Category Archives: IWRG

Canis Lupus vs. Guerrero Maya Jr. (IWRG – 11/17/2013)

Canis Lupus vs. Guerrero Maya Jr.
November 17, 2013
IWRG Intercontinental Welterweight

Canis Lupus has been in the spotlight (in as much as being in a praised IWRG match in 2016 can place one in the spotlight) after his mask match MOTYC versus Trauma I over Labor Day weekend. I imagine I am like most people in that I had seen very little of Lupus prior to the outstanding mask match so I figured I would take a look back at his prior work starting (and possible ending, too) with this 2013 title defense versus Guerrero Maya Jr.

Before getting to the match, here is a quick recap on Lupus’ wrestling history courtesy of Lucha Wiki. He was originally trained by Archangel de la Muerte as part of CMLL’s training program but never received an opportunity to actually work a CMLL show. Wrestling as Commando Negro, he made his debut with IWRG in 2009 and received additional training from the IWRG maestros (Avisman, Black Terry, Freelance, Mike Segura). In 2012, he switched to the Canis Lupus gimmick when working in IWRG but continued to wrestle as Commando Negro elsewhere. Before he was completely done with Commando Negro in IWRG he defeated Guerrero Mixtico Jr. for his mask on Christmas day 2012 (in a match I would like to watch at some point given I like what I have seen of both guys). As Canis Lupus, he won IWRG’s Welterweight title in September 2013.

The version on YouTube is a handheld shot from the crowd but the match is complete and the footage is about as high quality as can be reasonably accepted. The camera picks up the crowd noise really well so the crowd comes across far better than they probably would have had this been an AYM recording.

The nice thing about IWRG in general and Guerrero Maya Jr. specifically is that you know their title matches will start with mat work in the first fall. It might not always be pretty, but at least the effort will be there. I liked the mat wrestling in that fall even if it was not anything extraordinary. Guerrero Maya Jr.  has been known on occasion to be a tad tentative or off with his general movements but he was really smooth exchanging basic holds with Lupus. The stuff on the mat didn’t draw any heat beyond polite clapping which made me worry the entire match was going to be heatless, but the first fall work was definitely not boring. The mat portion was far below Trauma I/Zatura from 2009 in terms of length and quality and wasn’t even as good as the mat work in Dr. Cerebro/El Hijo del Diablo from 2010 but I value matches (particularly title matches) starting off with some sort of foundation-setting work and this did the trick.

Canis and Maya Jr. left the holds and mat work behind in the first fall. There was a lot of rope running in the short second fall (before the submission finish) which woke the crowd up. Not much to the second fall, but like the first one it did its job.

The third fall was a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, they got the crowd completely into the match and the heat was above average for the rest of the way. More impressively, they turned a crowd that was pro-Lupus and anti-Maya at the start of the match into being largely pro-Maya with still some pro-Lupus reactions here and there. Maya and Lupus worked hard the entire fall and there were a couple of really strong segments. My favorite was Maya jumping up into Lupus’ arms when Canis was near the ropes as if he was going to do a rana. Lupus caught him and power bombed him which might not have been the plan because while still on his back Maya immediately kicked Canis backwards. Canis takes this insane Cactus Jack-like bump through the middle ropes all the way to the floor and lands square on his neck. Before anyone has time to even check and see if Lupus is still alive, Maya pummels him (and several rows of chairs) with a tope. It was an awesomely chaotic and impactful short segment. Their hard work paid off not only with the heat, but also with a few strong near fall reactions late.

The negatives of the final fall were there were too much aimless brawling segments and even more unnecessary interaction with the seconds. They were seemingly going for the idea that the match was spiraling out of control so that they could restore order heading into the near falls. It worked in the sense that the crowd reacted but I thought it could have a little more tightly constructed. The stuff with the seconds in particular took forever to play out even though they telegraphed it early. Lupus’ second stuck his nose into the match several times, Maya’s second took exception, and the representative from the Commission tried to calm things down right away. It was clear that all of that was going to lead to the seconds being ejected, which would segue into the near falls. The problem was it took forever for them to get to that point. Even after the rudo second was ejected, Maya’s second stuck around a little longer, did a couple of interference spots that didn’t draw much heat, and then was ejected. It felt like they could have cut out some of the brawling and a lot of the spots involving the seconds while maintaining the same level of heat and intensity.

