Category Archives: CMLL

Mascara Dorada, Titan & Rey Cometa vs. Canvernario, Rey Escorpion & Dragon Rojo Jr. (CMLL – 07/08/2016)

Mascara Dorada, Titan & Rey Cometa vs. Canvernario, Rey Escorpion & Dragon Rojo Jr.
July 8, 2016
*** ¾

This was a stacked trios match on paper – Dragon Rojo is the only luchador on either team that I am indifferent about – and it totally delivered in a major way. Due to the foreigners from the International Grand Prix still being around for this card and due to there being a singles match main event, these guys got pushed down all the way to the second match on the show. Everyone had their working boots on, however, possibly because the card was simulcast on New Japan World and I have to imagine that all six of these guys were gladly welcome more Japanese tours. The falls were spaced out well with the first two running about four minutes apiece and the finale getting almost nine minutes. There was no long rudo beat down (always a welcomed sight). Instead, all six got their spots in and the match flowed incredibly well from section to section. Dorada was probably the star from his team. He was his usual jaw-dropping self and seemingly unconcerned with what an injury might to do his likely very good chances at earning a WWE contract post-CWC. Dorada and Titan took huge hip tosses to the floor to set up a teased dive by the rudos. While Titan broke the fall somewhat by landing feet first and tumbling to the floor, Dorada splatted down on the arena floor back-first.

Escorpion was the standout performer on the rudo side. There isn’t a better base in Mexico right now. He was always in the right spot, took everything from his high flying counterparts as smoothly as you could hope for, and brought a high level of intensity as well (ie. slapping back and forth with Dorada). The match also benefited from the fact that Cometa and Cavernario continued their feud so it didn’t come off like a complete throw away trios match in terms of stakes. I hope their interaction and the fact that Cometa pinned Cavernario means the feud is continuing (more title matches please!) and wasn’t just a way to get Cometa a win after the hair loss. A well hit straight tope suicida is among my favorite moves in wrestling, so I absolutely loved the triple dive from the tecnico side.

All in all, this is exactly what I want from a trios match of this type. It was non-stop action, everything was timed and hit well, and it was just all-around energetic. Pretty easily my favorite trios match of 2016 to date.

KUSHIDA vs. Volador Jr. (CMLL – 07/08/2016)

KUSHIDA vs. Volador Jr.
July 8, 2016
*** ½

CMLL bringing in the foreigners for an extended period around the International Grand Prix has been a welcomed change of pace from the normal monotonous CMLL cards but I am not sure it resulted in significantly better matches & shows until this one. As mentioned in the second match trios review, normal upper card workers were pushed down the opening matches which made for a better all-around show. Then this match was easily the best of the foreigners versus CMLL guy matches, unless Elgin/Ultimo Guerrero miraculously causes me to rethink that opinion. I liked this better than the Grand Prix and thought it was an impressive resume building performance for KUSHIDA.

The way the match was worked felt like a bit of a compromise. Volador got in a lot of his big offense, but the pacing was more deliberate and the moves were more spread out than in your typical Volador Jr. singles match. Kushida mixed in some cool stuff of his own as to not be overshadowed by Volador in the neat offense department. Kushida catching Volador in a cross arm bar when Volador was attempting a spring board move was hit as smoothly as I have ever it done. I know stuff like that is a Kyle O’Reilly staple, but I think that’s the best I have ever seen that counter look. It was an appropriate capper for the first fall. This had more limb work than the usual Volador match as well, with Kushida locking in on Volador’s arm. Volador sold the arm rather well and sold it consistently, so it added a nice little thread throughout the match that Volador Jr. matches are sometimes lacking.

What impressed me the most is that the third fall went really long – almost 15 minutes – but I never thought it reached the point of near fall tedium. They did a nice job in allowing the action to continue to build and progress, rather than flat line into a row of consecutive near falls. The pre-match promise from Kushida was that if Volador Jr. won the match and retained his title, that he would give Volador a shot at the IWGP Jr. title. I am hoping against hope that wasn’t a typical grandstand challenge because based on this match and Volador’s work in the BOSJ, that’s a match I wouldn’t mind seeing on a New Japan card. Almost zero chance of this happening, but that would be a cool special attraction match for the G-1 finals at Sumo Hall. The Super J Cup will still be going on which means Kushida won’t have a new challenger yet (assuming he doesn’t lose in the first round). Volador has reason to be given a title match and just wrestled a New Japan tour in May/June, so it would seem like a good match choice assuming they want to highlight Kushida in some way at Sumo Hall.

Cavernario vs. Rey Cometa (CMLL – 06/10/2016)

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.

2016 Gran Alternativa Block A (CMLL – 03/22/2016)

2016 Gran Alternativa Block A
March 22, 2016
Arena Mexico (Mexico City, Mexico)
** ½

CMLL tournament matches are so short that I think it makes sense to look at the tournament (or in this case, one block) in its entirety.

The Block A of this year’s Gran Alternativa tournament (a tag tournament where a CMLL veteran is paired with a “newcomer”) was the usual mix of legit newcomers and guys that are far more of a stretch for the newbie label. Triton is a former trios champion and Super Halcon Jr. has been in CMLL fulltime since 2011. Rocky Casas, Cuatrero, Magia Blanca, and Fujin fit the spirit of the tournament while Oro Jr. and Flyer are close enough. Of the youngsters, Cuatrero looked the best as he and his brother continue to impress. Magia Blanca was fine too and I like the Magnifico I stuff I have seen from Cara Lucha.

On the flip side, Rocky Casas is not ready for Arena Coliseo de Coacalco nonetheless Arena Mexico. He has a good look – he looks like a Casas – but his strikes were cringe worthy and he clearly was not comfortable moving around the ring. Speaking of not comfortable moving around the ring, Fujin is still trying to find the luchador within. He has some spots now but there is still a noticeable drop in fluidity between his young lion work in New Japan and his brief stay in CMLL. He also tended to overact when engaged in anything lighthearted in this match. I am sure he will get there at some point.

The highlight was probably Rey Escorpion who bumped his way through three tournament matches. He is a great base and a great catcher, both of which were on display here. He and Fujin looked good as a team visually and were the right choice to advance to the finals.

Negro Casas, Gran Guerrero & Kamaitachi vs. Volador Jr., Stuka Jr. & Dragon Lee (CMLL – 02/18/2016)

Negro Casas, Gran Guerrero & Kamaitachi vs. Volador Jr., Stuka Jr. & Dragon Lee
February 18, 2016
Arena Mexico

I do not know why these six decided to wrestle at such a breakneck page for a match whose only purpose was to move along the Voaldor Jr./Negro Casas issue but I am glad that they did. Whatever the reasons, it was a pleasant surprise that they went down the path they did. The hectic pace gave this one a different feel than your normal single-minded CMLL TV trios. So often in these situations the two feuding wrestlers feud in an obvious manner while the other four become background players. That was not quite the case here. All six wrestlers – yes, even Gran Guerrero – had a memorable moment or two. Also while Volador and Casas’s interaction became contentious there was not nine minutes of choking, brawling, and fouls in an attempt to get over the hatred. That stuff was there, but used in a complementary fashion as opposed to consuming the entire match. Casas was fantastic here (no surprise). Stuka Jr. might have been the second best. I am a sucker for the form of his dives. During the match, he hit an out of nowhere splash and a picture perfect plancha to the outside.

The takeaway from this match was its relentless pace. That was really the differentiator between an okay but forgettable match and a match that that was a little more memorable.