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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

MLJ: July Matches Week: Satanico vs Blue Panther

2015-07-25 @ Arena San Juan Pantitlan, Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, Estado de México
Satanico vs Blue Panther


Let's lead with this: Satanico is 55 (EDIT: Wiki says 55, commenter and lucha wiki says 65. Latter is probably correct. Dude's old and awesome. We'll just go with that). Blue Panther is 54. Both of them have been wrestling since the 70s. They've been in bloody wars. They've put huge strains on their bodies. Also, neither of them have access to the fountain of youth that Negro Casas has. To ask anyone that age, that realistically broken down, to carry fifteen minutes of a match in front of an indy crowd in 2015 would be an unfair task. Blue Panther and El Satanico aren't just anyone though. They're two of the best that ever were.

They show it here too. As I break these matches down, I know that sometimes I fill in connective tissue that isn't there, that wasn't intended by the wrestlers, that no one else would see but me. When the opportunity arises in matches to do so, when it's obvious to me, I sort of latch on to it. When it's not, I don't. In this way I generally try to give matches the benefit of the doubt based on the selling and the comebacks, the emotion portrayed by the wrestlers. It's just how I watch things. I can't not make those connections. It doesn't matter if they were intended or not. It just matters if there's enough within the match for them to exist. If there are enough dots to connect, then connecting them is a worthwhile exercise.

This was not a match with many high spots. It wasn't a match with big momentum shifts. It was a lot of tight countering and a consistent battle for armdrags. It was a match where Satanico went, time and again, for the Fujiwara Arm Bar, being Panther's go-to move, as a way to ground him, control him, and insult him. It was a match where Panther could only start to get a real handle in it after Satanico started to try to go for bigger holds, after he moved away from the arm bar and towards his Satan's Knot. It was a match that built to Panther finally locking in his own armbar and then getting frustrated with the referee when that didn't quickly end the match. It was a match where one lapse, one distraction, spelled the difference between victory and defeat.

How much of that was actually there and how much did I make up? I have no idea, but the point is that, despite so little in the way of highspots or big moments, the match was so full of counters and bits of gamemanship and character, that there is a ton to try to connect. Were one of these two up against a younger wrestler, it'd be easy to marvel how they move that wrestler around, in and out of position, and thus create the illusion of struggle. Here, there was no illusion necessary. Every hold was based on leverage, on gaining a limb, a half turn, a bit of positioning. It's a joy to watch both styles of matwork; in a lot of ways, it's more exciting to watch the former since that's more kinetic and more obvious in its talent. This, though, is ultimately more rewarding due it its grit and persistence.

There was a level of pageantry to the match too. They came out with their masks. I'm not sure I've ever seen Satanico's mask before except for in some old, old pictures. It was a burst of nostalgia, even for someone so new to this, to see Panther in his. During early matwork, the crowd chanted "This is lucha" or some sort of equivalent, and maybe that was a bit much. After an exchange that sent Panther sliding to the outside, Satanico did a victory lap and basked in the attention. When they reset, it was with a handshake, and even one without a cheapshot. Money was thrown in after the match.

I'm not saying every 2015 Satanico match is a winner, even when he's up against an opponent as skilled as Panther, but this was smart and crisp and good. Everything felt like it meant something due to the struggle, due to the specific well that Satanico drew from, due to the emotion that Panther brought to the table in response. They went just as high with their spots as they needed to, battling over those arm drags, which all had a level of oomph to them. In a genre that's full of dives and quick sequence, less really can be more so long as the skill and the emotion and the meaning is still there, and they were able to tap into it, at least on this night.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Satanico is 65

10:58 AM  

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