It is still a very small sample size but Lupus looked good enough in retaining his title that – along with the few other matches I have seen him in – I am confident stating that he wasn’t simply a blind squirrel in the Trauma match. He had a presence in this match. There was little difference between the quality of his performance and that of Maya’s. Just by watching this match, you wouldn’t be able to tell which wrestler was the occasionally-pushed CMLL guy and which one was the IWRG regular who was never given a chance in CMLL. The match itself is only a little above average and doesn’t have a real hook, but it might not be a bad place to start if you want to seek out additional Canis Lupus matches after watching the mask match.

Dr. Cerebro vs. El Hijo del Diablo (IWRG – 01/31/2010)

Dr. Cerebro vs. El Hijo del Diablo
January 31, 2010
IWRG Intercontinental Lightweight
*** 3/4

One of those matches where there is not any one thing all that extraordinary about it but where there are a lot of things that are done very well. It is a tremendously full match that manages to cover a lot of ground and equally as important, covers that ground in effective and interesting ways.

The match is for Cerebro’s IWRG Intercontinental Lightweight title but there is quite a bit of heat and animosity, two things you don’t always get in title matches. The Arena Naucalpan crowd is hot for the entire match. There are some mixed reactions, but by and large the fans are behind Cerebro. Diablo is a solid heel and is able to keep the crowd against him for the most part even as he does stuff in the ring that they like. Black Terry seconds Cerebro and is awesome in that role. Initially the extent of his involvement is cheering on Cerebro and getting the fans to do the same, but he gets physically involved in the third fall when things start to get personal. Having a second that throws haymakers and tries to tackle the rudo can be overkill and distracting but they ramp up the intensity in the match to the point where it makes sense and for his part, Terry pulls it off like only he can.

The match is “full” in the sense that this isn’t just mat work or just brawling or just near falls. They move around and do a little bit of everything. The first fall is heavy on mat wrestling. Both the champion and challenger bleed. They brawl and as mentioned, the seconds brawl. There are high impact moves in the third fall and some really great dives on both ends. They earn at least one big time near fall reaction. Sometimes matches that want to be everything to everyone become messy and bloated. This match avoided that because of the way they segmented the different parts and built to them. The mat work becomes heated and it leads to the blood. The blood fuels tempers even more and it leads to brawling. Terry gets involved. The brawling gives way to the dives, high impact moves, and eventually the near falls. It is a very structured match even with so much crammed into it.

It cannot be oversold how much the general atmosphere helps this match, particularly if we are comparing it to the present day IWRG presentation. The arena is full(er), the crowd is loud, and the wrestlers are able to convey the idea that this match means something. Black Terry Jr.’s excellent ringside filming is also a plus. For whatever reasons, it does not look like this match aired on TV. IWRG and/or Teleformula opted to air two undercard matches instead on the weekly TV for whatever reason.

Ohtani’s Jacket talked this match up at the time and I think it definitely holds up, maybe even more so when directly compare a spirited match like this one with the soullessness of contemporary IWRG. As usual with most matches he is a part of, Dr. Cerebro was the standout but Hijo del Diablo (and Black Terry) were also on their games. If you are looking to purchase some “older” matches from Black Terry Jr., this is one that is definitely worth getting.

Trauma II vs. Zatura (IWRG – 06/18/2009)

Trauma II vs. Zatura
June 18, 2009
Intercontinental Lightweight
**** 1/4

The two eras of IWRG that are talked about the most are the ESPN2 era (roughly 1999 – 2001) and the circa-2009 era. If you put a gun to my head (or even if you just ask nicely) I’ll probably pick the former as the IWRG period I gravitate towards the most. There are a bunch of reasons for that but getting right to it, I have found that the match quality is overall at a high level particularly if you cherry-pick what you watch. That period has the El Dandy/Navarro mat classic, the excellent Dr. Cerebro/El Hijo del Santo trilogy, and a strong roster mix that was greatly aided by a working arrangement with CMLL. I like late 2000’s IWRG just fine, but I don’t find the highs to be as high nor the overall product to be as engaging as it was at the start of the decade.

