Classic – the very best lucha libre singles matches of all time. These matches have all been vetted in some manner rather than merely being a collection of personal favorites. That could mean a top finish in a poll (ie. DVDVR polls); winning an award (ie. WON awards or Tapatia awards); or a general consensus among a large number of fans.
Recommended – In general, these are MOTYC’s – or even MOTY’s – that fall short of the “classic” criteria. Most recommended matches are thought of highly by a number of people other than me, but a match or two that I rate higher than most others will inevitably find its way onto the list as well.
[No Tag] – all of the rest. Many matches without a recommendation tag are still very good but just a hair below that ****+ or MOTYC threshold. There are many worthwhile matches that will not come with a recommendation tag. Other matches without recommendation tags are not as good and some might even be downright bad. There likely will not be very many outright bad matches here and those that are probably have another reason for watching (ie. a historical match).
o Hair vs. Hair – the highest stakes match for non-masked luchadores. Typically worked as a brawl. Generally speaking, pre-2000 hair matches in Arena Mexico will have blood more often than not. And post-2000 the matches are typically still bloody affairs outside of Arena Mexico. Typically these are feud-ending matches and are far more common than mask matches.
o Mask vs. Mask – the highest stakes match for masked luchadores. Typical worked as a brawl and typically a lot of blood is shed (see hair match note on Arena Mexico). Mask matches have the opportunity to be more dramatic than hair matches because the stakes are generally higher. Can be a feud ender. Other times it is an older wrestler dropping his mask at the end of his career or the loser returns for revenge later on to continue the feud. The best mask matches are filled with significant drama and intrigue over the outcome.
o Hair vs. Mask – a combination of the above. In a vacuum, a mask is worth more than hair, which sometimes sucks the drama out of the conclusion of these matches. The best “hair vs. mask” matches involve a wrestler with historically valuable hair who has already collected several masks (ie. Perro Aguayo). Traditionally worked in the same brawling manner as other apuesta matches.
o Career vs. Career – doesn’t happen often. Cien Caras versus Konnan is the most famous example. As is often the case when this stipulation is used outside of Mexico, it is rarely honored.
o Hair (or Mask) vs. Hair (or Mask) vs. Hair (or Mask): three wrestlers wager their hair or mask in an elimination “loser advances” style match. See description of “Triangular Match” below for rules of three person lucha matches.
Title Match Style – Historically, title matches in Mexico are wrestled cleanly. Rudos scale the cheating way back or do not cheat at all. The matches are wrestled technically, with the first fall (if not most of the entire match) being heavy on submission holds and pinning holds. Matches typically build from the even-steven mat wrestling of the first fall to a near fall heavy third fall. Not all title matches are tagged with this label. It doesn’t mean those title matches are not good, it just means they are missing one or more the important title match elements. Almost always 2 out of 3 falls matches with probably a couple of exceptions (ie. La Parka vs. Lizmark from TripleMania I).
Lucha Extrema – the equivalent of a death match in the U.S. or Japan. Because apuesta matches and feud-building singles matches often have blood, brawling and chair swinging, the distinction made here between those matches and lucha extrema is the latter makes more liberal use of weapons. Historically, these matches are found in Tijuana more than anywhere else although pop up relatively regularly in the 2000’s in lucha indies are all around Mexico.
[No Tag] – While trios matches are predominately used to build to apuesta and title matches, non-stipulation singles matches are occasionally used to help progress a feud. These are more common in this millennium than they were in the one before. A “super libre” match would fall under this category. While matches with a “super libre” billing have had different sets of rules, it is generally a match with more relaxed rules sometimes to the point where the referee only enters the ring to count pin falls or rule on submissions.
Mini – matches involving mini luchadores. Mini wrestlers gained notoriety in the early 1990’s when Antonio Pena pushed them as serious wrestlers in CMLL.
Bloody – blood is most often found in apuesta matches but other matches can be bloody as well. There are few visuals in wrestling quite as dramatic and memorable as a blood soaked mask.
High Flying – matches where the high flying is noteworthy enough – either in quality or quantity – to draw attention to it. Just because a match is not tagged with flying doesn’t mean there are no dives (the vast majority of singles matches will have at least one). Rather, the tag is used for those seeking matches where the high flying stands out in a noticeable manner.
Triangular – traditionally, lucha 3-way matches operate under different rules than the standard U.S. 3-person match. There are essentially 3 periods and 5 falls in a triangular match. The first period & fall sees all three wrestlers in the ring at the same time. When one wrestler is pinned or submits, he “advances” to the final period. The two remaining wrestlers move onto the second period, which is also comprised of a single fall. The winner of that is the overall winner of the match. The losers of the first two periods/falls advance to the final period, which is a three-fall match. The loser of that three-fall period is the loser of the overall match. Due to the “losers advance” format, triangular matches often have a hair or mask stipulation tied to them. A 3-person match without this tag is assumed to be a U.S. style three way (either one fall or elimination).
Angle – a match that involves a well done angle. The angle does not necessarily need to be historic, just worth watching.
Historical – a match that has historical value and/or significant historical implications. Elements that make a match historical could include (but are not limited to) famous angles, memorable turns, major mask loss, a turning point in a young wrestlers career, a turning point for a promotion, ect.
Foreigner – a match involving one or more non-Mexican participants. Could be a helpful tag for anyone trying to ease into lucha by watching wrestlers they are familiar with and who work a familiar style.
Lucha in Japan – luchadores have a long history of wrestling in Japan. For the purposes of this tag and this site, matches from Japan will generally be between two luchadores and/or on a show promoted by a Mexican promotion. Mil Mascaras versus El Halcon from All Japan is an example of the former while Virus versus Jushin Liger from the CMLL co-promoted FantasticaMania shows is an example of the latter. Matches with luchadores touring Japan for a Japanese promotion and wrestling against non-luchadores will generally not be included on the site and thus not tagged here. Lucha in Japan can be interesting because the wrestlers are playing for their non-target audience. As a result, often times the matches are heavier on flying/agility moves and comedy than the norm.
Lucha in the U.S – similar to lucha in Japan, only matches from a Mexican promotion touring the U.S. or matches involving two luchadores. That means no Chikara or no matches like Pentagon Jr. vs. Chris Hero. There is no reason that Psicosis/Rey Misterio Jr. from ECW or BATB ’96 should not be discussed in the same breath as their Mexico matches or that the Halloween Havoc ’97 mask match should not be discussed alongside mask matches that occurred in Mexico.
[Other Stipulations or Gimmicks] – there are not a ton of stipulation or gimmick matches in Mexico outside of those specifically listed, but there are some.