I’m going to be honest sports fans; I’m pretty much all wrestled out. After watching CMLL and Impact vs. Lucha Underground at the same time on Friday, some of NXT and all of Ring of Honor last night I almost never want to look at another wrestling show again. Imagine what it must be like for the peeps who have been to almost every other show; they’re probably walking around like Johnny Depp and Benicio del Torro during the entirety of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. And yet the show must go on; Wrestlemania is tonight (on Rex Manning Day of all days!) and, more importantly for me, CMLL is coming back to Puebla tomorrow for what could be their biggest match of the year. It’s so big that it’s kind of shocking Puebla of all places is getting it. But frankly, CMLL could hold it on the roof of the Cumberland Farms down the street from me and it still wouldn’t change that Carístico vs. Mistico is the main event of my extended Wrestlemania weekend. The War of the Misticos (as I’m calling it) is such a massive CMLL match that I cannot just do a normal preview of the show. In the words of Leo DiCaprio…
And thus we are! By the end of this you will know every last detail about this conflict to this point, what it means now, what it means going forward and who will actually be walking out of this whole thing the winner. It’s a little long but trust me; it’s worth it considering how extraordinary this match is for merely existing. So strap yourselves in and get yourself a snack because it’s time to begin this story. It’s a good one. I swear!
How We Got Here
Carístico vs. Mistico all begins the same way that unfortunate film Nacho Libre begins; with Fray Tormenta. The priest turned luchadore was not only the inspiration for that unfortunate piece of cinema Jack Black and Silver King attached themselves to, but he remains an iconic figure in lucha libre to this day, an almost mythical figure. All of which makes it understandable that CMLL wanted to take that legend like quality of Tormenta and plug it into a brand new luchadore they hoped to make a star. And so the character of “Mistico” was born, an orphan found on the streets of Mexico by Tormenta, who trained him to become the greatest luchadore of all time. It took a bit for CMLL to find the right guy for the role; originally the luchadore we all know and love as Sagrado was tried out for the part only to crumble under the pressure (he’s since turned it around and then some as a quality rudo). But eventually they did in former CMLL star Tony Salazar’s nephew Luis Ignacio Urive Alvirde, a youngster who had been working under the name Astro Boy Jr. (in honor of his late older brother) and had all the makings of breakout star potential. Naturally Urive blew past those expectations by turning Mistico into a cultural phenomenon; no one else in Mexico from 2004-2010 came close to matching his combination of drawing power, wrestling ability and overall superstardom. It was almost El Santo levels of huge, minus the part where Mistico fought vampires and zombies. Hell if Urive had decided to hang up the boots in 2010, he’d probably be remembered in a similar vein to Santo and Rey Mysterio Jr. right now.
Of course it didn’t end there because in 2011 Urive decided to join WWE as Sin Cara, a move that would eventually fit alongside Will Smith passing on Django Unchained Pete Carroll deciding “you know…I’m going to throw it!” as one of the worst decisions ever made. And just like that Mistico was dead…except of course he wasn’t because this is lucha libre, the profession where old gimmicks are handed out like candy. It took a year, but by June 2012 CMLL had found another young luchadore to play the role in the form of Carlos Muñoz Gonzalez. Muñoz checked off all the boxes; he was a gifted high flyer (having carved out decent standing in CMLL as the original Dragón Lee), he was only a year younger (21) then Urive was when he started playing Mistico and he had a great family lineage (you probably know this, but current Mistico is the brother of Rush and the second Dragón Lee). Like Billy Gunn’s theme song, he had it all. Except he really didn’t; try as he might, Muñoz’s Mistico spent the first several years alternating between moments of brilliance and mediocrity, all while receiving treatment from Arena Mexico I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. In other words the transition from one Mistico to the next played out exactly like another scenario where one luchadore inherited the gimmick of a wildly popular star.
