Category Archives: Lucha

Ultimo Guerrero vs. Rey Bucanero (CMLL – 07/14/2006)

Ultimo Guerrero vs. Rey Bucanero
July 14, 2006
CMLL World Light Heavyweight
** 1/4

Mexico is overflowing with pro wrestling titles so it is normal for a wrestler to have a really, really long title reign. There is no need to pass a title around because there are so many of them. Even so, the fact that that in July of 2006 Ultimo Guerrero was still defending the title he defeated Shocker for (in a good match!) in December 2002 is somewhat ridiculous to think about. That is a long time no matter what you use as your frame reference. It sticks out even more because of how much CMLL during that time. When Guerrero one the title in late 2002 – and subsequently made a successful title defense versus former champion Shocker in early 2003 – it capped off a run of singles and tag matches where the fusion Mexico/Japan/American style worked by Shocker, Guerrero, and Wagner Jr. looked like it could be the spark for a CMLL in ring resurgence. Re-watching those matches now, it still looks that way. Yet by 2006, no such revolution occurred, luchadores came and went, and Mistico emerged as the CMLL golden boy. And all the while, Ultimo Guerrero was World Light Heavyweight champion.

This is a seminal match not only because it concludes Guerrero’s long title reign but because it is the first of only a few singles matches between the members of one of CMLL’s all-time notable tag teams. Bucanero was kicked out of the Guerreros sometime earlier – ostensibly for Atlantis – and thus this match is his big chance for revenge.

That in itself was problematic because a title match is not the best environment to seek revenge in. And I am not talking about the issue with working a title match in non-traditional title match style. By 2006, that ship had sailed in CMLL. It is more of an issue of motivation. This is the first time Bucanero got Guerrero one on one since he turned on him about a month and a half earlier. You would think Bucanero’s only thought would be extracting payback on his former tag team partner. Instead, he stands calmly in place at the belt ceremony and wrestles a straight up match. The surrounding circumstance and how the match was presented were at odds with each other. At best, the explanation is that Guerrero held the title for so long that taking it from him would be the ultimate revenge but that is a stretch.

This is one title match where it would have made a lot sense to shelf the sportsman-like first fall in favor of something more physical, but they work it totally straight up. There are a few hard lock ups to start which at least possibly establish some animosity. Otherwise fall #1 is full of basic headlocks, arm bars, and arm drags. Bucanero pulls out the first fall with a surprise crucifix after Guerrero goes to the arm drag well one too many times. Bucanero’s reaction to taking the first fall is a mix of stunned shocked and realization that he might actually be able to win this thing. Little things like that – which you don’t get in one fall matches – are one of the reasons I would be sad to CMLL ever abandon to the three-fall structure.

The match is not as by-the-numbers as many Ultimo Guerrero matches would become in a few short years. Through the next two falls, he does several top rope bits that tease the Guerrero Special without delivering on it. Some of the offense has a welcomed “rough around the edges” quality to it. I am thinking of in particular a Bucanero corner drop kick and Guerrero’s exploder suplex variation off the second turnbuckle that ends the second fall. There are also plenty of counters of signature moves that you would expect from two longtime partners wrestling each other. The third fall goes back-and-forth. The match succeeds at getting across the point that the Guerrero Special will likely end the match, so Guerrero is doing everything he can to set it up and Bucanero is doing everything he can to avoid it.. Bucanero uses the top rope far less than others, so there were fewer chances for Guerrero to attempt the move. All of this culminates with a spot late in the third period where Guerrero sets Bucanero on the top rope perfectly positioned for his signature piece of offense. Bucanero wildly swings his arms and legs to fight Guerrero off, but loses his balance in the process and they both fall off. It was a well done wild and dramatic spot.

They reset immediately after, complete with a camera zoom out which is more or less CMLL’s way of signally that a big finish is imminent. Sure enough, Guerrero charges at Bucanero who catches him with a driver for the pin and the big win.

Not a terrible match at all and borderline average. My major complaint is that the match felt too run of the mill given the history between these two. I would have liked to have seen them play up the animosity in a more obvious fashion. If they weren’t going to do that, I probably would have rather seen a more grounded, technical match with Bucanero trying to wrestle Guerrero’s greatest prize away from him. That was the story they were going for I think, but the action was far too standard for that to resonate in any significant away. With the exception of some of Bucanero’s mannerisms, there was little separating the pacing and drama of the match from other mid-2000’s CMLL singles matches.

Perro Aguayo vs. Gran Hamada (UWF – 06/01/1990)

Perro Aguayo vs. Gran Hamada
June 1, 1990
*** ¼

A one fall match from the second tour for Hamada’s UWF group.

