Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Monday, June 30, 2014

MLJ: Rush vs Shocker BONUS: La Máscara & Rush © vs Negro Casas & Shocker for the CMLL World Tag Team Championship

CMLL on Fox Sports (Mexico): 2014-06-21
taped 2014-06-13 @ Arena México
La Máscara & Rush © vs Negro Casas & Shocker for the CMLL World Tag Team Championship

Alright, I'm jumping back to the present day for this, and I'm doing this in the exact opposite of the way that I'm supposed to. Part of the point of the Rush vs Shocker series was to show how this stuff really does mean so much more in context and that we live in very lucky times when people are posting matches weekly and you can really follow along and that it's not ALL that hard to get into Lucha if you pick something and watch it like that. I'm not doing this here. Frankly, I wanted to watch this match and even though I KNOW there are trios that build to it, I'm going to jump in. I think I know these guys well enough to do this. The honest truth is that I haven't been watching much of the current weekly tv. I've seen very little of En Busca de la Idolo for instance. I've got limited time and I'm focused on my personal map-expansion efforts.

I really did have to take a look at this though, because it had Rush, Shocker, AND Casas in it, and looked, on paper, very much like a logical progression from the Rush vs Shocker series, with Casas tossed back in and Mascara rounding things out. I know they have been really doubling down on the heel leanings for Mascara and Rush (and maybe Sombra too?), especially at Arena Mexico, but I wasn't quite prepared for what we got here.

There's a certain sanctity to title matches. At least, that's my impression. Now, I haven't seen THAT many of them, not really. I actually thought I'd maybe do a month of them to get more acclimated, before I decided on focusing on 2006 instead. My understanding is that they're a legacy of the commissions having a lot of influence, in that title matches were specially sanctioned and there could be real, honest fines for cheating, which is why they were wrestled cleaner. This remained for the most part, in a normative way, and that's why they usually start out with a lot of matwork and with luchadors really trying to show their best maestro stuff. This seems true for singles, tag, and trios titles. This match plays against that norm to a huge degree. It's the sort of self-aware genre-breaking that if done very, very rarely, can be extremely effective. If it's done every week, then the entire tower topples down upon itself, but in this case, it was a blast, at least in the primera caida.

This started with the usual pomp, with all four guys posing for a picture with the belt and the introduction of Tirantes and what not. Shocker even started vs Mascara like it was going to be any other title match, immediately going into matwork with him. He had just gotten him down and locked on a wristlock, when, literally in the span of seconds, Rush came in and kicked him in the back, to the nominal rudos' exasperation. Mascara tried for a few strikes, instead of going back to the mat, but Shocker caught the leg and locked on another hold. Rush came right back in and nonchalantly stepped on Shocker's face, before doing a double stomp off the ropes that Shocker sold like death. Casas pushed his partner out, faced off against Mascara, went for a lock up, and Mascara ducked under and walked to his corner so he could fix Rush's hair and then stall, as the crowd got increasingly irate. Rush finally came in and Casas got the better of a strike exchange only to get kicked in the throat, off the ropes from the outside in by Mascara. Mascara and Rush dominated the rest of the primera. Shocker got one hope spot in but was double dropkicked and they finished them off with a tandem beating, stooging and posing in between, like when they had Casas up in a double suplex and made sure to flex before dropping him.

I talk a lot about momentum and building anticipation in my attempts to make sense of what I'm watching, and this was all about that. It played with the traditions of title matches, whereas you had these two young bastards who refuse to act like tecnicos despite the fact they're categorized that way, who refuse to respect the sanctity of the belts that they possess or the match that they're in, even within seconds of the match starting, even when the rudos they're facing are trying to wrestle "the right way." When it looked like Casas and Shocker might get a chance to fight back, they stalled or cheap-shotted, or swarmed. When they had the advantage, they taunted and refused to take things seriously. Look, I don't get how often something like this happens, but I get the feeling it's pretty rare. It's dangerous, because it can tear down the structure that everything stands upon but used sparingly, or with purpose, like this, especially with a crowd that is absolutely sure that they hate them, it was amazingly effective. Every person in that arena was booing and frustrated and desperately ready for Casas and Shocker to make their comeback. Hell, just watching this, I wanted it badly too.

It was great. Unfortunately, I don't think the comeback really lived up to the set up and the tercera, which was admittedly spirited, didn't really have the focus or purpose of the primera. The segunda started out well enough, continuing the theme. Now, Mascara seemed willing to do something a little more hold based, but what he decided upon wasn't beautiful matwork, but instead to drag Casas around the ring by his hair. Likewise, Rush decided to twist his leg over the ropes. They also did a good job delaying the comeback with cheapshots and doubleteams cutting off attempts of it until Shocker finally fought his way out of the corner, forced them into a bit of miscommunication and hit a nice, high impact roll up on Mascara.

The segunda ended with a fairly odd choice narratively that sort of lessened the impact of the comeback, maybe in order to make the finish of the tecera more impactful(?). They had Rush pin Shocker with a cheapshot and the corner dropkick before Casas hit La Casita to take the segunda for his team. My guess there is that it was to let the champs keep some heat since they were going to ultimately lose the match, but still to allow the finish (which was a simultaneous double roll up) to be quick and sudden. If they wanted to end it that way, they couldn't do a staggered elimination in the tercera. It also allowed for another Rush vs Casas one on one match up within the match, which is the narrative throughline that eventually will build to an apuestas match, one assumes.

I don't really have a lot to say about the tecera. I don't think it had the focus it needed to payoff the primera, even if the end result would almost do that on its own with the crowd. They did a fairly good job of delaying the dives a bit and made Casas and Shocker work for theirs, which made them mean a little more. I liked when they did a simultanious submission to tease the crowd too, and a double roll-up nearfall. There was some popping up that I found frustrating, with Shocker and Rush trading suplexes (Shocker hit a German and Rush rolled through, walked right up and hit a belly to belly of his own, and then they both got up and pushed each other), and Rush selling a missile dropkick from Casas by bouncing off the ropes and clotheslining him. The finishing stretch was okay, finishing with Casas hitting the Casita and Shocker doing his duck under roll-up. It was a little mistimed but that wasn't a big deal.

So, ultimately, the young punks got their comeuppance and the "rudos" took the titles, leaving the crowd happy. I think I would have liked a segunda caida which had Casas and Shocker make their comeback at the same time, even if they were going to stagger the pins like they did. It deserved to feel bigger than it did. Also, a tercera that was a bit more focused and didn't feel so much like people hitting a lot of stuff that didn't matter all that much would have helped the match. I is absolutely worth watching though, especially the primera, which had one of the best heel performances I've seen all year, even if sort of felt like a cheat given the way it twisted genre conventions to draw heat instead of drawing it within the confines of them. I get why traditionalists might hate it, but I think that's sort of the point. I don't think this sort of thing is sustainable over time, but for this night, it was really effective.

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