Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MLJ: 2010: Mistico Interlude 2: Místico vs Rey Bucanero - EPIC

Aired 2010-01-17
taped 2010-01-11 @ Arena Puebla
Místico vs Rey Bucanero

I loved this match. In fact, this may well be my favorite match in all of those that I've looked at so far for this project. I wouldn't call it the best match, but maybe my favorite. There are some innate problems with modern CMLL matches, and certainly with singles matches, especially compared to matches from decades past. The first two caidas are almost always terribly slight. In a title match you might have a relatively long primera, where they do some matwork or whatever, but it's usually fairly abrupt. Maybe you'll get a longer beatdown in an apuestas match but then a tiny comeback and a reset. At least one of the two caidas will be short and very often both of them are. This leads to a groan-worthy overselling in the tercera where they lay around like you'd see in matches of old, trying to milk emotion and importance, but without earning that selling by wrestling the first part of a match that lived up to it.

I was expecting more of the same here. Not only was this a mano a mano match, but was just for Arena Puebla, a mini feud just for them, and it was right before Mistico was about to turn, and it was Rey Bucenaro who had disappointed me with his previous singles matches, and there wasn't even anything at stake but pride. I thought this was going to be the definition  of a lame duck singles match and it was only morbid curious that made me look. In the end, I was happily surprised.

Even then, it followed much of the formula. There were two extremely abrupt caidas followed by a long one. For once, though, they seemed self aware of the formula and its problems and they tweaked it accordingly to make it work. I had enjoyed Rey quite a bit in the trios match to set this up. I thought he played the rudo quite well, dodging Mistico and cheapshotting him when he could. Here, with a huge chunk of the crowd in the Porra Ruda section behind him, Rey continued that heeling. He brutally attacked Mistico on the way in, darted out, beat on him a bit, and then slid back in. It looked like we were going to get that old stalwart, the ambush driven beatdown, for the primera. Mistico tried to get back in and Rey went for another attack, but Mistico blocked it and pushed him back enough that he could hit a springboard armdrag, high and broad, pushing him out of the ring. He followed it up with tope suicida, landing on his feet. Then, once Rey finally made it back into the ring, it was one springboard missile drop kick, and then another, and then a third. He followed it up with a springboard senton bomb and I honestly thought that would be the fall. A nice, tight little shine where the tecnico fought back against the initial cheapshot and hit some very pretty offense for the pin. Instead, Rey kicked out, which surprised Mistico as much as it did me. His hands went up in disbelief and Rey latched on to a few bodyparts for a flash pin and the three count. It was a primera that only lasted a couple of minutes, but it fooled me twice, had some breathtaking offense, and really knew what it was doing.

For the segunda, I was expecting the regular formula again. A bit of a beat down, a mistake, some comeback and a quick pin. It looked like was what I was getting too. Between falls, Rey had beaten up Mistico outside the ring, and when he tried to get back in, fell on him with a front facelock. Rey lifted him up to the top and worked the mask a bit, before pulling him down into a tree of woe. Rey tossed him into the corner and played to the crowd. Then he charged in after him only to miss as Mistico moved. He quickly positioned Rey into a 619 position and hit it and then went up for the springboard 'rana. Again, I figured that to be it. Competent lucha of this style, but hardly anything I'd call interesting. Rey dropped down as their bodies hit though, functionally power bombing Mistico. I have in my notes that it was a "smile-inducing" power bomb because I never expected it. Rey followed it up with a pose, a well-deserved pose; it was a costly one, however, as Mistico hit a flash roll up to take the caida. I know this didn't seem like much, a slight little segunda where most of it was predictable, but that one little twist at the end, that one flourish, is the sort of thing that can breathe life into matches like this, and after two caidas, I was pretty happy with what I was watching and just hoped that the tercera, where most of the actual heavy lifting would be, might live up to it.

Right from the get go, the tercera was good. I was expecting some back and forth into a your move-my move escalation, with the selling to match. It started with that back and forth, with Mistico doing his handspring off the ropes and hitting an excellent tope con hilo which Rey caught expertly. Rey fought his way back in with a float over facecracker, and they followed up by trading some well done roll-ups, the last having Rey going for the ropes for leverage. So far, so good. Following patterns is not innately bad. Patterns exist due either to format or content limitations, or, more often, because they work. It's generally HOW the pattern is followed that makes a match good or not. If they were going to start off with a reset and some back and forth, at least the back and forth was engaging.

