Negro Casas vs. Bestia Salvaje (CMLL – 10/18/1996)

Negro Casas vs. Bestia Salvaje
October 18, 1996
Hair vs. Hair
*** 1/4 

I don’t know if there was any baby face in the world in late 1996 as over as Negro Casas was in Arena Mexico.

The background here is that in his match with El Hijo del Santo at the Anniversary show in September, Casas was cheer loudly while Santo was booed. Casas being cheered in Arena Mexico was not all that unusual. The bigger deal was that the crowd totally turned on Santo to the point that when Santo teased a future hair/mask match with Casas, the fans rejected the idea simply because they knew Casas would be booked to lose that mach. CMLL shot an angle where Santo said he would not return to Arena Mexico until he got the apuesta match he was seeking. Casas started teaming with the tecnicos the very next Friday without ever officially making a turn. It was one of those rare times that CMLL – or frankly any wrestling promotion – showed a willingness to roll with the punches based on crowd reaction.

As an upper card rudo, Salvaje had been a frequent partner of Casas’ and took exception to Casas changing teams. Casas and Salvaje feuded in trios matches over the next couple of weeks and CMLL signed a hair match after less than a month’s worth of build.

Not that Casas needed much help in getting the Arena Mexico faithful to fully embrace him. He is greeted with a hero’s welcome during his entrance. This was a Perro Aguayo like entrance where Casas came across like a folk hero. That’s exemplified with the plain black trunks, black boots/kick pads look that I think he more or less adapted fulltime right around this period. It’s a bigtime entrance and a bigtime reaction. Salvaje breaks up the lovefest in short order, however, by attacking Casas on the ramp. Salvaje posts Casas and throws him around outside the ring, with the referee urging them to bring it inside. Honestly, they weren’t out of the ring that long but it was long enough for the ref. He disqualifies Bestia almost immediately after he and Casas make it to the ring.

After winning the first fall due to excessive violence, Salvaje obviously takes all of the second fall as well. This is another really short fall which was the right call in this case. There was no need to see Casas sell for four or five minutes only for Salvaje’s inevitable second fall victory. The quick falls worked for me because you look up and all of a sudden they are in the final frame before Casas has gotten in a lick of offense. I wouldn’t say it added to the doubt over the outcome as much as it added to the anticipation for Casas’ comeback. Even in situations like this where the first two falls are rushed, it is rare to get to the third with the rudo almost literally taking 100% of the offense to reach that point.

The design works perfectly as the crowd is red hot for Casas whenever he shows any signs of life. Casas gives an A+ performance here in working a comeback. He begins the second fall with a glazed over look in his eyes like he might not be able to continue. From there he builds it up slowly starting by looking to the crowd to encourage them to rally behind him. He gets broader with his mannerisms when he dodges a move and flips into completed fired up mode once he is able to mount his first real offense of the match. Don’t get me wrong, the roof doesn’t exactly blow off of Arena Mexico (although the crowd is loud). It is more in how the crowd reacts alongside each movement from Casas that is the truly impressive part.

Once Casas transitions to offense, the match settles into a back-and-forth and becomes far more entertaining from a pure wrestling standpoint. Bestia is as solid as always on offense and bumping. There is nothing special about the third fall or the match itself besides for how the crowd embraces Casas, but it is worked in a super solid non-blood hair match sort of way. They also keep the third fall relatively short as the entire match – adjusting for time in between falls – is not much more than ten minutes. I cannot imagine there was much doubt to the outcome so no use dragging things out. Regardless, the fans still pop huge for the La Casita and the 3-count.

This one doesn’t get a lot of play because taken out of context it is not an overly impressive match besides for the reactions Casas receives. However, it is a very well booked and well-worked match in the context of the larger Santo/Casas picture.

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