Mascara Año 2000 vs. Anibal
December 13, 1991
Mask vs. Mask
Anibal was at the tail end of his career in late 1991. I don’t really know for sure, but my assumption is that Anibal returned CMLL in 1990 (Anibal jumped to the UWA in 1975 when that promotion started) for the sole purpose of getting the mask payday and then retiring. Apparently, Anibal’s mask was originally going to go to Dos Mil’s brother, Universo 2000. As the story goes, UWA founder and owner Benjamin Mora leaked CMLL’s plans to the press in an attempted sabotage. CMLL altered course and gave Anibal’s mask to Mascara Año 2000 instead. Ultimately the AAA promotion – which of course didn’t exist at this point – might have been the beneficiary of the altered plans. Anibal’s mask capped off a solid collection Mascara Año 2000 had gathered over the years and surely upped the stakes of his apuesta match with Perro Aguayo that co-headlined the first TripleMania event in 1993. Even if the impact that winning Anibal’s mask had on the Aguayo match’s ability to draw was immaterial, the ending of this match did provide the Aguayo bout with a clever and satisfying finish of its own.
Everything I have read from this period indicates that Anibal was on his last legs as a wrestler and not moving well, but I have seen luchadores who have been far, far more immobile than Anibal was here. He struggled to properly catapult his opponent on a monkey flip but other than that I cannot recall any cringe worthy moments from him. From just watching this match, I wouldn’t have necessarily said he was toast; only that he is clearly older and on the downside of his career.
You might expect them to cover up for any real or perceived age-related issues with Anibal by working a bloody brawl but they really don’t at all. In fact, the first two falls are incredibly straight forward and wrestled on the up-and-up. Anibal took the first fall quickly via submission. In the second fall, Anibal hit a tope but came up worse for wear. He started holding his head immediately and later you could see blood coming from out underneath the mask. They did the lucha patented finish where the guy that did the dive (in this case Anibal) is worse off from taking the risk and gets caught once back in the ring. Mascara Año 2000 sneaks up behind Anibal and catches him in the Cavernaria to even things up. To summarize, Anibal took the first fall cleanly and easily and might not have lost the second had he not had some bad luck on a high risk move. The third fall was laid out to protect Anibal just as much as the first two.
The spot of the fall – and the match – involves Cien Caras, who served as his brother’s second. Outside the ring, Caras wallops Anibal over the head with a bottle and then takes off running like a mad man. Caras runs all the way through the crowd and out of the arena in a flash. Caras’ mad dash made for a hectic scene and put over the illicit nature of the act. Despite the shot, Anibal still made a third fall comeback and had the match going in his favor when the referee got caught in between the two wrestlers in the corner. In a move that is actually more impressively executed than it reads, Mascara Año 2000 lifted Anibal’s leg from behind the referee’s back which resulted in an assisted-kick to the groin on the official. What happened next was obvious. The ref went down in a heap, Anibal got a submission hold on Mascara Año 2000 that would have won him the match, but the official disqualified Anibal for the perceived foul instead.
I can definitely see both sides of the argument on that finish. In general, I prefer mask matches to be definitive because the loss of a mask is a definitive, career altering event. That’s not a rule I would write in stone, however, as some masks are more important than others and sometimes a better story can be told with a screwy finish. Love Machine’s mask loss to Blue Panther is one example of that, particularly if you view the AAA rematch as part of the overall story. The finish – and the entire match – seemed designed to protect Anibal which is screwy because he was on his way out anyway. Año Dos Mil came away looking clever for the assisted foul move but also it was clear he would not have won otherwise. At the end of the day, I do not have a strong enough emotional attachment to Mascara Año 2000 to get worked up over the idea that he was cheated out of a big definitive mask win but I definitely see the argument that something cleaner might have been more satisfying.
As I alluded to earlier, the finish to this match gave AAA a good finish to the Perro/Mascara Año 2000 apuesta match seventeen months later. That match ends with Perro blatantly punting Dos Mill and then covering for the three-count. Steve Sims mentioned at the time that the fans were okay with the foul because they remembered Mascara Año 2000 winning Anibal’s mask via foul and figured turnabout was fair play. I don’t even care if that stuff is intentional. I love it whenever there is that sort of continuity in storytelling. When that happens over multiple years and/or promotions, it is even better.