Cien Caras vs. Canek (CMLL – 09/21/1984)

Cien Caras vs. Canek
September 21, 1984
UWA Heavyweight Championship
*** 1/4

This UWA Heavyweight title bout between champion Canek and Cien Caras was the featured (and only) title match from EMLL’s 51st Anniversary show. Not to digress too far away from the match at hand, but that show had quite the card that gives you an appreciation for how stacked Mexico was in terms of young, veteran and prime aged talent in 1984. The opening trios match includes Solar on the tecnico team against Negro Casas and a very young El Dandy on the rudo side. The second match has El Hijo del Santo in his second year wrestling in Arena Mexico and a visiting Shiro Koshinaka on the tecnico side with Fuerza Guerrera on the rudo team. The third and final trios match of the evening includes Mascara Ano 2000, Ray de Jalisco Jr., Tony Salazar, Satanico, and Pirata Morgan. This title match is third from the top with MS-1 and Sangre Chicana meeting in a re-match of the legendary 1983 hair match second from the top. The main event saw Atlantis’ capture his first major mask when he defeated Talisman. At least in retrospect, that is a pretty looking card.

Back to this match, Canek and Cien Caras wrestled a lengthy technical title match. The YouTube upload of the match has a 28:50 run time with all of the in-between fall and pre-match stuff cut out. There is somewhere north of 27 minutes of actual match time here which needless to say, is quite a lot to fill. I have never found Canek to be all that exciting – or even that good of a wrestler – and Cien Caras is a good wrestler but not exactly someone who can be relied upon to carry the load in a long singles match.

The first fall provided hope that Caras might have had a major league performance in him on this night. The mat wrestling is very basic throughout the match and I would describe it more as 70’s style exchanging of holds then superb lucha mat work. However, Cien Caras does provide an interesting winkle in the first fall by holding onto the arm at all costs throughout much of the initial fall. One of my favorite matches in all of wrestling is a “hold onto the headlock” match. It is a structure that would get old quickly if it were used too often but I love when wrestlers work the bulk of a match by holding onto one limb. It provides an interesting twist to otherwise mundane control-by-holds segments. Caras is tenacious in his attack on the arm. Canek lifts him up and Cien rolls through while maintaining hold of the limb. Canek appears to counter only for Cien Caras to counter right back and immediately re-establish control of the arm. By the time Canek finally tosses his opponent off to break his control, the crowd pops big. It is proof that they ate time in an interesting and effective manner. Even more impressive is that Cien Caras goes back to the arm right away and they get some decent reactions later on with Canek breaks the grip a second and third time. The manner in which holds onto the arm in different ways makes for an interesting and effective way to chew up time.

Unfortunately, the match does not progress much from there. The arm story fades away for the second and third falls. Without that little bit of spice, all that is left is competent but ultimately unexciting 70’s style hold/counter hold wrestling. To their credit, every time I got close to labeling this match with the dreaded “boring” label, they shifted gears just enough to keep me invested. Cien Caras hits a decent dive and Canek does a good job teasing one. They filter in just enough rope running sequences, Caras’ power spots, and victory rolls to break the monotony of the holds in the final two falls. To that end, you could say they worked a smart match and I think that they did, but smart does not always necessarily equal great.

I am not always against double pin finishes or any finish that could be construed as non-clean, but after 27+ minutes of wrestling it would have been nice to get some sort of conclusive finish. If they were going to go to a draw, I would have preferred a 30-minute time limit one since we were pretty close to that mark anyway.

It might also be worth noting that the MS-1/Sangre Chicana hair rematch from this same card was rather short. That match did not last more than 15 minutes. This is a complete guess on my part but the length of the title match might have impacted the length of the hair match, either directly or indirectly. Maybe MS-1 and Chicana felt the crowd would not want to sit through another lengthy match especially when the featured mask match was still yet to come. Maybe they were told to cut back on their time. It is also possible that what Cien Caras and Canek did had no bearing on what MS-1 and Sangre Chicana did. It does seem curious and more than just a coincidence, however, to have a 27+ minute title match and a disappointingly brief hair rematch back to back on the same card.

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