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Atlantis vs. Villano III (CMLL PPV 03/17/00, Mask vs Mask)

atlantis villano iii

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#1 ShittyLittleBoots

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Posted 01 February 2017 - 09:08 AM

The atmosphere was amazing, the drama was epic. Loved Villano in this - his work on top was excellent, he brutalized Atlantis in such a brilliant fashion, and Atlantis' selling of that was really good, too. This is heavily pimped as the best lucha match of the 2000's, and it sure was a classic. ****1/2

#2 soup23

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 07:21 AM

Here we go. I have been putting off watching the March 17 stuff for two weeks now just because of the hype here and watching the feud unfold. There is a tremendous tension and buzz for the entrances here. The heat here is nuclear and the official looks like he has excused the Villanos from ringside. The rudo ref also gets excused and here we go. This being one fall creates an interesting caveat and raises the stakes even more. Opening three or four minutes are classical lucha. Armbars and exchanges with a general feeling out process. Villano rips the mask at the first hint of things getting heated and he hits an early tope to the outside onto Atlantis. Atlantis gets busted open from the tope and him trying to recoup and catch his breath on the outside is great. Another great staple that I love in an apuestas match is the doctor coming out and sure enough he gives a look into Atlantis here. They are really playing up a concussion type affect off of the tope. Replay does a good job of showing that Villano and Atlantis really did bump heads on the tope. Villano pink mask is now blood soaked. The emphasis and effects of one spot are really enriched here as that tope has changed the total dynamic of the match where every near fall feels dramatic now. Atlantis blade job is something to behold as his mask is now a shade of black from the dark blood. With each submission attempt by Villano, the pressure and tension is raised as viewed by the nervous looking crowd reaction shot. You just can’t replicate these stakes in almost any other match in wrestling history. Someone will not be the same after this. In some ways this match really breaks the template because lets face it, it is all near falls but while some of the other matches that I have found great but not all timers like Okada vs.Omega have too much table setting IMO, this certainly didn’t waste much time going into the meat of the match. The next really big spot is a huge crossbody from Atlantis on the outside to Villano. Villano locks in his signature submission and Atlantis is in big trouble until he has a clever counter. Some great strength based submission is next which was really amazing to see 20 minutes into this one and with the blood loss both men have suffered. I knew the Gory special was coming and Atlantis locks it on here. Villano does a great job trying to reach the ropes before having to power out into a really close pin attempt. The slow lucha based counts are doing a great job of building the tension to me. Atlantida is hooked on to a big pop but Villano is able to sneak away. Holy shit this is reaching another gear now. Clubbing clothesline and Villano is so proud of himself as Atlantis is dizzy and in trouble. In rudo style, the bravado of Villano gets the best of him and the second Atlantida is enough to win as the crowd completely erupts. One of those matches that really feels like the end of an era. In regards to the back and forth, this had a lot more than traditional lucha matches. In an ultimate show of class, Villano puts Atlantis on his shoulders and does the removal of his mask. With nearfall exclusive matches, I always say it is dictated on the stakes. Nothing had higher stakes than this match so the back and forth and nearfalls felt extremely justified. I don’t think this is my favorite lucha match of all time but it is up there and it was the ultimate exercise in tension and then release. It is amazing that at March 17, we may have seen the top two matches of the decade in this and the 2/27/00 Misawa vs. Akiyama match. *****

#3 Loss

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 08:56 PM

I don't think anything I say can do this match justice. It's a credit to Atlantis, Villano III, the buildup and booking, the in-ring style and the conventions of lucha libre and CMLL that this was such a pure and complete masterpiece, quite possibly the single greatest match of all time. The contrast between this and something like a Wrestlemania main event is amazing. WWE has to prostitute their finishers to raise a match's profile to epic levels, while CMLL does quick submission finishes and fairly standard caida pinfalls all year. They manage to have the greatest matches in the world all the same, yet they can really go for drama here in a big way by finally doing a tease with each submission attempt in the highest stakes match possible without any of the holds losing their meaning or impact. It makes Atlantis' backbreaker, which he does use regularly, even more important because it gets the job done. I have talked about move hierarchy and restraint and all of that without even getting into the heartstopping nature of the way the match was worked with the constant fall attempts and submission attempts. Both guys were laser focused on getting the job done, and who could blame them? I knew the outcome and I still bit on a lot of the nearfall attempts, and at times, I imagined how much I'd be on the edge of my seat if I watched the build I did in real time and was watching that match go down live. What an amazing experience that must have been. I can't say enough good about this, so I'll stop here, but my first instinct is to call this a match in a class by itself. *****

#4 Microstatistics

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 05:27 PM

I don't think anything I say can do this match justice. It's a credit to Atlantis, Villano III, the buildup and booking, the in-ring style and the conventions of lucha libre and CMLL that this was such a pure and complete masterpiece, quite possibly the single greatest match of all time.


