Segunda Caida

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

Friday, July 05, 2024

Found Footage Friday: SANTO~! DANDY~! MONSTERS~! OF~! THE~! MAT~! '87~!

El Hijo del Santo vs. El Dandy Monterrey 6/14/98

MD: The biased ref: the rock that sunk a thousand lucha indy matches. But, at the end of the day, it's a tool, just like anything else, and whenever you give a tool to two absolute masters, two of the all time greats, they can use it to make magic. That was much the case here, as (Cuato?) Guerrero, that self same ref that I've encountered in countless old Monterrey matches in the last year, was completely on Dandy's side. Throughout the first two falls, every time Santo would start to come back, he'd been there to slow him down. In and of itself, that might have been frustrating and dumped all the heat on Guerrero. Instead, Dandy made use of the situation each and every time to slip one foul or another in, infuriating the crowd as he was taking advantage in the dirtiest, cheapest way possible. Therefore, it served it's best possible purpose, to build and build and build the heat until Santo was able to finally come back and get bloody, brutal, satisfying vengeance.

Dandy had started the beatdown in the primera by choking Santo with a shirt, and after the first foul cutoff, locked in La Casita for the pin. During the segunda, he started opening Santo up, especially after the next ref interference and foul, and made like an absolute vampire with his gnawing and tearing. When Santo finally did come back, he was constant motion, keeping well out of the reach of the referee as he darted across the ring to kick Dandy in the skull, including hitting the gnarliest diving tope in the center of the ring en route to a Caballo where he was pulling Dandy's head back by the hair in grisly fashion. The tercera started with him trying to split Dandy's head completely open in a row of chairs and never really let down. The commentators noted that there was strong rudo energy within Santo here, and maybe he went overboard, letting Dandy fire back in the crowd. They went into a more conventional tercera finishing sequence from there with big dramatic pin attempts as they continued to bleed all over the place. 

Just when it looked like Santo was about to lock in the Caballo once again, Bestia Salvaje stormed the ring and everything broke down. You knew that Santo was about to win, however, and even before that, they had gone through all the proper stages of the ritual: the beatdown, the hope spots, the cutoffs, the comeback, and then the back and forth bloody battle. This was a match that came out of nowhere, that we never thought we might have, one that defied and overcame the inherent failings of the local trappings to turn a convention that usually feels like bullshit into something absolutely serene. Two masters at work, painting a vivid landscape in blood and retribution. 

PAS: Incredible discovery, Dandy stops off in Monterey for a month in between jobbing to Chris Jericho in less then a minute on Nitro and beating Mark LaRoux on WCW Pro, to carve up El Hijo Del Santo and bleed buckets all over the ring.  Intense fevered brawl with rows of chairs being tossed willy nilly and Santo responding to the heel ref by just getting more and more vicious, tearing at Dandy's skull smashing his head into wooden chairs and ripping at his hair. These guys had a legendary hair match a year earlier, and this doesn't have the epic scope of the match, but they make up for it with nastiness and grime. Finish was a bit deflating, but that is really the only thing that keeps it from legendary status. 

JR: El Dandy is such a wonderful heel. He feels like a fictional character almost, as though he has been written to be perfectly slimy. He is such an obvious scumbag, so violent and so cruel. Yet he still functions with these flourishes and affectations while on offense, spinning on his strikes and preening between stomps. He’s like a mafia hitman who uses big words he learns from a word a day calendar in between his routine of torture and murder.

Santo is perfect here, perhaps the most patient wrestler of all time. There are so many places in this match where his spots would make sense and would get the crowd to react, but he holds them until the very last possible moment. He makes people wait. He builds anticipation better than any wrestler except for maybe Hogan. Truthfully, this performance is almost Hogan-esque, is it not? He sells wonderfully. He works with the referee in a way that would feel almost heelish if he did not have such a beautiful connection with the crowd. He hits his dive late and Colliseo erupts.

This isn’t the best Santo match. It’s not the best footage we have of Dandy as a heel. But if you wanted to show someone the essence of why both are so effective, you could do worse than using this as a guidepost.



