If you’re a wrestling fan there have been two big stories you’ve noticed the past week (three if you count AAA’s upcoming announcement of a show in Madison Square Garden). First, Vince McMahon may actually be a pretty rotten human being. And second, the Bret Hart-Tom Magee match has finally been located. The latter is a big deal sports fans; that infamous match, where Hart took an absolutely green Magee and made him look so good Vince McMahon was ready to make Magee the next Hogan, had long thought to be lost forever. Hell WWE wasn’t even able to find it! Its discover got me thinking about the “holy grail of lost lucha libre matches” and if there were any. There certainly are; how many people would pay to see video of El Santo vs. Black Shadow? But when push came to shove for me, only one match stood out as the sort of lost classic I would absolutely do anything to see. The funny thing is though is that the match, unlike Hart vs. Magee, wasn’t always lost. In fact the match was once upon a time widely seen by lucha libre fans on Televisa, and was considered a classic match on what Dave Meltzer called one of the best shows he ever attended. What match am I referring to? None other than the Lucha de Apuesta match between Máscara Sagrada and Black Cat from Triplemania II-B. Like Jack Dawson it was something its day; and like Jack Dawson, it now exists only in the memory of the people who saw it live.
In a way it’s kind of fitting given all the pieces that made this match. First there’s the show the match took place on, Triplemania II-B. From a match quality perspective, Triplemania II-B is considered, by those who saw it (including Meltzer) to arguably the greatest Triplemania of all time. It’s also a show that a) came the same year as AAA’s famous When Worlds Collide event and b) was the middle child in a Triplemania series that included the blow off to the Konnan-Jake Roberts feud (Triplemania II-C) and a Jerry Estrada-Heavy Metal match that featured a wild cougar nearly attacking fans and Antonio Peña changing the finish of the match after it ended (Triplemania II-A). Throw in the fact that video from the event itself is very difficult to find (only an excellent Atomicos match that saw El Hijo del Santo, Jushin Thunder Liger, Octagón and Tiger Mask III take on Blue Panther, Eddy Guerrero, LA Park and Psicosis is easy to locate as a whole on YouTube) and it’s not hard to see why even a great event like Triplemania II-B has slid through the cracks.
And then there’s the fact that the match is between two guys named Máscara Sagrada and Black Cat. These are not names you see talked about often by lucha fans (or wrestling fans period) these days. The late Black Cat, born Victor Mar Manuel, is a semi-cult hero in lucha and Puroresu circles (wrestlers like Konnan and Chris Jericho have always spoken highly of him) and is honored yearly at CMLL and New Japan’s FantasticaMania tour. Meanwhile Sagrada is mostly known these days as a) the first guy to have a legal battle with AAA over his name and b) for being the inspiration for AAA and Lucha Underground’s Mascarita Sagrada character. That’s right; the larger Sagrada is why Mascarita was eating pizza rolls with Son of Havoc in Season 3. It’s quite shocking when you consider Sagrada was both a lucha and movie star in Mexico during the 90’s, as well as arguably one of AAA’s biggest technicos alongside Konnan and Octagón during AAA’s early days. Now he’s a guy who can’t get onto CMLL Leyendas shows (despite being better than half the guys who do make it) and, like fellow former top AAA star Heavy Metal, has been forgotten by fans at large.
So yeah; put together a forgotten show with two largely forgotten luchadores and you’re going to get a match that’s largely forgotten. All of which is such a shame because their match is considered, by those who saw it, to be a highlight of an era of AAA where they were arguably the best promotion in the world. The road to Sagrada vs. Black Cat began in the Summer of 1993 after the formation of a little group you may have heard of; Los Gringos Locos. Yes the Eddy Guerrero/Love Machine Art Barr tandem was just starting to become a force and, after AAA determined the duo would turn into a stable, Barr and Guerrero were granted permission to choose who was in the stable. They both chose Black Cat, who both were close with thanks to stints in Japan. As the Los Gringos Locos stable grew, the members were paired off into their own individual feuds against AAA’s top technicos. Barr and Guerrero would feud with El Hijo del Santo and Octagón. Konnan would feud with loose Gringos Locos member Jake Roberts and, upon turning rudo and joining the group in 1994, would feud with former partner Perro Aguayo Sr. As for Black Cat he would feud with, you guessed it, Sagrada.