That is some high praise. Look forward to rewatching this after going through a lot of the stuff leading up to it. It's already been said but this truly has the highest stakes of any match, ever. And it is because of that, the back and forth nature of the match works so well because each nearfall and submission hold is treated like life or death. This generated genuine drama and suspense and is what makes this match unique and different from basically every match that is constructed in a similar manner.

#5 JKWebb

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 11:43 AM

I'm glad you both were so high on this.  When I watched it the first time, I thought it was the greatest Lucha match I had ever seen.  It was one of those few times where I watched it twice in the same day.  I can say it is currently my personal favorite Lucha match, and it's definitely in the discussion as the best.  I'll be watching it again after reading through these reviews.  Of course, *****.

#6 Tim Evans

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 11:21 PM

Words can not do this match justice. For emotion alone, this is one of the greatest matches of all time. Every single move is treated like a finisher and the crowd pops huge for it. Atlantis trademark white mask turns red from the blood. This match lives up to the build and imo is the match that made Atlantis a true star. The post match was like Savage/Warrior WM7 times 1000. Villano's dad unmasks him while women are crying in the crowd. I don't usually do this but *****.

#7 Moonsault Marvin

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 12:08 AM

What a great story as both try to survive after the tope head bump.  The kickouts never feel excessive as both wrestlers sell well and show heart, and the match fulfilled the terrific build up.  Great match.

#8 elliott

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 11:43 PM

If I had to summarize this match in two quick sentences I would say:


These two tried to tell the history of Lucha Libre with this match. And they succeeded.

#9 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 02:15 AM

I wasn't a huge fan of the buildup to this match. There are countless other apuesta builds I've enjoyed more. But the match itself is incredible. As soon as Villano Tercero enters the arena, you can feel the knot that must have been in his stomach and the goosebumps on his arms. You can feel the magnitude of the stip bearing down on you like a weight. Think of how many matches end with bloodied wrestlers demanding apuesta matches. Tempers flare, torn masks and bloodied foreheads leave wrestlers' enraged and they lose their heads over what they're proposing. Rarely do the matches reach fruition and only a scant few can be called legendary. This is a legendary apuesta match. I don't know if it's the greatest apuesta match of all-time, but it may be the closest thing our generation has come to a wager match on the level of Black Shadow vs. El Santo,


Has Atlantis ever been more popular than he was this night? For one evening he was an idol on the level of the great Golden Era stars of lucha libre. The match was built to along strong rudo vs. tecnico lines but transcended those battle lines. There was too much at stake for it to simply be about good vs. evil. They set this up nicely with Villano Tercero agreeing to Atlantis' demands to change the ref. If they had followed their WWF inspired booking to a tee, Baby Richards would have made a run-in at the end and Atlantis would have screwed Atlantis, but this was as traditional a lucha libre mask vs. mask match as you will see with a wonderful Arena Mexico crowd that was in full voice. The ringwork was simple and effective and they squeezed everything they could out of the gigging they did. Atlantis' selling, which is so often hammy and overwrought, was nigh on perfect. The drama with the doctor was outstanding and the rest of the match was awash with amazing visuals and phenomenal nearfalls. People often complain about the referees in lucha but I thought Rafa El Maya was fantastic in this, especially his finger wagging and bobbing from side to side during the submission nearfalls. That added extra drama to whether the combatant would submit. It also illustrated how the quick submissions in regular matches provide a norm that is transcended in important matches where both men refuse to quit. The crowd shots were wonderful. The blood was a gruesome and fantastic visual especially when soaked up by the white of Atlantis' mask and offset by the pink of Villano's attire. I liked the knee strike transitions and I thought Atlantis' plancha was an extremely effective sequence that provided a nice piece of symmetry to the initial VIllano tope. The finishing stretch after the plancha with all of its counters and nearfalls was an inspired passage of work and the finish was a thing of absolute beauty. That may be the best finishing stretch I've seen in lucha. The part where Villano escapes from La Atlantida is an incredible moment in the match and his desperate, lunging clothelines are incredible. The nuanced back sell and Atlantis dropkicking the injury were wonderful details that further illustrated the high level they were working at. Just tremendous lucha. 


