Mano a Mano Introduction

At some point within the past year, I got this whacky idea that I should focus my wrestling viewing on lucha libre singles matches. Why singles matches? Well, because watching nothing except trios matches would be really crazy. But honestly, after spending the last several years watching current year wrestling from all over the world I decided I wanted to focus in on a more specific target. I also wanted to go back in time because I was burned out on watching a lot of bad matchs in my flurry to keep on top of the current scene. When you watch old footage, you can cherry pick a little easier. Lucha has been my favorite wrestling to watch for quite some time now so the decision to focus in on it was easy. I needed a more narrow focus than that, however, and decided that if I pushed trios (and tags) off to the side I might actually be able to make a dent in this thing. Its not that trios aren’t important (they are) or that I am not watching any (I have been) but focusing in on singles matches and only writing about them made the whole thing a little more manageable.

I have had a ton of fun re-visiting matches, watching matches with positive reputations I had never seen before, and coming across matches that I hadn’t seen much written about. When I watch wrestling, I like to read and write about what I am watching. There is obviously a good bit out there written about lucha but it’s fractured. Ohtani’s Jacket’s “Great Lucha” blog is an invaluable resource for pre-2000 lucha because he has dug as deep as anyone and then more importantly wrote about what he read. But OJ has very specific tastes and views of lucha libre so sometimes and in many cases, is the only person to have written about a particular match. Rob Bihari has watched more lucha libre than anyone north of the Rio Grande and is a great resource, but his written work output is inconsistent. luchablog is a godsend for any lucha fan but most of the content on the site is post-2000 which leaves a huge void. There are others of course. The DVDVR 80’s project and PWO 90’s Yearbook projects have filled in some important gaps and brought to the surface matches that might have previously been overlooked. Dave Meltzer and other newsletters covered lucha sporadically. When you put it all together, there is a lot out there but the thing is that you have to put it together.

Ultimately, that is the main point behind the Mano a Mano project. The idea is to somewhat consolidate the opinions and reviews that are out there into one place. Lucha libre is specifically interesting to follow in that way because the major influencers – like Dave Meltzer – discussed lucha far less historically than other geographic styles, save for the initial AAA boom period. Discussing 90’s All Japan is all well and good but there is very little new ground to break there. I can read an old Observer discussing a particular 90’s All Japan classic and then go to a current message board thread on the same match and chances are the takes will be roughly equal. That is less so the case with lucha. Even beyond the coverage afforded to it in newsletters, there are such divergent opinions among those who really enjoy lucha. Rob’s opinions are usually going to be different than those held by Ohtani’s Jacket or the writers at Segunda Caida. Sometimes they reach the same conclusion but get there in different ways. I personally find it interesting to read all of those opinions after watching a match, whether they match up with mine or not.

Each match on the site contains a general overview of the match by utilizing general tags (year, style, and key characteristics) and a brief synopsis. The intent here is to give those that are looking for a match to watch some idea of what they are getting themselves into. I think some struggle to get into Mexican lucha libre because they often have one view of how it should be and when they watch matches that don’t meet their expectations, they are naturally turned off. Lucha is an incredibly diverse “style” of wrestling to the point that I only use the word “style” for lack of a better alternative. If you want bloody brawls, lucha has you covered with hair matches. If you want mat based, technically proficient matches you can find plenty of those as well with title matches. If you want great high flying and innovative spots, you are in luck. Major mask matches can be dramatic spectacles that rival any major WrestleMania match. There is something there for everyone you just have to know what you want to see and where to find it. I tried to set these posts up in a way that will provide that while remaining relatively spoiler free.

Then after you watch a match (or before if you want to read more before diving in) I have included re-printed recaps and reviews from newsletters, links to reviews from other people, and linked to my own reviews if I wrote one. On a selfish note, this format allows me to say a little about any match I watched (via the synopsis) while only writing full reviews for matches that I have something specific to say about. Each post also includes a list of accolades where applicable as a means if providing a little context to how the match has been perceived historically.

I plan on adding other content to this section including links to helpful references and lists, personal lists covering all sorts of different categories, full length articles discussing a certain broader lucha singles match topic, and more.

The plan also includes adding new matches on a regular basis. I have quite the back log of content at launch that will hopefully allow to keep the new content flowing for the foreseeable future.

One final note, I want to point out again that a lot of this is simply re-tracing the steps of paths that others have already walked. There is no doubt that I am at least partially rehashing the work of others. As mentioned, Ohtani’s Jacket has written about almost every 80’s and 90’s lucha singles match of note. The DVDVR 80’s project more or less hit all the of the big 80’s matches that were available in 2013. Rob Bihari has seen everything. And most of all, luchablog is an indepensible resource that I am leaning on heavily in my own watching and writing. Whether it is looking up a match/video in the database, linking to an archived RSPW review that thecubsfan already did the hard work of indexing or looking at the Tapatia awards or MOTYC lists for suggestions, that site is the ultimate English language resource for lucha libre and is an awesome tool for people undertaking projects like this.