In recent years I’ve gotten used to CMLL having two, maybe three big shows a year; I’m talking of course about Homenaje a Dos Leyendas, the Gran Prix and of course the Aniversario Show in September. Last year was a little different as CMLL also produced three tribute shows for Atlantis, Blue Panther and Negro Casas that were all noteworthy but otherwise it’s generally those three with a few lower level shows. It’ll be different yet again this year as CMLL is bringing back the Juicio Final this Friday. And they’re not just bringing it back; they’re doing everything they can to make it an event. Whether or not they’ve succeeded in that is up for debate but what can’t be argued is that, for the first time in awhile, CMLL has tried everything to make this show important. Even the Aniversario will generally only have two to three matches that matter; on this show we’ll have four. We have two hair matches, a Career vs. Career match and a tag team title match rounding up an unusual seven match card. This normally wouldn’t be a big deal…except its CMLL, it’s weird and it’s all a big deal! Whether you’re in love with the big matches or not (and I’d say they range from mildly interesting to interesting) it’s definitely something different for CMLL to put on a card where more than half the matches mean something. If nothing else it’s got me excited for this preview, as you can tell from this long opening. So what the hell are we waiting for? Without any further gilding of the lily, and with no more ado, let’s break down the 2019 Juicio Final.
Black Panther, Blue Panther Jr., Rey Cometa vs. Disturbio, Kawato San, Misterioso Jr.
What to Expect: Let’s start with one of the matches that mean nothing! Alright maybe not nothing but still; close to it. The good news is that these big CMLL show openers tend to be good because dudes are actually trying hard. Both the Panthers and Rey Cometa are good to great at all times so their performances will only be amplified by the big show effort. The key is that Disturbio, Kawato and Misterioso will be trying too. That matters…well maybe not for Kawato but it does for the other two, especially a guy like Misterioso who can be good when he tries (which is once, maybe twice a year). Unless these guys are given no time to work with or the technicos just have an off night, I think the rudos step up their game enough that this turns out to be a pretty good opener.
Winners: The Panthers and Cometa take it in three falls after Cometa pins Kawato with a 450 Splash.
Ángel de Oro, Niebla Roja, Soberano Jr. vs. Ephesto, Luciferno, Mephisto
What to Expect: The second match with no stakes, unless you count “will Soberano steal the show?” as major stakes. And I mean we probably should. This is a guy with such confidence that he once released this shirt.
Anyways, this feels like a good match that would’ve been great if CMLL had replaced two of Los Hijos del Infierno with Hechicero and Pólvora. Ángel de Oro (his miscast match with Rush this Tuesday notwithstanding) and Niebla Roja have both morphed into top notch performers and Soberano is legitimately one of the best luchadores in the world. Those three alone should make this good; the problem is Mephisto is the only rudo on the other side above average and even he’s slowing down. The effort level will be raised for the rudos and its possible that’ll be enough (especially in Ephesto’s case) to raise the bar but I’m just not sold on them being up to snuff. The technicos will do enough to make this good but it’ll take an all time performance by all three to deliver a great match.
Winners: Ephesto, Luciferno and Mephisto take this in three falls after Mephisto pins Soberano with a top rope Devil’s Wings, effectively angering me for the rest of the night.
Career vs. Career Match
Metálico vs. Virus
What to Expect: The first big stipulation match of the show and the first Career vs. Career match in Arena Mexico that I can recall in recent memory. And what a weird one it is too! On the one side you have Metálico, a lower card rudo best known for creative entrances, the occasional moonsault and stifling younger luchadores’ progression. On the other side you have Virus, another lower card rudo who is arguably one of the best all around talents in lucha libre when given the chance. These two couldn’t be weirder opponents for each other…and yet here they are, after a few weeks of feuding on CMLL’s Sunday show in Arena Mexico, duking out to see which one is going home for “good.” I use quotations because this retirement stipulation should be treated with the Ron Burgundy gif and little more.
