Emilio Charles Jr. vs. Shocker (CMLL – 06/22/1997)

Emilio Charles Jr. vs. Shocker
June 22, 1997
NWA Light Heavyweight
** 1/2

At the time of this match, Shocker was still riding his initial push that came after he (with partner Silver King) won the 1995 Gran Alterntiva tournament.  The tournament victory earned him an express pass to the main events. A month before this particular match, Shocker captured his first singles title when he defeated Black Warrior for the NWA World Light Heavyweight title. His title defense against Emilio Charles Jr. might be the first actual title defense he made.

It is hard to reconcile this Shocker – masked, wrestling a basic traditional lucha style – with the more popular Shocker that emerged later. He works this match like any other non-descript young tecnico. Non-descript might be the right word for the match in general. Emilio Charles Jr. doesn’t seem all that interested in working more than a by-the-numbers title match. The first fall mat work is fine but nothing memorable or flashy at all. His offense throughout the match carries a similar competent tone. It is all well and good, but nothing memorable at all. The same could be said for the bumps Charles takes, which are pretty standard fare. On the positive side, you could say this match is proof that in 1997 Charles could wrestle a perfectly fine title match by simply going through the motions. That reflects well on him but doesn’t make for a great or excellent match.

For his part, Shocker works hard but there is nothing memorable about his performance either. He wrestles a rather basic match – likely out of necessity – and that’s fine by me because they don’t blow anything and there isn’t much of the goofy Japanese influenced stuff that infiltrated Shocker’s offense in the coming years. Still, Shocker’s defining characteristics are his look and charisma neither of which stood out in this match with his face hidden under the mask. His personality and work feels so bland which is jarring because – for better or worse – unmasked Shocker was anything but those two things.

The finish was designed to protect Charles. He goes for a blatant back kick foul at a time that it didn’t really make sense for him to pull out that move. The referee was standing right there and he wasn’t in any real danger of losing the fall at that moment. The referee did a nice sell where he gets across that he doesn’t want to throw the match out but Charles has left him with no other choice. Maybe I am reading too much into the finish (a dangerous game as it pertains to CMLL) but this sure seemed like a situation where they wanted to push Shocker but not quite to the point of going over other top guys. As far as I am aware, the finish never led to anything else between the two so it is probably safe to assume it was merely a way to keep the title on Shocker without putting him cleanly over Charles.

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