FLYIN’ SOLO #5
We’re Flyin’ Solo south of the border this time around, with a trio of Lucha Libre matches. I’ve never really delved all that much into Lucha, because I frankly don’t understand the psychology behind it a lot of the time. But I’ve got a pair of classics here that any moron can understand (even me!) along with something a bit more recent.
Given my lack of extensive Lucha viewing (although it’s growing) I’m abstaining from using any sort of ratings for the matches.
SANGRE CHICANA vs. MS-1 (Hair vs. Hair - EMLL 9/23/83)
One look at the atmosphere is enough to give a general idea of the time frame this is taking pace. Arena Mexico is very dimly lit and looks dirty and grungy. It’s the exact image that one would quantify with the early ‘80's. Uno, being the despicable rudo that he is, attacks Chicana on his way to the ring and busts him open. The term “crimson mask” is usually used rather liberally in wrestling, but this is one case where it’s suitable. Uno loses the first fall by disqualification for attacking Chicana before the match. It doesn’t seem smart of Uno to cause himself to be down a fall with so much at stake, but it looks for all the world like he’ll be able to waltz his way through the next two falls rather quickly.
Uno quickly makes up for losing the first fall when he gets Chicana in the ring and goes right after his already bleeding cut. For his part, Chicana’s selling is superb, he’s great at putting over the fatigue and blood loss and every shot from Uno looks like it’s taking the life right out of him. Uno never gives Chicana even a second to try to get something going and he quickly wins with a splash off the top to tie the match. But, when one looks at Uno and then looks at Chicana, it looks like anything but a tie.
Uno tries to press his advantage into the third fall, but misses a couple of swings and Chicana hits some punches and sends Uno to the floor. Chicana takes a big risk and does a tope to the floor, a miss would be the end of the match and Chicana’s hair for sure. Lucky for Chicana he doesn’t miss, and he follows up by slamming Uno’s head into the apron and causing Uno to start bleeding. The match takes a bit of a role reversal, with Chicana now the aggressor and working over Uno’s cut. Uno gets some revenge when he finally hits the big punch and sends Chicana to the floor and then hits his own tope to go back on offense. Like before, Chicana’s selling is tremendous, and Uno smartly plays off it by attempting pins after even the most rudimentary spots, and not even bothering with a spot in some cases, just to see if the energy that Chicana used to kick out would be enough to put him away. Uno makes the mistake of trying too much when he goes for another tope and gets sidestepped. It worked for Chicana to take that sort of risk because he was literally behind the proverbial 8-ball. Luckily for Uno, it’s not a match breaker and he’s able to stay in control, but he doesn’t learn the lesson and he continues going to the top, first he misses the same splash that won him the last fall, and then he misses a senton, and gives Chicana the chance to wrap him up in the Mexican Stretch II and force Uno to submit.
If the only experience that you have with Lucha Libre is the various tag matches that WCW used to use as curtain jerkers, then you owe it yourself as a wrestling fan to seek this match out. It contains elements are nearly all forms of wrestling. The blood and brawling is right out of any number of U.S. regional feds based in the south as well as what Brody, Abby, and others were doing in Japan at the same time. Chicana’s comeback isn’t all that far removed from what Hogan made his career doing. It’s not the best match I’ve ever seen, mostly because of the very limited offense that both guys use, but as far as overall storytelling goes, this is as good as it gets.
OCTAGON/EL HIJO DEL SANTO vs. EDDIE GUERRERO/ART BARR (Masks vs. Hair - AAA 11/6/94)
This is yet another case of the greatness of the match not being entirely wrapped around the actual wrestling, but more in the developing of themes and playing off of history. The stipulation itself gives it a lot of meaning, but there’s more when one looks at the entire history of things. This is larger than just the team of Santo and Octagon wrestling their hated rivals. The Mexicans are defending the honor of Mexico and Lucha Libre itself against the turncoats. One look at Eddie and Art’s outfits makes it clear that the match is a Mexico vs. U.S.A. affair, but there’s more to it than even that. The mask. The ultimate symbol of Lucha Libre. Both Eddie and Art had disrespected it in their own ways. Eddie by removing the mask of his own free will, showing how much respect he personally had for its sacredness. Barr had lost his in a match, but via disqualification, also, to an extent, of his own free will.
Like the previous match, the first fall is over rather quickly, although it’s due to the rudos proving their own worth as wrestlers rather than them trying to take an easy shortcut. Eddie outwrestles Santo a bit, Barr gets a chance to stooge for Octagon, and then Eddie hits a cheap shot and they quickly finish off Santo with a Doomsday rana, and then Octagon is just as quickly dispatches with a superplex and frog splash. The message sent is loud and clear, Eddie and Art may be dicks, but they’re still good enough wrestlers to beat their opponents, and that’s what they do.
The second fall isn’t all that much longer than the first, but it’s not the moves themselves that are important, but rather the story that they tell. Eddie and Art have already proven that they don’t need to cheat and take shortcuts just to win, but they do so just because they have them available to use. Eddie quickly eliminates Santo without any chicanery, with a simple rana and leaves Octagon on his own. Octagon makes the quick save by turning the Gringos double team into a rana of his own to eliminate Eddie. Barr doesn’t realize what happened and think they’ve won, when he sees that it’s Eddie who was pinned, he charges at Octagon, but gets caught in an armbar and has to give it up.
