MLJ: Chairo II: Negro Navarro vs Virus
2015-12-25 @ Arena Naucalpan
Negro Navarro vs Virus
I wanted to tackle this, however, because I'd read some criticism recently on Virus, on his matwork looking particularly cooperative. Now, it was in the midst of DVDVR March Madness which is an interesting (if frustrating) time, because you get a lot of people watching lucha who aren't very familiar with it or accepting of the quirks of the style. Still, it was someone I respect, and criticism is criticism and I wanted to take another look.
This was a maestros match, one fall, and it was the most subdued and focused I've seen Navarro work in his later career. Usually, his matches, even in this sort of setting against this sort of opponent, are about his charisma and striking and attitude. This was extremely straightforward and was really the best look I've had at his mat skills, far better than a lot of other matches where you'd expect a showcase. He more than held his own, but it probably still would have been a slightly more compelling match if he had been a bit broader. At the same time, some of that broadness leads to him not taking elements of a match seriously, and he absolutely took everything seriously here, so it's a trade-off.
And hey, you know what? Virus was great as always. Wrestling is symbolic. That's its nature. Nothing is literal. Lucha tends to be slightly more symbolic than other wrestling. Virus, whenever he sets up a move or whenever he gets out of one, earns it. He doesn't just slip out of a hold; he criss-crosses his legs so that he can gain the leverage to turn his way out. He doesn't just put on a hold; he works his way around to get the right positioning and does something a little extra for leverage. He does this again and again and it creates a sense of struggle that's tonally different than what you'd get in a shootstyle setting, for instance. With this matwork, there's a lot of effort made to tying up your opponent so that he can't utilize any of his limbs or leverage, but in doing so, too much effort is exerted in the holds. That's why they can't always be kept. The flipside is that when it's not done, reversals happen through openings. It's not true of all lucha matwork, but it was true here and it created a really satisfying sense of symbolic competition. If you go with it, just a little, like you have to do with all wrestling in one way or another, it really pays off.
As Navarro works in the same way for this match, earning every limb he picks and trying to make the most of it, it turned out to be a good, little match, one that was worth the wait of a couple of months for them to release. I'm glad we got to see it.