The match does not have much heat. It is a strike against the match, but not necessarily a strike against the two wrestlers. There are a bunch of potential reasons for why this match was heatless. It was the main event of a show where most every undercard match was a multi-man match filled with eye popping spots and comedy. A far more grounded singles match is a tough sell after that. The lack of heat could have been crowd burn out, too different of a style compared to the undercard, the fans unfamiliarity with Perro (who got most of the offense) or any number of other things. Whatever the cause, it does diminish the viewing experience to some degree.

At the same time, the wrestlers worked a really good match that I could see getting over at Korakuen Hall under different circumstances. They really lay into each other with chops and strikes. Perro brutalizes Hamada with strikes. The rest of his offense in this match is the sort of high impact stuff that should play well in Japan (or anywhere for that matter). Perro does a double stomp off of the turnbuckles, his great senton, hard drop kick, and an excellent tope. He hits Hamada with a chair and bumps hard. Perro’s performance was strong enough and Japanese-friendly enough that it is impossible to blame him for the match’s lack of heat.

The same goes for Hamada, although I do agree with those that felt Aguayo was the better of the two on this particular night. Hamada hit Perro back hard but did not have a sustained run of offense until the finish. I thought his selling was fine even if not very notable but the crowd never got behind his comeback attempts in a significant way. It would be fair to wonder if the crowd reactions would have improved if Hamada spent more time on offense. The match was an older wrestler working a slightly unfamiliar style in front of an audience that wasn’t familiar with him going up against a wrestler the audience did know but who received little sustained offense. At least in theory that could explain the reaction but who knows. It is no guarantee that giving Hamada more time on offense would have improved the reactions.

The ending felt somewhat anticlimactic. Hamada strung some offense together for really the first time and got the pin on a German suplex. The referee counted the match-ending pin really, really fast particularly by lucha standards. The entire finish felt rush. After the way the match was worked, ideally the finish would have come off as if Hamada triumphantly overcame all the punishment he took. Instead, the match just sort of ended. It was a tad bit unsatisfying.

I feel like I really dwelled on the negatives – the lack of heat and the unfulfilling finish – but as stated in the open there was a lot of good work here from both guys. They wrestled a stiff, high-energy match that seemingly should have worked for the live audience but just didn’t. Lucha in Japan can be like that.

Sangre Chicana vs. Cibernetico (AAA – 04/16/1999)

Sangre Chicana vs. Cibernetico
April 16, 1999
Campeon De Campeons
* 1/2

What we have here is a heavyweight title match that makes me long for those halcyon days of 1993 and 1994 when Konnan and Cien Caras were involved in AAA’s heavyweight championship feud.

To be fair, that is way too harsh on Sangre Chicana who wrestled about as good of a match as could be hoped for given the circumstances. This might be 1999 AAA but it is still a title match and you can rest easy knowing that Chicana was going do his damnedest to wrestle the match like one. Chicana works basic holds at the beginning – and feeds basic holds to Cibernetico – so there was some semblance of a slow burn. The nature of the holds and the feeling out process were more like what you might get in a Diamond Dallas Page match from around the same time rather than a classic lucha one. Still, I appreciate that we got a couple of minutes of straight up work before the shenanigans even if it was relatively basic. The forty-eight year old also busted out an excellent tope and generally worked hard whenever he was afforded the opportunity to do so. If nothing else, the match demonstrates that a post-prime Chicana still had some utility and was able to work some entertaining sequences under less than ideal circumstances.

Honestly, this match wasn’t even totally Cibernetico’s fault either. I mean, it was and it wasn’t. It was because Cibernetico just wasn’t good in the match. He might have only been twenty four years old but he was a seven year veteran at this point. There is no excuse for him to look as bad as he did here when doing anything other than holding onto basic holds. It isn’t his fault because he generally followed Chicana’s lead, worked hard, and was generally in the right places at the right time. It is not Cibernetico’s fault that he got pushed well beyond his talent because he was a bigger guy and someone WWE at least briefly showed an interest in so he was never a complete dud. He worked hard here even if the results weren’t anything special.

The blame for this one – as it often does with AAA – goes to the booking, presentation, and officiating.

Psicosis served as Cibernetico’s second and from what I can tell, didn’t wrestle on this card. Maybe there were political reasons for that but I am inclined to state it is merely an example of 1999 AAA using the same luchadores almost as poorly as 1999 WCW did. That’s quite the indictment but true in this case. In his WCW TV matches right before and right after this show, Psicosis had a seven minute Nitro match with Billy Kidman and a well-regarded twenty minute four corners match with Blitzkrieg, Juvi, and Kidman on Nitro where Psicosis won his first Cruiserweight championship. Meanwhile the best AAA could do with him is have him second Cibernetico. In this match, Psicosis role is to interfere liberally. It is a job he clearly takes seriously judging on the twenty or so times he sticks his nose into the match.

