Ultimo Guerrero vs. Rey Bucanero (CMLL – 07/14/2006)

Ultimo Guerrero vs. Rey Bucanero
July 14, 2006
CMLL World Light Heavyweight
** 1/4

Mexico is overflowing with pro wrestling titles so it is normal for a wrestler to have a really, really long title reign. There is no need to pass a title around because there are so many of them. Even so, the fact that that in July of 2006 Ultimo Guerrero was still defending the title he defeated Shocker for (in a good match!) in December 2002 is somewhat ridiculous to think about. That is a long time no matter what you use as your frame reference. It sticks out even more because of how much CMLL during that time. When Guerrero one the title in late 2002 – and subsequently made a successful title defense versus former champion Shocker in early 2003 – it capped off a run of singles and tag matches where the fusion Mexico/Japan/American style worked by Shocker, Guerrero, and Wagner Jr. looked like it could be the spark for a CMLL in ring resurgence. Re-watching those matches now, it still looks that way. Yet by 2006, no such revolution occurred, luchadores came and went, and Mistico emerged as the CMLL golden boy. And all the while, Ultimo Guerrero was World Light Heavyweight champion.

This is a seminal match not only because it concludes Guerrero’s long title reign but because it is the first of only a few singles matches between the members of one of CMLL’s all-time notable tag teams. Bucanero was kicked out of the Guerreros sometime earlier – ostensibly for Atlantis – and thus this match is his big chance for revenge.

That in itself was problematic because a title match is not the best environment to seek revenge in. And I am not talking about the issue with working a title match in non-traditional title match style. By 2006, that ship had sailed in CMLL. It is more of an issue of motivation. This is the first time Bucanero got Guerrero one on one since he turned on him about a month and a half earlier. You would think Bucanero’s only thought would be extracting payback on his former tag team partner. Instead, he stands calmly in place at the belt ceremony and wrestles a straight up match. The surrounding circumstance and how the match was presented were at odds with each other. At best, the explanation is that Guerrero held the title for so long that taking it from him would be the ultimate revenge but that is a stretch.

This is one title match where it would have made a lot sense to shelf the sportsman-like first fall in favor of something more physical, but they work it totally straight up. There are a few hard lock ups to start which at least possibly establish some animosity. Otherwise fall #1 is full of basic headlocks, arm bars, and arm drags. Bucanero pulls out the first fall with a surprise crucifix after Guerrero goes to the arm drag well one too many times. Bucanero’s reaction to taking the first fall is a mix of stunned shocked and realization that he might actually be able to win this thing. Little things like that – which you don’t get in one fall matches – are one of the reasons I would be sad to CMLL ever abandon to the three-fall structure.

The match is not as by-the-numbers as many Ultimo Guerrero matches would become in a few short years. Through the next two falls, he does several top rope bits that tease the Guerrero Special without delivering on it. Some of the offense has a welcomed “rough around the edges” quality to it. I am thinking of in particular a Bucanero corner drop kick and Guerrero’s exploder suplex variation off the second turnbuckle that ends the second fall. There are also plenty of counters of signature moves that you would expect from two longtime partners wrestling each other. The third fall goes back-and-forth. The match succeeds at getting across the point that the Guerrero Special will likely end the match, so Guerrero is doing everything he can to set it up and Bucanero is doing everything he can to avoid it.. Bucanero uses the top rope far less than others, so there were fewer chances for Guerrero to attempt the move. All of this culminates with a spot late in the third period where Guerrero sets Bucanero on the top rope perfectly positioned for his signature piece of offense. Bucanero wildly swings his arms and legs to fight Guerrero off, but loses his balance in the process and they both fall off. It was a well done wild and dramatic spot.

They reset immediately after, complete with a camera zoom out which is more or less CMLL’s way of signally that a big finish is imminent. Sure enough, Guerrero charges at Bucanero who catches him with a driver for the pin and the big win.

Not a terrible match at all and borderline average. My major complaint is that the match felt too run of the mill given the history between these two. I would have liked to have seen them play up the animosity in a more obvious fashion. If they weren’t going to do that, I probably would have rather seen a more grounded, technical match with Bucanero trying to wrestle Guerrero’s greatest prize away from him. That was the story they were going for I think, but the action was far too standard for that to resonate in any significant away. With the exception of some of Bucanero’s mannerisms, there was little separating the pacing and drama of the match from other mid-2000’s CMLL singles matches.

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