You may not have heard this sports fans, but today is the 25th Anniversary of AAA’s famous When Worlds Collide event. Run out of the Los Angeles Sports Arena and produced by World Championship Wrestling, When Worlds Collide is widely considered the event that introduced lucha libre and stars such as Rey Mysterio Jr., Konnan, Eddy Guerrero, Love Machine Art Barr, Perro Aguayo, La Parka and countless others to an American audience. It’s also considered one of the greatest events of all time thanks to several great matches (including a legendary tag match), the tremendous commentary by Chris Cruise and Mike Tenay and an all time great crowd. And this was despite apparent meddling from WCW’s production team that led to the show being cut to two hours and most of the matches going shorter than expected. Of course the question now is, 25 years later, does this show hold up? I decided to take a look at the show today through modern eyes and came up with this review! Let’s dive in.

 

 

Mascarita Sagrada & Octagóncito defeated Espectrito & Jerrito Estrada

 

Boy this match would’ve fit right in with the AAA openers we see today; it never stops moving, incredible feats of athleticism occur and there’s one or two moments where everyone is probably going too fast for their own good. Oh and it’s awesome. I almost forgot to mention it was awesome! I did think some of the Espectrito and Jerrito heat sequences were a bit long and there are a few choppy moments because an AAA opener without a few hesitations or sloppy sequences wouldn’t be a AAA opener. But when this match is humming it’s electrifying, with Mascarita Sagrada and Octagóncito looking like the fastest luchadores in the history of time while Espectrito and Jerrito do one hell of a job keeping up and basing for all the technicos beautiful arm drag variations. This is the sort of match that simultaneously makes it understandable why neither AAA or CMLL have been able to recapture the magic of the 90’s era Mini-Estrellas (I can name maybe only a handful of guys who have been as close to good as Sagrada and Octagóncito were at this time) and also frustrates you that, till recently, neither has tried. The Mini-Estrella four way AAA put on two weeks ago was a nice start but they still have a long way to go to capture the feeling a match like this had.

 

Fuerza Guerrera, Madonna’s Boyfriend, Psicosis defeated Heavy Metal, Latin Lover, Rey Misterio Jr.

 

I know we all don’t need another reason to love lucha libre but here’s one anyway; it’s the only place where you can find a match that features a dude named Madonna’s Boyfriend, Heavy Metal and Latin Lover. Somehow it’s not the most fascinating trivia piece of the match; that would be Latin Lover somehow finding his way into the Academy Award winning film Roma. I still don’t get how that happened!

 

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Latin Lover; lucha libre and movie star

 

Back to the match. It’s actually not as crazy as I would’ve expected for a match featuring noted crazy men Heavy Metal, Psicosis and Rey Misterio Jr., and at times communication issues and the general choppiness we saw in the opener threaten to override the overall quality. Never the less this is still a fun watch and surprisingly not the one man Misterio showcase I remembered. Latin Lover is impressive given his experience at the time (he was only a year into the business), Psicosis’ career long quest to do the craziest shit possible continues (watch at the end where he rolls out of the ring and turns it into a bump) and Heavy Metal and Fuerza Guerrera are the calming presence that seem to keep things in control as much as possible. Louie Spicoli, aka Madonna’s Boyfriend, really impressed me; it’s easy to forget what a talented performer he was and how much potential he still had to give when he tragically died in 1998. He shows off that charisma, athleticism and power here and did a great job clicking with Misterio. In the end though this is Misterio’s show and he doesn’t disappoint, providing a tantalizing pre-appetizer of a skill set fans would soon be able to memorize only a few years later. I didn’t think this held up as much compared to other classic AAA matches, but it was still solid and if you love Misterio then you’ll love getting this glimpse of him in his Marko Stunt days.

 

2 Cold Scorpio, Pegasus Kid, Tito Santana defeated Blue Panther, Jerry Estrada, La Parka

 

I’m torn on this one sports fans. On the one hand, Tito Santana’s presence in this match made no sense at all. He’s not the worst crossover star I’ve ever seen in a lucha match but holy shit does he add nothing to this, despite AAA doing all they could to make it work by putting Jerry Estrada with him. On the other hand, everything besides him and a few off kilter moments (because it’s lucha; there’s always off kilter moments!) this match was substantially better than I expected. There’s a few reasons for that; first the La Parka (LA Park edition)-Jerry Estrada story that is told throughout this match is really entertaining (even if it isn’t always smooth), especially as the crowd starts getting more and more into Parka. Second, holy shit the sequences featuring 2 Cold Scorpio and Pegasus Kid working with either Parka or Panther are MONEY! That really shouldn’t be shocking; all four guys were world class at the time. And yet watching it back I was stunned at how natural these four were with each other. Parka and Scorpio were just delightful due to their charisma, and the wrestling between Panther and Pegasus Kid (have I mentioned he was Chris Benoit) is quite frankly some of the best wrestling on this show. And this show features one of the best lucha libre matches ever! Throw together those Pegasus-Blue Panther sequences, Scorpio and Parka being larger than life, some great high flying and the slow to fast evolution of Estrada and Parka turning on each other and this match is awesome minus Santana. If only AAA had gone with someone else in the spot. Alas it’s a nitpick (albeit a strong one) in a match that was otherwise quite enjoyable. Also, isn’t it funny that in two of the undercard matches the people who stood out the most where at the time unknowns Rey Misterio Jr. and La Parka? It’s been 25 years and not a lot has changed has it.

