Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D, Sebastian, and other friends write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Friday, December 01, 2023


Batman/Chuy Escobedo/Ausente vs. Halcon de Oro/Mongol Chino/Astro Negro (Monterrey 1991)

MD: Some great names in the next couple of matches, but we have to see what we have here first. Astro Negro looks like a guy who never had a chance at recovering from losing his mask. Apparently he lost it to Mongol Chino so he's a forgiving sort. He is a mask maker of some renown ("El Pony") too. It's possible that Batman is a young Mr. Niebla but I couldn't say one way or the other (he had the swagger at least). The central story of the match was Batman vs Halcon de Oro.

I do have to admit that watching these six a month, it's nice to see the structure change up a bit. This was about Halcon dodging Batman. They cycled through Chuy vs Astro Negro (which was fine if slight) and Ausente vs Mongol Chino (nice and flowing; Ausente looked pretty good throughout) before teasing that third pairing between the prime combatants. Halcon took a powder, however, and upon reentering the ring, staged an ambush and started the beatdown. I haven't seen that sort of disruptiveness in a primera in a bit with these matches.

I'm not going to say that these were the smoothest guys we've seen in the Monterrey footage, but the segunda and tercera had the sort of wild abandon that's found in the best of these matches. The segunda started with a comeback and a lot of quick exchanges. Here we finally got a taste of Batman vs Halcon and they worked well together but it was just a taste, as Halcon got run off to the back to draw a count out. The tercera had a pretty brutal second beat down and an even more brutal comeback, wrought with mask ripping, before they cycled through submissions and break-ups and went for the ring-clearing dives: Chuy got all caught up on the ropes in a dive so that was brutal in its own way. Still, that left Batman and Halcon and from there it was a clear, crisp and direct tecnico triumph. The talent wasn't a high as it could be here, but the effort was admirable.

Negro Casas/Emilio Charles Jr/El Signo vs. El Dandy/Gran Hamada/Angel Azteca (Monterrey 1991)

MD: We lose some of the beginning, I think (my guess is an initial Signo vs Hamada pairing). We lose a lot of the tercera. It's still 22 minutes of these guys being absolutely amazing. The level of talent, commitment, trust, confidence is just off the charts. You have matches that follow a certain structure, that might be one dimension or two dimensional, moving this way or that on an axis or two. With these guys, there's a new dimension added. At any point they can deviate from what seemed to be going on in the match, take a side journey, but never, ever lose the true north of where they need to return to and their destination for that point of the match.

Look at the primera. We come in on Dandy and Casas doing their thing, sweeping movements, counters and counters to counters, all building to Casas putting his head down and getting kicked backwards and the two brawling out of the ring. Then it's Azteca and Charles, with tighter holds full of struggle. It breaks down after that, with the rudos having an advantage on Dandy, only for him to flip the switch and make a rolling hot tag. That allows Hamada to come in and crush everyone with headbutts. That entire mini beatdown segment was a deviation and they managed it flawlessly before heading back to where they would have been going without it. It adds drama and a sense of organic believability in the match. So much of lucha is ritual and meeting expectations, but these guys were good enough to switch partners and weave in whole bits without ever losing the plot or confusing the crowd. It could be something as simple as a Hamada/Signo strike exchange or Casas rope running with Hamada, eating an enzuigiri and stumbling right into Dandy's fist.

With lesser talents, the match would leave the ground, devolve into chaos or endless spots, and would never come back. These guys, though, could take moon leaps and always move in the right direction and land and sprint before leaping off again. There's talent and then there's mastery and people like Casas, Dandy, and Charles are in that rare, rare group of the latter.

Jose Luis Feliciano/Black Terry/Mr Terror vs. Silver King/Asterisco/Centurion Negro (Monterrey 1991)

MD: Great to see two thirds of the Temerarios here, but man is Mr. Terror ever not Shu El Guerrero. Moreover, the focus on this match was Terror vs Asterisco. There were pros and cons to that. I'm not going to say Terror brought nothing to the table. There was some mask ripping, some decent enough battering during beatdowns (though Feliciano and Terry were kind of edging him out to get shots in), and he took an entirely admirable bump on a back body drop on the floor to set up the finish to the primera, but his big move tends to be a clothesline (in a match where Silver King's was way better) and there's not much else there.

The flip side is that we got to see Terry and Feliciano go up against Centurion Negro and Silver King for a lot of this and all of that was great. Terry started with Centurion with all of the little movements and earnest openings you'd want from lucha matwork. Feliciano and Silver King brought the motion and all of them hit hard when it was time to do so. This one had too much heat on the ref too. That wasn't uncommon for the Monterrey footage but here it played too much into the finish and the ref got his comeuppance instead of Terror. Usually when watching a match with a singular focus like this, you come off annoyed that the apuestas match either never happened or we don't have it. I could probably live without seeing Asterisco vs Mr. Terror mano a mano though.

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Thursday, November 30, 2023

El Deporte de las Mil Emociones: The Road To Aniversario ‘89

Week 9: The Road  To Aniversario ‘89

EB: When we first started our journey with the Bronca Boricua, one of the videos we watched was one that had a Sports Shop segment, a rundown of that night’s card and, near the end of the video, a brief teaser for Aniversario 89 taking place from Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel on September 16.  We have now arrived in September and that means anniversary time for Capitol Sports Promotions. Although the promotion’s first card was held on Three Kings Day in 1974, CSP was founded in September of 1973. When the company reached ten years since its founding, it was decided to hold a big ten-year anniversary card in celebration. Since then, Aniversario has been held every September, a supercard where you’ll find a mix of feuds coming to a head (although not necessarily ending) and wrestlers being brought in (both regular tourers and sometimes even names making their first foray to Puerto Rico) to face the local stars or each other. Throughout the years the event has grown, with changes in how long the event lasts. CSP would typically hold cards throughout Aniversario weekend with the wrestlers that were here for Aniversario, resulting in Aniversario being held across different days (although the main show was always the one held in the San Juan Metro area). Recent developments included running a Universal title tournament from Friday to Sunday in 1986 (truly an Aniversario weekend) and running Aniversario simultaneously in three different locations at the same time in 1987. In 1988, Aniversario was once again run from two different locations simultaneously, although unlike in 1987 where it was different cities, the event was held at two different sites within the same sports complex in Bayamon.

For 1989, the event would be held from one location only (the previously mentioned Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel) but with a new wrinkle. For the first time ever, the event would be available locally live on pay-per-view. So fans had the option of going in person or watching the event from the comfort of their own home. This resulted in Hugo Savinovich, Carlos Colon and Chicky Starr to film some promos the week it was announced from in front of the cable TV company in San Juan in order to hype up that this was an option for the fans (while also telling the fans that if you can make it out to the stadium, you should do so).

Following the first teaser for Aniversario 89, every week a segment hosted by Hector Moyano would air updating fans about Aniversario 89, basically an event center update focused on Aniversario where new match announcements would occur.  Let’s go to one of these segments to see how the Aniversario 89 card is shaping up so far.

Hector Moyano welcomes the fans to the segment saying ‘Puerto Rico, esto es para ti’ (Puerto Rico, this is for you). More super matches have been confirmed, let’s run down what we have so far. The main event will be a rematch for the Universal title as Carlitos Colon takes on the reigning champ Steve Strong. The Puerto Rico title will be on the line as Ivan Koloff defends against Invader #1. Returning to the island and much loved by the fans are the Youngbloods who will be challenging the World tag champions Rip Rogers and Abudda Dein. A very interesting encounter will see Kerry von Erich take on Abullah the Butcher. Also, the World Class World Junior heavyweight champion Jeff Jarrett will be coming in to face the WWC World Junior heavyweight champion Super Medico. We will also see in action ‘El Toro Salvaje’ Manny Fernandez, the Junkyard Dog, and in a just confirmed bout, Boogie Man Jimmy Valiant will face Kareem Muhammad. Moyano then talks about there being good news for fans in the Caguas and Humacao regions, thanks to their calls the event will be available via their cable providers in those regions (thus the three different phone numbers to call on the screen depending on where you live). The price will be $25 and Moyano gives the relevant details about where the cable provider offices are located and what numbers to call. He also mentions that in San Juan you need the updated Sigma cable box in order to be able to watch the PPV. Please make sure you order ahead of time to make sure you don’t miss out. We’ll return next week with more new information.

After the segment, a promo for the Aniversario 89 card plays, narrated as always by Hugo Savinovich. This card rundown reveals one more match for the show, the one involving Manny Fernandez. In a vengeance match it will be Invader #3 vs. Manny Fernandez. Let’s take a look at these matches and talk about what has led up to them.

Our main event is a rematch for the Universal title where Carlitos Colon has returned from the shoulder injury Steve Strong inflicted on him and is looking to regain the Universal title.  We have seen the impact Sadistic Steve Strong has had throughout his run and we know how dangerous he can be. Carlos has returned with a win in the Bronca Boricua that took place on August 5 and is anxious to get his hands on Strong.

As Aniversario approaches, Chicky Starr is making sure that his Universal champ is ready. We go to a segment of La Esquina Caliente to see what Strong and Chicky are doing.

Chicky says they have invaded one of the training bases of El Ejercito de la Justicia to show how much weight a real man lifts. Chicky calls this a psychological attack on Carlos since they are doing this at one of their training bases. None of them can lift this much. Next time any of the Ejercito de la Justicia shows up here, let them know that a real man showed up to lift. This is the man that will end Carlos Colon.

MD: I love the idea behind this. It’s as if the Justice Army was some sort of secret government task force fighting Cobra with a hidden headquarters underneath a barber shop. And then you have Chicky not being subtle at all but instead saying outright that this is a psychological assault. You can’t hurt someone’s feelings by telling them you’re doing something to hurt their feelings!

EB: But this wasn’t the only way Chicky had decided to get at Carlos before Aniversario. Carlos was actively wrestling to get back in ring shape for the big match at Aniversario, so Chicky saw this as his chance to potentially take him out. Carlos faced Kendo Nagasaki on August 12 and also, later that month, faced off against a wrestler brought in by Chicky with the sole purpose of taking care of Carlos Colon before Aniversario.

We open with Chicky and Nikolai Volkoff standing near the fans. Chicky is yelling for silence so that Volkoff can sing the Soviet national anthem. Nikolai sings as the crowd makes noise throughout. As the ring introductions are made, Hugo on commentary mentions that Chicky has promised that Carlos will not make it to Aniversario and has brought in the powerful Volkoff, a wrestler whose trajectory is well known. As Carlos and Nikolai square off, Hugo makes note of the size difference between the two of them. Volkoff gets the advantage early on due to his power and keeping the pressure on Colon. Carlos manages to briefly get control by blocking a kick, but Volkoff rakes the eyes and gets the advantage back. The match follows a pattern of Carlos starting a comeback but Volkoff cutting it off and using a cheap tactic to put Carlos down. Nikolai starts working Colon’s throat, trying to make sure Carlos does not make it to Aniversario. After another momentum change where Nikolai regains control, he hits a backbreaker on Carlos but does not go for the pin attempt in order to do more damage. But when Nikolai tries to pick Carlos back up for a move, Carlos surprises him with a roll up and gets the pin. Carlos leaves the ring as Volkoff and Chicky are upset at losing. Carlos decides to get back in the ring to fight with Volkoff a bit more and, after Volkoff briefly gets some blows and bites in, Carlos sends Volkoff over the top rope with a headbutt. Chicky’s plan has not worked and Carlos is still on the road to Aniversario.

