Ultimo Guerrero vs. Rey Bucanero
CMLL World Light Heavyweight
The disappointing grudge match between one of CMLL’s most prolific duos. The match is presented and played up as a monumental match in the careers of both wrestlers and CMLL in general, but the actual match fails to capture that same level of importance. Guerrero’s title being on the line also serves to obscure what essentially should have been a major grudge match between too former longtime partners.
Ultimo Guerrero vs. Mistico
The first (televised) singles match between longtime rivals Ultimo Guerrero and Mistico is highlighted by a unique and excellent match layout as well as some strong booking. The intent of the match is to get Guerrero over as the meanest rudo around and Mistico as both a courageous and crafty tecnico. To both of those ends, the match is a runaway success. That’s not to say the match is all booking – there is some quality wrestling in here as well including a pair of equally awesome (although for entirely different reasons) dives by Mistico. This match got a lot of MOTY buzz at the time and also had is detractors. If not a MOTY-level match, it is certainly a very good non-stipulation singles match that holds up rather well a decade later.
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.
2016 Gran Alternativa Block A
March 22, 2016
Arena Mexico (Mexico City, Mexico)
CMLL tournament matches are so short that I think it makes sense to look at the tournament (or in this case, one block) in its entirety.
The Block A of this year’s Gran Alternativa tournament (a tag tournament where a CMLL veteran is paired with a “newcomer”) was the usual mix of legit newcomers and guys that are far more of a stretch for the newbie label. Triton is a former trios champion and Super Halcon Jr. has been in CMLL fulltime since 2011. Rocky Casas, Cuatrero, Magia Blanca, and Fujin fit the spirit of the tournament while Oro Jr. and Flyer are close enough. Of the youngsters, Cuatrero looked the best as he and his brother continue to impress. Magia Blanca was fine too and I like the Magnifico I stuff I have seen from Cara Lucha.
On the flip side, Rocky Casas is not ready for Arena Coliseo de Coacalco nonetheless Arena Mexico. He has a good look – he looks like a Casas – but his strikes were cringe worthy and he clearly was not comfortable moving around the ring. Speaking of not comfortable moving around the ring, Fujin is still trying to find the luchador within. He has some spots now but there is still a noticeable drop in fluidity between his young lion work in New Japan and his brief stay in CMLL. He also tended to overact when engaged in anything lighthearted in this match. I am sure he will get there at some point.
The highlight was probably Rey Escorpion who bumped his way through three tournament matches. He is a great base and a great catcher, both of which were on display here. He and Fujin looked good as a team visually and were the right choice to advance to the finals.
Posted in 2016, CMLL, Lucha
Tagged ** 1/4, 2016, Atlantis, cuatrero, flyer, fujin, magia blanca, Maximo, Negro Casas, rey escorpion, rocky casas, Ultimo Guerrero
Atlantis vs. Ultimo Guerrero
February 21, 2016
Marvel Elite Wrestling
El Mercadito (Memphis)
Atlantis and Ultimo Guerrero brought their touring match to Memphis. If you are looking for any significant alterations from the normal match these two have worked all over in the 17 months since their big mask showdown, you are not going to find it here. With the exception of the number of falls, this was not a noticeably different match than the one they had in Japan last January, the Universal tournament finals in Arena Mexico last October or their Puebla matches from late 2015. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because their formula match is fine, just not much more than that. They played to the crowd in between quick, compact sequences. UG got his usual offense in. Atlantis hit a tope and won with the Atlantida. Even the Memphis location did not make for a dramatically different viewing experience. The fans in Memphis largely reacted to the match in a similar manner to a crowd in Puebla might react. They reacted to the high spots and the call for cheers. Atlantis was slightly more over thanks to the kids but Guerrero had his supporters as well. A match like this is often fun for the out-of-context vibe it gives off but there wasn’t much of that to be found this go around.
I did not regret spending 15 minutes with this one, but if you have seen several other Guerrero/Atlantis matches then I do not believe this one will really provide anything new.