Segunda Caida

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

MLJ: 8/1/1997 Torneo Cibernetico

1997-08-01 @ Arena México
Torneo Cibernetico

There was a moment where I thought we were looking at a MOTYC here. Then, after a major detour, there was yet another moment where I thought the match could still pull it out. Ultimately it didn't but it's still well worth watching. In some ways it's late 90s CMLL at its best.

First of all, look at the talent involved. For tecnicos, you had Negro Casas, Felino, Ultimo Dragon, Shocker, and Fiera. For Rudos, it was Hijo del Santo, Scorpio, Jr., Bestia Salvaje, Dr. Wagner, Jr., and Satanico. Shocker and Wagner weren't fully developed yet (though they had years under their respective belts). Fiera wasn't what he had once been. Dragon has some definite flaws as an all-around wrestler, but ciberneticos were made to smooth out all of those things.

More importantly, there were two major feuds here, and there would be, in the subsequent weeks following this, two major apuestas matches, the Fiera vs Bestia Salvaje one a couple of weeks before the Anniversary show and then the long-overdue Casas vs Santo match at the Anniversary itself. That brought the heat and the structure of payoff, with Salvaje dodging Fiera until the very end (mainly using Scorpio as a shield), and with Wagner and Santo targeting Casas. It's what's so often lacking in modern cibeneticos. They're all action and usually worth watching, but they're rarely grounded with any sort of substance to them.

Here there was plenty of that, on top of a lot of fun pairings. Satanico looked great as a base for Felino. Dragon was at his explosive best. Santo and Casas differentiated their feud with that of Salvaje and Fiera by actively going at it. Fiera, on the other hand, seemed amused by Salvaje's stooging cowardice:

Great action and quality workers buoyed by two storylines is more than you can ask for from any CMLL cibernetico. Unfortunately, it veered too far into the realm of story progression. Just before the commercial break, Wagner dropped Casas with a brutal sit-out martinete. He and Santo continued on him in the corner and then as he was being brought to the back as Felino and Dragon tried to provide interference. It was super heated but both took a number of the best wrestlers out of the match and caused a distraction where we didn't see the action in the ring for a few minutes. Casas continued to sell it on the ramp but with Felino's help, he fought back enough where he was able to appeal to the crowd and make it to the back on his own power.

Even then, I thought everything would work out because we'd have a string of falls followed by some assuredly heated Salvaje and Fiera exchanges. They both had it in them after all. We did get the former, but the latter was a non-starter. They went at it a bit before an inadvertant ref bump ended the match. Fiera wanted things to continue and Salvaje, having tasted blood and also knowing that he had a DQ loss if things stood as they were wasn't playing chicken anymore, but they only got a few shots in before the ref separated them again. Deferring gratification is part of what makes lucha tick but in this case I wish they had been allowed to go at it a bit more first.

So this wasn't an all-time classic but it is a solid cross-section of what CMLL had to offer going into the Anniversary show. If nothing else, you'll get to see a deranged Lucky Charms commercial if you watch it (I'm sure Phil will love this gif being on the site):

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