Cavernario (c) vs. Rey Cometa
June 10, 2016
Mexican National Welterweight Championship
Prior to this 2016 title match, Cavernario and Cometa already had a pair of well-regarded full length singles matches. The first was a 2014 hair vs. hair match, which ran underneath the Atlantis & Ultimo Guerrero mask match on CMLL’s 81st Anniversary card. The second was a follow up match at Korakuen Hall as part of the 2015 FantasticaMania tour. I did not think as highly of either match as some others did. Dave Meltzer, for example, gave those matches **** ¼ and *** ¾ ratings, respectively, and I would be at least ½ star lower on each. In both cases the matches failed to grab me beyond the base level enjoyment of seeing two athletic, polished wrestlers hit their nice spots cleanly. Obviously that’s enough for a good match – and don’t get me wrong, both matches were good – but if you watch modern wrestling regularly you get a fair number of those sorts of match. The hair match didn’t feel as high stakes as I’d like a hair match to feel and the Korakuen bout was clearly about getting their spots in and little else.
On the flip side, I really enjoyed Cavernario’s title matches with Titan and thought he was the difference maker in the Triton title match getting over the hump from “average” to “good”. Cavernario has the reputation of being a high spot guy because he *occasionally* jumps from the top rope to the floor to splash his opponent, but really his biggest strength to me is his well-roundedness. My comparison would be to Emilio Charles Jr. Maybe I am letting their shared affinity for big hair influence that comp but I do think they are similar in the sense of being very solid rudos who do most everything well but nothing superlatively. Charles was a good bumper, could competently work holds in a title situation, could brawl in a hair match, and was an entertaining trios worker but I am not sure I would picking any of those attributes as a defining characteristic of his. Cavernario also does all of those things well – expect maybe for hair matches but that’s a sample issue – but none of them define him. He’s a great rudo to have around – one that can go up and down the card delivering in different situations – but is not a go-to guy in the way Mascara Dorada would be if you want flying or Rush would be if you want a brawl.
I thought this was one of Cavernario’s finest singles performances because it was one of his fullest. In one match he was able to show off many of the abilities that make him a fine rudo. The stalemates in the opening round were airtight. Canverario was Cometa’s equal in flipping out of holds and doing quick counter exchanges. His ability to work holds in a competent and largely entertaining manner was paramount to the match’s success. Cometa did not that add a ton in that regard, so the burden fell on Cavernario to lead them through that part and he did so well. I actually think mat wrestling is where Cavernario is most like Charles. Both are good enough in the aspect to just make it over the line that separates obligatory mat workers to value added mat workers, which is really all I ask for. Not everyone needs to be El Dandy on the mat.
The layout of the match was just as anticipated. They picked up the pace towards the end of the opening frame. The offense became more high impact at the same time, leading to Cavernario winning with his rope assisted splash. Predictably, the second fall kicked off with Canverario still in control and targeting Cometa’s leg. Cometa is naturally sympathetic. When CMLL has spotlighted Cometa in the past, it has only been a means to an end with that end being Cometa putting over someone else. Whether dropping his mask to Puma or hair to Cavernario, Cometa has often been used as a stepping stone. Anyone can see he is better than that and at the very least, deserves a Stuka Jr., if not Valiente, role in the promotion. Being underrated naturally makes him sympathetic and he capitalizes on it with his strong fatigue selling and plucky comebacks. For example, Cometa sells most of the second fall before landing a super kick (which Cavenario sells by seamlessly going into his “worm” comedy routine) and reversing a rana into a power bomb. Both moves that set up his 450 splash finish are counters, playing nicely into his role as the perpetual underdog.
The third fall will get most of the praise because as usual, that’s where the pretty moves are. And there are a lot of pretty moves in this final fall. I won’t list them all but both guys pull out their signature dives and then some. I think there were four dives in all during the third fall. For those that care, the top rope splash did not make an appearance. Considering this was a major match and Canverario kept the splash at home, that should be another nail in the coffin of the argument that he does that move “all of the time”. Of course, most of the people that make that claim mainly see Cavernario in New Japan to begin with and rarely watch his Mexico work, so sadly that misinformed talking point will likely persist.
Both guys do a great job in mustering a couple of big near fall reactions. As mentioned, I get the sense that the fans see Cometa as a hard worker deserving of more. Their reactions to his near falls – and eventual victory – support the idea that they want to see him get a real opportunity. This may or may not be a real opportunity for Cometa. After all, having an underdog win a title match to set up an apuesta match is age old CMLL booking. For all we know, Cometa’s win is simply another opportunity for CMLL to briefly put him in the spotlight only to put someone else (Cavernario again) over in the end. Nonetheless, as cubs pointed out on Twitter, the Mexican National Welterweight title has quite the lineage. This is a title that was held by Santo, Huracan Ramirez, Lizmark, El Dandy, Rey Mysterio Jr., El Hijo del Santo, and Psicosis over its 82 year history. Even if only a little bit, it is pretty cool that Cometa has clawed his way into that list of title holders even if that is as far as this push gets.
The best near falls in the match are built around the cavernaria. The move is often used as an out-of-nowhere submission finish after a dive where the luchador applying the hold sneaks up from behind his opponent. Cavernario does that but Cometa is looking for it and snap mares Canvernario off. Cometa is selling like he is finished and it was easy to buy into the idea that defeat by cavernaria was inevitable. Cavernario tries a second time but Cometa rams him back first into the turnbuckle. A third time is the charm for Cavernario. He gets the hold on but Cometa is too close to the ropes. Both wrestlers fall to the mat in exhaustion. That move cost Cometa is hair two years ago. He has avoided losing to it three times in this match but it might not be enough. When both guys make it to their feet, Cometa charges and is able to escape a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker attempt. Cometa lands in the most serendipitous spot possible – right behind his standing opponent – and he knows just what to do. He quickly jumps in the air, pulls Cavernario down by his hair, and locks in the cavernaria. Cavernario gives up in short order. This is a tremendous finish. Not only does Cometa get revenge for his hair loss by directly turning the tables, the finish is perfect for Cometa as an underdog. He refuses to quit and takes advantage of one mistake to get the win against an opponent who was clearly the favorite. A quality ending that made both wrestlers appear strong.
A strong title match that in my opinion is the best match these two have wrestled against one another. Fans of the Titan/Cavernario matches will also find a lot to like about this one.