MD: Volkoff has no WWF matches between March and the very end of September 1989. I didn’t know that. I tried to look through some 89 Observers to figure out what was going on there and decided quickly that was a mistake for my continued vision and sanity, especially after stopping off at the PR section once or twice. Volkoff doing the anthem gimmick in Puerto Rico with Chicky is wonderful. He’s an excellent opponent for Colon for a 5 minute tune-up match. He’s bulky and physically imposing like Strong, just pummeling Carlos against the ropes or in the corner. He targets the neck. Colon fires back against him multiple times but gets cut off, but then sneaks in a roll up out of nowhere and drives him off post-match. You got the sense that Carlos wasn’t quite ready for Strong yet, but that he was getting closer every day.

ER: Carlos prevails against Nikolai but Strong awaits. While getting ready for the match, Carlos also makes the rounds to promote Aniversario, including an appearance on the TV show Sunshine’s Cafe. This was a comedy variety show starring comedian/TV personality Sunshine Logroño which aired on channel 4. The show would feature comedy skits with different characters Sunshine played, interview segments with different guests and even music performances. One of the characters Sunshine developed for the show goes by the name of Vitin Alicea. The character (according to his Wikipedia entry) can be described as a “ hyper-macho misogynist who is likely a closet case, flaunts his masculinity to the point of self-parody, and is an extreme fan of professional wrestling, weightlifting and film.” Vitin owns a makeshift gymnasium in the backyard of his house, called "Musculus", which is merely a converted garage and filled with whatever cheap makeshift equipment he can find (such as cement filled tin cans for weights and a garden hose that serves as the gym’s ‘shower’).

The reason I’m providing context on Vitin is because the character’s wrestling fandom will result in him getting involved at different points with the local wrestling scene (so might as well introduce him now). Vitin’s wrestling fandom also results in him basically being a Carlos Colon superfan, with the character talking about Carlos several times throughout the show’s run. The show was so popular that a parody song made in character as Vitin was released on an album. This song was called "Hombres en la Noche" ("Men In The Night"), and it’s one where Vitin longs for male company and pays homage to wrestling hero Carlitos Colon.

All the talk of Carlos eventually resulted in him making an appearance on the show in a sketch where Vitin continued to talk about how he trained Carlos and taught him the figure four, and how he was taking too much of Vitin’s time that he couldn’t train his protege (a lie Vitin was saying to explain to his protege why he wasn't being put into matches). Carlos unexpectedly arrives at the bar, looking for a phone to call a tow truck because his car had broken down. Vitin’s protege confronts Carlos, saying that he was told Carlos is ducking him and is the reason he wasn’t getting matches but Carlos reveals he doesn’t know who Vitin is.  Vitin tries to make an exit when it looks like the truth is out, but before the situation becomes heated Carlos decides to play along to help Vitin out, saying that of course he knows him, that’s the man that taught him the figure four. Afterwards, a grateful Vitin thanks Carlos for bailing him out and tells Carlos he is his inspiration, as Carlos tells him it’s alright but to be careful with the tall tales next time. If you’re interested you can watch the entire sketch.

As mentioned earlier, with Aniversario approaching, Carlos went to Sunshine's Cafe to promote the upcoming event. How? By being interviewed by Vitin of course.

Vitin makes the introduction of today’s guest. He asks for the VCRs to be set on record and introduces Carlos Colon by saying forget Danny Rivera (a Puerto rican singer), forget Rafael Hernandez Colon (the then governor of Puerto Rico), forget George Bush (the then US president), here is the leader of Puerto Rico, Carlitos Colon! Carlos comes out in his suit and is all smiles. As Carlos sits on the stool, Vitin goes ‘My God, what a buffet.’ Vitin sits down and as he starts his interview, reaches out and puts his hand on Colon’s shoulder, causing Vitin to go ‘Caritos… Dear God, it’s like a 4x4 what this man has for a shoulder.’ Vitin says it's an honor to have Carlos as a guest because he serves as an example to the youth of Puerto Rico and that he is one of the first Puerto Rican wrestlers to be known worldwide. Vitin mentions that Capitol is going to celebrate their Aniversario soon and wants to know what’s going to happen there. Carlos says they’re going to have all of the local stars  and international stars too. Vitin interjects saying ‘Don’t tell me Chicky Starr is going to be there!’ Upon hearing that yes Chicky will be there, Vitin scoffs and says that man infuriates him. At that, Carlos tells Vitin that you’re going too. A perplexed Vitin goes ‘Me?’, to which Carlos says they’ll put Vitin in the Bronca Boricua. Vitin accepts the invitation, he’ll be there but giving massages at ringside. Carlos says no, you’ll be right in there getting it on in the ring. Vitin upon hearing this goes, ‘Look at the hairs standing up on my arm.’ Vitin says he has to organize and see who he attacks first, but Carlos says he’ll be in there with Abdullah. ‘With Abdullah! If that mass of meat falls on me I’m dead.’ Vitin asks if Mr. Pogo will be there with his satanic nunchucks (if you listened to the song earlier, Vitin references Mr. Pogo in Hombres en la Noche which is likely why he asks Carlos about him). Vitin puts over Carlos’ discipline and brings up the shoulder injury and that he was injured by that satanic Steve Strong. When Vitin hears it was the left shoulder, he offers to give Colon a massage and a kiss to make it better but Colon declines (getting up from the stool in case he needs to fend Vitin off). Vitin produces a letter that was sent by a female fan where they write a fan letter to Steve Strong. Vitin takes offense at this, spits on the letter and says how can you root for that foreigner over our local guy. Vitin asks what Colon’s favorite wrestling move is and he responds the figure four. This leads to Carlos demonstrating the hold on Vitin to end the segment. Vitin ends it by saying ‘I thought the figure four was like this (assumes an all fours position)’.

MD: Yes, we live in a world where a 1989 parody song in Puerto Rico contains a Mr. Pogo reference. Truly the most wonderful timeline. What stands out to me from the initial sketch is how subdued Colon is. He’s also more like a prop or a politician guest starring than a wrestler. We’re used to wrestlers being naturals in these settings due to their need to improvise. He gets more into it during the promotional appearance though.

EB: But let’s not forget the huge obstacle Carlos faces in Steve Strong. Here is a music video showcasing Strong ahead of Aniversario 89.

The rivalry between Ivan Koloff and Invader #1 over the Puerto Rico title has been going on since Koloff’s arrival in mid-July. We go to a series of interviews from that first weekend of August in the early stages of the feud, where Koloff has recently won the Puerto Rico title and is defending against Invader that night.

In the interview Invader expresses that he thought Koloff was a tremendous wrestler, but he was disappointed that Koloff stooped to cheating in order to win the Puerto Rico title from him the way that he did. We haven’t really seen Ivan in action in Puerto Rico, so here is a match (joined in progress) he had around mid to late August against TNT.

We join the match with Ivan working TNT over with a bearhug, a hold which he will continue to use for the first minutes. Eventually TNT fights out of the hold but Ivan dodges an elbow drop and decides to go to the top rope.  However, TNT manages to shake the ropes, causing Ivan to crotch himself on the top turnbuckle and shifting the momentum to TNT. Both men try for pins across different exchanges as the time limit starts winding down. The announcers put over how well TNT is doing in there against a very experienced wrestler such as Ivan Koloff. A missed attack by Koloff as time is running out gives TNT the chance to put on the Cobra Dinamita. Time counts down as Koloff struggles in the hold, but the time limit is reached before Koloff passes out completely. It’s a draw.

MD: It’s easy to discount Uncle Ivan after his JCP run, but he looked to be a pretty potent force here (as he did for his January 1990 AJPW tour), holding a title, very capable in the ring. We come in JIP with TNT in the bear hug. Ivan was smaller at this point but it seemed entirely believable. In the comebacks and cutoffs, he was happy to stooge and bump all over for TNT and he looked every bit a top guy, even though TNT gets the moral win as the Cobra was locked on as the time limit expired. There’s no reason to think he couldn’t be a perfect Invader opponent.

EB: Meanwhile, Invader #1 would face the challenge of another Real Academia member in Kendo Nagasaki.

This match is surprisingly more of a straight up wrestling match with Invader showing off his wrestling ability against Kendo. On commentary Carlos mentions that you have to be wary of Kendo because he has many tricks such as the mist and the kendo stick. Kendo eventually gets the momentum by turning it into more of a fight but Invader is right there with him. Near the end of the match, Invader manages to get Kendo in a sleeperhold (which is sort of Invader's semi finisher). El Profe jumps on the ring apron (causing Carlos to angrily complain about managers needing to be banned from ringside so they can’t pull these shenanigans), which allows Ivan Koloff to run in and knock Invader out with a chain in his fist. Kendo steals the win.

MD: Nagasaki is a pretty natural Invader opponent too. He’s good at eating up his opponents which is not always what you want, but against a guy who can sell and come back like Invader, it’s pretty spot on. That said, Koloff was going to come out at the end here while Invader has the sleeper on and clock him with the chain, so he’s losing this with a pinfall in the middle of the ring and therefore, he ended up taking a good chunk of it. That included a lot of headlock takeovers early. We cut during the break and lose the transition, coming back to a Nagasaki arm stretcher and general beatdown including a nice use of a big wooden guardrail. When Invader comes back (with the fans fully behind him and fire within him), he crashes Nagasaki through that guardrail. A good match to remind everyone that Invader was a threat to Koloff’s title while keeping the heat on Koloff (heat that was only going to get ramped up further with the subsequent angle) and everyone involved protected.

EB: Both Invader and Ivan are on a collision course at Aniversario, with the rivalry escalating due to an attack Koloff did on Invader in his hometown of San Lorenzo.

As a result of this attack, the match was made into a chain match.
The World tag team titles will be on the line as the returning Youngbloods take on Rip Rogers and Abudda Dein. We’ve seen a bit of Abudda and Rip in our 1989 journey, but to remind you of their exploits here is a music video highlighting them.

As for the Youngbloods, their story in CSP begins with Jay Youngblood. Jay would make a couple of appearances in the territory back when they were working with JCP, including an appearance at Aniversario 84 where he teamed with his brother Mark and Wahoo McDaniel to face the Super Medicos. Jay and Mark would continue making sporadic appearances into 1985, where they would face off against Los Pastores (as did pretty much any tecnico in 1985).  Due to Jay’s untimely passing, Chris Youngblood would step in to team with Mark against Los Pastores at their scheduled match for the October 85 ‘Batalla de los Gladiadores’ card. Mark and Chris would return as a team for the year end 1986 cards and would stick around for a year and half as regulars in the territory, a run that made them into loved fan favorites and very likely the most fondly remembered foreigner team from that time period.

