KUSHIDA vs. Volador Jr.
July 8, 2016
CMLL bringing in the foreigners for an extended period around the International Grand Prix has been a welcomed change of pace from the normal monotonous CMLL cards but I am not sure it resulted in significantly better matches & shows until this one. As mentioned in the second match trios review, normal upper card workers were pushed down the opening matches which made for a better all-around show. Then this match was easily the best of the foreigners versus CMLL guy matches, unless Elgin/Ultimo Guerrero miraculously causes me to rethink that opinion. I liked this better than the Grand Prix and thought it was an impressive resume building performance for KUSHIDA.
The way the match was worked felt like a bit of a compromise. Volador got in a lot of his big offense, but the pacing was more deliberate and the moves were more spread out than in your typical Volador Jr. singles match. Kushida mixed in some cool stuff of his own as to not be overshadowed by Volador in the neat offense department. Kushida catching Volador in a cross arm bar when Volador was attempting a spring board move was hit as smoothly as I have ever it done. I know stuff like that is a Kyle O’Reilly staple, but I think that’s the best I have ever seen that counter look. It was an appropriate capper for the first fall. This had more limb work than the usual Volador match as well, with Kushida locking in on Volador’s arm. Volador sold the arm rather well and sold it consistently, so it added a nice little thread throughout the match that Volador Jr. matches are sometimes lacking.
What impressed me the most is that the third fall went really long – almost 15 minutes – but I never thought it reached the point of near fall tedium. They did a nice job in allowing the action to continue to build and progress, rather than flat line into a row of consecutive near falls. The pre-match promise from Kushida was that if Volador Jr. won the match and retained his title, that he would give Volador a shot at the IWGP Jr. title. I am hoping against hope that wasn’t a typical grandstand challenge because based on this match and Volador’s work in the BOSJ, that’s a match I wouldn’t mind seeing on a New Japan card. Almost zero chance of this happening, but that would be a cool special attraction match for the G-1 finals at Sumo Hall. The Super J Cup will still be going on which means Kushida won’t have a new challenger yet (assuming he doesn’t lose in the first round). Volador has reason to be given a title match and just wrestled a New Japan tour in May/June, so it would seem like a good match choice assuming they want to highlight Kushida in some way at Sumo Hall.
Negro Casas, Gran Guerrero & Kamaitachi vs. Volador Jr., Stuka Jr. & Dragon Lee
February 18, 2016
I do not know why these six decided to wrestle at such a breakneck page for a match whose only purpose was to move along the Voaldor Jr./Negro Casas issue but I am glad that they did. Whatever the reasons, it was a pleasant surprise that they went down the path they did. The hectic pace gave this one a different feel than your normal single-minded CMLL TV trios. So often in these situations the two feuding wrestlers feud in an obvious manner while the other four become background players. That was not quite the case here. All six wrestlers – yes, even Gran Guerrero – had a memorable moment or two. Also while Volador and Casas’s interaction became contentious there was not nine minutes of choking, brawling, and fouls in an attempt to get over the hatred. That stuff was there, but used in a complementary fashion as opposed to consuming the entire match. Casas was fantastic here (no surprise). Stuka Jr. might have been the second best. I am a sucker for the form of his dives. During the match, he hit an out of nowhere splash and a picture perfect plancha to the outside.
The takeaway from this match was its relentless pace. That was really the differentiator between an okay but forgettable match and a match that that was a little more memorable.
Negro Casas vs. Volador Jr. © for the NWA World Historic Welterweight championship
February 15, 2016
I have a confession to make. In a recent moment of weakness, I allowed myself to think that time finally caught with the inimitable Negro Casas and his days as a good pro wrestler were behind him. This match proved me wrong.
I do think the 56-year old legend is slowing down and is a couple of paces behind where he was even a few years ago. However – as this match clearly demonstrated – Casas is still about as good as anyone could reasonably expect a wrestler his age to be. There has been a drop off in production from him going back roughly to the end of the feud with Rush in August 2014, but that almost certainly as has much to do with CMLL not giving him much to work with as it does a significant decline in skill. At least, this match would suggest that was the case.
They rushed the first two falls as one would expect, though the first fall – and both falls taken as a whole – had enough to them that they did not feel like a total waste. The third fall (also no surprise) is where most of the action was. In other words, it was the usual modern (non-Virus edition) CMLL title match from a general structure standpoint. What elevated it above the pack was that Casas and Volador Jr. substituted big moves (though there still were some) with a hectic finish centered on the budding rivals trying to outsmart each other. I will not spoil the last sequence of moves, but it was very well done and a great payoff to the feud up to this point.
I cannot stress enough how good Casas looked here. Trading Volador for Jr. no doubt has had a positive impact on Casas’ performances. Volador Jr. is the best tecnico in Mexico right now (looking at all aspects of his game) and that shined through against Casas. He was crisp on offense and worked really hard in the third fall. The match also had a lot of the smart little touches that Casas has demonstrated throughout his storied career. I don’t want to overdo it; the match was not a classic performance. It was however a very good “older Casas” performance which in and of itself is a rather major accolade.
Kraneo , Mephisto & Ripper vs. Mistico , Valiente & Volador Jr.
January 15, 2016