That first paragraph is basically a long way of me saying I have no idea what’s going on with this match; besides the fact that this is a one fall match and the loser won’t be retired for long. I also have no idea how good it can be. It could easily be a dud given that Metálico is generally an eyesore. It could also easily be a show stealer; eyesore that he is Metálico does have ability and Virus, who I cannot stress enough is one of the best all around luchadores in the world when he wants to be, will be trying his heart out in what could likely be the last big singles opportunity he gets (fake retirement or not). It really just comes down to how much time CMLL gives these guys and how much effort Metálico will put in. Virus will want this to be great; if Metálico wants the same and puts in the same effort, then this will sneak up and shock the hell out of everyone. I just don’t know if I trust Metálico to do that. Thus I’ll play it safe. The match won’t be a disaster because Virus will be going full throttle, but Metálico will be just enough of the grumpy old luchador he is that the match doesn’t reach greatness and instead finds some sort of middle. What’s the world for that again? Oh yes; average. This will be average.
Winner: Virus wins and Metálico rides off into a retirement that lasts as long as my retirement from drinking Sunkist did.
Hair vs. Hair Match
Kaho Kobayashi vs. Amapola
What to Expect: I told you this Juicio Final will give you no time to breathe, as we immediately go from Career vs. Career in the last match to what I’d argue was the best built match between the two Hair vs. Hair matches on this show. Why the best; because unlike the UG vs. Máscara Año 2000, this match had to gain momentum in the CMLL luchadoras division, a life sucking hellhole from which there’s generally no escape. Only Kaho and Amapola did escape it; the month long feud has wound up producing some of the most energetic, watchable (if not good) trios matches the division has seen since Lady Maravilla and Zeuxis left and managed to get the crowd excited for this match. And that’s how we got to the most exciting (this is how low the bar is sports fans) CMLL luchadoras match since Princesa Sugehit vs. Zeuxis. Notice how all the previous good things with the CMLL luchadoras division involved Zeuxis? Grodd do I miss her.
Stay on target Cult. The point is that I’ve enjoyed the buildup to this match and I honestly believe this will be a really fun, really good match. A big reason for that is my belief in the heroine of this story. Don’t get me wrong; Amapola was at one point a really, REALLY good worker and is still capable these days, as the lead up to this match has shown. She’s still definitely lost a step though and would not have me interested in this match if her opponent was, say, Sanely. What’s made this interesting is that her rival is a fun livewire of a performer. Only Avispa Dorada brings a higher level of excitement in the luchadoras division than Kaho Kobayashi and that’s largely due to the dives; no one else brings the level of enthusiasm, energy and effort. It’s not saying a ton in a division with next to nothing but there’s no question those qualities helped Kaho standout amongst the pack and got her, slowly but surely, over with the Arena Mexico audience. Now we’ll see if she and Amapola can put it all together for one memorable match. They’ll have Kaho’s energy, they’ll have the best effort Amapola will give all year, they should have a hot crowd and they have a couple of story beats CMLL has successfully built up (like Amapola’s inability to kick out of Kaho’s Bridging School Boy pin) that can only help them. This won’t be the best match on the show but I have a feeling it’ll be pretty good. It’ll certainly be more memorable than anything else that happens with the CMLL luchadoras division in 2019.
Winner: This is one of the two big matches on the show that are kind of a tossup. Amapola makes the most sense to win this match because I’m pretty sure Kaho is returning to Japan soon (unfortunately). Of course Kaho is also the younger performer with more potential, Amapola doesn’t need this win and Kaho is most definitely returning to CMLL at some point, meaning they can build off this. It legit could go either way. In the end though I’ll play it safe; as much as I’m hoping Kaho wins, Amapola will get the three fall W and poor Kaho will have her head shaved. Let’s move on before I get too sad about it.
CMLL World Tag Team Championship Match
Diamante Azul & Valiente (c) vs. Euforia & Gran Guerrero
What to Expect: And now we’re onto the next “big” match. THREE BIG ONES IN A ROW IN CMLL’S EYES! I’m pretty sure the last time that happened it was the year 2000 and Atlantis and Villano III were headlining. I’m still not entirely convinced this match will happen as planned given that I make more appearances in CMLL then Diamante Azul does these days. If it does though it’s got a shot to be the best match on the show. Yes Diamante Azul is still very much Diamante Azul, the living and breathing lucha equivalent of Backdraft 2. But his partner Valiente always comes through in big matches and anyone who’s watched a lick of CMLL the past few years will tell you that the Euforia/Gran Guerrero combo is LONG overdue for this shot. No one has better team based offense then those two, no duo is as creative as those two (search your feelings Dinamitas you know it to be true) and oh yeah, there’s also that thing where Euforia and Gran Guerrero are excellent individually too. I’d trust these guys with my Sega Dreamcast and Batman Bobblehead. They always get the job done and even with Azul being an unknown, they’ll get it done here with Valiente. This will be fun.
