The CMLL 90th Aniversario delivers one of the best shows of the year, with an emotional mask match and a performance for the ages. (PHOTO: CMLL / Alexis Salazar)

CMLL 90th Anniversary Show Review

Published September 16, 2023

It’s not every day in pro wrestling when a promotion is able to celebrate the 90th edition of their biggest annual show. But it happened tonight, September 16, on Mexican Independence Day, when Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, or as the kids call it, CMLL, held the 90th Aniversario in the greatest wrestlng arena in the world, Arena Mexico. For a show that big, you have to go big, and CMLL did just that, with all the pageantry you’d expect, all the great matches you’d expect, and one all time, Hall of Fame performance under unforeseen circumstances that no one could’ve seen coming. In a year where CMLL has proven themselves to be among, if not the, best promotions to watch, tonight was a further statement that “the serious and the stable” needs to be taken seriously as the best promotion running today. After all; there’s 90 years of evidence to suggest that already, isn’t there? But let’s not waste time; there’s a show to review after all.



Stephanie Vaquer & Zeuxis defeated La Jarochita & Lluvia to become inaugural CMLL Women’s World Tag Team Champions after Vaquer pinned Lluvia with a Double Underhook Backbreaker and Zeuxis pinned Jarochita with a Package Piledriver. It was the Aniversario, it was to crown the first ever proper CMLL Women’s Tag Champions and it was between two teams that know each other the way I know Final Fantasy X, so you knew they would be going all out. And yet, this was even crazier than I expected. They built to things slowly, starting out with some classic lucha, and then ultimately put pedal to the floor a little more than midway, when Jarochita hit a tope suicida and Lluvia came off the top with a plancha to the floor. A few minutes later there was a Zeuxis Spanish Fly off the apron, a moonsault off the apron, and a Vaquer springboard dive, and from there it was just the two teams trading blows like that Pikachu vs. Pikachu fight from the first Pokemon movie. 




Frankly, it was like a Super Viernes main event, just in the opener, and while some may find the “your turn, my turn” thing a bit off putting, I found it massively exciting. It didn’t hurt that it involved two women in Zeuxis and Vaquer who are excellent at what they do, two game opponents in Jarochita (herself a great worker) and Lluvia, and a whole lot of creativity; when you have that, the back and forth bombs being thrown works so much better. There’s been 89 Aniversario’s, so who knows where this opener ranks, but I thought it was great. More importantly, it continued the trend of great luchadoras matches on the Aniversario dating back to Jarochita vs. Reyna Isis last year, and had the right winners in Zeuxis and Vaquer, who were absolutely the right call to be the first ever champs. And yes, part of me is saying that because Zeuxis is the greatest ever. SHE’S STILL THE QUEEN OF LUCHA DAMMIT!  ****


Esfinge defeated Rugido with an Indian Deathlock Pin to win the Copa Independencia. About halfway through this match I was ready to deem this a misfire…and frankly, why wouldn’t you given who was in it? I’ve watched Esfinge for nearly a decade now, and the only thing that was ever interesting about his decision to enter to Souja Boi’s “Kiss Me Through The Phone” song years ago. I’ve watched Rugido for a lot less time, but he also doesn’t strike me as a very interesting performer. Both were proving me right early on, despite a strong effort, and I was wondering what the match would be like if better, more charismatic guys were doing this same match. And then a funny thing happened; Rugido ran up the ropes to hit a Superplex (a little slower than one would hope, but still), suddenly the crowd got white hot, and the near falls at the end were great! This just goes to show you to never give up on a match. It doesn’t change the fact that the first ⅔’s were bland, but the effort was always there, and the ending stretch was so good I have to say this was a good match. Good for both guys; I don’t know how many more they have in them given their skill, but at least they’ll always have this, and Esfinge can say he hung out with the US Ambassador of Mexico. I sure as shit haven’t done that. *** ½


Atlantis, Blue Panther, Octagon defeated El Satanico, Fuerza Guerrera, Virus two falls to one after Octagon submitted (maybe pinned, tough to tell) Guerrera and Atlantis pinned Satanico with a School Boy. We all knew what we were getting into with this one, which featured 54 year Virus as the youngest man in the match and two dudes in Octagon and Guerrera who move slower than sand in an hourglass. It was more often a struggle than not, but I will say it wasn’t a trainwreck (there were no major botches that  I saw) and it was far from the worst leyendas match I’ve seen in Arena Mexico (remember some of those matches Canek was in?). A lot of credit for that has to go to Blue Panther and Virus; they were the guys counted on to keep things respectable here, and they did. Both guys made everyone they worked with looked decent, their segments together were high points, and Panther got to hit a crazy dive off the ramp. Even still, he was no match for Virus, who somehow was the most over guy in this match. Goes to show how underrated he’s been in CMLL all these years. I’ll also give some bonus points to Atlantis hitting his backbreakers (all on Virus); that’s a spot I’ll always pop for, no matter how long in the tooth Atlantis is. ** 1/2


Lince Dorado & Samuray Del Sol defeated Soberano Jr. & Titan two falls to one after Dorado pinned Titan with a Shooting Star Press and Del Sol pinned Soberano with a 450 Splash. I was absolutely baffled by this finish; it’s the Aniversario, it’s Mexican Independence Day, and CMLL decides to put over the two foreign dudes? What’s next; people saying Coke is better than Pepsi? Wait; THEY’RE SAYING THAT NOW?!



