This was not a fun day in the lucha libre world sports fans. Obviously the Triplemania press conference was newsworthy but it quickly took a backseat to the passing of Villano III, one of the greatest and most beloved luchadores of all time. It was a given that Villano’s passing would hang over tonight’s CMLL show in Arena Mexico and it did; what I couldn’t have expected was the effect it would end up having on the performers. It didn’t initially as the first few matches of the show were predictably hard to get through. But after a low key, touching tribute to Villano, the energy and effort of the show picked up and closed strongly with three good to very good matches, one of which set up a potential Match of the Year for next week. I’ll mention it later in the review and certainly won’t attest to all of the good things on the show being inspired by it, but I like to believe the luchadores gave a little bit extra tonight in Villano’s honor. I’d like to believe I did with this review as well. Let’s get started.
Bengala & Leono defeated Apocalipsis & Príncipe Odin Jr. two falls to one
There were only two things about this match that didn’t completely blow chunks; Leono’s continued insistence on dressing like Hollywood Hogan and Leono’s rolling headscissors into a submission transition. We now officially live in a world where Leono did a semi-cool wresting move. I’d say that gave me hope that CMLL would change their mind about LA Park-Rush tomorrow, but then I remembered Leono was complete ass the rest of this match so never mind. In his defense, so was everything else in this match. Jay Leno retaking the Tonight Show and Star Jr.’s theme song weren’t as lame as this. Hey, speaking of Star Jr…
Espanto Jr., Hijo del Signo, Metálico defeated Astral, Eléctrico, Star Jr. two falls to one
There was a moment in the first fall where Astral botched a hurricanrana off Metálico’s back where I was pretty sure this match was going to wind up being one of the worst matches in recorded history. Instead it just merely sucked. Still not good, but when you have the choice between Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, you always, and I mean ALWAYS, go with the the former. At least in that one Batman didn’t force Alfred to cook for him at an inconvenient time.
But still, this sucked. Not only were Astral and Eléctrico as useful as a Sonic game after 2003, but the rudos pretty much dictated the entire match after the midway point of fall two. And that was after the first fall was back and forth! There was absolutely nothing the technicos could do and poor Star Jr. was neutered to the point that he wound up taking an Asai Moonsault from Metálico. METÁLICO! I’m all for cool dives and the Metálico moonsault is pretty sweet; it just be sweeter if Star Jr. was allowed to do them too. He wasn’t, his partners sucked, his opponents sucked; do I really need to say anymore?
Amapola defeated La Jarochita
To think I only got two things wrong in predicting this match. The first was saying Jarochita would do a suicide dive; unless I missed it glancing away quickly, she did no dive. Second was saying this match would go six minutes; it actually went over eight! Beyond that everything I expected happened. The action was significantly better than the first two matches and was probably better than most of the luchadoras matches we’ve seen recently. Did that make it good? Not really; Amapola was still in cruise control and Jarochita is someone who, to me at least, remains someone who looks capable of doing more than she does but never does it. Maybe that was Amapola allowing her nothing, but either way there was no sizzle to this match and as such it was 8 minutes of solid, unspectacular lucha libre. An upgrade over the usual, but only because the usual is a vicious, life sucking waste from which there is no escape.
Ode to Villano
Normally I don’t comment on these tributes CMLL does when a luchador dies but the passing of Villano III has hit me hard today, as did this part of the show. Thus I don’t think I can ignore it. I will not claim to have followed Villano III’s whole career; he was well before my time and many others can speak of his ability and greatness (especially from the UWA days) far better than I. But there are only two matches in history that I’ve seen that have left as big an impression on me as Atlantis-Villano III did. I think it’s one of the greatest matches ever, the greatest lucha libre match I’ve ever seen and from the match to the post match, the defining moment of wrestling perfection that everyone and everything within the profession is striving towards. Everything about that match means the world to me and as such it has been a difficult day to see Villano, who’s emotional post match will remain etched into my brain till I shuffle off this mortal coil, pass on. I was fighting back tears again during this nice tribute, especially upon seeing Atlantis get emotional and the several minute standing ovation the fans gave. It was a moment I won’t soon forget, and a moment I wish we didn’t have to experience ever again (even though we sadly will).