After leaving at the end of July of  88, Mark and Chris would return at the beginning of March to the territory, not full-time but to make semi-regular appearances. Here are their return matches, first their TV return that aired on March 4 and then their return match at the event that night “El Regreso de los Grandes”. First their TV return from the March 4 of 89 tv episode.

El Exotico is a wrestler we’ll see some more of when we get to the 90s. Dr. Death is El Gran Mendoza under the mask. This match is all Youngbloods as they are showcased on their return to the fans’ delight.  We also have their return match at the big Regreso de los Grandes card from that night. Their opponents are the new Ninja Express and Mark and Chris are challenging for the Caribbean tag titles.

MD: I don’t have strong priors when it comes to the Youngbloods (other than Jay, of course). Cheat sheet here has Chris with the singlet and Mark bare-chested. For the squash, not much to say except for that they really beat Exotico up without quite enough consequence. I kind of wish we lived in the world where Scotty the Body brought that guy into 1990 Portland to be is Puerto Rican cousin. Anyway, on to the Ninja Express. Mark is older and Chris has great energy, especially working the apron, but gets lost once or twice too. It’s pure pro wrestling to be in Puerto Rico with two Japanese guys dressed like ninjas and two Native Americans in full garb. Sasaki and Pogo did a whole ceremony before the match and it’s nice to know Sasaki got the genuine excursion experience. He looked good getting out of a headscissors at one point, but hard to say too much about him. We missed the transition to heat again, but they used all the tricks, including drawing Chris away from the corner to miss the tag in order to ramp up the drama. The place went crazy for the hot tag and the Youngbloods destroyed the Ninja Express until the ref had to call it for being too chaotic.

EB: Here is another match showcasing the Youngbloods about a month after their return, where their opponents are Tama the Islander and Jonathan Holiday (stepping in as a sub for the departing Dan Kroffat).

MD: A lot to enjoy here, mainly due to the antics of Holiday and Tama. Holiday is a guy we have a bit of in late Stampede, here, in late Portland. Then he ends up embroiled in a legal case over the NWA rights which is interesting, but has no bearing on what we’re looking at here. You can see those Stampede roots in how big he bumps and how hard he feeds but it’s tempered with completely selfless stooging. Tama obviously had Heenan to lean on just a bit prior to this, but it surprised me how little he played up the goofiness here. This wasn’t a regular team but they meshed together well as an act and let the Youngbloods make fools out of them. The heat started probably two exchanges too late and didn’t last nearly as long as it should have, but that happens in a match like this. When I think of Puerto Rico, I think of bloody brawls and monsters and heroes of justice but there were always a bunch of these wildly entertaining stooging heels hanging around too and they really help round out the card and provide variety. As for the Youngbloods, they were poised and credible and fiery on the comeback, carrying themselves like stars (even as they took just a bit too much of it all as stars are want to do).

EB: We have a match at Aniversario 89 where name imports clash as Kerry von Erich takes on Abdullah the Butcher. We’ve learned all about Abdullah in Puerto Rico already and Kerry has made a couple of appearances throughout the summer. Here is a music special hyping Kerry that includes some clips of his match vs Rip Rogers on the Father’s Day card.

However, this will be the last we will see of Kerry in CSP as there will be a change to the match just before Aniversario, with Kevin von Erich instead stepping in to face Abdullah.

MD: Kerry no-showing, even in a situation where his brother steps in is no surprise (nor would be the opposite). The hype video was rousing but basically all Kerry punching people. I’m not sure if that had to do with his mobility in 1989 or what.

EB: A match also featuring wrestlers that have been making semi-regular appearances throughout the summer in Puerto Rico will see Jimmy Valiant take on Kareem Muhammad. We also know that JYD will be on the card, but his opponent has not yet been announced. While we await confirmation on who JYD’s opponent will be, here’s a clip of him in tag action vs the Battens (really just an excuse to have the Battens show up one last time in our 89 run through).

MD: Battens couldn’t catch a break here. They got hammered around the ring by JYD and Invader, two guys who probably didn’t need to be making smooth, quick tags but were anyway. Then when it looked like they’d take over off of a knee to Invader’s back by the Batten outside the ring as he was rope running, Invader just stopped in the middle of the ring and didn’t run into the knee. A Batten snuck in and leaped off the top with an axe handle on him anyway, but he wasn’t feeling it on this night and shut it all down quickly to tag JYD in who cleared house. It was fun to watch them bump around for Invader and JYD I guess.

EB: And then there’s that vengeance match between Invader #3 and Manny Fernandez. Why is it a vengeance match? Well…for that we need to go back to May of 1988. Chicky Starr had brought in Manny Fernandez as the newest member of his Club Deportivo. Manny’s been in the territory a bit over a month, wrestling squash matches on TV and appearing against some of the midcard tecnicos at the house shows. On the May 11 TV taping, Manny was facing Invader #3. We join that match in progress.

This is from the Saturday May 14 Superestrellas de la Lucha Libre airing. We join the match with Invader #3 having Manny in a side headlock. Joaquin Padin, hijo and Hector Moyano are on commentary. We see Invader #3 work the headlock and actually maintain control on Manny through the first couple of minutes we are watching. Manny manages to turn the tide by diving out of the way of a crossbody block Invader #3 was trying to hit from the top turnbuckle. Manny hits a bodyslam and goes to the top turnbuckle. He comes of with a flying kneedrop onto the prone Invader #3, who starts rolling in distress on the mat. As Manny goes back up to hit another flying kneedrop, the camera cuts back to Invader #3 who is starting to spew a copious amount of blood from his mouth. Manny hits another kneedrop onto the injured Invader #3. The ref sees that Invader #3 is spewing a lot of blood from his mouth and frantically calls for the bell. Invader #3 is absolutely covered in blood as is part of the mat. Manny hits a third kneedrop as Padin is worried on commentary, saying he has never seen so much blood in a ring before. Invader #1, TNT, Castillo, Perez and the Youngbloods run out to run off Manny and check on the blood covered Invader #3.  Moyano says that Invader #3 is convulsing while Padin is saying he can't look at this, it’s making him queasy from how bad it is. The worried tecnicos do their best to carefully carry Invader #3 out of the ring to get medical help. The camera follows the group as they go outside the arena carrying Invader #3, all the way to a waiting stretcher.

We then see Manny with Chicky cutting a promo about a match he is going to have that night with Invader #1 after what had happened. Manny says everybody saw what he did to Invader #3 and he’s going to dish more of that tonight. ‘I am the king, and I am your daddy, so let’s see what you can do with this bull. I will leave you destroyed.’ Hugo then updates us on Invader #3, where he was taken to the ER and we’ll have updates later n the program on Invader #’3’s condition. We finish with a promo from Invader #1 talking about his match vs. Manny Fernandez tonight. He says Manny didn’t have to do that, that was over the line. Invader #3 is a family man and he didn’t deserve any of that. You may be the king elsewhere but not here. ‘What you did to Invader #3, you shouldn't have done it.  We’ll see who is who tonight’.

Later on the same TV episode, Invader #1 had a match with Chicky Starr. Chicky immediately jumps Invader #1, taking advantage that he was somewhat distracted by what had happened earlier to Invader #3 (and knowing that Invader #1 would take it out on Chicky). Chicky manages to stay in control until Invader #1 just tees up and kicks Chicky in the groin. From there, it’s all Invader in control as he works over Chicky, trying to vent his frustrations about what happened earlier. After a couple of minutes of beating on Chicky (including hitting a Garvin stomp), Invader puts Chicky in a figure four. Manny Fernandez runs out and tries to hit Invader #1 with a flying kneedrop, but Invader gets out of the way. The ref called for the DQ  as soon as Manny went to the top. Invader hits Chicky and then goes after Manny. The two furiously go at it, fighting out of the ring and all the way to the exit. The tecnicos run out and, instead of breaking it up, form a circle around the fighting duo to ensure no one gets in to help Manny or allow Manny to get away. The camera follows the group of wrestlers to the sidewalk outside as the credits start to roll. They are fighting on the sidewalk and one of the last things we see is an umbrella from a food cart going down as Invader and Manny are brawling by it.

This has set up quite the feud between Invader #1 and Manny. They had their first match on May 14 and would continue the feud the following weekend.

However, something happened that changed plans in the longer term.

This video recap is from the May 28 airing of Superestrellas de la Lucha Libre. The words ‘They finished the Raging Bull Manny Fernandez’ flash on the screen as Hugo narrates what happened during the weekend of May 21st. Carlos Colon and Invader #1 were  facing Manny and Chicky in a tag match, looking for revenge for what happened to Invader #3. We see highlights of Carlos and Invader attacking Manny during that match. Hugo says they absolutely blistered Manny. We then go to the next day, May 22 in Aguadilla. This is Invader #1 facing Manny in a singles match. The words ‘The Invader ended him in Aguadilla’ flash on the screen. We see several highlights of Invader attacking Manny during the match, with the key moment coming near the end. Invader hit a back body drop on Manny on the arena floor. The video freezes just as Manny hits the floor and then cuts to Invader celebrating in front of the fans. What happened was that Manny legitimately got hurt on the landing and was now out of action. Thus, plans had to pivot and the feud could not continue with Manny involved. This video recap is to explain why Mann was gone and framed as the tecnicos getting their revenge. The feud would continue between the Invaders and Chicky Starr (accompanied by his returning cousin Ron Starr), but unfortunately we never saw how the feud with Manny would have continued.

But now, after a year and half, Manny Fernandez has returned. And for the first time since the terrible incident, Invader #3 is getting the opportunity to face the man who severely injured him in the ring.

MD: This is a pretty famous angle that Esteban can get into the details of better than I can; you’ll be as frustrated as I am at what we didn’t get because of Manny’s real injury! Some things worth noting: Invader #3 really had Manny’s number until he missed a body press back off the turnbuckles. Manny had that explosiveness all through the 80s and that served him well here for this angle. He cut what felt, to me, like a great post-match promo in Spanish too. The combo of Manny and Chicky was very natural. In the subsequent match (later that night) with an an out-for-blood Invader #1, it was a good example of how Chicky really was a threat in and of himself. Yes, he jumped Invader but he could still hold his own for a bit. I harp on it because it’s a correction to my own misconception (so it’s one you might share too), but this isn’t just Heenan. Still, Invader wasn’t going to let his vengeance be withheld for long and things become wild as Manny comes in to save Chicky’s neck. In the subsequent package with the Manny/Chicky vs Colon/Invader #1 tag match, the thing that stood out the most was just how well Manny and Invader #1 squared up in strike exchanges. Invader dodging his shots and getting his own in looked like an all-time example of that spot.

EB: As Aniversario nears, the card would begin to take its final form.

We can see the chain stipulation has been added to Koloff vs. Invader. We can also see, due to the events we saw occur between TNT and Original TNT (which we covered in a previous installment), that a match between them has been added to Aniversario, one that is stipulation heavy. It is for the TV title, but also for the rights to the identity of TNT. Whoever loses the match must take off the face paint and loses the right to call himself TNT.
JYD’s opponent has been confirmed, initially announced on TV as being Nikolai Volkoff but now as we near the event it is Paul Jones. And the Caribbean tag titles are on the line as Perez and Castillo defend against the Wild Samoans combination of Tama and Afa.