In general, well done interference doesn’t bother me even in a title match. This was far from well done and drew no heat at all. Psicosis got involved in plain sight of referee Pepe Casas so many times, sometimes to the point of hoping into the ring right in front of Casas. Charly Manson seconded Sangre Chicana and did the same. I know lucha referees often appear incompetent but this was too much. Not to pile on poor Pepe (who probably should have been retired by this point) but he was also out of position and late in counting a number of pin falls which certainly didn’t help.

Of course it would not be a post-1995 AAA match without a ton of run-ins for little good reason. Cibernetico had enough of Manson getting involved and gorilla pressed him into the crowd (which besides for Chicana’s tope might have been the most impressive move of the match). This drew out the other members of Los Vatos Locos to save Charly. They started brawling in the ring and were quickly joined by Cibernetico’s compadres in Los Vipers. A big brawl ensued, Cibernetico got his mask ripped at one point, and Casas arbitrarily awarded the match to Cibernetico. The whole thing was just a mess.

This entire match – like many matches post-AAA’s early golden period – is a microcosm for everything they did wrong. This match might have never been more than average but based on what we saw when Cibernetico and Chicana were left alone to their own devices, I am positive it would have gotten there had the booking not been an overbooked, confusing mess. If you want to see a near fifty year old Chicana carry a wrestler half his age before the match descends into madness then check it out. Otherwise, the match is same old self-destructive AAA nonsense.

Sangre Chicana vs. Shocker (AAA – 12/10/2005)

Sangre Chicana vs. Shocker
December 10, 2005
Hair vs. Hair
** 3/4 

For two falls at least, this was an above average mid-2000’s AAA singles match that didn’t rely on a lot of bells and whistles to get there, which is a rare sight indeed.

Even at the ripe old age of 55, Sangre Chicana still looked like he could work a quality hair match in his sleep. Chicana is the tecnico and spends most of the initial fall selling after Shocker jumps him the way to the ring. Chicana was always a great seller. His long hair flips all over the place as he stumbles and takes well positioned back bumps for Shocker’s offense. Chicana wastes no time in blading and has a thick coat of blood on his forehead before they even get through the first fall. When on offense, Chicana throws the same old mean punch that made him one of the all-time great hair match workers. He doesn’t do a whole lot on offense in this match but Chicana often did not do a lot on offense. He didn’t nead to. His offense wasn’t all that different from the offense he used a dozen years earlier against La Fiera, save for the crowd interaction. The combo of punches and abdominal stretch related submissions are more than enough to get him through this match.

For his part, Shocker works hard and holds his own. He throws a good punch as well. More importantly, he bumps big for Chicana when Chicana is fighting back. He takes a huge bump into the seats in the second fall that sets up a prolonged run of offense for the veteran. Shocker bleeds as well. The double dose of blood made the match – or at least the first couple of falls – have the feel of a throwback hair match.

Falls one and two ended with some wonkiness but logical wonkiness at least. Shocker controls the first fall and locks his bloody opponent in an STF. Chicana gives and Tirantes awards the fall to Shocker . . . only Shocker does not want to let go of the hold. Tirantes warns him but Shocker is out to do some bodily harm and ignores the warnings. Tirantes eventually pulls him off and awards the fall to Chicana. The finish to the second fall is a repeat with the roles reversed. Chicana does a half crab variation with Shocker’s leg pulled over his head. Shocker gives right away and Tirates emphatically waives the fall off. Chicana doesn’t let go. Enough time elapses where Tirantes should call for the DQ but he doesn’t, so Chicana drops the hold thinking that will prompt Tirantes to raise Shocker’s hand. He doesn’t, so Chicana locks the hold back on and only then does Tirantes break it up and award the fall to Shocker. It was a little mess up but nothing major. The finishes went a long way in establishing that both guys were out to damage and if they won in the process, so be it.

With a solid third fall, this would have been a solidly above average if not an outright good hair match. First Tirantes slow counts a Chicana pin attempt, which is odd because until that point he called the match right down the middle as the finishes of the first two falls demonstrated. A few minutes into the decisive fall, Tirantes is bumped. Chicana stays on offense but without an official he can’ do anything with the advantage. Zumbido and Alan Stone run in with Shocker locked in a stretch. They beat up Chicana, Shocker covers, and Tirantes recovers in time to count Chicana down. I am not a stickler on interference but this match didn’t need it. The finishes to the first couple of falls were creative and worked. The match ends in the exact opposite manner with a completely uncreative and tired finish that simply wasn’t needed. Chicana lost his hair a whole lot later in his career and wasn’t a guy you needed to protect at this point. You could come up with a hundred finishes better than the one they presented. Something as simple as Chicana taping out in a submission, Shocker holding on for a second or two, and then letting go just before getting in trouble for it would have worked far better. Or if they wanted to protect Chicana, he could have refused to release another hold and lose the third fall that way. The actual finish was about the least creative finish they could have come up with in this situation.

