365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
I’ve written in the past about the gaps in my wrestling fandom, and today’s selection represents another of said gaps: older lucha libre. Specifically, a match from EMLL (the predecessor of CMLL) on January 20, 1984, between Atlantis and El Satánico.
You can watch the match on YouTube, and I’ve embedded it below:
Satánico is the lucha embodiment of a grizzled vet. He’s already got more than a decade of experience at the time of this match. He went on to work extensively at CMLL’s wrestling school and, as of January 2022, still was working the occasional match … at 72 years old. Atlantis is almost 60 years old and still wrestling fairly regularly, but in this match he’s still a rookie in the midst of his first calendar year as a luchador.
The video quality is mediocre but that does nothing to conceal the story taking place in the ring. From the opening seconds of the match, when Atlantis unleashes a series of dropkicks and each blow sends Satánico sprawling backward, Satánico sells everything Atlantis does to him with conviction and the enthusiastic crowd quickly is enraptured in the tale being told.
This match goes the full three falls and the first two feel like a precursor setting the stage for the violence that awaits in la tercera caida. After pinning Atlantis to even the match at one fall apiece, Satánico continues to attack in the break between falls, ripping open Atlantis’ mask (a common trope in lucha matches) and drawing blood. The best visual in the match is in the image at the top of this piece, with Satánico biting and mauling Atlantis, who is writhing in anguish until the referee has to physically pry them apart.
Atlantis makes a comeback shortly thereafter, quickly busting open Satánico and now both are a bloody mess. Both men start trading punches, but after each unleashes a strike, he falls to his knees in exhaustion. The concept of wrestlers throwing tired punches isn’t something you see often (a barbed wirematch between Jerry Lawler and Dutch Mantell from Memphis in 1982 is a great example), and I think it tends to add plenty of flavor to a match.
Final Rating: 6.8
Working wrestlers should watch this match for a master class in heeldom by the rudo, Satánico. Note the little things he does along the way. Satánico cheats several times — known as fouls in lucha — but he does it with such quickness that, if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it. It’s artful rulebreaking, like watching someone who knows close-up magic perform sleight of hand. He counters moves not with some cute technical reversal but with violence, such as when Atlantis goes for a pin off a sunset flip and Satánico just kicks him in the head to escape. The utmost rudo, even after the match, Satánico sticks to his nefarious act, bating Atlantis into a handshake only to sucker-punch him and dump him out of the ring. Atlantis shows he’s still learning — he has a bad habit of playing to the crowd for approval after any offensive maneuver, looking to the fans like he’s trying to decide what to bid on “The Price is Right” — but there’s still a lot to like here.
We go live to review a match from Southern First.