Segunda Caida

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

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Loosely Formed 1998 WWF: Boricua Brustle

ER: This is a fantastic piece of an inter-gang supremacy fight, buried in the unwatched annals of Shotgun Saturday Night, not listed on Cagematch, one of those gems that felt like another promotion working a showcase match on somebody else's stage. Jose Estrada was the least featured of the Boricuas, worked the fewest WWF singles matches of the group, and this was his finest WWF showcase. I think it's fair to say that he's one of the least likely wrestlers to spend a couple years in the WWF. Did you know he had matches on 4 different PPVs? I sure didn't. That sounds like a lot! But no sane person could actually tell you anything about Jose Estrada's ring style. Nobody out there knows how he threw a punch, what his best offense was, or even how he worked. He had eight singles matches during his run and I think this is the best example of what the man could do. 

Estrada looks like a nondescript bar bouncer and dresses exactly like one, and almost surely has to manicure a unibrow. Savio Vega (Estrada's "leader", as Michael Cole nerdishly refers to him as) opts for his traditional Koko B. Ware-waisted ToughSkins with turquoise swimsuit top. They would both kick the asses of anybody you've ever known. This is a micro-hierarchy war played out to a completely uncaring audience, that didn't let that cold reaction stop them from playing out their story. There's an art to finding the right balance to still tell your story regardless of reaction. Too much focus on not deviating from the plan leads to further crowd detachment. The key is to up the violence and end big, to grow the match while the story plays out, and they do that perfectly. Miguel Perez and Jesus Castillo are out at ringside and interrupt throughout the match, to break up exchanges that get too heated, too plead for...for some kind of sanity. Miguel looks like a Robert Smigel character from a cut 90s SNL Puerto Rican Day Parade sketch. It's great theater. 

The feeling out process is crisp, familiar but not holding back. Both get to end sequences with a showoff one-step-ahead  dropkick, they throw real elbows to break waist locks, the shoulderblocks connect, and the pinfalls and backslides look like they're really trying to hold their brother down. After a frantic exchange, Savio whips Estrada through the ropes to the floor (just one of the bumps that showcase that the largest Boricua might also be the most interesting bumper) and there's more great theater when he holds the ropes for Estrada to get back into the ring, but Estrada opts to enter on the other side. Later, it's paid off when Estrada holds the ropes for Savio and gets an incredible inside cradle when Savio proudly and trustingly accepts the gesture. These two told their cool story, and the icy disinterest didn't matter because it was a story worth telling. They didn't throw hands until the final minute of the match, and that was stopped by Perez and Castillo finally stepping in. Two friends not backing down from a fight and stubbornly going forward without knowing exactly what's being proven. Two friends building to hard punches and slaps before the rest of the group finally has to step in and let cooler heads prevail, is a cool little 5 minute story that felt kind of foreign to WWF. Puerto Rican Lucha Libre worked quietly to start an night out, delivered to a crowd patiently waiting for Mike Tyson's return and a Stone Cold/Rock main event. This match had no chance, but that didn't stop them from doing something worth paying attention to. 

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