That said, when they break from the script and replace it with something inherently more compelling, it really stands out. The back and forth kept going back and forth. Mistico latched onto the arm and ran towards the corner in order to bound up and dive off with an armdrag. Suddenly, even as my eyes, as if through habit, went to follow the motion back towards the ring, Mistico's entire body jarred down. Rey had halted him and drove the arm down over the top rope as a counter. Mistico crumbled to the ground and Rey was immediately out after him, slapping on a Fujiwara Armbar on the floor.

Admittedly, by this point I was a little caught up in the match. I may have written "clever clever clever" after the fall in the segunda; I'll understand if you disagree but it moved me in the moment. I've seen plenty of lucha matches where they dabble with some limbwork for a moment before moving on, especially in the tercera where you don't usually see such a thing meaningfully introduced. Also, it was Mistico here, who had come into his own under Wagner, Jr, and had, from what I remembered in 2006, picked up some of his bad habits.
I was into the match, like I said, so we'll say I was cautiously optimistic, guardedly so. I wanted the tercera to really bring things home and to provide me a total package with the parts of the first two caidas I liked.

The tecera blew away my expectations. Rey dug in with armwork, grinding down with some nice, direct holds and using the rope to damage it more. Mistico sold both in large and small ways. When bouncing off the ropes trying to get some distance and make some offense, he'd favor it. When appealing to the crowd, he'd do so while showing his pain. When he finally fought back, it was first with kicks, and then with a leg lock. The two rolled to the floor in it, where the referee finally broke it up. The doctor checked on Mistico's arm while Rey rolled back in and sold his leg. Finally, Mistico made it up and hit a springboard plancha back in. After which Rey sold the leg and Mistico the arm and it all felt warranted. I often like (when earned) the "full-body" sort of selling you'll find in lucha. It's almost always easier and cleaner to focus on a body part and to dedicate one's self to the selling of it. It made this moment feel earned when it might not in another match.

From here they started to move towards the finish, but Mistico's damaged arm continued to impact the match. The first match near fall was off of a Buca Storm out of nowhere. Rey had mostly walked off his leg-pain, but after a two count, was now beginning to sell his frustration in not being able to put his opponent away. He started to litter elbow drops upon Mistico, who caught him in the midst with another roll up. They drew apart again, with Rey selling against the ropes and Mistico selling the arm. This let Mistico get a running start and going for a flip up 'rana. Rey dropped down again with a powerbomb though and went for the ropes for leverage once more, again only for two.

They were really balancing Mistico's damaged arm with Rey's frustration now. Mistico pounded on his arm to get life back into it and undid his elbow pad and taped wrist to try to give it some air. Then, symbolically rejuvenated by it, he darted off the ropes again and went for La Mistica. In a fit of selling, he slid right off, unable to hang in his injured state. Rey capitalized, darting back off the ropes and latching on, locking in his own La Mistica! It was a hell of a moment, really, the sort of finisher stealing you only get in CMLL in the most heated situations, and one that made a ton of sense given the story of the match. They ended up too close to the ropes though and the ref broke the hold.

Now, Rey's frustration was boiling over. He went up to the second rope and dove down, but Mistico managed to get his feet up. Now, appealing to the crowd again, even as he sold, Mistico made his comeback. He managed a one armed body slam and then slipped outside. I thought we'd get the finish here, as he went up for another springboard senton bomb, but he had taken too long and Rey moved again. Rey picked up another two count, before Mistico made it back up. He darted off the ropes, holding his arm close to his body; with a flourish of speed he started to whip his way up and around Rey again. This time though, he was able to hang on and landed hard with La Mistica. The tap was almost immediate and Mistico darted up to the top rope, his arm clenched to his side in agony, but ultimately victorious.

This was great, but it was great in a very specific way and for very specific reasons. It understood my expectations and it moved against them in self-aware, distinct, surprising ways. At almost every point, they made a creative decision that made the match better instead of just coasting with the bare minimum of what they could have gotten away with. Maybe if more matches did that, this one wouldn't have felt so special, but since they don't, it really stood out. I honestly don't know if other people will feel the same way I did, because my enjoyment of this match was tied not only to the very strong performances, including Rey's intensity, frustration, and general heeling, and especially Mistico's dedication to his selling, but also to my own expectations. It took the aggravating confines of modern CMLL singles matches and somehow made them sing. I liked it immensely and I hope that those who take the time to watch it do too.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, stop what you're doing and watch Virus, Hechicero, Hombre sin Nombre vs. Guerrero Maya Jr., Delta, Fuego from 11/11. It's beyond excellent.


10:01 AM  

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