Atlantis vs. Mano Negra (CMLL – 10/01/1993)

Atlantis vs. Mano Negra
October 1, 1993
Mask vs. Mask
** 1/2

What an unsatisfying mask match this one ended up being.

There was a healthy dose of pre-match festivities to kick things off. First, a lengthy video package that started with old still photos before moving into video recaps of the last five Anniversary Shows, specifically the apuesta matches on those cards. The video graphic running down Atlantis and Mano Negra’s apuesta match history appears to be exaggerated, at least as it concerns Atlantis. Negra had been wrestling since 1971 so I can buy that he won 40 apuesta matches, especially since 75% of them are listed on the graphic as hair matches. Atlantis’ fifteen masks and thirteen hairs over what had been a ten to twelve year career by that point (the graphic indicated twelve) seems exaggerated but maybe not.

The rudo Mano Negra controls the first fall after getting the jump on Atlantis at the bell. He spends much of the fall trying to get heat on Atlantis in the usual ways – mask ripping, using the ropes to his advantage, going to the eyes. His offense lacked any sort of oomph. Mano Negra appeared to be washed up by 1993 and just wasn’t up the task of getting the match off to as intense of a start as it warranted. He did draw decent heat whenever he played to the crowd, but his offense was just so plain. Atlantis made a couple of short comebacks that were cut off, before catching his opponent in the Atlantida for the automatic submission. I am not a big fan of structuring where the underdog rudo controlled the entire first fall only to drop it in the end. The way the fall played out did little to add to the drama of the next two falls and might have detracted from it.

Since Mano Negra was in so little trouble in the first fall, it was no surprise that he quickly cut off Atlantis at the start of the second fall to resume control. They continue down the same path as the first fall – basic submission attempts and heat seeking from Mano Negra – building to a spot where Atlantis comes off the top rope with a double axe handle only to be caught by an intentional low blow. The referee misses it (he was in the right position to miss it) and Mano Negra takes advantage by picking up a pin to take the second fall.

At this point, Mano Negra has taken much of the match that yet he lost the first fall decisively and took the second via a missed foul. Maybe I am nitpicking too much and maybe Negra was not the underdog at the time that I view him as while watching this match. However, he did go from feuding with Oro who while very talented, was still an up-and-comer to headlining the Anniversary show against the biggest star CMLL had that didn’t jump to AAA. It is hard for me to buy into him as having much of a chance here, a point which was only heightened by how ineffectual he appeared after two first falls.

CMLL was seemingly unconcerned about keeping Mano Negra strong in anyway as the third fall was over in a blink of an eye. Atlantis started the fall outside the ring as he continued to shake off the effects of the foul. As soon as he got back into the ring, he was met with a clothesline. He got right back up and caught Mano Negra in the Atlantida once again for the quick submission victory.

The booking and layout confuses me because I am not sure what it was supposed to accomplish. If the idea was to have Atlantis go over strong, then why waste time with Mano Negra controlling so much of the first fall? Why not do two straight or move the foul finish to the first fall with Atlantis firing off to straight convincing falls to take the match? If the idea was to work a competitive match, they certainly fell short as Negra lost a fall he had all the offense in, barely one won off of a missed foul, and dropped the third in short order even though Atlantis was still shaking off the effects of the low blow. Had Mano Negra gone over convincingly in the first fall it would have at least made it feel like a bit more competitive of a match.

Of the Atlantis mask matches that are available, this is most certainly the weakest. The Kung Fu match is no great shakes but is above this. The ’89 tag and Ultimo Guerrero ones are also well above this and it is not even worth mentioning the La Sombra and Villano III matches in the same breath. We do not have the Talisman or Hombre Bala matches but the Talisman one is a match that at least as a good chance of appearing out of the blue one of these days. Two other matches from the 51st Anniversary card are in circulation (MS-1/Sangre Chicana hair re-match and Canek/Cien Caras title match) so it would stand to reason the Talisman/Atlantis mask exists out there somewhere. Anyway, a rare miss for one of the more prolific mask match wrestlers in history.

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