La Fiera vs. Bestia Salvaje (CMLL – 08/29/1997)

La Fiera vs. Bestia Salvaje
August 29, 1997
Hair vs. Hair
*** 1/4 

The battle of the Beasts.

CMLL booked this hair match between veterans Fiera and Salvaje on the Friday Arena Mexico show four weeks out from the Anniversary show. Based on both work and heat, this would have been a fine addition to put on that show somewhere underneath the big Negro Casas & El Hijo del Santo apuesta match. Fiera and Salvaje wrestled what turned out to be a super solid hair match with good intensity that almost certainly would not have overshadowed the big Casas/Santo show down.

Fiera is the tecnico here. I like Fiera as a tecnico although I know I have read someone – probably Ohtani’s Jacket – indicate that he prefers him as a rudo. I think his rudo persona pops off the page more. Fiera has a great scowl and generally looks like your classic tough guy asshole, which sort of make him a natural rudo. At the same time, he is fantastic seller. As a babyface, he is also able to flip that tough guy aggression into fiery comebacks. Both of those qualities were on display against Salvaje.

The intensity is what really helped this one cross the line from good but forgettable to something slightly more impressive. Salvaje attacks at the bell and takes it right to Fiera, who sells his butt off the entire fall. Salvaje’s offense is the usual stuff – some slams, a lot of biting – before he locks on a seated abdominal stretch. I think one of Fiera’s biggest strengths in terms of selling is his ability to make what are mid-level holds look incredibly painful. It was both his expressions and mannerisms.  I thought Fiera was equally adept at that type of selling in his hair match with Sangre Chicana from July 1993. Salvaje refuses to release the hold even after Fiera gives. He lets go soon enough to keep the referee from disqualifying him, but then goes back in for some more kicks in between falls. The second fall is a decisive and swift comeback by Fiera. He withstands a little more punishment, than lands one of his nice roundhouse kicks as a cutoff move. He quickly follows up with a power bomb and that’s enough to even the match at one fall apiece. Fiera pays Salvaje back by getting some licks of his own in during the in between rounds rest period. The idea that the falls couldn’t contain their hatred for one another added a spark to what was essentially a throw away, mid-card hair match.

The intensity reached a point where the third fall felt like a high-stakes fall before it even had a chance to begin. The third was solid all around, not unlike the rest of the match. There was nothing that knocked my socks off but was the intense, high impact stuff that you would expect. The topes came back to back with Fiera going first. Salvaje’s tope was the better of the two and was helped out by Fiera taking a big bump into the crowd off of it. The near falls seem to matter to the crowd and Fiera received a nice ovation for his win. The finish comes when Fiera locks on a cross face chicken wing – the replays reveal that he might have gotten a brief fishhook in there as well – and Salvaje has to give. Salvaje disputes the outcome and tries to leave without getting his head shave, but eventually relents.

Both Fiera and Salvaje had better hair matches with different opponents but this was the sort of super solid match you would expect from two once high quality workers on (or at least approaching) the downsides of their careers. Both – although particularly Fiera – might have a case to be among the top five or so hair match workers based on what is on tape. Even though they worked this without blood, the extracurricular activity between falls, the biting/brawling, and the gravity in which Salvaje treated his loss all gave the match more than enough of a high stakes feel. The wrestling itself was merely okay – at least Fiera’s best days were behind him – which held the match back from reaching greater heights.

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