LA Park/Imposter La Parka isn’t the only instance of another luchadore inheriting a gimmick, but it stands out in comparison to this situation in a way that no other situation (save potentially the one between Psicosis and Psicosis II/Ripper) does. Like Urive, LA Park was a massive star who sought greener pastures in America. Like Muñoz, the Imposter Parka was a replacement who, while doing well, never lived up to the success of his predecessor in the eyes of the fans. The only difference between the two is that Urive never entered a long legal battle with CMLL over the gimmick like Park did, which is good because this match wouldn’t be happening tomorrow if he had. Well that and unlike Imposter Parka, Muñoz’s Mistico never quite found his footing. He was starting to in 2015 after joining up with Volador Jr. and Valiente to form the Sky Team, perhaps the best trios team CMLL had this side of Los Ingobernables. Naturally it all had to happen around the same time Urive was finding his way back to CMLL. The first Mistico had actually been back in Mexico for over a year after his WWE run cratered, working under the name Myzteziz for AAA. That went better than the WWE run, if only because anything in comparison was going to; never the less Urive was out the door by the fall of 2015 and back in Arena Mexico for CMLL and their then partner in crime Lucha Libre Elite. Of course he couldn’t use his old CMLL name (Muñoz had it) or his AAA name (they owned it) so Urive decided to combine the Sin Cara and Mistico names to give himself a new one; Carístico.
Just like that CMLL had both the original Mistico and their new Mistico under one roof. In typical CMLL fashion they decided to do absolutely nothing with it for over two years; Mistico continued on teaming with Volador and Valiente while Carístico pretty much wandered around aimlessly, a big star that CMLL seemed wary to trust in wake of his first departure. Occasionally you would get some teases of Carístico and Mistico teaming up or going at it, but for the most part they had nothing to do with each other. That changed on October 13th of last year when, during the Leyenda de Plata cibernetico, Carístico and Mistico wound up in an electric, albeit sloppy, exchange that got over great with the Arena Mexico crowd. CMLL took notice in the most CMLL way possible; they would start to pair the two on opposite sides, have them feud and then put either Carístico or Mistico against another guy! Basically they used the heat between the two to set up other feuds, most notably a hot Carístico-Volador program that took place at the end of 2017. The pattern continued after that; they’d feud in a match, then transition within the match to feuding with another. Rinse repeat, rinse repeat, at least until the most recent string of Puebla shows. What at first looked like CMLL repeating the strategy to set up Mistico-Gran Guerrero turned out instead to be the set up for a CMLL World Trios Titles match, with Carístico teaming with the Guerreros against the Sky Team. The very good match ended with Mistico submitting Carístico with La Mistica (the move Carístico perfected and Mistico adopted) in what seemed to be the end…till both men got on the mic and myself and everyone else collectively realized this was all actually happening. And that sports fans is how, fourteen years after he debuted as the original Mistico, Carístico will find himself looking across the ring as his replacement tomorrow night around 12 a.m. EST, probably doing something like this.
What This Means
I mean, do you want the simple version of the complicated one? If you want the former, then tomorrow’s Carístico vs. Mistico match means that CMLL is actually booking of the few “event” matches they have, a triumph considering most people never expected this match to happen (myself included). Of course this isn’t a simple match, an obvious observation considering this match is happening in Arena Puebla. You know; the smallest of the arena’s CMLL owns, with a capacity of less than 3,000 people. Even without all the added history behind this clash Carístico vs. Mistico is a big enough match (and a first time match no less) that probably could’ve put over 10,000 in Arena Mexico, an arena that got emotionally invested in Matt Taven vs. Volador a few weeks back. Carístico vs. Mistico would’ve undoubtedly been even more heated, which makes CMLL’s decision to put it in Puebla instead…I would call it curious, but if you wanted to say dumb or inexplicable I wouldn’t entirely blame you.