And of course, there was the post-match. Arguably, the most emotional and genuine post match aftermath of any recorded lucha we have. The outpouring of passion and joy and endurance from everyone in attendance was spine tingling. The workers sold the post-match beautifully and the narrative turned to themes of family, pride and time-honored traditions. Villano Tercero gave the speech of his life, the crowd supported him wonderfully and the entire unmasking was magnificent. My favourite moment was a slightly doddery Ray Mendoza overcome by emotion and receiving a kiss from Dr. Morales. That moment transcended any comment anyone could ever make about the silliness of fake fighting. It was a small but touching moment on an incredible night for lucha libre. One of the greatest matches of all-time and a true lucha classic. Match of the Year, Match of the Decade, maybe even the Match of the Century. And now I've run out of words. 

#10 WingedEagle

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 06:21 AM

People often complain about the referees in lucha but I thought Rafa El Maya was fantastic in this, especially his finger wagging and bobbing from side to side during the submission nearfalls. That added extra drama to whether the combatant would submit. It also illustrated how the quick submissions in regular matches provide a norm that is transcended in important matches where both men refuse to quit.  


Great review and has me even more eager to finally get to this point as I haven't watched this match in years.  The point above is a very strong one and great counter to an aspect of lucha that has always bugged me in my admittedly limited viewing.

#11 Laney

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 07:29 PM

This is an all-time great match here.  It's hard to add anything to what has already been said.  There's a ton of drama in this one with a very long segment of near pinfalls and submissions where they had the crowd in the palm of their hand the entire time.  This is just a brutal and exhaustive match that feels epic.

#12 cramerjason87

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 12:11 PM

An epic struggle between two masters. The match gets better every time I see it. If anything in this project is in the same stratosphere as this match I would be shocked. I wish I had the words to express how great I think this match is.

#13 drew wardlaw

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Posted 13 December 2017 - 06:26 PM

I wrote a longer reply but I guess it got deleted. Ill just say that I cant add too much to the conversation but this was an incredible example of pro wrestling and the post match interview truly was transcendent and worked to retro-actively make the match itself more important and emotional. Just unbelievably great.

#14 Grimmas


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Posted 14 January 2018 - 11:16 PM

I love every second of this match, from the appearance of Villano III till the show goes off the air. The crowd is jacked! Atlantis is Bret Hart in Calgary over. It's a special environment and one I can't think of any other match topping.


We start off with two maestros having a classic maestro match. Both men want to prove who is the fucking man here! It starts to break down and get rougher, then Villano hits this brutal tope where their heads connect and Atlantis and Villano are both BUSTED OPEN! The Doctor comes out to make sure they can continue. He's not a good doctor, because he lets them continue with obvious concussions and lots of blood loss.


It's to our benefit though as know we have a bloody hate filled brawl with the masks on the line! In the midst of this we get our first HUGE nearfall where Atlantis tried this huge stalling vertical suplex, but it gets turned into an inside cradle by Villano for two.


The hate and drama continues and with each submission the crowd gets louder and louder. I get freaking chills watching this at home 18 years after it happened. They trade huge nearfalls to an insane crowd. Atlantis this goes for tope, gets tripped up, so does a dropkick. Then hits a plancha from the top to the floor.


What's so great here is that this is all about winning. The mask is so important any chance to pin the other or make them submit is taken. Each get huge reactions, especially when Atlantis is close to losing.


Atlantis goes for his torture rack and the crowd and announcers lose their shit. Such a reaction, but Villano counters out of it. What a moment. We then get close ups of their bloody masks and faces and fuck this match is the best! We move into Atlantis getting the win and it's the best reaction to a finish by any crowd in history.


So, yeah, 6 stars. Greatest match ever!


Villano gets carried around by his brothers and brings some small child into the ring, putting over the importance here. Villano gets interviewed as we see people in the crowd crying. His dad is here now to remove his mask and it's quite the moment.


7 stars?

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