Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

1997 Match of the Year

El Hijo del Santo vs. Negro Casas CMLL 9/19/97

ER: What an awesome scrap. One of the fascinating things about this match is for the first 15+ minutes one man is fighting off his back, and it's usually not from matwork. These two were basically scrapping and rolling around in the dirt and throwing mean shots, but in a beautiful nasty lucha way. This match may have set the record for upkicks, with both men taking turns on the defensive, scrambling to avoid strikes while throwing nasty strikes of their own. Casas kicks Santo around the ring and immediately has him on the ropes, and builds to one of the grossest knee attacks I've seen, as Santo's leg is draped on the rope and Casas just jumps butt first into the side of it, and I have clue how Santo's knee just didn't get dislocated. And from there Santo just decides to keep that knee active, and the best way he comes up with is by kicking Casas, a lot. When I think of who has my favorite stomps in wrestling, my brain instinctively thinks of some big hoss, they don't think of a man who is essentially built like a several inches shorter version of myself. But Santo's stomps are perfection, just these short little lightning bursts, prodding Casas in the face and ribs and back of the head. And so we get matwork all throughout this war, but it's not what I think of when I think "lucha matwork". This whole match felt vaguely uncooperative. It wasn't, obviously, these two men are pros, but that struggle was there that is often missing in lucha. Nobody was offering up an arm and getting into position, Santo would grab an arm and get punched in the face. Look at both struggles over Santo locking on the camel clutch: Negro Casas was struggling the way you would struggle if your older brother was trying to actually put a camel clutch on you. Santo locking that clutch on was like my girlfriend and I trying to put our cat in his pet carrier to go to the vet. He would lock one arm, then try to grab Casas' face while also trying for the other arm, and then the initial arm would break free, just a constant struggle. Later in the match he comes up against the same thing and after struggling to give this cat his medicine just opts to surprise Casas by going exclusively after his arm, and that wins it. And the whole match has little things like that, one guy trying a move and the other person not "cooperating", so just improv-ing another way to inflict damage. It's beautiful in this great messy way. We get a couple of big Santo dives, with that vault over the top being especially impressive (I've stood next to this man, and he cannot be more than 5'6"), but this whole thing was just a tangled, glorious scrap.

PAS: I really think this is a truly unique wrestling match. It isn't a traditional lucha brawl, no tossing into the seats, no big blood, it isn't a title match, the matwork here was completely uncooperative and violent and the strikes were ungodly stiff. I have heard it compared to BattlArts (maybe by me, in an early review I can't remember) but I was actually thinking more of one of those hellacious Hara WAR matches. This wasn't shootstyle as much as a match where every little move seemed a little too rough, a little too hard. This didn't feel like it was based in martial arts, it felt based on the Dan Dority v. Captain Turner fight in Deadwood. Everytime someone was on the ground the other guy would be trying to kick his eye in or stomp him in the temple. I loved how the match would shift from violent to beautiful, one moment Casas would be throwing dirty boxing uppercuts and the next Santo would be flying through the air like a soaring seaside silver gull. I loved the finish so much, Casas is squirming underneath Santo avoiding the Camel Clutch, so Santo decides to rip his arm out of the socket, I honestly don't know how Casas didn't really dislocate his shoulder. What a match, my goodness.

All Time MOTY List

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