Winners: This may be a tough one to call only from the standpoint that I, personally, would give the titles to Euforia and Guerrero. I think they’re the best team in CMLL, I think they’d produce some killer matches, I think they’d actually show up for matches; it’s a no brainer. CMLL does love them some Diamante Azul though and as long as he’s employed he’ll be treated like a Targaryen in Meereen. In other words, look for him and Valiente to retain in three falls.
Carístico, Mistico, Volador Jr. vs. Cavernario, Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas
What to Expect: Finally; another match with nothing at stake! I was beginning to think CMLL had completely lost their minds. I’m pretty sure this match just exists to be a break from all the high stakes matches on this show while still featuring several guys that can have an entertaining match. Unless they’re cut short on time or just don’t care that should in fact happen. Of these six only Mr. Niebla isn’t top tier and he’s still a good time from an entertainment standpoint (provided he’s sober). The other five can all be tremendous and Mistico and Cavernario will be following up on their excellent main event from last week. I think all six guys will be energized, I think they’ll give a respectable effort and I think this will be a pretty good time, though not quite the match it could’ve been if Felino or someone of his ilk was in for Niebla.
Winners: The technicos pick up a three fall victory.
Hair vs. Hair Match
Último Guerrero vs. Máscara Año 2000
What to Expect: Boy; if CMLL had found a way to do current day UG vs. 1993 Máscara Año 2000 then this match would be one of the hottest matches in lucha libre history. Alas it’s not just a semi-big match because Máscara is 60 years old and 30 years past his prime. That hasn’t stopped CMLL from pushing this though, and in fairness they’ve done an alright job. The story of this match appeared to be Máscara targeting former Los Guerreros Laguneros member Niebla Roja for a match, only for him to go after the UG a week later. The two have battled in trios action since with some surprisingly energetic brawls, tons of interference from their stables (with Euforia and Gran Guerrero backing up the UG while Cuatrero, Forastero and Sansón backed up their uncle) and a whole lot of fouls. And that friends is how Último Guerrero vs. Máscara Año 2000, hair vs. hair, came to be.
Now truthfully, this is one of these big hair matches where quality doesn’t matter. The only thing CMLL cares about here is that UG and Máscara are huge names that should draw a decent Arena Mexico crowd, which then should lead to a big time atmosphere. How the match goes is secondary to them. The funny thing is, and keep in mind I’m just a crazy dude with a keyboard, I think this match has a shot to be good! I really do. I wouldn’t if this was Máscara vs. almost anyone else; the dude tries hard for 60 years old and isn’t an embarrassment, but you’re not getting much more than adequate out of him at this stage of the game unless a special performer is involved. Guess what; the UG is that special performer. He can also be a frustratingly routine performer at times but we’ve seen (most recently with Michael Elgin last year) that when it’s time to deliver the goods, no one steps up more than Último Guerrero. He is a master at controlling the crowd and getting reactions, he is a savant at getting the most out of luchadores without a prayer; when he wants to, the UG can do anything. I’d say he’s proven that during this buildup when he’s managed, multiple times, to convince me this match would be watchable just by delivering some good brawls with MA2K. I’m not saying he’ll deliver a classic; even that is a bridge too far. But I believe in the UG enough that by the end of this match, against all odds, I believe he’ll have carried Máscara Año 2000 to a good, memorable match (or at worst, a watchable one). I’ve seen enough to be convinced. Maybe I’ll be eating crow on this one big late Friday night but I’m telling you; don’t sleep on this. The UG will find a way to surprise.
Winner: This may be the easiest prediction I’ll ever make. Último Guerrero keeps his beautiful mullet with a three fall victory, finishing Máscara off with Pulpo Guerrero. It has to be that; I’m afraid Máscara will break if he takes something like the Guerrero Special.
And I’m spent. I’m off for now sports fans but I’ll see you tomorrow night for a review of this show. Hope you join us for it. TILL THEN!
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