This title match, however, gave me pause and at least momentarily made me reevaluate my position.  It is an excellent lucha title match that is at the same time traditional and progressive, wrestled between two young and clever wrestlers. Trauma II and Zatura put together a true match of the year candidate here. Having finally watched the match, it is easy to see why it received so much praise at the time. Phil Schneider, Ohtani’s Jacket, and Eduardo all considered it among the best matches – if not the best – of the year.

I am perfectly okay with watching matches from 2009 or from 2016 that are basically replicas of what a traditional lucha title match should look like. However, there is something to be said for contemporary workers who can reach both back and forward for inspiration. This match is paced like a title match from the 80’s or early 90’s and has the same distinctive focus on holds (both of the submission and pinning variety). At the same time, the moves feel like 2009 moves in terms of innovation while still making sense in the traditional mat structure. Trauma II does at least one counter/transition on the mat out of a hold and into one of his own that his rewind-worthy. Zatura’s flying is fresh without being gimmicky or over-the-top.

Schneider compared the match to the Juvi/Rey series of matches in terms of moving forward without leaving the past totally behind. I don’t think this match is that good or even accomplishes the same things that Rey and Juvi did, but his point still stands. It’s a hard thing to do – to innovate while not losing sight of the fundamental or traditional values that are still useful – but these two guys did a very good job at it.

Trauma II in particular came across like a future lock for a “best technical wrestler” award. We know his career has not been quite that prolific nor has he even necessarily continued down that same mat-based path. He’s had a good career, just not that career. This was a great singles performance from him without a doubt. I don’t know with any level of certainty if this is the absolute best performance of his career but based on what I have seen I would say it is. Zatura provides a fine foil. He is over, is willing and able to work with Trauma on the mat, and his flying offense counteracts Trauma II’s more mat-based approach rather nicely.

On a smaller note, I also loved the post-match celebration. Trauma II and his brother (who severed as his second) go nuts after the final fall. Their celebration upon Trauma II taking the title is one of those little things that can elevate s a very good match into a very good and important match.

At some point when 2000’s lucha is revisited for a DVDVR-style poll, this match deserves to get some play. I admit to being a little skeptical (I had never seen Zatura before) but the match is worth tracking down if you have never seen it. It holds up the hype it received back in 2009.

Catch Up Post #1: The Lucha Edition

(03/02) Charles Lucero vs. Silver Star (Monterey)
(06/22) Charles Lucero vs. Silver Star (Monterey)
(07/05) Charles Lucero vs. Black Terry (Monterey) 

Just realized I never wrote about the first match in March, so let’s get this catch-up going with a triple dose Charles Lucero!

All three of these matches are of course from Monterey.   The Silver Star matches are more or less one-man performances by Lucero.  Utilizing his signature blend of traditional and visually pleasing lucha match work, Lucero leads Silver Star through a pair of enjoyable title matches.  To be fair, Star does keep up fine and I enjoyed his fat-masked-wrestler dives in both matches, but Lucero is the one doing the heavy lifting.  The first match was the slightly more enjoyable one for me although one is not significantly better than the other.  Lucero’s appeal lies more in the style he works (a throwback mat-based lucha style) than anything else.  I wouldn’t put him the same class as Negro Navarro or Solar in terms of great lucha maestros but if you like that particular style you will like these matches.

The Black Terry match from the LuchaMania show was solid, but fell a bit shy of my admittedly lofty expectations.  The mat work was probably what disappointed me the most.  You anticipate a match like Terry/Lucero for the mat wrestling.  The mat work we got largely felt rushed and perfunctory.  By comparison, the mat work in Solar vs. Negro Navarro from Masked Mania in April came off as more high-level than the work here.  The match is just a tick over ten minutes though and there is still plenty of good stuff though (including a wicked top rope brainbuster by Lucero) so it’s worth a look.

