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Mala Hierba (Latigo, Fly Warrior & Centurion) vs. Tortugas Ninjas (Leo, Mike & Rafy) (WMC – 01/03/16)

Mala Hierba (Latigo, Fly Warrior & Centurion) vs. Tortugas Ninjas (Leo, Mike & Rafy)
January 3, 2016
Deportivo SME Villa Coapa
** ½

A gimmick like the ninja turtles has a limited shelf life. Ninja turtle gimmicks have come and gone in lucha libre for years now and that turnover is at least in some part because the ironic appeal of the act only lasts so long. The most popular current ninja turtles – the IWRG based Tortugas Ninja – had clearly entered the downward slope of the rapid aging curve inherent to the gimmick as earlier as mid-2015. However, they have slowed down the aging process in a unique manner, even if temporarily.

For whatever reasons, IWRG regular Latigo – who was moonlighting as Tortuga Leo – left the group to reassume his original gimmick on a fulltime basis. A new Leo replaced Latigo in the group and if history is any indication, the new Leo is probably a repackaged IWRG regular as well. Around the same time, Latigo hit on something potentially fruitful with the Mala Hierba trios that also includes Fly Warrior and Centurion. Naturally, these two teams were eventually paired up. Cara Lucha was the first promotion to act when they booked the two teams in a fun match this November. That match hinted at the Leo/Latigo connection early on and more explicitly exploited it later in the match.

WMC booked the re-match and put the Leo/Latigo duality at the forefront. Nuevo Leo and Latigo feuded throughout the match, which has already resulted in an announced mano a mano match on WMC’s next card later this same month.

The first fall was the weakest of the three. A spot where Mike slipped while attempting a risky rope trick (after his opponent pulled it off flawlessly) exemplified the fall’s failings. Mike had a clever cover up – he struggled to get off his back in normal turtle fashion. The only issue was that he had removed his shell moments earlier, which lessened the logicalness of it. On the other hand, this spot set up one of the more memorable parts of the match so well that it makes me wonder if the entire thing was not acutely planned out.

The second fall was highlighted by Mala Hierba triple teams. After winning the first fall, they dominated early in a second with a lot of innovative – but not goofily so – team moves. The Turtles comeback was well timed and exciting enough to work.

The third fall was arguably the best. It was an all action fall with several big time dives and an exciting finishing sequence. My favorite spot – the spot of the match – came when Latigo was knocked on his back. Latigo hit the mat with a flat back bump and started flailing his legs and arms while struggling to get up. It was the same thing Mike did earlier in the match and a standard turtle spot that is built around the idea that turtles cannot right themselves after being flipped over on their shells. The implication here was that Latigo – although no longer a Tortuga – was experiencing a variation of phantom limb sensations. He physically reacted like he still had his Leo shell. His partners quickly became frustrated and kicked him in the back (possibly trying to force him up) while the Turtles looked on in amusement.

I found the spot to be really clever. If the promotion is going to run with a Leo and Latigo feud, it only makes sense to explicitly acknowledge their shared gimmick. That spot was a clever, interesting, and funny way to do acknowledge that connection.

At 15 minutes, this was a fun watch particularly once you get past the mediocre first fall. The match was clearly designed to build towards the Lego/Latigo singles match. It was definitely an effective build. The Turtles’ staying power is likely still going to be short lived, but any sort of feud with the red-hot Mala Hierba can only help lengthen their stay.