2300 Arena (Philadelphia, PA)
Maestro Championship (FMLL Masters Championship)
The chance to see Solar and Navarro live – particularly when it became clear they were going to wrestle one another in a singles match – was the main impetus for going to Philly for the Masked Mania event. There are certain wrestlers and match ups that when given the opportunity to see live, I like to not pass it up. Navarro vs. Solar one on one is one of those instances.
Solar and Navarro are not necessarily part of a dying breed – there are luchadores younger than them who can work a similar mat based, exchange of holds style – but they are certainly part of a rare breed. They are also the masters of that particular style and if you are like me, you are sort of compelled to see that in person. Thousands of matches throughout history have been promoted as “two legends in their primes going one on one”. It is almost never true. It is almost certainly not true in this case – both wrestlers are inarguably passed their physical primes – but this match was still pretty darn close. They might be relatively old, but nobody of any age wrestles this match-style as well as these two do.
You know you are sold on a match when the entrances on an indie show are borderline awe-inspiring. Solar’s traditional mask infused with a little Tiger Mask flavor was great, as was Navarro entering with a Los Traumas (his sons) style mask to Marylin Manson’s version of Personal Jesus. Both guys are in almost unbelievable shape considering they are pushing sixty. I think I wrote earlier this year in reference to a Negro Casas vs. Titan match that if Casas’ face didn’t give it away, you would never know who the 50 year old was and who the 24 year old was. Well, if Navarro put a mask on it might be difficult to pick out this match as the one on the card with the two 50 year old wrestlers. They work at such a brisk pace. There is constant movement and constant struggle in everything they do.
The first several minutes are spent in virtual stalemate with each maestro escaping a hold or pin attempt leading to a square off. There might have some been some trepidation that combing ECW-loving Philly wrestling fans with non-wrestling obsessed Hispanic families might lead to a disastrous reaction for this mat-based match, but any concern proved unwarranted. I think it is a testament to both the two wrestlers certainly. Navarro and Solar work with such a realism and their submission holds and pinning combinations are so visually pleasing that there was never really a moment where they possibly could have lost the crowd. At the same time, I also think something can be said for the style itself which when done correctly should play well in front of most audiences.
I am not sure this was materially better than any other Solar/Navarro matches but it was definitely another great showing for the two maestros in front of a different audience than usual. After Navarro picks up the win to retain his title, he and Solar encourage the crowd to throw money in the ring as is the Mexican tradition after a well-wrestled technical bout. The fans are slow to pick up the strange custom, but eventually get the hang of it. Others choose to hand paper money directly to the wrestlers. The whole post-match money collecting took a bit long (maybe 15 minutes) but you can’t blame the guys for milking every last penny.
My dream idea for the next Masked Republic show is a one night tournament with all matches worked in this style featuring guys like Solar, Navarro, Black Terry, Skayde, Charles Lucero, and possibly others like CMLL guys (Hechicero, Virus), maybe Los Traumas given who their father is, and even guys like CIMA & Super Shisa who are working a similar style effectively in Japan every now and then. I am so there if that happens.
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