Monsters of the Mat WWA 6/15/87

MD: Sometimes we don't have a choice. The footage decides itself. This was a Luce production at the Kats Bar in Chicago and is very much what it sounds like. It began with an arm wrestling match between the Sinister Minster of Fear and Calypso Joe (who wrestled sometimes as Bobo Brazil, Jr.). It ended after a bit too long (The announcer even said "something will have to happen soon" or something along those lines) with seconds crashing into each other and the proceedings after a missed punch, leading to Calypso winning by DQ, more or less setting the tone for the night.

Moose Cholak vs. Shotgun Willie

MD: (Yukon) Cholak was somewhere around 57 here, billed at 450 pounds. He felt like both a star (of sorts) and a regular at the bar in this setting. Willie had the Minister with him and had that DDP/Jimmy "Jam" Garvin look a few years early. He was a few inches away from solid TV job work. You found yourself looking forward to every time Cholak would whack Willie. Willie would do these big sweeping shots and then Cholak would just shove a satisfying fist in his face, ram his face into the corner or hit him with his belly. Then Willie would escape, stall, work the crowd, and try again from a different angle only for the process to repeat. Willie played hide the object (a chain maybe), but it really didn't do him too much good as Moose manhandled him again and again. Likewise with the Minister grabbing Moose's legs from the outside. He'd just shrug off the damage, muss his hair a bit, and pummel Willie. On some level it was probably repetitive, but everyone seemed to enjoy it well enough. Willie dodged the splash and things sort of devolved into a finish I didn't entirely understand but at the very least Moose had a moral victory and the Minster and Willie ended up scrambling.

Golden Lion & Polynesian Wildman vs. Beach Boy & Calypso Jim

MD: Golden Lion worked as Dick the Bruiser, Jr. That's all I've got on any of these guys. This was 2 out of 3 falls and had to do a lot of heavy lifting on the card. Sinister Minster was out with the heels (Lion/Wildman). I have conflicted thoughts about this. The leaned into traditional roles. The simple fact of the matter is that tag wrestling, so long as the formula (we'll say the southern tag formula) is stuck to, simply works. It's not rocket science. Shine/heat/comeback. Hope spots, cutoffs. The 2/3 structure allows for wrestlers' to either play that into the ebb and flow for falls and comebacks, or to have multiple face-in-perils and hot tags. That's basically what they did here, and it worked.

It's alarming how well it worked. These guys may not have ever been stars, but they were at least competent. The heels fed well for both faces. Jim had charisma. Beach Boy worked hard and had a lot of energy. The transitions were basic but effective. When the heels were in control they had swagger and kept things moving. Lion would strut to set up a Beach Boy hope spot and then cut him right off and set up some cheating. He hopped on the mic between falls to get heat. They built to big hot tags and big payoffs.

So why is this alarming? Because these guys (these guys!) could have this match and front of this crowd, could take up so much time and bring people up and down so well, and I'm not sure how many people watching wrestling would value what they did here or how many people wrestling could actually pull it off. These guys could do this in a random Chicago bar in 1987 with maybe a quarter of the athleticism. It shouldn't have felt so refreshing to me in 2024.

Igor Zatkoff vs. Dick the Bruiser

MD: Zatkoff was maybe Psycho Sam Cody and I've got a lot of time for him as a fake Russian. He looked like an oversized Rasputin with the beard and the shaky hands. He was there to fly around for Bruiser and he did, going feet over head for punches. They did some pretty solid test of strength stuff to start, working out of that position so Bruiser could toss Zatkoff about. Igor took over for a bit in the middle, mainly working Bruiser over in the corner but the comeback was more or less matter-of-fact. Minister managed all the heels in the night but this is the first time where it really felt like he got his comeuppance as things led to a big double noggin knocker; pretty smart way to build the card and put Bruiser over in the end and send the fans home happy.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a heads up the link for Santo/Dandy leads to a Gran Haudini, Sadam, Mongol Chino Jr vs Orlando Santa Cruz, Venun Black, Tigre Universitario match; I believe the intended match is elsewhere on that person's youtube account.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Matt D said...

Thanks, updated. We'll get to that Venum Black match soon enough.

6:13 AM  

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