Segunda Caida

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

Friday, July 31, 2020

New Footage Friday: CASAS! AJA! MEIKO! SANTO! PANTHER! TARZAN!


Máscara Mágica/Olímpus/Silver King vs. Guerrero de la Muerte/Negro Casas/Rey Bucanero CMLL 6/29/96

MD: I love dropping into a moment in time like this, even for a mid-card feud with some great window dressing. This set up a Welterweight title match between Mascara Magica and Guerrero de la Muerte which would then set up their apeuestas match, and I have to admit, this actually made me want see all of that. They worked well together, with Guerrero standing out as a particularly effective clubbering bully that could still turn it up a notch. That's to say I didn't mind that the focus of this one was on them and not Casas and Silver King, not that we didn't get some great stuff from each individually and together. They played Sharp Dressed Man for both sets of entrances and Negro Casas had fun with it. He danced and hugged the ref with the expected audacity and familiarity so the pre-match is great. There are certain wrestlers you don't want to take your eye off in a match, no matter what is happening. Terry Funk is one. Casas is another. For the primera, they paired Olimpus with Casas and Bucanero with Silver King, which made sense. Young Bucanero, as always, was ambitious but not always entirely smooth. I loved how Casas reacted to basically everything Olimpus did (even when in a simple hold, as Olimpus would go for the chin or the hair or an arm, etc., Casas just was totally on all the time in his complaining and reacting). We did get some good Casas and Silver King time in the segunda and tercera, with the usual rope running trip spots that no one did better and some fun brawling through the ropes to clear the ring for Magica and Guerrero at the end.

ER: Great match, I loved this. I haven't seen much Guerrero de la Muerte, and I'm not sure I've ever seen Olimpus, and that already helps make it a great on paper match for me. It has two of my all time favorites in Casas and Silver King, two guys I've seen a ton and like in Magica and Bucanero, and two guys who are new or relatively new to me, one of each category on each side. The guys I loved did things that I loved, it's fun seeing the elements of Bucanero that stayed as he matured and the small things that didn't, I loved the rope work of Olimpus and the overall rounded professionalism of GdlM. Everybody fit into their cog nicely, the pairings all looked good, and we got a couple of things I've never seen. Casas and King were the highlights, with King especially moving blisteringly fast. I love seeing these two move, and they both looked excellent. King broke out this cool looking spot, where he and Bucanero had been working a nice sunset flip sequence. King kicked out of one and Bucanero went for another one, and King just tried to run away during the flip. The spot looked minorly blown when Bucanero nudged by him, and the spot became something unique and special. If it started as Bucanero slightly missing his mark and sunset flipping King after a delay, the moment Bucanero was sliding down King's back to pull him down by the legs, King starts to move with Bucanero on his back! So Bucanero was being blocked by King while King basically held him in position for Omori's Axe Guillotine Driver. It was a cool visual, pulled off quick, and felt like something innovative we'd see in French Catch. All I see now is 50s French Catch in wrestling, even if there is zero chance those wrestlers ever even heard of French Catch.

Bucanero wrestled more like a junior (and was sized like a junior), and he still had his lunatic fast spills to the floor. Bucanero was a longtime favorite of mine for the many ways he knows how to get to an arena floor, and is still capable of surprising. The peak of his powers was around 2001, when he and Christian were having weekly TV contests to see who could take the most bumps over the top to the floor in a match. Here he is not taking high bumps to the floor, but fast beautiful lucha rolls to the floor, the way a veteran luchador knows how to kind of back handspring through the ropes to the floor after taking a dropkick.  Young Bucanero, wearing gorgeous plate glass tights, had veteran level bumps to the floor at age 21. Olimpus had a couple of great ropes moments with a couple of nice tricks. I loved the moment at the end of a caida where Casas ran in to break up a pin, and Olimpus ran in the ring behind him to spring off the middle rope with a dropkick to the back of Casas's head. in ring springboard senton to a standing opponent is a fun signature spot, and it was hit and reversed in satisfying ways here. I don't think Olimpus has much of a rep, but he has few enough matches that maybe I should go through an under 10 match Olimpus run, while also doing an under 10 matches Babe Richard run, since there is some overlap with each in the same match. Is it stupid to go through and review the 20 or so available Olimpus and Babe Richard matches before I go through and review 20 or so available Javier Llanes matches? Almost certainly! Will that make a difference? Of course not. Casas made Olimpus look plenty good in their exchanges, and King worked fast with all the rudos. Seeing King try to actually take out Casas's feet with dropdowns during a sequence is just one of those signs that guys are taking their best shot at making this match a good one, and I grinned the whole time.



