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Monday, December 26, 2016

MLJ: Recent Uploads: Black Magic & Negro Casas vs Brazo de Oro & Brazo de Plata [CMLL Tag Title Tournament]

1997-02-21 @ Arena México
Black Magic & Negro Casas vs Brazo de Oro & Brazo de Plata [CMLL Tag Title Tournament]

I've seen a lot of Porky. I've seen a lot of Casas. I haven't seen a lot of them working together. I could be way off but I think Porky, in comedy situations, even when positioned with Pesta Negra, is more likely to be paired with Felino or Niebla (and even that feels rarer than you'd think).

This was the first round of the February 1997 tag team title tournament. The Headhunters were stripped after their title win. I have no idea if that's because of kayfabe reasons or not but you sort of have to assume not. The tournament ended with Silver King and Wagner, Jr. beating Dos Caras and Ultimo Dragon which sounds light and fun and worth tracking down at some point. It's 1997 so they basically had to do it all again in August after Silver King jumped to Promo Azteca.

Anyway, this is that amazing creature, that was probably far more likely in 1997 then it will be in 2017, good tournament lucha. IT was right around ten minutes and felt much more like the Brazos in Japan than more of a CMLL style 2/3 falls match but everyone was in their thirties, all of them were pretty athletic, and it's the Brazos and Casas. Ten minutes of that ended up being just the right mix of shtick and spots, even if it was ultimately going to feel fairly disposable no matter what they did due to the fact it was an early round match that was only going ten.

In many ways, it was a tale of two Brazos opponents. Negro Casas was serene. He bounced off of Porky. He flailed and spasmed whenever a Brazo put him in a hold. He was plucky in bouncing up and charging in again. There was one exchange where he got Flair tossed off the top rope in a manner that was just tighter and more stylistic than you're used to. And for those keeping count about Casas' ability to do new things in almost every match, he locked in a Cavernaria late in the match, which is something I'm sure he's done plenty but I'm not sure I've ever seen him do personally. Of course, it wasn't the Cavernaria in and of itself that made the moment, but instead Casas kicking and grinding upon the back of Porky's leg in order to get it on. It's that attention to detail which makes Negro Casas one of the best, most believable, most engrossing wrestlers ever.

It's also what Smiley absolutely did not bring to the table here. I was, at first, going to give him a pass like I usually do, but then I remembered it's 97 and not 93. He just didn't have it here. There is one or two really good things, execution wise, like a really nasty cravat on Porky, but he's terrible at portraying consequence. Best example of this is him trying to slam Porky early and failing. Normally, this is a transition where someone sells the back, sometimes to set up the slam as a big moment later in the match. He just put him down as if there was no cost to the attempt and when he did hit the slam later on, it really didn't matter. That's Smiley in Mexico in a nutshell. Meanwhile, Casas is stuck in holds and doing the most brutal looking kicks to try to get out, in pure desperation. Night and day.

Just look at this gritty as hell Porky/Casas exchange that ends with the aforementioned top rope toss:
Or how Casas sells the armbreaker:

So past Casas lawn darting and Smiley being stronger, there wasn't much complex storytelling here, but there was plenty of character, some surprising grit and struggle (And killer clotheslines) and all the fun you'd expect.

Like this every person sub:

And Porky doing a twisting senton off the ropes (!):

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