2300 Arena (Philadelphia, PA)
When looking at the Masked Mania event on the whole, I think it was this match between exotico Cassandro and the [inexplicably] Spartan warrior-dressed Matt Cross that tilted the scales on the show from good to something slightly more memorable. The first two matches featuring US indie workers were fine openers and went as expected. Solar/Navarro was a treat, albeit with a post-match that went on a big too long and took some of the wind out of the crowd. Perrothito was fantastic as usual but Mini Mariachi (the original Octagoncito) was not and the re-start false finish fell flat. The post-intermission woman’s match was fine, although a bit on the long side and the second match in a row that fell flat in execution. The show was stumbling some at this point and risking taking a full-on tumble.
The show, however, was well-booked with a virtually every lucha staple (traditional trios, comedy, mat-based, weapons trio, mini’s match, women’s match, big star main event, exoticos) present so it was always one new match with a different style away from righting itself. I felt like the show did just that as soon as Cassandro entered the arena.
Walking the isle to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”, Cassandro had the entire audience in the palm of his hand before applying a single hold. In many respects, Cassandro captures the essence of pro wrestling. He grabs you with his look and charisma immediately and keeps you hooked throughout the entire match with equal parts wrestling ability and showmanship.
In the pre-show promotion, he worked an angle with a local Spanish language radio station disc jockey. I am not sure I have ever seen a good DJ-pro wrestling cross cover (and God knows there have been hundreds of them) but this might have been the closest, thanks in large part to Cassandro (although the DJ held his own to his credit). The DJ picked Cross to win, which shifted Cross’ reaction from neutral/indifferent to hated so in that regard, it was already fairly successful.
Cross was ancillary to this particular match which is a good thing because in my experience Matt Cross has never had a ton to offer in the ring. It was the Cassandro show and he was great in the ring. The highlights included Cassandro’s tremendously forceful tope, a painful looking shoulder bump into the guardrail, and an equally as punishing fall right onto his neck from a blocked tope rope move. Cassandro can go and if this article is accurate in its portrayal of an unofficial ban on gay exoticos in Arena Mexico, than that is a real shame on several levels. Cassandro certainly deserves a higher profile.
Cassandro picked up the win with a variation tope rope victory roll that came off really well. The crowd loved the match, the ending, and the post-match when the disc jockey fulfilled the pre-match bet by giving Cassandro a kiss on the hand, which Cassandro immediately one-upped by planting one on his cheek.
In all, this was the sort of fun, heated, solidly worked match that the show was looking for at this point and a great showcase for Cassandro as well.
Lucha Singles | Worthwhile | Quality & Individual Performance (Cassandro)