MD: At the 22 minute mark here I turned it onto 2x speed so I could just get through this. I was pretty much done after the fourth death valley bomb. I was probably done a minute or two before that. It's a me thing as much as anything else. What I post on the blog is basically what I watch: old French wrestling and what we find for NFF which is basically lucha, German Catch, old Japanese TV and handhelds and occasional territory stuff. The other guys watch things more broadly and much more modern wrestling. The point is that I am not at all mentally prepared for twelve minute excess-laden finishing stretches that end up being more than one third the total length of the match anymore. Wrestling isn't math, but I think that's probably my rule of thumb: while there can be exceptions like anything else, a finishing stretch should be a lot closer to 1/6th the length of the total match than 1/3rd. If anyone wants to engage me on this, I'm happy to write a couple thousand words somewhere. Otherwise, let me just talk about the rest and not drag down NFF.

What I love about Aja, especially Gaea era Aja is that her matches tend to be like thought experiments. Like Hansen and to a degree Brock, what makes them so fascinating is watching how her opponent tries to handle the unstoppable force that she presents. Meiko, obviously, was presented as a force unto herself, but she came in prepared for and experienced against what she was going to face and that let them work in some more early counters. Even so, Aja took most of this on the notion that if she can get her hands on you (and that means running into her hands as well), she's going to cut you off. Her opponents are always working from a point of disadvantage, which with a normal monster heel would be a perfectly fine narrative point, but with Aja means even more. She can attack from all sorts of different angles: my favorite here was when she just sidestepped Meiko and tripped her to cut off a comeback corner charge. I also liked how opportunity-driven Meiko's comebacks were. After getting battered around the ringside area, Aja placed her back on the apron and she used the higher ground for an axe kick in a way that felt perfectly strategic. Later on, Aja dropped her onto some metal with a brainbuster, but the ref demanded the object leave the ring before counting the pin, letting her come back with another Pele kick. She went to that well once too often and the finishing stretch (overextended as it was) was entered by Meiko realizing she didn't have the right distance/angle and jamming herself on launching another which let Aja clothesline her instead. The match was full of little touches like that which kept things both believable (human) and interesting for the first two-thirds. And I'll just leave it at that.

PAS: I agree with Matt, this match really could have used an editor. We only had a clipped version of this match before, and I imagine it might have worked a bit better as a clipped match, as it might night have felt as bloated. Still Joshi has a maximilist style and this is a pair of great wrestlers to watch overeat. Awesome Aja performance as she demonstrates again why she is one the greatest monster heel wrestlers of all time. Violent and brutal offense, mixed with perfectly timed moments of vulnerability.  Meiko is awesome in this match too, she has such credible offense, and is great at finding and taking advantage of openings. She has really good boxing for a pro-wrestler who doesn't throw punches. There were awesome moments where she uses head movement to evade shots, and she fires in these killer fast combos to the face. There were lots of moments when this would have have been an all time classic if they had ended there, and there were just too many of them. I did love the actual ending though, Aja's one count kick out is the best one count kick out I have ever seen. Total hubris, like a fighter who stands up too quick from a knockdown, instead of taking the moment to clear her head she bolts back up, only to get put back down. We just needed less nearfalls before that.


El Hijo Del Santo/La Mascara vs. Blue Panther/Tarzan Boy Monterey 1/1/06

MD: If we were going Epic/Great/Fun/Skip on this, it'd be Fun. Mascara was, not unexpectedly, the weakest link, but that's not to say he didn't carry himself well given who he was in there with. You'd get a 'rana that looked a little off but it'd follow three or four exchanges that hit perfectly. My favorite bits in the match weren't the perfectly smooth Panther vs Santo exchanges or the usual joy in seeing Santo's signature spots, but instead his interaction with Tarzan Boy. They had been on the same side of trios and at least one tag back in 98-00 when Tarzan Boy was much younger and after the tecnicos took the first fall here, Santo patted his cheek and shook his hand only for Tarzan Boy to return the favor. That felt like it really paid off with Tarzan Boy catching Santo with a powerbomb for a pin later on. My other favorite bit was Blue Panther using the drop down double leg nelson move we've been seeing from France so often lately to submit Mascara. The tercera was a little loose and free, feeling more like a local show than something for TV, but there were a bunch of tecnico dives and everyone went home happy. A good match with flashes of excellence from two of the best ever, and we're never going to complain about something like that popping up.

PAS: I love formula lucha libre, as a wrestling style performed well it has the highest floor. A basic househow lucha match is better then any other kind of houseshow wrestling. This is a match with two all time greats, a solid young wrestler and a competent hand, so it is going to be super entertaining. Santo and Panther are two of the most perfectly matched dance partners ever and we get some gorgeous exchanges between the two, some classic Santo dives and nifty interactions between Tarzan Boy and Santo, which had a bit more roughness then the smoothness of Santo and Panther. Mascara was pretty replaceable, but didn't do anything giant to drag down the match.



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