed to make the rudos look foolish while the second half was a beatdown where the technicos paid for their cheekiness. I love how rudos from this generation could switch from comedy to asskickery without missing a beat, and of course they were led by Satanico, one of the all-time great workers at leading an ass kicking. Satanico's range never ceases to amaze me. He had a comical exchange with Kung Fu that was Shaw Brothers in its choreography then during the beatdown he paraded around like the joke was on the technicos only to lay in the type of shots that showed how pissed he was at being humiliated. I also dug watching Herodes in this match. He's a guy who there's not a lot of footage of but who deserves his rep. Some funky stuff as a base for Stuka, great barrel roll bumps to the outside and cool immovable object spots. Masakre was better later on with the Infernales and Ultraman and Kung Fu weren't at their best here, but for a regular night out at Coliseo it was a nice little slice of 80s lucha.
La Fiera vs. Babe Face, hair vs. hair, 8/15/86
This was a good match. It didn't really deliver like a great hair match does, but still worth a look.
The first time I watched it I thought the first two falls were a bit innocuous looking. I always get defensive when people say the first two falls in lucha are nothing falls as most of the time I think they work within the rhythm of a lucha libre match, but with these 80s matches the crowds are so poorly mic'ed that it's difficult to get a feel for the rhythm at times. Watching it again, Fiera gave a slightly more nuanced performance in the opening falls than I realised but there were still a few things I had a problem with. One of those problems was Fiera's offense: I'm not a big fan of Fiera's high kick offense to begin with, but I thought it looked particularly strange with the size difference between the workers and Babe Face not being a big bumper. I also thought he used too much high end offense for the first fall of a hair match. I prefer hair matches to be straight out brawling; if they use big moves to try to win the match in the final caida then that's understandable, but I think the matches should start with some haymakers. These guys had some pretty good trash talking/finger pointing going on before the bell, and this was the 80s where a worker would show up for a hair match in some kind of awesome jacket and cut a promo at ringside directed at his opponent; but they went with a slow burning, smouldering start to this match and although there was blood I thought Babe Face's transition back onto offense and his winning submission was weak by hair match standards.
Where this match got good was in the third caida. There wasn't any major catalyst for the improvement in the match; they just started brawling in earnest. Fiera's selling was top notch. I loved the slight delay on his flailing bump anytime Babe Face delivered a headbutt or knockdown punch. He was also excellent at pacing his way through the opening section of the fall. He had his back to the canvas a lot and was in danger of succumbing to a second straight submission, and his first comeback attempt was for naught as his arm was too weakened to punch properly. The rest of the match was filled with lots of great little details as that big Fiera offense I mentioned left him increasingly groggy everytime he tried to land a knockout blow. The highlight of the match was a face plant he took off a missed plancha from the apron. True dedication to his art. I was just getting into this match and there had just been a moment of typically great controversy in a match like this when all of a sudden it ended. That was a real buzz killer. I thought they could have gone a few minutes longer, though it was pretty obvious that it was Fiera doing all the work. I'm not sure that Babe Face had much chops, at least at this point in his career. Still for what this was I enjoyed it and it was good to see some prime Fiera.
El Hijo del Santo vs. El Hijo del Solitario vs. Angel Blanco Jr., Triangular de la Muerte, 3/31/12
There are about three or four handhelds of this available on youtube. The handheld with the best angle is broken down into half a dozen parts. It's also the most complete, from entrances to post match unmasking and celebrations. A couple of the other versions are clipped.
This was fairly typical for a Triangular de la Muerte match. As soon as a three-way match was announced I had an inkling that it would be along these lines rather than a classic. The early falls are perfunctory, but there's always the hope that the mascara contra mascara section will be something special. In this case it was the standard Santo singles match. After such a bloody and violent feud, I was disappointed by the lack of blood. The heat, on the other hand, was fantastic and something which won't be captured in the televised version. If you ever want to hear Santo draw huge heat for his signature spots then this is the match for you. Blanco did the long lineage of unmasking rudos proud by kicking the bottom rope a couple of times and attacking Santo after he was given Blanco's mask and the post-match celebration was enjoyable, but nothing about this was great.
I thought it would've been far cooler to do Santo and Villano vs. Solitario and Blanco Jr. masks vs. masks match.
El Hijo del Santo & Villano IV vs. El Hijo del Solitario & Angel Blanco Jr., Todo X El Todo La Venganza, 3/23/12
This was nowhere near as good as their first match, but as the middle part in the feud it was still pretty good.
The February tag defied a lot of lucha libre conventions, whereas this was more along the lines of a traditional pre-apuestas match. The rudos milled about drawing heat while the technicos bled, then they switched roles. The rudos didn't care so much about winning this time round and just wanted to rub salt into the wound. The technicos gained a measure of revenge by winning the match, but were denied a total victory and will have to sit and stew for longer. The difference between the two matches is that this one didn't go the distance. The third fall was short and as with most matches pre-apuestas they held back on the big stuff. That said, there was still plenty of cool shit. I really liked Santo in this match. I thought he took a tremendous back against the ropes beating and bleed so much his mask looked burgundy. The highlight of the match was the set-up for his tope, which looked like it was cut and paste from 1986. There aren't too many people who do a better tope than Santo, but this one was particularly nasty. Blanco took an awesome backflip over the ring barrier and looked like he'd been knocked into next week. He looked like the off-stump after a West Indian fast delivery for those of you who understand cricket. Other highlights included Solitario playing Fuerza-like rudo tricks with a kid and folks shielding themselves from Villano's blood which splattered with each blow. Like I said, the rudos won't have minded losing this match, and for that reason this was a bit of a slow burner to build more heat for the mask match, but it was another chapter in what just might be the feud of the year and well recommended.
Would you believe even more matches from last year?
More matches from last year
Matches from last year
Emilio Charles, Jr vs. Atlantis
Random CMLL part two
Ultraman, Stuka & Kung Fu vs. Herodes, Masakre & El Satanico
La Fiera vs. Babe Face
El Hijo del Santo vs. El Hijo del Solitario vs. Angel Blanco Jr.
El Hijo del Santo & Villano IV vs. El Hijo del Solitario & Angel Blanco Jr., the rematch
Frankensteiner on Random CMLL part two
ohtani's jacket on AAA season
Graham Crackers on AAA season
KB8 on Lizmark vs. Jerry Estrada
ohtani's jacket on Lizmark vs. Jerry Estrada
KB8 on Lizmark vs. Jerry Estrada
Tim Evans on Black Terry, Negro Navarro y Villano IV vs. Blue Panther, Ultimo Dragon y Olimpico
ohtani's jacket on IWRG 3/11
Tim Evans on IWRG 3/11
smkelly on Blue Panther vs. Atlantis (1991)
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