Segunda Caida

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Monday, May 25, 2015

MLJ: Cavernario vs Titan 4: Titán © vs Cavernario for the Mexican National Welterweight Championship (2014)

Aired: 2014-08-02
Taped: 2014-07-29 @ Arena México
Titán © vs Cavernario for the Mexican National Welterweight Championship

This match received a lot of praise last year and it deserved it. It ranked fairly highly on year end polls and what not. I liked it a lot, but it had some flaws, and I think that it received a bit too much credit for the spot and bump heavy tercera when it was the segunda that really shined.

Part of the problem is diminishing returns. The modern CMLL title structure has an even primera with someone getting a slight advantage in the matwork, the pace getting picked up in response and then a flash pin, a very brief segunda with usually another flash pin (or submission) to even the falls, and then a very long, selling-heavy tercera with lots of near falls, submissions, and the dives. It means that even a spot-filled tercera, while admirable and exciting, doesn't stand out as much as it could otherwise. This match had a good version of one, with some crazy spots and pretty good selling that wasn't just senseless laying around. Cavernario and Titan worked very well together by this point and when there were slight physical miscommunications, they added to the match because it just made things seem more genuine somehow. A lot of times, instead of things being super smooth, it felt like the wrestlers were jockeying for position.

What really made the match work, however, was the segunda. I've seen enough title matches, both current and older to understand how they work. They're cleaner, generally, there's less heat and more sportsmanship. There's an art to them, and that leads to more subtle matches. Well, Cavernario is a freaking Wrestling Caveman, and it's not his goal in life to be subtle. It's his goal to beat the crap out of people with fury and chaos in his heart. That was the segunda and it added emotion and stake and meaning to the match. Without it, the tercera would have been just another spotfest.

Primera did what it had to do. Titan does the little things fairly well on the mat, peppering in punches or utilizing the hair. He is a good package in that regard, since he can be flashy but also bring enough to the table when it comes to substance. That's my sense of him so far. He tries to work the crowd a bit too but they're not really buying what he's selling. This was set up as you'd expect, just with the volume turned up a bit. Matwork, picking up the pace, and ending with a big split legged Asai moonsault to the outside. I really like when they do this spot because Cavenario always tries to charge in first and has to get kicked a few times to create the distance. He makes Titan earn it. The fall ended with Titan flying too much too early and getting caught with a powerbomb followed by the Vader Bomb off the ropes.

That started an outright beatdown that was the segunda. There was no quick recovery pin to even things up here. Cavernario did what he does, moving around the ring, working the crowd, picking his spots, methodologically tearing Titan apart, including a bit of mask ripping. He had an awesome stomp in the corner, a really deep STF, repeated clubbering and paintbrushing, this great arm trap suplex. Titan sold all of it really well and that increased the tension and built up the anticipation for the comeback. A title match doesn't need that necessarily, but if it has it, especially when combined with the better part of other title matches, you can get something pretty special. I'm not sure if this match completely made it there, but it definitely came close.

Eventually, Cavernario got cocky, putting Titan up on the top rope and setting up a rolling leap of some sort. Obviously, this backfired and Titan spent a minute using his own body as a weapon, leaping from any direction he could, before hitting the split-legged moonsault in the ring for the fall.

As I said, other people have focused a lot on the tercera. I won't say much. It was what you'd expect, spot-filled and exciting. I really liked that the crazy over the top to the apron DDT didn't actually connect to the apron this time. It worked more as a takedown than something that should have ended the match. It was followed shortly thereafter by Cavernario's death splash to the floor. Maybe they did these two moves a little bit early into the fall, but I think it was important to sort of justify Cavernario's selling being on the same level as Titan's for the nearfalls to come and it did the job. I'm not going to run through everything else. It's far better to see these submissions and nearfalls and big spots than for me to write them, but it was all well done with some of it being clever call backs and some moves you don't usually see. The finish was a Cavernaria block followed by the Titanics.

I really hate Titanics. I've made a gif or two of it, but the idea is that Titan does a flip to surprise his opponent and a backflip from a handstand to catch his head so he can sort of short victory roll him. I actually think it's a very solid way to end a primera or a comeback segunda in a throwaway trios match. Not every one he's in, but now and again it's a move he can surprise an opponent with. I don't think that Titan should be ending the tercera of a title match that had been an absolute war with a goofy handstand. Wrestling is symbolic but some symbols are more appropriate than others.

That aside, they got a huge score for excitement and effort. I think Titan won over the crowd. It was a war but the escalation was paced well and the near-falls were believable. These guys were young. I think Titan was 23 at the time and Cavernario was 20. So to put on a match like this was a huge feather in the cap of both guys. It has me looking forward, in a big way, to getting to watch their recent match. Also, good on CMLL for giving them the time in the segunda. That makes all the difference in the world and it's one of the thousand things I wish the promotion would realize when it comes to these matches.

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