Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

1999 Match of the Year

El Hijo Del Santo/Negro Casas v. Scorpio Jr./Bestia Salvaje CMLL 3/19/99

PAS: This is one of the last great bloody Arena Mexico apuestas matches. Scorpio and Bestia are a pair of awesome grizzled ugly rudos who come out smoking. They totally bum rush Santo and Casas slam them into the seats and the barricade and bloody them up. Santo is one of wrestlings great bleeders, but it is rarer to see Casas leaking like this. Total one sided violent domination by the rudos in the first fall. The tide turn is awesome Santo is getting double teamed, and as the rudos whip him into the ropes, Casas grabs his torso, throwing off the timing and allowing Santo to hit them with a double clothesline and take control. Technicos take over and get revenge cutting up both rudos. Third fall is a classic with lots of crazy dives, near falls and gritty violence. All four guys are amazing, but man alive is Casas on another level here, he is one of the most expressive wrestlers in history, just watching his face is such a pleasure. Pain, discouragement, glee, anger it is all there, just a maestro.

ER: Wonderful lucha tag match with two legends versus two goons. Bestia Salvaje has a face that lucha masks were invented for, Scorpio the same but had the sense to wear a mask. Bestia and Casas both have their 1989 Lou Reed hair on the line, Santo and Scorpio have their masks up. I have actually attended a Santo mask match live, versus Super Parka in 2003 almost 13 years ago to this date. I talked to tons of fans around us and asked them who they thought was leaving with their mask, and none of them thought Parka had a chance. Several of them all said their wives even asked why they were even attending, as even they knew that Santito was keeping his mask. One guy said he told his wife, "I know he's going to win. But I want to see HOW he wins." Another, in explaining to me what a big deal Santito was, told me, "You have HHH. We have Santo." Yes, that response sounded as awful in 2003 as it does now, but that was the perception at the time, at least to this one man in Tijuana. And another man was my hero, as he basically got me to believe in Santa Claus. He said, "I know Santo is going to win. But you never know. Parka could change his mind in the ring and something might happen." Holy shit. Masks on the line. What if Super Parka pulled a fast one?? It couldn't happen, right? It didn't. But damn if I didn't hang on every 2 count. What if Parka held him down on a cradle and the ref didn't know what to do?? It added a layer of drama that I felt from the 2nd row. And somehow that one guy made me a sucker for lucha stips matches for life, no matter how seemingly in the bag they are.

A few of the little and big moments I loved: 1) Santo's comeback kneelifts were the best. Bestia took each one as if it were caving in his sternum, and most of them looked like they were doing just that. The kneelift is a Santo staple, but often it's a move done on the run, more back slap than knee to chest, slowing down an opponent to set up something bigger. Here he's landing them like he's prime Anderson Silva. 2) The end of the segunda was such a tremendous Bestia emotional performance. He cheated, he uppercut low on Casas and got caught. But he baaaaarely got caught, and he knew he barely got caught. There was no appeal to the ref, no appeal to the crowd, just a man slumped in the corner knowing he was *this* close to getting Casas out of the way, and here he was coming to terms that things are evened up on paper and the momentum may be shifting. 3) That misguided tope was one of the best ever, not just for how it hit, but for what it meant and for how it played on our collective expectations. Casas grabbed and held onto Scorpio on the floor while Santo dispatched of Bestia, and then I'm thinking "jeez Casas has been just holding Scorpio still for quite awhile..." and then Santo does his beautiful tope...and Scorpio moves, sending Santo into Casas and Casas into the front row. And it's a beautiful moment as Bestia and Scorpio had been looking drained just before this, not just physically tired but they looked like the spirit was getting drained out of their bodies by their imminent defeat. And once Santo crashed into Casas their body language just changed. They knew this was their last chance and they jumped on it. It didn't last long. But in that moment you couldn't have asked for more from them. Great stuff all around.


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