Trauma II vs. Zatura
June 18, 2009
The two eras of IWRG that are talked about the most are the ESPN2 era (roughly 1999 – 2001) and the circa-2009 era. If you put a gun to my head (or even if you just ask nicely) I’ll probably pick the former as the IWRG period I gravitate towards the most. There are a bunch of reasons for that but getting right to it, I have found that the match quality is overall at a high level particularly if you cherry-pick what you watch. That period has the El Dandy/Navarro mat classic, the excellent Dr. Cerebro/El Hijo del Santo trilogy, and a strong roster mix that was greatly aided by a working arrangement with CMLL. I like late 2000’s IWRG just fine, but I don’t find the highs to be as high nor the overall product to be as engaging as it was at the start of the decade.
This title match, however, gave me pause and at least momentarily made me reevaluate my position. It is an excellent lucha title match that is at the same time traditional and progressive, wrestled between two young and clever wrestlers. Trauma II and Zatura put together a true match of the year candidate here. Having finally watched the match, it is easy to see why it received so much praise at the time. Phil Schneider, Ohtani’s Jacket, and Eduardo all considered it among the best matches – if not the best – of the year.
I am perfectly okay with watching matches from 2009 or from 2016 that are basically replicas of what a traditional lucha title match should look like. However, there is something to be said for contemporary workers who can reach both back and forward for inspiration. This match is paced like a title match from the 80’s or early 90’s and has the same distinctive focus on holds (both of the submission and pinning variety). At the same time, the moves feel like 2009 moves in terms of innovation while still making sense in the traditional mat structure. Trauma II does at least one counter/transition on the mat out of a hold and into one of his own that his rewind-worthy. Zatura’s flying is fresh without being gimmicky or over-the-top.
Schneider compared the match to the Juvi/Rey series of matches in terms of moving forward without leaving the past totally behind. I don’t think this match is that good or even accomplishes the same things that Rey and Juvi did, but his point still stands. It’s a hard thing to do – to innovate while not losing sight of the fundamental or traditional values that are still useful – but these two guys did a very good job at it.
Trauma II in particular came across like a future lock for a “best technical wrestler” award. We know his career has not been quite that prolific nor has he even necessarily continued down that same mat-based path. He’s had a good career, just not that career. This was a great singles performance from him without a doubt. I don’t know with any level of certainty if this is the absolute best performance of his career but based on what I have seen I would say it is. Zatura provides a fine foil. He is over, is willing and able to work with Trauma on the mat, and his flying offense counteracts Trauma II’s more mat-based approach rather nicely.
On a smaller note, I also loved the post-match celebration. Trauma II and his brother (who severed as his second) go nuts after the final fall. Their celebration upon Trauma II taking the title is one of those little things that can elevate s a very good match into a very good and important match.
At some point when 2000’s lucha is revisited for a DVDVR-style poll, this match deserves to get some play. I admit to being a little skeptical (I had never seen Zatura before) but the match is worth tracking down if you have never seen it. It holds up the hype it received back in 2009.