Because AAA booker Antonio Peña was at the peak of his creativity at the time, AAA managed to keep all these angles hot, along with several other non AAA vs. Gringos Locos feuds (Metal vs. Estrada, Rey Mysterio’s early feuds, ect.). So when the time came for the Triplemania II series AAA had three big singles matches for all three shows, with Metal vs. Estrada going first, Sagrada-Black Cat going second and then finally the year long Konnan-Roberts feud concluding last. Against those two matches and several terrific undercard bouts, Sagrada vs. Black Cat was widely considered by contemporary critics to be the best match between the three shows. Meltzer would rate it 4 ¾ stars, a rating comparable to the classic Atlantis-Villano III match that would occur six years later. The finish, which saw Sagrada DQ’d in fall two by hitting Black Cat with a Martinete (Tombstone Piledriver) only to then win in fall three when a knocked out Cat couldn’t answer the 20 count, was considered one of the most genius finishes in the history of lucha libre. Whatever way you sliced it this was a match everyone considered to be a classic.
And now it cannot be found anywhere. At all.
Trust me on that one sports fans for I have looked. There is a singles match between Máscara Sagrada and Black Cat on YouTube, but it’s from the week before Triplemania II-B (though it is also worth seeking out as a prelude to their famous match). Beyond that the only footage I’ve ever found of the match was a seven minute video posted on YouTube last year featuring the climax of the match and some brief highlights of the match featured in Rob Viper’s Triplemania II-B highlight video; the seven minute video disappeared almost as quickly as it appeared and Viper’s video is gone due to the overlords of YouTube canceling his channel because…because. As for AAA, they have either not gotten around to releasing the video as of yet (Triplemania II-B has not been aired on their Twitch stream nor was it shown during AAA’s greatest Triplemania match marathon two years ago) or they are unable to because the rights to the match are owned by Televisa, who is no longer working with AAA. In short, the match is nowhere to be found, either gone for good, lost in AAA’s library or sitting on the shelf of a tape trader. It may as well not exist.
And what a pity because this isn’t just your run of the mill great lucha match. In the history of AAA there have only been seven matches to earn a WON grade of 4 ¾ stars or higher; Sagrada vs. Black Cat is one of those seven and one of only two singles matches to receive that honor. What’s the other singles match you may ask; none other than Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Psicosis from September 22nd, 1995, a match you can find by just typing in “Rey Mysterio vs. Psicosis AAA” onto your search engine. That’s esteemed company to be in and yet, unlike Rey vs. Psicosis, we can’t watch this match. The only travesty potentially bigger is AAA’s other “five star match” (Mysterio, Super Calo and Winners vs. Heavy Metal, Picudo and Psicosis from January of 1993) not being available to view either, and that match was at least a semi-random trios bout on on a regular show. Máscara Sagrada vs. Black Cat was the semi-main event of one AAA’s biggest shows of the year and was the best match on potentially their best non When Worlds Collide show ever. This would be like if Rock vs. Austin from Wrestlemania X-7 disappeared in a few years and was nowhere to be found.
It’s a truly maddening development; it’s also a sad one, at least for me. As someone who would like to see all the great lucha matches before he dies, not being able to watch (potentially) one of the best lucha libre matches of all time is quite annoying. As someone who admires Black Cat it’s depressing to see what many consider his best work remain out of reach. And as someone who considers himself to be a big fan of Máscara Sagrada it’s devastating. I enjoy Sagrada’s work so much that my favorite lucha libre film features him; Máscara Sagrada y Octagón lucha a muerte, a delightful romp that sees Sagrada and Octagón fly around on hand gliders while wearing tracksuits and fighting off half naked jewel thieves in between matches with Blue Panther and LA Park as “La Parca” (like everything else Sagrada has seemingly done, that film is no longer available on YouTube. A cool dude once did a review of the film though!). And yet I cannot see what many consider to be his defining match.
It’s a bummer man. Sure maybe it’s for the best; perhaps what worked in 1994 doesn’t work as well twenty five years later and Sagrada-Black Cat is one of those matches that’s aged like Wayne’s World. But man, shouldn’t we at least have the opportunity to find out for ourselves? I don’t ask for much sports fans (world peace, consistently good CMLL shows, Aubrey Plaza’s phone number) but on this, my birthday (I kid you not; it really is my birthday!), it would be pretty cool to see AAA or someone suddenly find this bout and let us see it. This is a match some people at one point thought was Atlantis vs. Villano III good. ATLANTIS VS. VILLANO III GOOD! It deserves to be seen; it needs to be seen. And if there is a Grodd out there, one day I will be sitting here, popping open a Pepsi and watching this match while the biggest grin in the history of the western hemisphere forms on my face.
But that isn’t today. And until that day arrives Máscara Sagrada vs. Black Cat, at least in my book, is the Bret Hart vs. Tom Magee of lucha libre…if Bret Hart vs. Tom Magee took place at the biggest show of the year, knocked it out of the park and then vanished without a trace. Excuse me while I go brood over this.
Please change disks to continue…