Caifan vs. Ultimo Guerrero
March 20, 2016
Arena Jose Sulaiman (Monterrey, Mexico)
I cannot watch a 2016 Caifan match without wondering how in god’s name he is not currently working in Arena Mexico. The first several minutes of this mano a mano match from Monterrey are spent exclusively on the mat. Caifan was as smooth and fluid as we have come to expect from him. Caifan’s reversals in the early going are a joy to watch. There are several where he is almost Virus like in his ability to perform a complicated reversal in short order without ever losing contact with his opponent. There was very little visible feeding of reversals here so if you are someone who is turned off by that, don’t fret. What makes Caifan standout for me among the maestros he even often works and other proficient lucha mat workers is that he blends in realistic take downs with a sense of struggle better than most. Those that think lucha mat work is just a bunch loose exchanging of holds (which is of course itself a ridiculous assertion) should at least give Caifan a try.
I cannot watch a 2016 Ultimo Guerrero match without wondering if this is the same Ultimo Guerrero I was watching just two years ago. The post-mask loss work bump is not a UG-specific phenomenon. Villano III suddenly morphed into one of the more entertaining wrestlers in the world for six-months in 2000 following his historic mask loss to Atlantis. For Villano III, the bump was short lived. Guerrero has kept going and going. Some of it is circumstance. He is getting booked in more featured singles matches on indie shows that Black Terry Jr. and the gaggle of lucha YouTube uploaders are graciously taping for us so there is more opportunities for him to shine and more opportunities for us to see him shine. At the same time, Guerrero is clearly working on a different level since his late 2014 mask loss to Atlantis. You hear far less jokes about Ultimo Guerrero filling out his move bingo card during a match (that is, ticking off all of his usual spots one by one). He is wrestling with far more variety. He is also working harder and showing a technical acumen that quite frankly I did not know he had. Guerrero kept up with Caifan every step of the way here. The chop battle on the outside was well placed (the opening mat work wasn’t getting much heat) and it is hard to imagine the UG of a few years ago allowing his chest to be chopped up in a half-empty Monterrey arena. It is impossible to imagine him doing the hip check dive he did into the seats on Caifan if this were 2013. UG is working really hard these days and getting great results from it.