We are set for Aniversario on September 16. We leave you with a special music video made to help hype up Aniversario 89, featuring several of the wrestlers we have met so far in our journey through Puerto Rican wrestling.

Lucha libre! Lu-lu-lu-lu-lu lucha libre!

Next time on El Deporte de las Mil Emociones, it is time for Aniversario 89! The moment of truth has arriv… wait, what!?! (runs for cover)

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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

AEW Five Fingers of Death 11/20 - 11/26

AEW Collision 11/25/23

Eddie Kingston vs. Brody King 

MD: I ask you to bear with me a bit here as I'm slightly under the weather. Maybe the subject matter at present is enhanced by a mild fever. Maybe not. The real joy of writing about Eddie Kingston is that, unlike just about every other wrestler out there, you're actually better off writing about it like it's all real. There are times where I use the phrase "textual approach", like when discussing French Catch, but even then, I'm trying to look for narrative tropes and patterns, trying to get into the wrestlers' heads, trying to express why they might have made one creative decision or another and the impact on those decisions. It's examining the text but not taking it literally. You can't really do that most of the time without it being a dry recap. Even a sensationalized recap is just a summary, right? For these AEW matches especially, most of you have seen the match. You don't need to read it too.

It's different with Eddie though. He leaves so much out there, leans into it all so thoroughly, is so true to the character he portrays (to the point of never breaking it even interviews, even when he probably thinks that he is) that delving into motivations either becomes a little superficial (like color coded gear or specific callback spots to 30 years ago) or just something that the character of Eddie Kingston would do anyway. That is to say, the character of Eddie Kingston would wear that get and try to fit in those callback spots because either it meant something to him emotionally that trumped reason and common sense or he thought it would be effective and strike gold twice. 

So where as for any other match with any other wrestlers, it'd be more interesting to delve into the narrative pieces of the puzzle and the effect they created, I just want to talk about Eddie here and what I think, he, the character, was up to and trying to accomplish. I've written a lot lately about Ace Eddie Kingston, a guy out there to defend a title and to carry the flag for a brand. He wrestles more sports-driven, honorable encounters, always informed by the chip on his shoulder but not defined by it like all of his other matches. Having defeated Claudio of all people, and facing opponents who tend to be beneath him in the hierarchy, all he has to prove is excellence. He doesn't need to prove he deserves a seat at the table. He's already at the top of the mountain. It's unlocked a level of confidence and focus in him while still allowing him to tap into all of his usual aggression and aggravation and fury, all of his grievance. He owns it instead of it owning him. And it's made for interesting, different, unique matches in his lexicon. I've certainly welcomed them.

This is something different however. This is a tournament, akin to the J-Cup and more specifically the G1. He was just able to compete in that earlier this year though he wasn't victorious. He's put it all on the line in order to give credence and importance to a new American Triple Crown. This is an Eddie Kingston chasing dreams: to make it to national TV, to meet and even battle the heroes of his youth, to stand tall in Japan as someone who means something, to become a world champion. Despite his depression, despite his doubts, despite the odds always being stacked against him and all the setbacks, he's accomplished one dream after another, and now he sees one that he couldn't even have imagined decades prior in sight, and he's risked everything just for the chance at it. And the odds are against him once again.

Basically, this is an Eddie Kingston who, despite all of his success, again has something to prove. 

And boy does that ever make him prideful and dumb (and fascinating, of course). He could have faced off against an absolute beast Brodie like Inoki might have, controlling the mat, kicking at legs, chopping him down. That's how ROH champion Eddie Kingston might have faced this, serious and clinical. Instead he put his head down and he charged. He had to ramp right into King, had to prove to the world that he could move him. It went just about as well as one might have expected. Eddie tried and tried and maybe even made some slight headway and then Brodie shut him down, controlling the first half of the match with relative ease, even when Eddie would get a finesse shot out of the corner or with a dodge on the outside. 

Eddie deserves every accolade, however. He might not have been able to get a suplex out of the corner, but he can throw that backfist at any point and it can change everything in a match. In fact, I'd so far as to say in the way he came back, in how he finally got King over, in how he had him on the ropes towards the end, he did in fact prove something. Good for Eddie. Unfortunately, through leading with his pride and ending up in such a deficit early on, he lost the match, and in losing the match, he ended up in a deficit for the tournament as a whole. And this is a tournament that Eddie can't afford to lose, for the sake of his pride most of all.

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Sunday, November 26, 2023

2023 Ongoing MOTY List: Sabre vs. Ospreay


Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Will Ospreay NJPW 10/14

ER: It's tough to get me excited about a 30 minute long New Japan main event for one of their couple dozen different title belts, but Zack Sabre is a guy who can still engage me within a style I don't care for. I'm a Sabre Guy and I think he's a great opponent for Ospreay because he forces honesty out of him. If you put Ospreay in with a guy who is a lot like him - and Wrestling Like Ospreay seems to be the style that is omnipresent on the Indies and Japan and a lot of wrestling TV right now - it can inform his worst tendencies, and then he welcomes his opponents' worst tendencies, and then you eventually realize the match shot at least 10 minutes beyond its best finish line. I like big Sabre main events because Sabre matches don't tend to veer into any of the same kind of overkill as Ospreay vs. Ospreay Replicant, as Sabre matches always just devolve into different ways for him to twist his opponents' neck or limb joints, skipping past a lot of shocked face finisher kickouts in favor of sudden panic when a kickout leads to an unexpected submission attempt. This went 30 minutes and Sabre's honesty and build through the match really made this peak at the right moments, and the fact Ospreay lays a lot of his offense in and Sabre is dumb enough to lean into all of it just makes it better. 

They got the stand and trade elbows out of the way in the first third, as a way to actually establish the potential stiffness and introduce it into the match, Ospreay allowing Sabre three free shots and Sabre rattling his jaw on all three (especially the middle one), before leveling him in one shot in return. Sabre will have to hit harder or avoid being hit. The stand and trade letting your opponent hit you stuff works much better as a transition out of opening matwork, than as an end of match We're Having a War spot, and it's one of many great choices they make.

Sabre's submissions are really disgusting and any criticisms of the past saying people need to hold still for him during matches seems even more misguided and out of place than it did then. His matwork is honest - there's that word again - and his dumb guy face really does just fool people into thinking he's a phony. His figure 4 stump puller was incredibly nasty and we would have loved Minoru Suzuki in 1989 UWF doing that while making the calm smug faces Sabre was making here. Zack Sabre Jr.'s rosy cheeks make him look like a San Francisco Giants World Championship Run middle infielder and people hate that his rosy-cheeked softbottomed matwork looks fucking tough. He looks like a right wing tech blogger who got Actually Good at tricked out submissions and he's one of our greatest ever Gotta Hand It To's.

Sabre is impressively untelegraphed. You go through your days watching an ungodly number of Dean Malenko matches and you can see all the awkward pauses and frozen leans while waiting for guys too early, setting up the sequences while visually thinking of every step. You watch enough of him and you can see where everything is going, even if it is going fast. Zack Sabre Jr. still surprises me, which was something I didn't expect when I first saw a Sabre match 12 or 13 years ago. He still has new tricks and new ways to get to a destination, and he's really good at them. I wish we got even more of Sabre going after Ospreay's arm, because I was into every single part of it, culminating in Sabre headbutting Ospreay's arm and throwing a Kikuchi level headbutt to sit Ospreay down on the top rope, before flinging both of them off the top rope with a sort of Spanish Fly-ing Armbar that would look insane in any video game. 

Ospreay has some cool stuff, and he also has some dumb stuff. He is a Dumb Guy, and he will always do dumb things. The turnbuckle head tuck is a really great Dumb Guy spot. It's like a sadistic game an 8th grader with a bad home life would come up with. It doesn't have to make any sense in a logical way, because there's no good way to organically get a guy tucked into his own asshole while standing on a turnbuckle. Instead it's this Dumb Guy game where a guy sees how much he can work a kick at a guy's firmly prone head. Sabre winds up taking the first and third fully to the face and head, while the second kick is a true miracle worked strike, Ospreay's boot showing no light against Sabre's chin mouth and nose while also clearly not budging him in the least. Looks like we found another Gotta Hand It To. 

Relative to nothing, John Morrison would die if he hit a Skytwister Press as flush and smooth and well-placed as Ospreay's. He would just explode into Axe body spray dust. 

Finisher trading is something that you just have to expect with this style of Strong Style Main Event wrestling, so dragon suplexes are going to give people the power to throw their entire body into a back elbow attack, their eyes going white as they blackout dealing deadly versions of year 2000 EZ Money offense. But I don't think they ever tipped into overkill and I don't think we got any ridiculous kickouts. When Ospreay shut it down, he shut it down. When he started bowling through Sabre's neck with elbows and finding new ways to drop him on his face, that was it. Sabre could be the King of Stupid Faces if he really wanted to be, but he is somehow miraculously not, as the most we ever get is his actual dumb face looking dazed as Ospreay finds ways to drop him on that face. I thought this was really great, and it feels weird to say that Zack Sabre Jr. has been one of my favorite guys to watch over the last decade, but it's impossible at this point to avoid the allegations. 


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Saturday, November 25, 2023


Hijo del Santo/Tinieblas Jr. vs. Negro Casas/Dr. Wagner Jr. WWO

MD: This is almost certainly Found and not New and there are a couple of probably new videos on the channel but I wanted to watch Santo vs Casas so that's what we're watching. This was 2/3 falls and went closer to 15 as there was a pre-taped interview with Tinieblas after the primera. That's the only Alushe appearance in case you're wondering. The main pairings were Wagner and Tinieblas and Casas and Santo. You would have gotten a much higher floor if things were reversed but a lower ceiling. That meant we got just a bit of plodding Tinieblas matwork and then a lot of Santo vs Casas and some ginger Tinieblas rope running and then more Santo vs Casas. Those exchanges were workmanlike and smooth, nothing out of the norm but the norm is very good and I appreciated them all the more for the contrast. When things broke down for the finish, Tinieblas was trying his best (and he did with the comeback in the tercera too) and he hit an absolutely massive splash off the top (and later a big dive).

The beatdown in the segunda was launched by a Casas foul as the ref was distracted and was solid, with mask pulling building pressure up for Santo to do his thing on the comeback. I liked how in the double leg rollback on Tinieblas to get him to tap, Casas was also flexing the wrist down. There's almost nothing better in wrestling than a heated Santo comeback, and it led a fun finishing stretch where Tinieblas had Casas in a hold, Wagner was working Tinieblas' mask, and Santo was (most efficiently) working Wagner's, all at once. Actual finish was Casas bumping himself into the ropes and falling on his face, with Santo slipping on the caballo lighting-fast. Beautiful stuff. This probably isn't top half for Santo vs Casas matches but just fun for them is pretty great for anyone else.