The finish aside, I thought this match was awesome. And that’s despite the fact that The Artist Formerly Known as Kalisto seemed lost 15% of the time, and had a dive sequence at the beginning of fall two that seemed on the verge of being out of control. The good news is that Del Sol’s inconsistency also comes with some great moments, and when he was on, he was really on here, especially as the match kept going. And the other three were always on; Dorado embraced being the foreign heel in this one, while still having his share of spectacular moments, and Soberano and especially Titan were just off the charts great, probably motivated a bit extra by the crowd, which was very much pro-Mexico. I would actually say these four didn’t do as much high octane stuff as you’d expect, but their work was so tight it didn’t matter, and the moments that did pop (like Del Sol springing off a seated Dorado’s shoulders for a Canadian Destroyer) really popped. The best match on the show to this point, and it’s not like what came before it was average. **** ¼ 


Atlantis Jr. Mascara Dorada, Mistico defeated Kevin Knight, Rocky Romero, TJP two falls to one after Mistico submitted Rocky with La Mistica and Atlantis submitted TJP with LA Atlantida. The rudos attacked after the match, with Rocky stealing Mistico’s mask to get some heat. I’ll be honest; I thought this was kind of flat. It wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, but I spent most of this match waiting for it to hit another gear and instead it wound up feeling like a trios match you can catch on most Friday nights. And that’s not good when this is the 90th Aniversario! Again though, this wasn’t terrible; the crowd loved Mistico, the crowd hated Rocky, Kevin Knight looked to adapt well, Atlantis Jr. and TJP were both fine and Mascara Dorada once again had some great moments (though he also had one noticeable screw up on an insane corner idea he seemed to have). This was a good match. But given Rocky’s other big Arena Mexico bouts and the talent involved, I have to say this failed to meet expectations. *** ¼


Angel de Oro & Volador Jr. defeated Averno & Ulimo Guerrero after Volador pinned Averno with a Yoshitonic and Angel de Oro submitted Guerrero with La Campana. As a result, Angel de Oro and Volador moved on to face off in a hair vs. hair match immediately after this. Averno deserves an assist here, as he turned on Guerrero at the end, after a few miscues earlier, allowing an opening for Oro and Volador to win. UG and Averno brawled afterward too, so those issues seem like they remain. I could’ve maybe done with a few minutes less from this one, but overall it was good for what it was. As with everyone else tonight, everybody worked hard, everything mostly came off good (though Guerrero and Volador were oddly on different pages multiple times); in other words, it was a good prelude, though it could hardly hold a candle to what happened next. ***


Volador Jr. defeated Angel de Oro in a Hair vs. Hair match after pinning Oro with a Canadian Destroyer. Normally, the story would be Oro losing his hair, but the story was Volador…and by Volador, I mean his shoulder, which he appeared to seriously injury early in the match (I didn’t catch when, but a best guess would be when Oro swung him into the barricades on the floor). It became pretty clear quick that he wasn’t just selling, and for a moment, it seemed the match would be unable to continue. But then Volador got up, grabbed his arm, and just kept going. And as a result, delivered one of the greatest/dumbest/gutsiest performances you will ever see. 


And yes, he performed (or took) all these moves after the injury


I don’t even know what to say here…I mean, this dude had one functioning arm and he was bumping onto it, taking moves onto it, even using it on occasion for his own offense! I cannot even fathom the pain he was in, nor the difficulty it took to do this. And yet he did. It was not always the smoothest, but who cares; this was right up there with Cody Rhodes in Hell in a Cell in terms of courage and excellence. It absolutely has to go down as the defining performance of Volador’s career, and that’s saying something cause his career has been GREAT! And while he will deservedly get the credit here, props most also be given to the crowd, who, whether they bought the injury as real or not, contributed heavily to this match with their reactions post injury, and also to Angel de Oro. The only thing harder than working with one arm is working with someone who has only one functioning arm, and Oro managed to keep things on the rails, protect Volador as well as he could on moves, and still deliver in his own right. Don’t sleep on his work in this match. Don’t sleep on any of this. Given the stage, the atmosphere, and the obstacles, this match wasn’t only a great match, this match wasn’t only a MOTCY, this match was right up there with the Atlantis vs. Villano III’s of the world. One of the most captivating things you’re likely to see in Arena Mexico. ***** ½. 


Templario defeated Dragon Rojo Jr. in a Mask vs. Mask match after pinning Rojo with a Package Piledriver. As a result, Rojo was unmasked as Anselmo Rivas Castro, aged 42 with 22 years of experience. Rojo was unmasked by his wife and daughter in one of the more moving moments in recent memory, especially since Rojo seemed to legitimately be shattered by the defeat.




Obviously what happened with Volador in the last match wasn’t planned, but the fact that it happened, and then the match delivered the way it did, made it a tall order for these two to come out and follow. And while they couldn’t truly follow it, this was still damn good stuff. Dragon Rojo Jr. is definitely in his last legs given all the injuries, but you knew he’d be going all out here (it was only the biggest match of his life after all), and he did, and fortunately Templario was right there to meet him the whole way. There definitely was some hangover at the start of the match with the crowd (possibly also because everyone knew Rojo was losing), but by the end they had everyone (including me) biting on Rojo’s nearfalls and going crazy for the usual big moves. And of course, that post match scene made up for any deficiencies the main event may have had, and served as another reminder as to why lucha libre tops everything. Nowhere else in wrestling can you get a show like this, with an ending that emotional and real; you just don’t, especially when it hits like tonight. And while I would say Templario vs. Dragon Rojo Jr. won’t go down as THE match of this show, it was without a doubt a success, and a great, emotional capper, for a night full of greatness and emotion. *** ¾ 


There you have it sports fans. Now I’m going to go watch AEW Collision on delay! Till we meet again, some sunny day.


Source: CMLL


Please change disks to continue…

Folks! We invite you to also follow us through our official social media accounts: 





© 2023 Lucha Central 

Pin It on Pinterest