(05/02) Jack Evans & Angelico vs. Daga & Steve Pain (AAA) 

Jack Evans and Angelico can be somewhat hit-or-miss.  They rely on strong high-flying offense, charisma , and selling while trying to get by on what is generally very weak non-flying offense.  As long as they (and their opponents) can downplay that big, glaring weakness they can get by.  On the occasions when they wrestle a match where that lack of “other” offense isn’t as egregious as it can be, than good things can result.

In this match – opposite two solid, well-rounded wrestlers in Daga and Steve Pain – Angelico & Evans click which produces very solid results.  Their flying is there as always, but everything in between is much better.  They pull off some cool double teams, including a very neat double team block/transition move that is worth checking out.  Daga and Pain are able to keep up when it is there time to control as well.  Pain is on in this match, landing a great dive to go along with other solid offense.  The resulting match is fast paced but well-structured and a very fun tag match.

(05/11) Ultimo Guerrero vs. Tiger Ali (Toryumon) 

When matches from DragonMania – Toyumon’s big annual event(s) at Arena Mexico – showed up online, I watched it out of that sick, irrational need to watch anything that is rare or different.  There were no matches that really intrigued me but that didn’t matter.  I have an insatiable thirst for variety in wrestling.  Tiger Alit – a Brit moonlighting as an Iranian heel – wrestling Ultimo Guerrero in Arena Mexico for the Toryumon Copa Mundial quenched that thirst.

Too bad the match was terrible.

Ali – who I have seen look competent in both M-Pro and in the UK – was no good here.  He went too overboard with the evil foreigner shtick and even if he hadn’t, he was any good at the basic evil foreigner stuff.  UG did not seem to have any desire to even attempt to right the quickly sinking ship that was this match.  I can’t say that I blame him.

(07/11) La Sombra vs. Shocker (CMLL) 

Shocker’s shockingly (!) great year continues when he and Sombra go mano-a-mano as part of the build towards the Negro Casas/Rush hair match.

Shocker takes a beating in this one, absorbing Sombra’s offense in a way that makes all of it look really impactful.  He spends the first fall and a half both getting his ass kicked and his ego bruised by Sombra who doles out the offense and takes plenty of time to gloat about it as well. During one such gloat, Shocker shakes out the cobwebs and with his fist clenched, he nods at the crowd as if saying “enough is enough.” He fires back and takes the second fall with some fine offense of his own.

The third fall is very good.  Both guys work stiff and show off some of the better stiff, high-impact work you will see in CMLL this side of Rush & Casas.  Shocker has – and has always had – a beautiful tope.  Sombra’s double knee stomp in the corner that he is doing a lot these days looked awesome here.  He needs to go back to Japan (tag league in December with Rush?) and bring that move with him.  Shocker has victory in sight after one top rope elbow drops and decides to try for a second one for good measure.  This draws out Rush to save his partner, but he is attacked from behind by Casas before he can get involved.  The distraction is enough, however, to allow La Sombra to foul Shocker and get a roll-up victory.

Good match and more good build towards the Rush/Casas hair match.

(07/19)  Negro Casas & Shocker vs. Rush & La Sombra (CMLL) 

The prior week’s singles match sets up this CMLL Tag Team Championship match and it’s a doozy.  In a year that has been relatively weak on tag team matches, this match stands out above the rest.

Sombra and Rush come over dressed for the match in suit coats and dress shirts.  For good measure, Sombra once again sports a black fedora on top of his black and white mask.  It’s an incredible look.  The first two falls are not as useless as they sometimes are and set the tone (read: intense hatred between the two teams) quite well.  The third fall, as it often is, is where the action is at.

The third fall is a whirlwind of hard-hitting moves, furious saves, and intensity.  It is controlled chaos at its finest.  Sombra is fantastic in his current role.  He is fully committed to playing the part of the brash, borderline aloof but nonetheless nasty rudo.  His taunt of lying between the second and third rope as if it were a hammock makes you want to slap the fedora right off his stupid masked head.  Rush and Casas are fantastic against each other as always and Shocker appears to be working extra hard these days.  He’s seeing the results of his work as well with a lot of quality matches to his name in 2014.  This match clicked on most all cylinders producing one of the finest tag matches of 2014 I’ve seen so far.  If that wasn’t enough it served the additional role of building up the August 1st Rush vs. Casas match in an effective manner.