Abdullah the Butcher/Joel Deaton vs. Great Kabuki/Akira Taue AJPW 10/20/89

MD: As much as we love Taue around here, he was a bit of a late starter relative to his peers. You don't really see what he might become until later into 1990 when he was teaming with Jumbo against the superheavyweight foreigners and even then, you see it more with the feud with Kawada in early 91. Back here in 89, as I've noted before, it would have been far easier to bet on Shunji Takano as the next giant Japanese star. Even Tenryu and Hansen weren't able to pull that fire out of him; quite the opposite. He came out looking more timid when facing them, not less.

Deaton, on the other hand, was a pretty ideal opponent for him and this was probably the best I've ever seen him look in 89. He had size and presence and energy but came off like a poor man's Hansen for the most part. There was still value to that lower down the card or in main event six-mans and he matched up perfectly here with Taue, giving him someone worthwhile that he could still lean on. Kabuki might have taken over on offense, but Taue stood tall, hanging on to a hold through a chinbreaker or cutting him off when he attempted to make it to Abdullah. Whenever Abdullah did get in, however, he shut things down quickly. Even when Taue tried to interfere to help Kabuki, Abby, while not breaking the hold, blocked Taue's shot and took him out with a throat chop. He was able to get a few shots in on him towards the end, but all it took was one missed dropkick for Abby to be able to drop the elbow and end it. I'd call this a good missing link on Taue's road to what he'd become though.

ER: One of the joys of handheld All Japan wrestling is getting to hear two guys having some kind of conversation about Joel Deaton. Perhaps one fan asking who the tall American guy was and the another fan saying "Deaton" several times. I thought Joel Deaton looked great in this match. Deaton's All Japan run was real fortuitous, coming at the end of a long run as a Crockett territory job guy as one half of the Thunderfoots, and then suddenly getting a 5 year mostly full time run as an All Japan mid card gaijin. And  Joel Deaton, for a guy we've barely written about here, seems like a guy we should be seeking out and writing about more. I thought Deaton was much less a Stan Hansen clone and much more someone who Dustin Rhodes would be within a few years. It might sound hyperbolic to say that Joel Deaton was 1993 Dustin Rhodes - I've barely watched and written about Deaton - but watch him in this match and tell me otherwise. 

He's a big guy, standing over Taue before Taue was more lumbering, and he works quick. He's great at setting up offense and has a lot of cool offense of his own. But his bumping and set ups are the highlight: How he runs at Kabuki with a low cutting missed back elbow and clothesline before running even faster throat first into a Kabuki thrust. Kabuki's throat thrusts are one of my favorite wrestling strikes ever and Deaton leans into every one of them and whips his full head of hair back in ways that HHH could never sell. He takes a backdrop as high as Dustin, and if you thought he ran into Kabuki's hand earlier you should see how recklessly fast he runs into a thrust kick in the finishing stretch. Deaton ran into Kabuki's foot so fast and so painfully that it made me want to go through every single handheld Deaton match we have. I'm a Deaton Guy now. 

I watch much less early Taue than I do later Taue but he seemed like a different cool version of Taue already here. I loved when Deaton tried to jawbreaker his way out of a Taue chinlock but Taue just held on. I'm not sure I've ever seen that before and Taue has the lumbering smothering to pull it off. The way he locks in his standing sleeper after and quickly leans back into and over Deaton looked great, forcing his physics onto Deaton. Deaton really looks like he gets under Taue's skin when he rocks him with a huge knife edge while Taue is waiting on the apron, and Taue gets in two hard overhand chops to Deaton's neck before the ref can drag him out of the ring. Deaton is really like a hybrid Taue/Dustin, which is an incredible compliment, but damn when Deaton grabbed a slick ankle pick to keep Taue in the corner while tagging out, and later in the match Taue grabbed one of his own to do the same, I was in love with these two really tall guys taking advantage of the other's long legs. 

I thought everybody looked great, really. This show was taped for TV (and famously had three title changes on it) and these guys worked snug and stiff like they were on a big TV show and not just a Nagoya gymnasium. Kabuki's strikes are like if Great Muta's strikes actually looked good, and him assaulting Abby while Abby was trying to step through the ropes was a highlight of a match filled with them. Also, Abdullah hits his full body shoulderblocks so hard that I can feel them through the handheld from the back row of this gym. He runs over Kabuki so hard it was like every participant - outside of Abby - was fighting to see who could take the most brain-jarring back bump. I don't know if I like any wrestling more than I like All Japan handhelds. I'm not convinced there is such a thing as a bad All Japan handheld match. When we find them we need to destroy them, like Dead tapers shutting down circulation of a show where Jerry nodded off. 

Tracy Smothers vs. Rowdy Red MWA 1996

MD: Best as I can tell, this was a Hair vs. Reputation match where Smothers put his reputation up against Red's hair with a fifteen minute time limit. He had a second who went back to the locker room after the entrance though we'd see him at the end. I can't tell you a single thing about Red contextually, but he played the fired up local babyface pretty well here. Early on Smothers oscillated between going for a quick roll up and stalling, all building to Red getting a near fall on him with a small package of his own.

The heat was a lot of fun with Smothers really bullying Red. He took over by using the ref as a wedge in the corner to sneak in some shots and everything he did looked great. The best of it was maybe this jumping hook kick he did after some of his really nice jabs. When Red got hope spots with punches of his own, it didn't matter how they looked because of how Smothers was selling them. As they got close to the time limit, Smothers couldn't put him away, even after Red missed a legdrop off the top. Eventually, after two mule kick low blows by Red, Smothers' pal came out only to get accidentally clocked by Smothers, leading to a crowd-pleasing roll up win at the last second. Smothers, of course, proclaimed he'd never be coming back on the mic after the match. This probably had something of a low ceiling but it crashed into it at full speed.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2023

AEW Five Fingers of Death (And Friends) 11/13 - 11/19, Part 3

AEW Full Gear 11/18/21

Eddie Kingston vs Jay Lethal

MD: Variety is making Eddie's run fascinating and this was Eddie in 1983 AWA against the Heenan Family. That would make Lethal Ken Patera maybe? There's been a commonality about all of his title matches so far, that spirit of sportslike competition, no matter if he was facing Serpentico or Dalton Castle. Here, early, when Jay had to take a powder and was hiding behind Jarrett and Sonjay, you could see it in Eddie's bemused glare. He was very much in a world he didn't make and didn't want to be in. He'd been dragged into this through the loss to Jarrett. He still stood tall, still had Lethal scouted (blocking the Lethal Injection with suplexes twice), but he had to trudge through plenty of bullshit to get there.

One thing that makes this run enjoyable to me is that every match has an undertone of external narrative driving it, but the main thing is the title and the match. With Angelico, that meant Eddie's merciless (though businesslike) treatment of Serpentico and the idea that Eddie felt like Angelico was stepping to him just like everyone else. With Dalton, it was Castle thinking he'd be a more dynamic champion and Eddie feeling like they were doing it for Brodie. Even with Komander, it was the commentary-driven logic that Eddie might be particularly vulnerable to luchadores traditionally. That this was almost so overt, with so many moving parts relatively, made it almost less interesting on its own to me, but it still served well as part of a greater whole. I don't know how much longer this run is going to go given the upcoming tournament. Moreover, there's every chance Eddie is going to stumble back into a "fighting spirit" mode through it instead of this more agile and flexible ace mold we're seeing now (and a lot of the people who like him best would be overjoyed with that anyway so I'm shouting at the wind probably). Hopefully he finds a way through it all, though, because I'm not nearly done watching this particular version of Eddie Kingston.

Sting/Darby Allin/Adam Copeland vs Christian/Luchasaurus/Nick Wayne

MD: Christian's the best guy on the roster, right? He's the best at putting together a sequence. He's the best at milking a moment. He's the best at working other people's stuff into something coherent and meaningful. I was blown away by his match with Trent on Rampage. I've been down on Trent lately. Maybe I've always been down on Trent. I like the idea of Trent but not the reality of him. He's a guy who does a lot of stuff, has it all look good and sharp and crisp, but it's too much, especially consummate to his place on the card and what he's asked to accomplish. Too much, too soon, why him, why then? Over and over again. It's a little like Lucy pulling the football away with me when it comes to him. But the Christian match, that I liked. It's true with a lot of the roster in AEW. There are a ton of guys that if paired up against the right (or wrong) opponent will either have a great match or a terrible one, lots of guys with great mechanics and a sense of abandon and even commitment, but that are prone to excesses and leaning towards sensation instead of sense. These are guys who will probably still frustrate me against someone like Danielson or Cassidy even if I'll find them way more frustrating if they're up against Page or Takeshita. But never will I be disappointed when they're up against Christian. I'll be outright amazed.

Everything he did in this match was great, from the entrance with the choir to staring off against Copeland until he tagged out to Luchasaurus to the great transition to control on Darby to the callback low blow on Flair to set up his final comeuppance and the rabbiting that followed. Narratively, wrestling lives and dies on a few things most of all: entry points, transitions, hope spots, cutoffs, the comeback (which is a transition, of course, with hope spots/cutoffs as false transitions), and the finish. What makes Christian a wrestling savant is how well he works his own stuff and his opponents' into these key moments, and then how he builds to them with the space between by using those tools at his disposal. He's the glue that holds everything together, spot after spot, sequence after sequence, match after match.

It helped that everyone else did their part here. Luchasaurus looked like as much of a force of nature as he ever has. Yes, it means he wrestles more like Kane or Lord Humongous than like a lucha dinosaur but we're all better off for it. Wayne based surprisingly well for Darby early and then ate everyone's offense as well he should. Copeland hit a press slam on Nick Wayne which is exactly what I want the giant Adam Copeland to be doing to the far smaller AEW roster. Sting knows exactly who he should be and can manifest that person better than anyone else in the world could. Add in a killer entrance and an emotionally resonant post-match and you get a nice, balanced, feel-good PPV opener.

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Monday, November 20, 2023

AEW Five Fingers of Death (And Friends) 11/13 - 11/19, Part 2

Ring of Honor 11/16/23

Eddie Kingston vs Dalton Castle

MD: It's tough to work off of just one or two data points. I picked up a definite impression from Eddie between the Rocky match (wrong title, same idea), the Komander match, the Angelico match, but these weren't the only matches he had in that period and something like the Suzuki match was exactly what you'd expect it to be, right? These other defenses have been something new and I've discussed them as such. It's been the debut of Ace Champion Kingston, shifting gears to operate with more of a "sports/competition" feel than just the endless weight of grudges and enemies and grievances that Eddie always carries with him to such great outcome.

We've hit the point now where I think that even if it's not intentional, it's undeniable. I'm not getting "fighting spirit" from this stuff, so much as I'm getting "real sports feel," in the same way I do from 86 NJPW with the UWF guys or from old World of Sport. That's not to say the details are the same, but I'm getting that same sense of gamesmanship and of competition. That it's playing out with Eddie, who is such a heartfelt and distinctive wrestler, and with such variety from opponent to opponent, while still achieving that same overall effect, is providing me with something I can't get anywhere else in modern wrestling and, to be honest, I'm not sure I've gotten quite this way from any wrestling ever.

