Segunda Caida

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

Monday, November 03, 2014

MLJ: Barbaro Cavernario Spotlight 1: Smaker vs Barbaro Cavernario for the Occidente Middleweight Championship

Aired 2012-09-01
taped 2012-08-28 @ Arena Coliseo Guadalajara
Smaker vs Barbaro Cavernario for the Occidente Middleweight Championship

If Eric and Phil can do reader appreciation events, I can do a SEASON PREMIERE WEEK. That's what we've got here. Today is the start of Barbaro Cavernario Mondays. Wednesday is the last match of the Rush vs Casas series, from Juicio Final. Friday is the start of my next weekly (or close to weekly) chronological examination, CMLL in 2010. More on that on Friday.

Let's talk about Cavernario, who I think it's safe to say has emerged as one of the most interesting and exciting wrestlers in the world to watch in 2014. I more or less skipped the Busca de un idolo because my fellow Segunda Caidadors had it well covered, but past the Atlantis vs Ultimo mask match, it had more attention from our usual circles than anything else from CMLL this year. From both a kayfabe and a push/spotlight standpoint, Cavernario was the major winner in its aftermath, having been propelled up the card, and even provided a hair match victory at the 81st Anniversary Show.

And to be honest, I just haven't seen much of him yet. When I said that I skipped a lot of the Busca, I kind of did. That was when I was really getting my feet wet and it seemed like a poor choice to acclimate myself with. My sense of him is that he's energetic, daring, with performances that are full of a lot of the sort of character work you don't always get to see in lucha libre. He's going to turn 21 this week, actually, so I'm curious to see how much of the hype around him is just that youthful energy and willing to put his body at risk and how much of it is grounded in real skill.

We have around ten matches online pre-2014, and I'm going to start with those. The first of which is all the way back to August, 2012, and is actually a title match, from Guadalajara, for the Occidente Middleweight championship. Looking at it literally, this is obviously the CMLL version of the Western Heritage Title, held by such luchadors I've never heard of as Mr. Power, Metro, Mr. Trueno, and Palacio Negro. That's not to say that those guys aren't talented or worth watching. I've just never heard of them, which given my background, isn't saying much. It's a regional belt for the area, and if i'm not mistaken, it had been vacated and Cavernario was in this match after a cibernetico. His opponent was Smaker, who I know even less about. He's a year or two older and has a goofy mask with three back fins. Cavernario was only 18 at this point, going on 19 (and still called Baby Cavernario). Wiki tells me stuff you could learn yourself, that he has a brother who wrestles as well (Demonio Maya), that he had lost his match early, shortly before this, that he debuted way back in 2008, etc. Smaker had also wrestled as Cometa (not to be confused with Rey Cometa), apaprently.

So these two had a decent amount to prove. I think it's safe to say this was the biggest match of their lives at this point, and I think they did a pretty good job, all things considered. Obviously you have to factor the scope and their ages in here. This isn't some Satanico title match. Immediately, Cavernario's aggression and character work shines. He just rushes in and it's a testament to him that he's able to balance that with the matwork of the first fall. I think he's better at it now, from what I've seen but it never really feels forced. When you combine it with the snap he has on things like his dropkick (and he hit one early after a snapmare here), it's doubly impressive. You don't expect that type of athleticism from a caveman, but somehow it works.

As I said, they did a pretty good job with the primera, making it feel like a competitive title match primera. There's a shift from one limb to the next with the matwork, and the counters mostly feel organic and not collaborative but there are a few moments. There are also a few moments of awkwardness with reversals or exchanges, but only one major slight, which was Smaker completely no selling a fairly nice Cavernario senton as if it was just a pin attempt or something. The highlight from a spot perspective was Cavernario getting tripped up and taking a Hamrick bump through the ropes, followed by a cool no-hands Smaker springboard moonsault. They brought it back in with a Smaker advantage until Cavernario caught him out of nowhere with a fireman's carry into a facecracker. All things considered, it was a good, though hardly perfect primera. A for effort.

It's probably because I've been watching a lot of Stan Hansen lately, but the way Cavernario just throws himself into his offense reminds me of Hansen's intensity. You'd think he'd remind me of Brody given the gimmick but it's Hansen that resonates and he's better off for it. He started the segunda with a sliding dropkick and a nasty powerbomb on the outside. He followed it up with the crazy top rope splash to the floor. It scares me a little to think he's been doing that for two years already. It has to take a toll. This was for a near-count here, though, as, back in the ring, Smaker got his feet on the rope. It was followed up by some more high impact offense and a cut off hope spot which led to a Cavernario tope. In the end though, Cavernario was caught off the second rope into a powerbomb for a flash pin. It's interesting how they had a momentum shifting counter out of nowhere decide both of the first two falls. I'm not sure if that's the most effective layout from a heat perspective but it works in a title match, maybe.

The tercera remained pretty good, with all the previous caveats. Smaker kept the momentum, hitting a weird running fireman's carry slam thing on the outside. They both sold but it didn't feel like the usual title match overselling we get these days. There were a number of perfectly solid near falls, some mask ripping, and a nice dive, before it ended with a clumsy Smaker submission out of nowhere. I could have used one more definitive Cavernario near fall though. I'm not entirely sure how this was received at the time, except for that people thought Cavernario was going to win due to previous hair match victories that year. In general, this was a good start and I think there was a lot of potential in there already from Cavernario, even if maybe a title match wasn't the best showcase for the character at this stage of his career.

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