 

Masks vs. Hair Tag Team Match

El Hijo del Santo & Octagón defeated Eddy Guerrero & Love Machine

 

I was reading up on this match (yet again) prior to watching it and I was reminded that apparently WCW and Turner Executives at one point were considering turning this match into a singles match between Santo and Eddy instead of a tag. CAN YOU IMAGINE?! I mean I’m sure that match would’ve been stellar but my Grodd that would’ve been some shortsighted maneuvering. Then again it was WCW, the kings of shortsighted maneuvering. I’m very much looking forward to listening to Eric Bischoff denying this rumor on his podcast today, much like he denies everything he confirmed twenty years ago. Let’s take our minds off that with some gifs from this match!

 

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Image result for los gringos locos vs el hijo del santo and octagon gif

Image result for los gringos locos vs el hijo del santo and octagon gif

Image result for los gringos locos vs el hijo del santo and octagon gif

 

So yeah…I mean what do you want me to say sports fans? It’s amazing, easily one of the greatest lucha libre matches of all time and probably the greatest AAA match of all time (only when I see Máscara Sagrada vs. Black Cat will I finally determine this for sure!). The best comparison I can make for this match is the CM Punk-John Cena match from Money in the Bank 2011. Like that match not everything is necessarily smooth but the story, the stakes, the emotion, all the big picture stuff is so unbelievably great that it doesn’t really matter that Eddy clipped himself on the ropes going for a suicide dive. This is one of those matches you watch back and everything matters and everything is memorable. Love Machine’s rudo work (which would be condemned in five minutes if it happened today!); Love Machine’s Frog Splash; Octagón’s comeback in the second fall to save his and Santo’s mask, the greatest few minutes of his entire career; Love Machine shouting “THAT’S MADE IN AMERICA!”; the double suicide dive spot by Santo and Octagón; Eddy and Santo being so great at every single thing (especially with each other); the crowd; the list goes on and on. For my money nothing tops the Martinete spots where Love Machine takes out Octagón for good, only for Blue Panther (having one hell of a night himself) to come in and give Love Machine a Martinete of his own. Within the context of the match it’s huge; within the confines of lucha libre history it’s incredible given that Love Machine had previously lost his mask to Blue Panther by using the Martinete. That moment sums up the genius of Antonio Peña at that time, a man who would of course remember moments like that from the Panther-Love Machine feud and find a way to fit in a callback in the biggest match possible. That moment makes the match for me, and yet for a hundred other fans there’s probably another and another and another that makes it for them. That’s the greatness of this match. That’s its power. Twenty five years have come and gone and little has happened to change the fact that Santo and Octagón vs. Los Gringos Locos is still the top of the mountain when it comes to tag team wrestling.

 

Cage Match

Perro Aguayo defeated Konnan

 

This match sits right alongside the Jake Roberts-Konnan hair match in the “I’m pretty sure the work rate sucked but damn the heat and drama was great so this match was still solid anyway” Hall of Fame. It might’ve been even higher if poor Perro hadn’t attempted to cover Konnan on three separate occasions in a match where the only way to win was escape. How did he forget that and better yet, how did no one forget to tell him after the first cover?! Aside from that this is the Perro Aguayo special; heat, heat and did I mention heat? That was a very good thing at the end of the match when Konnan took control, Aguayo bled like Blue Demon Jr. at Triplemania, Eddy Guerrero and Madonna’s Boyfriend appeared at ringside with brass knuckles (Love Machine was absent; more on that in a moment) and Los Hermanos Dinamitas (Cien Caras, Máscara Año 2000 and Universo 2000) interfered to fight off the rudos and help Aguayo win. There was legit electricity in those moments and in the end I’d say they justified this match’s existence. It’s definitely not a great match and any person watching it for the first time will probably be heavily tempted to turn it off when poor Perro goes for that second cover. But it turned around enough at the end to be memorable, it’s always nice to see Perro Aguayo getting a crowd into a frenzy (and it was a frenzy; Eddy was fighting fans at one point!) and I really like the subtle hints AAA laid out for what would’ve been their next feud between Konnan and Love Machine, the one member of Los Gringos Locos that didn’t appear. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see that due to Art Barr’s tragic death; perhaps we would’ve gotten another one of these shows if he had lived to face Konnan in a major Apuesta clash.

 

That’s your trip down memory lane sports fans. While there are definitely some things that could’ve gone better, I think it’s safe to say that When Worlds Collide’s reputation as an all time great PPV isn’t going anywhere. The undercard matches are all enjoyable, the main event is imperfect but heated and the Octagón/Santo vs. Los Gringos Locos tag team match is a classic that will never be forgotten. In short, time has done little to diminish the greatness of this classic show. On that note I will now disappear for a few hours, only to resurface later tonight for a Lucha Capital review. Till then, how about a still of that Love Machine Frog Splash?

 

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Beauty

 

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