El Satanico vs. Gran Cochise (CMLL – 09/14/1984)

El Satanico vs. Gran Cochise
September 19, 1984
NWA Middleweight
**** 1/4 

El Satanico and Gran Cochise square off for the NWA Middleweight championship at Arena Mexico one week before the EMLL 51st Anniversary show. Cochise is the defending champion, having won the title from Satanico in August.

The re-match aspect seems evident based on the multiple stalemates, although it is certainly possible that some of it is mere coincidence. The mat wrestling in the opening fall leads to a noticeable number of standstill moments at the expense of fluid back-and-forth exchanges. There is a definite sense of struggle here between the early waist locks, Cochise riding Satanico to what was essentially a stalemate, and Satanico’s struggles to take the champion to the mat. It is not that they were consistently stuffing each other’s offensive attempts but there was enough of a struggle to the opening mat work relative to the fluid showy nature of other lucha title match mat work to at least suggest that is what they were going for. If nothing else, since it is a recent re-match the idea that they would struggle a little more than normal to get an advantage is logical.

There is also the straight up nature in which Satanico wrestles the match that seemed to me to play off of the re-match aspect. I did not realize when I initially watched the match that these two had recently traded the title but it was still blatantly obvious that Satanico wrestled the match far more straight-up than he does in other title matches. Satanico usually wrestles title matches in a cleaner fashion than his non-title matches but he often is the aggressor who initially brings the action to the next level or fits in an underhanded tactic in between the falls. That is not the case here and it is rather obvious. Satanico plays it serious, perhaps a sign that his goal was regaining his title rather than exacting any sort of physical revenge. This is shown in the ending of the first fall where Cochise flies out of the ring and lands hard on the arena floor, only for Satanico not to follow up. It felt like he was willing to take the first fall via count out and did not want to risk following Cochise to the floor. When Cochise makes it back to the ring, Satanico takes the submission victory.

Following the expected structure, the winner of the first fall (Satanico) controls the second fall in the sense that Cochise is consistently battling from behind. The overall offense did not tilt dramatically in Satanico’s favor, but the momentum was never anything less than even and often in Satanico’s favor. This point is punctuated by Cochise catching Satanico in a tight pinning combination to even up the match at one. It was far less of a clear cut victory than Satanico’s first fall submission win.

They turn the tide in the third fall in an interesting way. Satanico offers a handshake and Cochise doesn’t fall for it. Given Satanico’s style that is a justifiable and smart reaction. So is Cochise’s next move which is to get the jump on Satanico even why his hand is out stretched. I did not take this as Satanico being a nice guy and Cochise using a rudo tactic like some did. Instead I saw it as Satanico being Satanico and Cochise smartly not falling for it. I do not feel like Cochise did broke the rules with his actions, even under the somewhat strict guidelines of a traditional title match. Given that this is a re-match, there is at least a possibility this spot played off of something in the initial title switch. In any event, the decision earned him his first sustained advantage of the match. Cochise spends much of the third fall trying to make Satanico submit. Once again, I am not sure I got the same thing out of this part that everyone else did in terms of this segment being designed to make Satanico sympathetic. This is a title match and Cochise was behind through the first two falls. The fact that he took over early in the third fall of a match Satanico was ultimately winning seems like the way these things usually play out. The submissions – which were largely very good by the way – seemed to be designed to tease that the champion would retain in the re-match rather than any design to make Satanico sympathetic.

Satanico survives but barely so. He is great at selling the fact that that he is barely alive in the match with his body language and the great lucha-specific spot of crawling on hands and knees away from a submission hold. Cochise makes a mistake – or at least takes a huge risk – by diving onto Satanico on the outside late in the third fall. Most of the times in lucha, the guy doing the dive is worse for the wear when upon re-entering the ring (after all, the diver is the one crashing head first into the opponent and knee first onto the floor) and that’s the case here. Satanico is the aggressor during the final portion of the match. Cochise fights him valiantly (which suggests to me that he was never meant to play subtle rudo or anything like that) but ultimately falls to a submission hold when Satanico goes back to the arm he has targeted throughout the match.

The match built really well fall to fall and to the overall finish. My nitpicks are that they got off the mat rather quickly – not even an entire first fall – which was disappointing because I thought they had more room to explore there. Conversely, the third fall did not quite hit the fever pitch some of my favorite title matches hit. There were effective submission near falls (maybe even very good ones) but not edge of my seat type of stuff. I also was not bowled over by some of the subtle moments that others loved which is less of a complaint and more just a reason why I see this as an excellent title match rather than an all-time classic one.

Cochise regained the title two weeks later at the post-Anniversary Friday night Arena Mexico card. I wish we had all three matches available. It would be interesting to see how the first title switch and third title switch played out relative to this match. There is obviously a lot that can read into this match and that has been read into the match. Much of it might be right on the mark and I would love to find out just how much.

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