For this match, much of that was driven by the strategies at play. Dalton Castle, not unlike Eddie in theory though completely unlike Eddie in the details, is entirely unique. You could compare him to someone like Goldust or Orange Cassidy, but given how he carries himself, a better comparison might be a Terry Funk or a Roddy Piper (or yes, an Athena). With someone like Cassidy, it's about mind games and getting an advantage. Dalton is more of a force of nature, a fey creature out of A Midsummer's Night Dream, some primal fairy lord. He operates on his own set of rules, but they're nothing any mere human could ever understand. You can't treat him like a rational actor; at any point he might do something you'd never expect. That is who he is. What he is? In the ring? An amazing creature of leverage and perseverance, someone who can get under you and heft you over at any moment.

He came in to wrestle, and Eddie, the ace, the champion, had him scouted. He'd been training for someone like Castle and and was his equal on the mat, could match him suplex for suplex. So what did Dalton do? He hit any number of nasty back elbows. He couldn't outchop Eddie, couldn't out punch him, but he could spin backwards and jab one of the hardest parts of the body into Eddie's skull. It worked for a while too, but Eddie can spin around and knock your soul out of your body at any point too, and ultimately, he did just that. Dalton, an entity strong enough to have overcome a broken back to win his greatest victory, held on, but Eddie kept coming; that what he does. That's what a champion does. That's what the pillars did.

So Eddie overcame, beating back the unnatural, holding the forces of entropy and chaos at bay one more night, carrying the weight of the company on his shoulders and not at all afraid to tell it to the world. And we got another interesting, one-of-a-kind defense out of him. And I have enough data points to tell you that this is a trend, and it's the most interesting one in wrestling. I can't wait to see where it goes next.

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Sunday, November 19, 2023

AEW Five Fingers of Death (And Friends) 11/13 - 11/19, Part 1

AEW Full Gear 2023

MJF vs Jay White

MD: I have a problem: I actually really liked this match. Bear with me a minute here. Your friend and mine, Jeff Jarrett has a saying: "Creative is subjective." I think that's actually bullshit when it comes to the confines of a match and how it's put together. Let me give you a topical example.

I absolutely loved the first half of the Swerve vs Hangman Page Texas Death Match. I don't actually like Swerve matches and I really don't like Page. I think they both have incredible presence, hit things clean, emote well, are interesting performers. I just tend not to like how they structure their matches or, in Swerve's case, how unwieldy his offense tends to be. But I loved the first half of that match. It was absolutely everything I could have wanted it to be. Then, perfectly placed, Swerve hit the death valley driver onto the cinderblock and the pile driver onto the rail.

I was excited, because we were about to get into the heat and Swerve was about to get back at Page for everything Page so righteously did to him. The pressure would ramp up. The crowd, already frothing, would boil over, and then we'd get Swerve adding too much insult to injury, the standing tall comeback, and they'd go 50/50 again or towards whatever finish they'd go to. It was the perfect, over the top, undeniable way for Swerve, so beaten down and bloodied, to get back into the match and it'd lead to everything else I wanted. But no, he had Hangman back in the ring almost immediately thereafter and was paintbrushing him leading to the far-too-soon comeback. They just cut out the emotional heart that would have made everything else work in order to rush to the comeback. It hurt the match. It killed it for me actually. So creative may be subjective but in my head some things are absolute. A grudge match needs to manage the heat right or else it's not what it might have been. Something so monumental as those headdrops should have consequence. Etc, and so on. There are some rules.

And trust me, I don't always agree with MJF and what he does. I had big problems with the 2021 Full Gear match with Darby for instance. I didn't like the Double Or Nothing main event from this year at all. And you know what, I am ok with anyone who personally doesn't buy into MJF's act right now. Joseph Montecillo wrote an excellent post about his feelings. Most likely, if you're reading this, you already have read it. Some some things are absolute but a lot of things are subjective, yeah. So why do I have a problem? I have a problem because I hadn't been planning to write about this at all but I really liked the match and now I feel like I have to.

When I tend not to like MJF, it's when he's drifting from his true north. That's when the person behind the wrestler starts to creep in a bit too much maybe, when it seems like he feels like he has something to prove, when he follows the fans instead of trying to lead them. Basically, it's when he does too much to prove that he's as good as anyone and can do too much, understandable in a world where he has to main event over things like Omega vs Takeshita, right (he didn't that night but you get the idea)? I actually fully expected that to be the case when I heard this went thirty. I can't always get to these the night of due to parental responsibilities so I saw the feedback first and I had my concerns. But I jumped in with an open mind. And I watched, and I watched, and I kept expecting things to turn, like in the Page match, and it kind of almost did with the belt shot and the ring, but nah, it worked for me. Let me tell you why.

That true north for the character of MJF in November 2023? Friendship. What matters to him more than any belt, any legacy, any single win is his friendship with Adam Cole. Just like the other "main characters" in AEW, Adam Page and Eddie Kingston, MJF is a damaged individual. He never had human connections. He never had a connection to the crowd. The way he can relate to others is through the lens that he uses to understand the world, through his constant companion growing up, the thing he found his identity in, wrestling. So when MJF leans hard into babyface tropes in a way that seems winking, to me, that's not the person behind the character trying to make something out of nothing or trying too hard or being disingenuous, it's the character of MJF trying to relate in the only way he knows how. The only way he knows how to be a good friend or a better person is from what he grew up watching. The only way he knows how to relate to the crowd is by channeling babyfaces of old. And from a kayfabe perspective, it's working so successfully even if it seems strange or contrived, because it's always worked. The flip flop and fly elbow always worked. The kangaroo kick works. And what works most of all, channeling the crowd? So MJF the character channels the crowd, he channels his emotions towards Adam Cole, and he channels his best and worst quality, his monumental, pride. He channels all of these things and focuses his generational athletic talent through the lens of this understanding. And what you get out of it is a match like the Jay White match.

And it worked for me just like it worked for the crowd, even if maybe we're thinking about it differently (or I'm thinking about it too much). What made him persevere through his agony was the idea that Adam Cole was going to put everything on the line for him. What made him triumph in the end was the idea that Adam Cole was okay with a little bit of cheating, that he was telling him that it was ok to be himself, even as he was trying to be the best scumbag he can possibly be. He was channeling all of these babyface tropes that have always been effective in wrestling history while still having that scoundrel peeking out underneath. And Jay White (channeling his own egomaniac self) gave him all the opportunities he needed to make it believable. He played with his food, took for granted the advantage the Gunns gave him by going to them too much too soon when he didn't need to, refused to stay on the leg when he had the opportunity to, even if he went back to it whenever he needed to, taunted Adam Cole too much. He, like every Hulk Hogan opponent that preceded him, showed just enough hubris to create those necessary opportunities. And in the end, I honestly half think that MJF kicked out of that belt shot and avoided that diamond ring because he couldn't live with the idea that Adam Cole might have to, himself, live with the idea that he messed everything up for his friend even as he was trying to help and show that he finally accepted him for who he was. That's pretty powerful stuff if you can see it and feel it and connect with it.

Look, maybe this MJF character isn't as clean or as crisp as a clear and certain babyface turn would have been, but he's not a clear and certain babyface! He's a complex, shades of grey character that is manifesting that in an over the top way. To me, it's entirely believable. To me, it's fascinating. To me, it's quite consistent. To me, it's a tragedy waiting to happen because it's not sustainable. To me, the holes and the doubts and the shakiness and the mistakes are all part of the point. Maybe it's too complicated for pro wrestling, which has always lived and died on the simple and direct, but that's AEW for you, right? It's a fanbase with its own neuroses and this MJF is the perfect anti-hero for them. Maybe that's too limiting to appeal to broader audiences. Hell, maybe it's just me reading things into the matches that aren't even there. I've been doing that for fifteen years if you ask some people! But I was barely looking for it in this match and I saw it in every moment. So yeah, I had a problem. This is how I dealt with it. Not every bit of wrestling is subjective but this part is, and it's ok if you don't see what I see or you don't think it's worth it. It's certainly ok if you think it doesn't always work. So far it hasn't but that doesn't make the attempt any less admirable or worthwhile. And hey, you know what? I think you might have a little bit more fun if just this once, you come along on this journey with me. I'm still not going to come along with you on that Swerve/Page stuff though. Sorry.

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Friday, November 17, 2023


Angel Blanco Jr./Babe Face/Hombre Bala vs. Milo Caballero/Monarka/Centurion Negro CMLL 1991

MD: Pretty straightforward trios with a very fun ending. The rudo side wasn't flashy but they were solid, with Angel Blanco stooging, Bala bumping, and Babe Face, being heftier than one would generally think of him, throwing nasty headbutts and swipes more so than taking offense in any sort of fun way. We've seen Milo and Babe Face match up before and they were still more than willing to take each other's shots. Centurion and Bala probably had the best exchange in the primera, though everyone looked pretty good on the second set when they picked up the pace. There was chaos at the end of the primera and the start of the segunda with things breaking down.

The beatdown was ok, nothing too exciting, but the comeback was hot and the finishing stretch hotter. They really worked over Centurion's mask to start the tercera and right when they almost had it off, the tecnicos fired back big. This lead to revenge mask ripping on Angel Blanco and a great spot down the stretch where Centurion Negro and Angel Blanco switched masks. That played into the finish as the rudos fell to miscommunication and confusion, allowing the tecnicos to hit synchronized sunset flips for the win. Pretty professional and polished stuff all around until the big comeback and wild finish. 

Solar/Astrerico/Megatron vs. El Signo/Mr Terror/Azteca de Oro CMLL 1991

MD: Going through this footage is really lucha comfort food for me. The structures had stabilized from a few years earlier so things build to an actual finish and not just the celebratory and comedy-laden tercera you'd often get in 80s lucha. I'm not sure if that's regional or time-based here. It means we get very standard trios: two sets of exchanges in the primera leading to things breaking down, some chaos and then a rudo beatdown in the segunda, and a comeback and finishing stretch in the tercera. Exactly how these things play out has variation, as does the centerpiece, but it's time-tested, tried and true, and familiar. There's a comforting ritual to it which is why the crowds came back again and again and why I can watch match after match of it even if sometimes it's hard to write about en masse.

Here, the centerpiece was the battle between Solar I and Signo, and that was a nice change. Solar came off as a complete star, drawing eyes to him, unquestionably at the center of the match. It started with him trying to draw Signo in by patting him on the cheek patronizingly. It ended (after the rudos stole a win on a banana peel) with Solar calling him out for a mask vs hair match, waving money that had been thrown his way in Signo's face. In the primera, they delayed their exchange, as Signo only teased coming in from the get go. Megatron and Terror and Asterico and Azteca were fine, though I'll admit having a hard time telling the tecnicos apart given the VQ and that Mr. Terror in the second match in a row doesn't live up to his name (though I loved how he sold Solar's quebradoras in the comeback).

Solar and Signo were really good together, nice heated matwork that boiled over into throwing hands. I liked Azteca's use of his size and past Terror seeming a bit off once or twice, everyone did their part, but Solar and Signo really stood out as being "bigger" than the match and leveraged that as a strength; it made things seem all the more important when either were in and let you believe in a comeback that was just Solar walking over to break up a hold because he had enough. Like with so much lucha, the frustrating thing is simply not having an apuestas match between the two coming out of this. 

