La Fiera vs. Babe Face (CMLL – 08/15/1986)

La Fiera vs. Babe Face
August 15, 1986

Hair vs. Hair
*** 3/4

La Fiera is one of my personal favorite luchadores of all-time. He checks all the boxes. Fiera was an excellent rudo for the prime of his career but was able to transition to tecnico without any real issues in the mid-90’s. He was a good trios match worker and a useful second. His unique kick based offense helped him to stand out while also being adaptive enough to work with any sort of opponent. He could brawl which we not only know from his hair matches, but also the excellent 1991 chain match with Jerry Estrada. Fiera was not afraid to bump big and bump often. Taped evidence of La Fiera’s title match skills are confined really to one match, but that match (versus Atlantis in 1992) is enough to suggest that he knew what he was going in those situations. In terms of apuesta matches, I consider La Fiera to be on the shortlist of all-time great hair match workers.  All of that adds up to make one really great pro wrestler.

As far as I am aware, this is the earliest singles match of Fiera’s currently in circulation. Despite my affinity for one of the participants, this match has never resonated with me the same way it has with others. The match finished 5th on the DVDVR Lucha 80’s poll and while the results of that poll have some obvious sample size issues, that is still a notable level of praise. While Babe Face and Fiera had a very good hair match, there is nothing about it that makes it stand out from all the other “very good” hair matches out there. I consider it a very good match, just not a great one nor a top five match of the decade.

The luchablog database has both wrestlers down as rudos for this match. That may or may not be the case (those distinctions are not an exact science) but the match is worked in a way where it is not easy to tell. Babe Face was more overtly rudo than Fiera in the way he carried himself and his mannerisms but both guys are equally callous and ruthless throughout. The ending confuses matters even more. Babe Face goes in for a shot that is belt level at best but sure looked like a foul to me. The referee lets it go despite Babe Face’s seemingly obvious intentions. Moments later, La Fiera rolls through in a victory roll and grabs the ropes to added leverage on the way to winning the fall and the match. The referee sees – or at least he should have seen – Fiera’s hand on the ropes right in front of him but counts anyway. That ending could easily be taken as two rudos trying to out cheat each other. It could also be interrupted as Fiera checking Babe Face’s previously uncalled foul with an underhanded tactic of his own.

If I had to guess, Fiera was the tecnico in this match. He takes a nasty spill to the floor forehead first and minutes later wipes out on the arena floor when he misses a plancha from the ring apron. Those sorts of bumps – and the way they are sold – strike me as sympathy-building spots. Otherwise though, it was hard to tell. Not that an unclear distinction is a deal breaker – the lines were blurred in Casas/Fiera from 1993 as well – but in general I thought the match was hurt without having a clear tecnico to rally around.

The more substantial issue keeping this very good match from “top ten of the decade” consideration is that I find it to be very ordinary at least in a hair match sense. I have watched the match more than once, hoping to grab onto some hook that I might have missed before but it has not happened. The wrestlers brawl and the wrestlers bleed. They work holds in a manner meant to wear down and punish, which seems like a hair match staple. The third fall is the longest and punctuated by a late match dive. They did all of that stuff well, but none of it bawled me over. The brawling was nowhere near as chaotic and entertaining as Perro/Chicana from the same year. There have been far bloodier hair matches. Fiera’s third fall dive has nothing on Ciclon Ramirez’s tope suicidas. All of it is good, but I am not sure any of it is great. Even the shoulder story (Fiera enters with an injured shoulder and Babe Face goes after it) has not been able to move the needle for me. I appreciate the additional focus but didn’t think it added to the drama of the match in a significant way.

The one distinctive attribute the match has is Fiera’s kicks although even then they were not anything out of the ordinary for Fiera. I am a big fan of kicks in wrestling in general because striking is so heavily hand/fist/arm oriented in most styles of wrestling. Kicking always breaks up that monotony and makes me take notice, which is exactly what it did here. It helps that Fiera’s kicks are equal parts pretty and nasty. It is part of what makes him such a fine hair match worker.

You cannot go wrong with this match, unless you are expecting an all-time great hair match based on its finish in the DVDVR poll. Fiera and Babe Face wrestle a very strong hair match that has all the elements most of us look for in a hair match but they don’t necessarily take any of those elements to the next level. If nothing else, this match is a great look at a pre-90’s Fiera and another match that supports his case for being one of the all-time great hair match wrestlers.

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