This is one that is worth seeking out.

(07/20) Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. LA Park vs. Mascara Sagrada vs. Pirata Morgan vs. Hijo de Dos Caras vs. Demon Clown (IWRG) 

How many luchadores does it take to pull down a title belt hanging from the ceiling?

Trick question.  Going off of this match, it takes six luchadores and one referee.  Even then, that does not quite get the job done.

IWRG brought in an impressive array of talent to compete in a six-man ladder match for the IWRG Heavyweight Championship that was vacated (mercifully) by Vamprio earlier this year.  Name value alone, however, could not save this one from itself.

The match begins – as most matches involving Parka and Wagner do – with longwinded promos.  When things get underway, the match inoffensively meanders about for a bit.  As it reaches the middle stages, Parka takes some big time bumps on some okay looking moves.  It might be enough for you to let your guard down and think, “Hey, this isn’t so bad after all.”  Don’t be fooled.

Ladders aren’t made for the big bodies of LA Park, Demon Clown, and Wagner Jr. to climb and land on.  After some ladders-as-weapons spots and some climbing, the two ladders in the match are so destroyed they are rendered useless.  Someone retrieves a normal one-sided ladder from . . . somewhere . . . and the referee holds it up so the wrestlers can climb.  The match falls apart at this point as it becomes more about getting through it than putting on any resembling a good wrestling match.

At last – with both the referee and Pirata Morgan steadying the ladder – Hijo De Dos Caras climbs the backup ladder and retrieves the title belt to win the match – only, not quite.  Dos Caras gets his hands on the belt but as hard as he pulls, the darn thing won’t budge from the rope.  Time virtually stands still as Dos Caras desperately trues to unhook the belt by tugging on it.  He losses grip of the ladder at one point, leaving his feet to comically dangle above the mat as he holds onto the title belt for dear life.  Demon Clown props Dos Caras on his shoulders (nice save) but the stubborn title belt still won’t fall down.  The other wrestlers attempt to help, all the while giving a half-ass attempt at pretending to continue the match.  Eventually, Dos Caras and the belt fall to the mat, with Dos Caras being declared the winner immediately upon impact.  The entire ordeal – which lasted far longer than one might assume – made for quite the scene.

If you are into train wrecks, well, than this is your match.

(07/21)  Ultimo Guerrero, Euforia & Niebla Roja vs. Atlantis, Valiente & Volador Jr. (CMLL) 

Los Guerreros defend their CMLL World Trios championship versus the makeshift tecnico squad of Atlantis, Valiente and Volador Jr.  The title match is more than a booking device to further the yet-to-be-resolved issue between Atlantis and Ultimo Guerrero, although it does serve that purpose.  It is one of those fun, easy-to-watch CMLL trios matches that makes you think “why can’t they all be this good?”.  Atlantis hits a pair of topes, the second of which is part of a well-timed (and well filmed) string of topes by all three tecnico team members.  Los Guerreros pull out some fun double and triple teams including a great alley-oop on the ramp onto both Valiente and Volador.

Not a match that is necessarily going to stand out amongst the pack, but I thought it was in the upper tier of CMLL trios match from 2014 to date.

(07/29) Titan vs. Cavernario (CMLL) 

It has been twenty years since a pair of 19 year-olds named Rey Mysterio Jr. and Juventud Guerrera wowed lucha and worldwide wrestling audiences with their matches in the AAA promotion.  At 20 and 22 years old, respectively, Cavernario and Titan are a bit older than Mysterio and Guerrera were in 1994 but their ability to have such a strong singles match versus one another at such a young age compares favorably to what Rey and Juvi managed to do twenty years prior.