The third fall drags things down a bit but overall this is still an average hair match give or take. The brawling is there, the blood is there, and the hatred is there. That is enough to cover for the fact that there is nothing superlative about match and the third fall is rather weak.

Mascara Año 2000 vs. Anibal (CMLL – 12/13/1991)

Mascara Año 2000 vs. Anibal
December 13, 1991
Mask vs. Mask
** 3/4

Anibal was at the tail end of his career in late 1991. I don’t really know for sure, but my assumption is that Anibal returned CMLL in 1990 (Anibal jumped to the UWA in 1975 when that promotion started) for the sole purpose of getting the mask payday and then retiring. Apparently, Anibal’s mask was originally going to go to Dos Mil’s brother, Universo 2000. As the story goes, UWA founder and owner Benjamin Mora leaked CMLL’s plans to the press in an attempted sabotage. CMLL altered course and gave Anibal’s mask to Mascara Año 2000 instead. Ultimately the AAA promotion – which of course didn’t exist at this point – might have been the beneficiary of the altered plans. Anibal’s mask capped off a solid collection Mascara Año 2000 had gathered over the years and surely upped the stakes of his apuesta match with Perro Aguayo that co-headlined the first TripleMania event in 1993. Even if the impact that winning Anibal’s mask had on the Aguayo match’s ability to draw was immaterial, the ending of this match did provide the Aguayo bout with a clever and satisfying finish of its own.

Everything I have read from this period indicates that Anibal was on his last legs as a wrestler and not moving well, but I have seen luchadores who have been far, far more immobile than Anibal was here. He struggled to properly catapult his opponent on a monkey flip but other than that I cannot recall any cringe worthy moments from him. From just watching this match, I wouldn’t have necessarily said he was toast; only that he is clearly older and on the downside of his career.

You might expect them to cover up for any real or perceived age-related issues with Anibal by working a bloody brawl but they really don’t at all. In fact, the first two falls are incredibly straight forward and wrestled on the up-and-up. Anibal took the first fall quickly via submission. In the second fall, Anibal hit a tope but came up worse for wear. He started holding his head immediately and later you could see blood coming from out underneath the mask. They did the lucha patented finish where the guy that did the dive (in this case Anibal) is worse off from taking the risk and gets caught once back in the ring. Mascara Año 2000 sneaks up behind Anibal and catches him in the Cavernaria to even things up. To summarize, Anibal took the first fall cleanly and easily and might not have lost the second had he not had some bad luck on a high risk move. The third fall was laid out to protect Anibal just as much as the first two.

The spot of the fall – and the match – involves Cien Caras, who served as his brother’s second. Outside the ring, Caras wallops Anibal over the head with a bottle and then takes off running like a mad man. Caras runs all the way through the crowd and out of the arena in a flash. Caras’ mad dash made for a hectic scene and put over the illicit nature of the act. Despite the shot, Anibal still made a third fall comeback and had the match going in his favor when the referee got caught in between the two wrestlers in the corner. In a move that is actually more impressively executed than it reads, Mascara Año 2000 lifted Anibal’s leg from behind the referee’s back which resulted in an assisted-kick to the groin on the official. What happened next was obvious. The ref went down in a heap, Anibal got a submission hold on Mascara Año 2000 that would have won him the match, but the official disqualified Anibal for the perceived foul instead.

I can definitely see both sides of the argument on that finish. In general, I prefer mask matches to be definitive because the loss of a mask is a definitive, career altering event. That’s not a rule I would write in stone, however, as some masks are more important than others and sometimes a better story can be told with a screwy finish. Love Machine’s mask loss to Blue Panther is one example of that, particularly if you view the AAA rematch as part of the overall story. The finish – and the entire match – seemed designed to protect Anibal which is screwy because he was on his way out anyway. Año Dos Mil came away looking clever for the assisted foul move but also it was clear he would not have won otherwise. At the end of the day, I do not have a strong enough emotional attachment to Mascara Año 2000 to get worked up over the idea that he was cheated out of a big definitive mask win but I definitely see the argument that something cleaner might have been more satisfying.

As I alluded to earlier, the finish to this match gave AAA a good finish to the Perro/Mascara Año 2000 apuesta match seventeen months later. That match ends with Perro blatantly punting Dos Mill and then covering for the three-count. Steve Sims mentioned at the time that the fans were okay with the foul because they remembered Mascara Año 2000 winning Anibal’s mask via foul and figured turnabout was fair play. I don’t even care if that stuff is intentional. I love it whenever there is that sort of continuity in storytelling. When that happens over multiple years and/or promotions, it is even better.