As the third fall progresses, it’s easy to see how Octagon’s comeback to tie the match gets into the rudos’ heads. Eddie and Art will jump in and break up a pin as soon as the ref starts counting, and in some cases before he starts counting. Octagon is much the same way, hitting the ring to superkick Eddie and punt Art before they can even put a hold on Santo. Then there are the two moments the match is most famous for, the piledriver to Octagon and the Blue Panther run-in to even the score. It’s easy to see why Barr does it to Octagon, he was the one who made the big comeback to tie the match, while Santo dropped both of his falls relatively easily. There’s more to Panther running and giving Art a taste of his own medicine than simple turnabout being fair play. The dq that caused Art to lose his mask was due to him giving Panther a piledriver. In the grand scheme of things, Panther’s run-in doesn’t taint anything, he simply levels the playing field and gives Santo a chance. The chance is all that Santo needs, Eddie loses his cool and tries to finish him off quickly with big moves, but, Santo outsmarts Eddie with a simple cradle to give the Mexicans the win.
This is more of a Lucha style match than the previous one, with aspects like both team members being pinned/submitted to end a fall, the speed in which one submits to a hold, and the piledriver being instant death (not that it’s exclusive to Mexico, Memphis anyone?). It’s not perfect, there are a few exposing moments where Eddie basically lets Santo up during the final stretch, but this would be a great match anywhere in the world. This stands alongside Uno/Chicana as something that anyone just getting into Lucha should make a point to track down.
TEXANO Jr./EL TERRIBLE vs. YUJIRO/NAITO (Hair vs. Hair - CMLL 12/4/09)
Like a good many 2/3 falls matches in Mexico, the first fall is over rather quickly, although Yujiro actually winds prolonging it and putting his team in more trouble as a result. The match starts with the Mexicans attacking the Japanese while they’re coming down the aisle, but once they get into the ring, No Limit manages to isolate Texano for a series of double teams, Terrible tries to help, but he winds up getting a double suplex. A double Irish whip gets reversed and Yujiro goes the floor while Texano and Terrible hit a superplex and splash combo on Naito. Normally that would end the fall itself, with the idea being that Naito would stay down to avoid further punishment and save energy and strength for the next two falls. But Yujiro jumps in and makes the save, and while Naito is recovering, the Mexicans hit him with a double lung blower and eliminate him, and then quickly plant the still woozy Naito with a double slam and take the first fall
No Limit makes for Yujiro’s error by outsmarting the Mexicans at every turn. Naito and Terrible start by trading chops. Naito fakes out Terrible by gearing up for another chop, only to kick him in the leg. Naito does a sunset flip and sees Terrible trying to save, and shifts the momentum back and causes Terrible to kick Texano in the face. Yujiro avoids a jumping knee from Texano and he goes to the floor, and Yujiro hits a tope suicida. Terrible tries to plancha onto Naito, but Naito catches him with an elbow on the way down. No Limit roll Texano into the ring and quickly finish him off with their swinging slam, and Terrible tries to keep fighting, but it’s futile and a powerbomb/neckbreaker combo finishes him off.
The third fall starts with a great false finish, Yujiro and Terrible lariat each other and both Naito and Texano run in and try to steal the pin. The only real disappointing thing comes in this fall, when Terrible and Texano ramrod Naito into the post, shoulder first, and never even touch his arm the rest of the match. Naito isn’t any better, not long after the spot, he does a big dive off the top to the floor. Aside from that, the rest of the fall is full of the same smart work that they’d been doing. Naito attempts to once again cause Terrible to hit Texano, but this time they put the breaks on. Okumura and Mima Shimoda distract the Mexicans, although they’re quickly removed from ringside, but it still allows another great near fall from a pair of cradles. Naito winds up eliminating Texano without any sort of chicanery, by countering him into a small package. The match winds up even again a minute later when Yujiro accidentally lariats Naito, allowing Terrible to roll up Yujiro and eliminate him. There’s not a whole lot the Naito/Terrible portion, aside from Terrible’s near fall from the armdrag, it’ s mostly Naito playing to the crowd. Thankfully, the finish is so well-done that it makes everyone forget what came before it. Yujiro trips Terrible from the floor and Terrible responds by hitting him with a big kick, which draws the ref over. Texano evens the odds by running in and faults Naito, and Terrible hits a splash from the top to not only save their hair, but also prove Mexican superiority.
Like the other tag match this clearly has Lucha aspects, but there are moments here that would fit into many other styles. The Okumra/Shimoda appearance and rudo near fall would be right at home in nWo Era WCW. The manner in which Terrible ties the third fall by eliminating Yujiro would be worked virtually the same had Terrible been replaced by Barry Windham and No Limit by Tully and Arn. Take out the nut shot and replace it with the Pedigree or Stunner and you’ve got a typical finish in a Attitude Era and beyond WWF/E main event. I’d easily consider this the weakest of the three matches, but that’s due to the field around it, not due to the match itself.