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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

MLJ: Sombra Spotlight 27: La Sombra © vs Volador Jr. [NWA WELTER] (Sorry)

2011-09-18 @ Arena México
La Sombra © vs Volador Jr. [NWA WELTER]

I have no one to blame but myself. I made a promise at the start of this process not to watch any of the 24 Sombra vs Volador singles matches. I've been trying to get a good cross-section, but mainly jump between matches that look like they'll be good. I have absolutely no faith in the pairing of Sombra and Volador. This is based on a few bad experiences. Volador, Jr. is a very talented luchador. He's someone who apparently cares deeply about his craft. He's someone that I actively like in big trios matches. I think he's striking when he's being a jerk in the ring, and could portray a Miz like character exceptionally well. He hits his stuff as well as anyone in CMLL, is smooth and precise a lot of the times and is extremely athletic. Unfortunately, without restraint, focus, and resonance, those are skills rendered not just nearly useless but at times, actively harmful to matches. Even without some of that, in a wrestler, they can be utilized by others and by the sheer structure of the form, in a trios match beautifully. Singles matches though? Not so much.

This one fooled me, and it fooled me for three reasons. The first is definietly on me. I thought that, hey, maybe I should just give them another chance. Why? Well, the second is that I've been enjoying 2011 Sombra a lot, and just two nights before this, he had the match with Averno which was smartly laid out and paced so well, and just full of emotion and meaning. It was great. It also felt similar to him having a really strong match with Liger and then a dynamic high flying match with Psicosis II just one night later back in 2010. It felt like a natural bit of symmetry.

The third was that it was only 19:14 long. That is, the video was only 20 minutes long, maybe 16:30 of action. That's what fooled me the most. I thought that there was no way they could, in that little time, have one of their bloated, spot-laden, no-selling, empty matches, especially given the other factors. If nothing else, the first two falls would eat up some time, and maybe, just maybe, rudo Volador meant that there'd be some actual heat and control to the match. Just like every other match between the two I hit the 2/5th mark, thought to myself just how well they hit their spots against each other, and wondered if maybe, just maybe, it'd be ok. Then, I realized just how long was left, the fact that they'd blown through the first two falls, and that there was so much time left, and I realized that no, things were not going to be okay.

There are a thousand ways to have a good match, and a lot of people do like this pairing because it's dynamic and they do hit their stuff well and they have lots of counters and what not, but none of it means anything. There's a moment at the ten minute mark where they trade some big submissions, including a Cavernaria which feels like a big deal at almost any point in CMLL, and it was just washed away by the next three spots. In order to contrive top rope moves, Volador does the same kick to the head of Sombra when he's on the top twice, at two different points, with no rhyme or reason or strategy or payoff, once at 11:52, once at 14:49. I'm not sure I've ever seen that in a match before when it wasn't them fixing a flub and I don't get how that happens in a match with two wrestlers who are as imaginative as these two are. The transitions, the connective tissue, the underpinning of the match that turns spots into a narrative... none of that mattered. It was all just means to the end of getting to the next OOH or AAH! It's pure finisher spamming and bomb throwing. Given the sheer amount of stuff they were doing, they could have ended it again and again and it just droned on, spectacular and terrible. And the finish? The finish is Volador hitting a twisting Canadian destroyer out of the corner, Sombra no selling it, popping up and hitting his own.

I do think anyone going through Sombra's career should check these matches out because they're dynamic and the people who do love them love them for a reason. I am just not compatible at all with them. They go against so much that I love about lucha. They show that he could do exceptionally well in an 8 minute TV match, but more is not always better, especially when it's more for the sake of more. Like I said, this one's on me. I should have known better. Sorry.

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