Maximo © vs. Vangellys (CMLL – 01/18/16)

Maximo © vs. Vangellys for the CMLL World Heavyweight Championship
January 18, 2016
Arena Puebla
*** ½

Maximo is the standout in this enjoyable throw-away CMLL singles match from Arena Puebla.

Maximo seemingly has it all figured out these days.  As CMLL Heavyweight champion, he has generally wrestled two types of singles matches.  One is his dramatic, “major” match layout where he sells (and sells and sells and sells . . .) to garner sympathy leading to a big time comeback for the win.  Last January’s match with Negro Casas (from right before he won the championship), the title win versus Terrible, and this month’s apuesta match with Kamaitachi are all examples of that match type.  In situations that are more throw-away, Maximo goes to the basics with something along the lines of rudimentary opening fall mat work, a quick second fall, and a longer third fall where he peppers in his high spots while also attempting to trick the crowd with a big near fall (or two) for his opponent.  That was more or less how he got okay to good matches out of Euforia and Terrible late last year.

This title defense with Vangellys is similar to those last two matches in that it is a relatively basic match that succeeds through hard work (from both guys) and an airtight design.

The first fall is largely spent on the mat.  Neither luchador is world class on the mat (although Maximo is clearly more adept than his opponent).  It would be accurate to describe the mat wrestling as competent – not much more or less.  Sometimes mat work in a lucha title match can come across as obligatory.  A lot of contemporary IWRG matches have that feel – like the wrestlers are doing mat work because they are supposed to without putting much more thought into it beyond that.  It is the New Japan junior issue of mat work as mundane time filler.  All else being equal, I’d rather watch guys forgo the traditional opening fall mat exchanges if it is not a strength of theirs (which is what Dragon Lee and Kamaitachi did in their matches).  With this match, however, I thought the mat work was a level above being pure filler.  Maximo kept things moving and kept things interesting.  The finish of the first fall also paid off the mat work as Vangellys focused on the leg towards the end and eventually earned a submission with a basic lock.  The work was basic, but a step above “filler” for the reasons mention and I am glad they went that route in the opening fall as if nothing else, it helped them build towards the later falls.

The second fall was brief but interestingly laid out.  Maximo came out swinging and ran the ropes once before Vangellys took over.  So many of these second falls begin with the rudo in control so that brief change of pace did not go unnoticed.  Vangellys executed a double under hook back breaker early on in the fall.  Maximo kicked out later in the referee’s count.  The move did not exactly lead to a false finish – that would have been a super rare and surprising finish without an injury necessitating it – but the pin attempt was executed well enoughthat I came out of it believing Vangellys had a better chance at winning than I had previously thought.  Over at Lucha Blog, thecubsfan wrote something similar so the sequence seemed to have the desired positive impact.

Maximo – as expected – did end up taking the second fall to move the match into sudden death territory.  The final fall was fast paced as most modern CMLL title and apuesta matches are.  It was also far more restrained than what you might get from other guys.  This wasn’t a big move-big move-big move fall that Volador Jr./La Sombra or Kamaitachi/Dragon Lee might pull out.  Maximo spread out his big spots – tope, cross body block off of the ring apron, kiss, and top rope arm drag – over the entire fall.  Vangellys did his big spot (spear through the ropes to the ramp) as well.  In between were a lot of pinning combination and quick pin attempts from both wrestlers that progressively felt more and more like potential finishes.  It was the sort of DDP-like match structure that Maximo has proven rather adept at crafting.  Rather than relying on big bombs, he relied on spreading signature spots over a 5+ minute period and filling the rest of the space with quick pin attempts and basic offense.  That layout was not only effective but perhaps necessary give Vangellys’ (and to a slightly extent Maximo’s) limitations.

Maximo is two for two in 2016, picking up where he left off in 2015 in terms of singles work.  There is a lot to love about Maximo right now – he works hard, is over, and is as good as any wrestler right now at crafting matches with a variety of opponents that hit all of the right spots.

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