Dragón Rojo Jr., Okumura, Pólvora defeated Blue Panther, Guerrero Maya Jr., Rey Cometa two falls to one
Now this was more like it! After that moving Villano III tribute I was hoping these six would come out motivated to give us something and they did. It wasn’t a great match; I thought there was a little too much down time in certain parts and the match was more buildup than it was nonstop action. But the parts that clicked really clicked, especially when Rey Cometa was involved. He was really strong this past Friday, only everything around him was so mediocre that you forgot about his strong work. Not tonight; he upped his game from a few days ago, delivered a tremendous sequence with all three rudos in fall three and topped it off with a marvelous tornillo that made sure no one would forget his performance tonight. With a performance like that, all the other five luchadores needed to do was hit all the right notes and that’s what they did, even if you wish they were given a bit more to do. This was a good match and that’s all you could ask for on a night like this.
Stuka, Titán, Valiente defeated Ephesto, Luciferno, Mephisto two falls to one
Holy shit did I have it wrong with this match! I was expecting CMLL, and these six, to play it safe, keep it quick and set everything up for Titán and Mephisto next week. They did the latter; they did not do the first two and we wound up with a pretty damn good match!
What was the cause of this? Part of it definitely seemed to be all six guys wanting to honor Villano, from Mephisto coming out in a pink mask to all guys putting in way more effort than usual. I mean my Grodd, Valiente broke out the Valiente Special. ON A TUESDAY! That definitely was for a reason. Call me crazy but I also think these guys were really looking to give Titán and Mephisto a little extra kick for next week. They certainly did. Titán and Mephisto were on the same wave length (as always) and did enough to get us excited but not enough to spoil the whole match. And as pointed out everyone else was on the ball, with the exception of Stuka and Ephesto having a timing issue late in the match. That wasn’t enough to cause serious harm though and the effort, big moves and way they went about setting up Titán-Mephisto made this match feel like a home run. Now we just have to wait a week to see Titán and Mephisto work their magic again. Oh my I don’t know if I can wait!
Atlantis, Mistico, Soberano Jr. defeated Cuatrero, Forastero, Sansón two falls to one
I cannot begin to tell you how much I wanted Atlantis to win this match with the kneeling La Atlantida. Man I wanted it so bad. It would’ve been the perfect tribute on this day for Atlantis to regain some strength in his legs and finish off one of the Dinamitas with the same move he used to unmask Villano all those years ago. But this is not the Atlantis of then or even of last year; he doesn’t have the strength in his legs anymore and as such the ending I wanted wasn’t possible. It’s a sad truth, but an understandable one. As for the rest of the match, I was pleasantly surprised! Soberano didn’t have the best night and there was a weird spot where Cuatrero and Soberano were not on the same page (a rare misstep between two dudes who generally gel together) but overall this was also pretty good. Like the previous three matches the effort was up, Mistico was doing things like stage dives and Atlantis found enough inside him to get a pretty decent Monkey Flip off. The Dinamitas were also on point (aside from those weird Soberano spots) and did a great job getting the match going at the start. These CMLL main events have a way of summing up the shows they headline and this was no different. It wasn’t an out of this world match, it had flaws and we’ll probably all forget it by next week. But all six luchadores tried harder than usual, there was some cool stuff and you got the feeling they gave everything they could to make this a good match for their fallen comrade. I think they succeeded and I think this show, especially in the second half, succeeded as well.
That’ll do it sports fans. I’ll see you tomorrow for some coverage of CMLL’s Aniversario press conference and a review of tomorrow night’s Lucha Underground. Till then!
Please change disks to continue…