Solar/Milo Caballero/Chuy Escobero vs. Zeus/Kahoz/Mr Terror CMLL 1991

MD: This is billed as Asterisco (including in the on screen graphic) but it's Chuy. It gets a lot of time but the last five+ minutes are all post match interviews based around the finish. As always, I beeline to Mr. Terror to see if there's anything there to go along with the black mask and amazing name and there's not much. They traded partners during the multiple exchanges of the primera and he only looked worth watching basing for Chuy. He did that pretty well though. His big move in the segunda was a series of clotheslines which felt very out of place. Ah well. Solar and Kahoz were fun when they were in there and Caballero looked solid. Chuy had the most energy, especially crashing up against Zeus.

Once things broke down at the end of the primera, they broke down for most of the rest of the match. Kahoz was a guy who'd try some interesting and different things, like eating a cross body from Escobero while running across the ring to tease a dive or the great spot where he'd chucked out of the ring between Zeus' legs (which were on the apron) and ends up running into the post on the outside with him on his shoulders. His deal where he runs into the turnbuckles wasn't as good. What was great was the tecnicos continuously moving the turnbuckle pad so the heels ate steel. Very funny bit. The finish was equally funny as Solar's mask got messed with and he was so angry he started hitting quebradoras on everyone, including Chuy and a ref, which led to the rudos taking the win and all of the tecnicos asking about Solar's big mistake (he apologized for his blind fury). Disjointed but fun overall even if Mr. Terror just isn't living up to his name. Chuy was an improvement over Asterisco, who's fine but doesn't have Chuy's energy.

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Thursday, November 16, 2023

El Deporte de las Mil Emociones: Justice Has Many Allies

Week 8: Justice Has Many Allies

EB: We’ve talked about different wrestlers on our journey so far, but there are still some members of El Ejercito de la Justicia that we briefly met in the Bronca Boricua who will be a part of our journey throughout the next couple of years. Two of them share something in common in that they are second generation wrestlers and carry their fathers’ names to boot. A third carries a masked identity and (in the not too distant future) will also see the family legacy carried on in the ring. Let’s take a look at Miguel Perez (Jr.), Huracan Castillo (Jr.) and Super Medico (#1).

Super Medico (or Super Medico #1 when there is more than one active in the territory at the same time) is the masked identity of Jose Estrada, who has been a constant presence for most of the 80s in CSP. Along with tag partner Johnny Rodz (also under the mask as Medico/Super Medico #2), they formed the villainous tag team of Los Medicos (becoming Super sometime in 1983). Throughout the first half of the decade, Los Medicos/Super Medicos were one of the top tag teams in CSP. Sometime in late 84, Estrada remained as the lone Medico in the territory, still a rudo and teaming up with Black Gordman. However, due to the constant insults and mocking Gordman did about Puerto Ricans, Super Medico had enough and revealed himself to be Puerto Rican and that he wasn’t going to let Gordman continue with the insults. Thus, Super Medico in early 85 became a tecnico. For the next two and half years (to about mid-87), Super Medico would compete as a singles wrestler and also team up with fellow tecnicos when needed, with rivalries against opponents such as Black Gordman, Los Pastores (the Sheepherders), Fidel Sierra, Jesse Barr, Dan Greer wrestling as La Momia, Eric Embry, evil doppelgangers the Original Medic and later the White Knight, and a feud over the World Junior title against Frankie Lancaster. Here is a match to help provide a look at Super Medico in the ring.

This match is from the summer of 86, around the time the Original Medic had appeared claiming that Super Medico was a copy (sounds familiar to one of the feuds we have seen on our journey so far doesn't it). We know it’s from that time period because Chicky on commentary spends the first minute and a half just going on about how Super Medico is just a cheap copy compared to the Original Medic.  This match is vs Mike Kelly and is a quick showcase to give an idea of the style Super Medico was working as a tecnico around this time, one focused more on technique mixed with agility. The jumping headbutt Medico does at the end was his typical finishing maneuver on TV.

MD: I’m under the opinion you can learn something from any match, even a pretty quick competitive squash like this. Whether what you learn is the absolute truth is probably up for debate and you need multiple data points. Full disclosure at the top this week; I’ve seen my share of all three of these guys but I couldn’t write a paragraph comparing and contrasting them in-ring. Here, Medico came off as technical, maybe on the idea that if he did have medical training of some sort, he knew the human body. He put on deliberate holds. Kelly would come back, sometimes with a cheapshot, but Medico would fire out, with his finishing sequence being a series of nice jabs and a headbutt off the top to a standing Kelly.

EB: Estrada would leave for the then WWF where he would adopt another masked identity and, outside of a couple of one shot appearances, would not return full time to CSP until the end of April of 89. Upon his return, Super Medico immediately challenged for and won the World Junior title held by Jonathan Holliday. Later in the summer, Super Medico had a series with Chicky Starr for the World Junior title, which saw Medico lose and later regain the title from Chicky. As September of 1989 approaches, Super Medico still is the reigning World Junior champion. Unfortunately we do not have available footage vs Holliday or Chicky from 89, but we do have a tag match from July where Medico and Rufus R Jones take on the Batten Twins.

Hugo on commentary makes note that Rufus is also known by the fans as the king, which causes Chicky to protest that maybe to the fans but the current king is him (Chicky conveniently forgets that he actually just stole the crown from Rufus, literally ran off with it, and started calling himself the king). The opening moments show just how masterful Rufus is at working the crowd as he does a fun sequence where he manages to slip out of a headlock. The tecnicos take over the match doing quick tags and exchanges to maintain the advantage. Carlos describes Super Medico as being in tremendous physical condition and that he moves like a cat in the ring. Chciky counters that the Battens have something in their favor and that is that they look alike, which can play to their advantage. Carlos mentions that Medico was a rudo for several years and is aware of the tricks they could pull (remember that his tag partner was another masked Medico so he’s likely not a stranger to the switching tactics). As the tecnicos work over the Battens with armbars, Hugo brings up that Super Medico won the World Junior title from Chicky Starr (a sore subject for Chicky), which leads to talk about Medico’s upcoming title defense at Aniversario (more on that soon). The Battens take over as we go to commercial break and we come back to them doing illegal tactics to maintain their advantage on Rufus. Eventually, Rufus manages to turn the tide by dodging a charge by one of the Battens into the corner. The tag is made to Medico and he goes off on the Battens. All four men briefly tussle in the ring before Medico reverses a flying bodypress for the win.

MD: Rufus keeps popping up week in and week out for us. They got their mileage out of him in 89 and he’s always over. Just look at him shimmy out of a headlock early on. This went nine minutes or so, with half of that being the heels in peril for fake tags and armbar switches, but it was entertaining stuff. The Battens were good at being in the moment and reacting to what was going on, whether they were getting rolled over or were in control. Rufus ate the heat (and just like AEW, they went to commercial the second the Battens took over with a cheapshot knee to the back from the outside). There was a nice bit of wrestling physics during a chinlock where one kneeled down outside the ring and reached in to hold the foot of the other during a seated chinlock, like that would somehow make it more effective. Medico shined after the hot tag, throwing fists with confidence and fighting off both Battens.

EB: Miguelito Perez is the son of Puerto Rican wrestling legend Miguel Perez, the first major wrestling star the island produced in terms of success outside of Puerto Rico. When CSP was first established. Miguel Perez Sr was the top name in the promotion and helped give credibility as CSP tried to establish itself in Puerto Rico. Perez Sr. would eventually yield the limelight to Carlos Colon (once the latter was established as a star), but would remain an active and respected member of the promotion until retiring in 1984. That same year, Miguel Jr (or Miguelito as he is often called) started his wrestling career. Miguelito would make his debut for CSP at Aniversario 85 due to an angle where Eric Embry attacked first Miguel Sr. and then Miguel Jr. when he came out to defend his dad. This ended with Embry (with the help of Dan Greer) giving the elder Perez a piledriver of the turnbuckle, which resulted in Miguelito challenging Embry to avenge the attack on both his father and himself. From there, Miguelito would have a prominent position on the card, having a short-lived World tag title reign with Carlos Colon (which would be cut short post match by Los Pastores taking Miguelito out). As 1986 started, Miguelito’s path would cross with another second generation wrestler. Here is a TV match from the summer of 86 showcasing Miguelito vs Dan Greer (billed as La Momia).

Hugo mentions that this will be a test for Miguelito since La Momia is very experienced and in a very bad mood because he’s recently lost his mask and his hair. That explains that weird haircut La Momia has, although I wonder then why they continue to bill him as La Momia when Dan Greer was literally in the promotion several months before this as himself (he’s the opponent Chicky Starr was facing in that brief clip we saw of Chicky wearing boxing gloves in our last installment). This match is short and is designed to be a showcase for Miguelito, who by this point has been wrestling in the promotion for less than a year (and that includes a period of about two and half months where he was out due to an attack by Los Pastores). Hugo on commentary says that you have to admire Miguelito for agreeing to take this match on TV since a loss here would be a setback for him in his career. The match itself is a bit back and forth in terms of momentum changes, ending when Miguelito rolls out of the way from a diving body press and secures a small package on Greer for the three count. Some of the fans celebrate with Miguelito at ringside as Joaquin Padin says that it’s a victory for  ‘el nuevo idolo de Borinquen’’, which means the new idol of Puerto Rico.

MD: I don’t know here. Esteban promised us a wrestling mummy and we get Dan Greer, completely bald except for a bit of hair in a sort of mullet. This was worked with Perez as an arm-dragging, underdog rookie. He could get a quick move in at any point but would put his head down or get overpowered in the corner and Greer would take back over. He won off of a roll up after Greer missed a top rope splash. You got the sense that it was sort of an “A for Effort” approach to establishing Perez.

EB: Huracan Castillo Jr (or Huracan Castillo, hijo which is typically also used for sons that share the same name as their fathers) is the son of Pedro ‘Huracan’ Castillo, rudo extraordinaire for much of the 60s and 70s in Puerto Rico. While not as big of a name in the U.S. as Miguel Perez, Huracan Sr. had a long career that included wrestling across several different territories as part of the Castillo Brothers tag team (under the name of Fidel Castillo). Huracan Jr first appears in results from 1981, wrestling alongside his father for competitor promotions to CSP. But in 1984, both Castillos went to CSP, Castillo Sr. to have his retirement run from active competition (afterwards he would become the on screen commissioner and do a couple of one off in-ring returns) and Castillo Jr to wrestle as a lower card wrestler while he continued to gain experience. Castillo Jr. would mostly remain in the undercard throughout 84 and 85 but would start being positioned in a more prominent role in 1986 when he was teamed up with another second generation wrestler in the promotion, Miguelito Perez. To give an idea of Huracan Castillo Jr in action, here is a match also against Dan Greer from the summer of 1986.