Titan looked like one of – if not the – most impressive high flyer in the world in this one.  He pulls off some extremely high level of difficulty moves with relative ease, including a tornado DDT spot that needs to be seen to be appreciated.  Cavnerario is less flashy than Titan as expected – they are not the same style of wrestler.  However, his tope rope splash looked equal parts impressive and terrifying as usual and he bumped/caught all of Titan’s offense with impressive precision.  While these two are certainly not as ground-breaking as 1994 Juvi and Rey were, it would not be a stretch to state that they are more polished than either of those two were at a similar stage in their careers.  This match is by no means a spot fest or collection of moves.  The two young luchadores bridge effectively from move to move and sequence to sequence, choosing their highspots efficiently and effectively.  They smartly toy with the standard lucha title match formula in order to work to their respective strengths, opting for a tad less mat work in the first fall and a much longer second fall than normal.

As far as lucha singles matches go, this one is up there with the best from 2014.  Well worth a look.

Round Up

Must Watch:  Titan vs. Cavernario; Rush & La Sombra vs. Negro Casas & Shocker
Watch:  Jack Evans & Angelico vs. Daga & Steve Pain
Worthwhile:  Ultimo Guerrero, Euforia & Niebla Roja vs. Atlantis, Valiente & Volador Jr.; Charles Lucero vs. Silver Star (x2)
Common:  Charles Lucero vs. Black Terry
Skip:  IWRG Ladder Match; Tiger Ali vs. Ultimo Guerrero

(03/12) Black Terry, Dragón Celestial, Emperador Azteca, Fulgor, Imposible, Sky Ángel vs. Aztlán, Cheyene, Jorge Kebrada, Kanon, Skayde, Vortize

Arena Naucalpan (Naucalpande Juarez, Mexico)
Torneo Cibernetico; Copa High Power

The Gym Skayde versus Gym FILL (Black Terry) feud seemingly ends here and what a weird, disjointed, but fun little feud it has been.

It all started with a cibernetico between the trainees back on February the 4th that was won by the Gym Skayde side when Aztlan got away with a foul. Terry protested that was unfair, Skayde agreed, and a re-match was set up. That match never aired or at least never made it to its way to the internet (an ongoing theme in this feud) but it too ended in controversial fashion. That led to Skayde and Terry getting physically involved opposite of one another in an eight-man tag (where they didn’t hesitate to mix it up with one another) before they inexplicably teamed in a trios match the following. Terry and Skayde bickered in that bout and that set up an already-announced singles match between the two that ended on a foul. That match has also not yet surfaced.

At the dizzying-end of all of this comes this match – a third and (finally!) successful attempt to award the Copa Higher Power between Gym Skayde and Gym FILL (IWRG) without controversy.

In one way, this match was very similar to the first attempted cibernetico between the two gyms. If you waded through some sloppiness and lack of polish, you enjoyed a match with a bunch of young guys trying hard and pulling out some nice lucha arm drags, dives, and submissions. Overall, there was probably a bit more sloppiness in this one – including Skayde being a bit off of his game – than in the first contest.

However, that was made up for a bit by the fact that this cibernetico had more at stake than the first because of the feud that had developed. That tension and animosity made up for some of the lack of execution. For example, in the opening minutes a member of Black Terry’s team makes a save for Terry, which Skayde protests. Skayde makes a save for himself just seconds later as payback. It built palpable tension in the opening minutes the way the first cibernetico didn’t (and really, couldn’t have).
Dragon Celestial looked good once again, as did Black Terry. Nobody looked actively bad although there were a couple of luchadores who had 2001-era Jimmy Yang syndrome of blowing a couple of spots in obvious fashion only to turn right around a pull off a couple of high-skill moves to perfection.

The match came down to Skayde and Terry – as it should have – and Terry picked up the pin after Fulgor distracted Skayde. With the victory, Terry’s squad will now go onto face Tony Rivera’s gym at some point for the Copa High Power.

I would like to see the missing matches from this feud (the 2nd cibernetico, trios with Skayde & Terry teaming, and the singles Skayde/Terry match) because those missing pieces would likely help make the entire feud fit together nicer. As it is, I still thought this was a fun, little month-long feud that provided a chance to focus in some young luchadores that otherwise I would have had little reason to watch.

Cibernetico | Worthwhile | Quality, Individual Peformances & Feud Ender