Now I’d allow that sort of strong statement because I’m unsure if we will ever see this match again. Or more appropriately, I don’t know if we’ll ever see this match again in the way it should be done. It goes without saying that Carístico vs. Mistico at the CMLL Aniversario, whether it be for a title, a mask match or (gulp) the rights to the Mistico name would be right up there with Psycho Clown vs. Dr. Wagner Jr. and Atlantis vs. Último Guerrero as one of the biggest matches in recent lucha libre history. It would also be one of the hottest considering the stakes, how beloved Carístico is and how LOATHED Mistico remains, especially on big shows. Some will and have argued with me that doing this match in Puebla now diminishes any future rematches these two will have. That’s true…if they never do another match again or never pay off Carístico vs. Mistico with a big stipulation match. If they do pay it off however, it won’t matter how many times the match is done prior; people will watch and watch in droves. So in the end, I guess the ultimate meaning of this Carístico-Mistico encounter will depend on the answer to two questions; does CMLL run it again and if they do, what are the stakes? Till we know that, all we can say is that CMLL is doing this match in Arena Puebla, and the fact that it’s even happening means something. What I’m not sure, but it means something. And once you conclude that the only thing left to discuss…
What to Expect
…is how good this match is going to be. That’s yet another question mark. First we have to consider that they’re in Puebla. From an atmosphere standpoint it will mean little; Puebla is vastly smaller than Arena Mexico but it can get just as loud, sometimes louder. So there should be no concern there. Where there will be is the effort both men bring to this match. I anticipate it will be high because of how big this match is (and because neither Carístico nor Mistico will have this opportunity again), but there have been many matches in Puebla I anticipate to have great effort that went the opposite way. Good atmosphere or not, it’s still Arena Puebla, which means you’re not getting the same effort (booking or work rate wise) you would in Arena Mexico. And finally there are questions about whether these two will click. I’ve seen enough of Carístico and Mistico in the ring together at this point to know that they don’t always produce the smoothest lucha; like I said earlier their sequences at Leyenda de Plata, while heated, where sloppy at best and concerning at worst. They’ve been better since then, but not to the point where I think everything is ironed out. So even if these two do go all out, there’s enough evidence to suggest that this match may not live up to the mystique it holds.
And yet in some ways it almost doesn’t matter how good the match is. Some people will consider this match an accomplishment just for the fact that it’s happening. Others will point out, rightfully so, that there’s more to making a match great then just great moves; there has to be a story behind it. And there’s a ton of stories, both kayfabe and real, in this one. This match won’t just be about finding out which man is the Mistico to end all Mistico’s; it’s the continuation of Carístico trying to find redemption after he threw away his fame and fortune on that ill fated WWE run, of Mistico trying to prove that he’s no longer just a replacement for the better model. Those stories will hang over this match, and any other match they have, and at least for me it makes this battle all the more compelling. But then again it would be anyway; it’s Carístico vs. Mistico, original vs. replacement, for the first time. It is sure to be memorable and must watch whatever happens. And for all the worst case scenarios we’ve covered, I have mentioned the best case scenario, which would be the still really talented Carístico and the talented (if inconsistent) Mistico putting in a full effort and finally finding the chemistry in a long, grueling contest. If we get that, there’s no telling where we may find ourselves.
Look at me; I saved the easiest section for last! For all the uncertainty surrounding this match, CMLL made it pretty clear what the result would be last week when Mistico submitted Carístico in the Trios Titles match. There’s no way that Carístico doesn’t get his win back; it’s just a matter of how. I could see CMLL doing anything from making this match quick (in order to save the first “real” match for a bigger stage) to giving it enough time to try and be the long, epic big match CMLL likes for their main events. Ultimately I say they’ll do the latter; Mistico will win fall one with La Mistica, Carístico will win fall two with La Mistica and fall three will become a battle of both luchadores trying to find another way to win, with Carístico ultimately prevailing with a top rope Spanish Fly.
That’s game sports fans! For those interested, here’s a quick look at how I see the rest of the Puebla show going.
Arkalis, Millenium, Rey Samuray will defeat Fuerza Chicana, Perverso, Rey Apocalipsis in three falls (Samuray will hit Brillo 450)
El Malayo, Grako, Templario will defeat Fugaz, Príncipe Daniel, Reyko in three falls (sleeper match alert!)
Dalys & Zeuxis will defeat Kaho Kobayashi & Princesa Sugehit in three falls (double secret sleeper alert!)
Cuatrero, Foraster, Sansón will defeat Ángel de Oro, Dragón Lee, Niebla Roja in two falls (Cuatrero vs. Oro II could be in the works)
Bestia del Ring, Rush, Terrible will defeat Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas, Shocker in three falls (WATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK!)
Got all that? Good! I’ll be back to review the show tomorrow night, and I may just preview the Tuesday show while I’m at it! Till then, the two Mistico’s get the crowd hyped up!
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