This match follows similar beats as the Miguelito vs Greer match, so you can make a comparison of Huracan's skills. In the exchanges Huracan comes off a bit more polished (of course he’s been wrestling for a few more years than Miguelito by this point). Joaquin Padin on commentary calls Huracan a tremendous wrestler, very agile and young, and as everyone knows he has been teaming up with Miguelito Perez. Today he is in singles competition. Hugo puts over Huracan’s ground and aerial skills, saying that he’s young and willing to learn and he thinks it’s great that Miguelito and Huracan are teaming up. He also applauds that they’re still wrestling as singles which will allow them to continue to grow their confidence and experience. As the match moves on and Greer controls the middle portion of the match, Hugo talks about the importance of working hard and training, and that you can see how it's paying off for Castillo with how he’s improved. Greer continues to have the advantage for a good portion of the match, in contrast to the shorter match worked with Miguelito (which was more back and forth). Castillo regains the advantage by rolling out of the way of a diving splash and hitting a high knee. Greer manages to stop Castillo’s momentum with some dirty tactics. Greer goes for the pin off a belly to belly suplex, but Castillo gets his foot on the rope to break the count. Greer tries a clothesline off the ropes, but Castillo ducks and on the rebound grabs Greer in a small package for the win.

MD: Castillo was a bit farther along than Perez and that meant that Greer (still not a mummy in any meaningful sense of the word) was able to do a bit more with him here, a longer, more complex match, more stooging when taking things, more biting on top, more suplexes overall from both of them. Greer hit a belly to belly and Castillo hit a nice butterfly. I’m not sure what I think about Castillo’s jumping knee yet. It comes at his opponents a bit more dead on than I'm used to. Still armdrags early and still a roll up out of nowhere for the win by Castillo.  

EB: The story of Perez Jr and Castillo Jr as a team would begin in March of 1986, when a one night tournament was held for the vacant World tag titles (they had been vacant since Los Pastores had put Miguelito on the shelf). Miguelito would enter the tournament with Huracan Castillo Jr as his tag partner, forming a tag team of the two second generation young lions in the promotion. And thus their journey as a tag team partnership began, one that would be on and off over the next few years. From 86 to 88, there would be stretches where Perez and Castillo would be a regular tag team and other stretches where each would focus more on singles competition (Miguelito wrestling for the NA and PR titles and Huracan in the junior heavyweight division). Both of them would find success as singles but also when teaming together.

As 1989 began, Miguelito and Huracan where in one of the stretches were they working mainly as a regular tag team. They were the reigning Caribbean tag champs and would kick off the year by facing the New Ninja Express on the Three Kings Day year opener, leading to a series of matches between the two teams throughout the first two months of 1989.

The New Ninja Express are Mr. Pogo and Sasaki San (a young Kensuke Sasaki) with El Profe as their manager. This match shows how Miguelito and Huracan have come along as a team and in their development as wrestlers. The first half of this match is basically Perez and Castillo in control and showcasing their teamwork. Pogo manages to finally get the advantage by hitting a reverse kick on a charging Miguelito but the Ninja Express lose the advantage when the more inexperienced Sasaki tags back in. Pogo regains control with a sleeperhold on Perez, but is able to make the tag once Sasaki is back in. Castillo works over both team members and looks to have the match in hand when he tries a suplex on Pogo, who is on the ring apron. But El Profe trips Castillo up and holds Castillo’s leg from outside the ring, allowing Pogo to get the pin. As referee El Vikingo is preparing to hand the title belts to the Ninja Express,referee Ricky Vargas comes out to explain that El Profe interfered by holding down Castillo’s leg. El Vikingo reverses the decision and disqualifies the Ninja Express. Therefore, Perez and Castillo are still the Caribbean tag team champions.

MD: Ok, here’s the tip for everyone, which really isn’t rocket science to anyone familiar. By this point, Perez and Castillo had matching gear and similar haircuts and there are indications that Perez had maybe caught up with Castillo. But even in a match with wonky video resolution like this, all you have to do is remember that Perez is the hirsute one. Sasaki brought youthful abandon, some power, some hard strikes to the table, but this was missing Kendo Nagasaki’s bullheaded aggression and tendency to eat up his opponents. That meant Perez and Castillo took a lot of this with quick tags and holds that didn’t entirely seem earned relatively. It was still effective and probably a good match for Sasaki’s excursion but it didn’t have the same energy as the Rufus/Medico tag from earlier.

EB: Perez and Castillo would spend most of March on tour, but upon their return would once more battle the New Ninja Express. Soon afterwards, they would become embroiled in a feud with the Battens, who had turned rudo after having lost the World tag titles and gone with El Profe as their manager. The feud, which would involve the Caribbean tag titles, would include a scaffold match and eventually a hair vs hair match.

Before seeing the scaffold match clip, the card rundown for the Father’s Day show is seen. When the Battens vs Perez & Castillo match is announced, you can see a brief clip of Perez and Castillo holding down one of the Battens and cutting some of his hair off, and then a clip of the Battens attacking a downed Miguelito and trying to cut some of his hair. So you can tell this rivalry has gotten serious. The hair vs hair match is with no time limit and there must be a winner. But before all that, the teams had a scaffold match sometime in late May in Caguas. By that point, the teams had traded the Caribbean tag titles back and forth, including a period where the titles were held up after a match between them (with the Battens winning the held up titles on Mother’s Day). This clip is the last two minutes of the scaffold match. The Battens take control and throw salt into Castillo’s face, impairing his vision. As Castillo tries to not roll over the edge, the Battens double team Miguelito. As Castillo lies close to the edge of the scaffold, the Battens attack him and try to throw him off (Rip Rogers on commentary mentions that Perez and Castillo had already cut some of the Battens' hair before this match). Castillo tries to hang on but eventually falls to the two on one onslaught.

Castillo and Perez would regain the Caribbean tag titles on June 9th, but would lose  the hair vs hair match due to the Battens cheating. The teams would still continue their rivalry, as we go to June 24.

This is a Caribbean tag title defense and Perez and Castillo (sporting their new haircuts) immediately rush the ring and go right after the Battens. They fight to the outside of the ring, where Perez and Castillo just continue punching the Battens and ramming them into whatever railing or fixture they can find. The fans are cheering the tecnicos on. The Battens manage to get a breather after being thrown around, as the referee tries to get Castillo and Perez into the ring. Hugo on commentary mentions that Perez and Castillo are angry about the cheating the Battens did that cost them their hair.  The match goes back outside and Perez and Castillo are just vicious in their attack on the Battens. Miguelito and one of the Battens make it back to the ring, where Perez gets a couple of pinfall attempts. The Battens try to go to the floor but Castillo chases them and does not give them a chance to regroup. We go to commercial break with Perez and Castillo still in control but come back with the Battens having taken the advantage. The Battens isolate Miguelito and he gets thrown into the ringpost. Castillo goes out to help Miguelito back in the ring but the Battens continue with the advantage. Heel miscommunication allows Perez to make the hot tag and Castillo comes in to clean house. All four men fight in the ring and, while the ref is trying to get Perez out of the ring, Castillo hits a flying bodypress on one of the Battens for a pin attempt. The ref starts to count the pinfall but El Profe jumps into the ring and hits Castillo .The ref admonishes El Profe instead of calling for a dq. Suddenly, Maelo Huertas runs out and chases El Profe around and into the ring. One of the Battens knees Maelo in the back as he’s going out of the ring. El Profe and one of the Battens attack Maelo on the outside, but in the confusion Castillo rolls up the other Batten and gets the pinfall The Battens and El Profe hightail it out of the rinside area as Castillo and Perez celebrate.

However, due to Maelo getting involved, a six man tag was held the following week with Maelo joining Perez and Castillo and El Profe joining the Battens.

We start with the match participants being introduced, which leads to El Profe doing a muscle pose on the turnbuckle when he is introduced. Castillo and El Profe start, with El Profe making a show of getting warmed up. Once he turns around and sees Castillo standing in front of him, Profe immediately turns back around and tags out. The ref starts questioning Profe if he was starting the match or not and Profe shakes his head no. After some back and forth talk, Maelo is now starting and is daring El Profe to get in the ring. Profe gets in, but the moment Maelos starts charging at him, he immediately tags out. You can guess how El Profe’s participation in this match is going to go. Maelo tags Miguelito in. Miguelito starts jawing at the Batten twin in the ring and pointing at El Profe, indicating that he should be in the ring. Profe decides to get in there but as he's getting in Miguelito quickly tags Maelo back in. Profe jumps out of the ring and argues with the fans as he paces around. We continue with the dynamic of El Profe getting in the ring when he thinks Maelo is tagged out only to find Maelo tagged back in and El Profe bailing again. This has been all heel schtick so far. Finally the match starts properly with one of the Battens in the ring. The story of the match becomes El Profe trying his best to avoid being tagged by his teammates as the match goes on, effectively making it a two on three match because he refuses to get in there. The match goes to commercial break with a promo for Aniversario 89 (we’ll talk about this soon) and returns with the tecnicos still in control. The tecnicos continue in control despite the Battens best efforts, and El Profe continues to conveniently move away from being tagged in anytime one his teammates gets close to the corner. El Profe finally tags in when he sees Maelo is down and hits a double foot stomp. He tags out after hitting the move and cockily struts out of the ring, doing a bicep pose on the apron to the crowd when he gets on the ring apron. The Battens continue the attack with a double clothesline as El Profe enthusiastically applauds from the corner. El Profe signals for the Batten twin to throw Maelo into his knees in the corner and then Profe tags back in. Profe taunts the tecnicos and, as the ref tries to get Castillo and Perez out of the ring ,the rudos triple team Maelo. Castillo and Perez have enough of what's happening and charge into the ring, attacking the Battens. El Profe bails but Maelo starts chasing him around the ring. Back in the ring, Perez and Castillo are dominating the Battens. The match ends when Miguelito catches one of the Battens coming off the top rope and hits a powerslam (which at the time was his finishing maneuver).

MD: From what we can see here, this looked to be a great feud, and it goes back to the show to show booking in 89 and how solid it’s come off to me. Things escalated to the point of a scaffold match. We only get a minute or two here but what stood out was how big the scaffold was, that the Battens used powder in the eye to win, and Castillo’s fall. That led to a big hair vs hair match where Perez and Castillo were shaved. Then they had a big revenge match with a ton of heat and had the Battens immediately overwhelmed and tossed all over the ringside area. I’d never given them too much time before but they look great in all of these matches. They were somewhat undersized relatively (just look at them standing next to Profe) but they fed and bumped and drew a ton of heat with that constantly “on” energy that I love to see. Perez and Castillo won that match but Profe made a violent spectacle out of himself at the end, which led to the six man with Maelo. That was another heel-in-peril structured tag, but with good reason; Profe refused to tag in making it a de facto handicap match. He finally cheated to help his team get the advantage and came in to pick the bones (which made him stand out as different than the more assertive Chicky) but the tecnicos rushed into the ring shortly into the beatdown. Profe still managed to escape Maelo chasing him around the ring, but at the price of his team losing.

EB: As the feud with the Battens wound down, Perez and Castillo would have a brief World tag title reign as well (making them double champions) but would lose the titles back to Rip Rogers and Abudda Dein. As September of 89 approaches, they are still the Caribbean tag champions.

Next time on El Deporte de la Mil Emociones, the road to Aniversario 89 comes into focus.

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