365 Wrestling, Day 56: Mistico vs. Ultimo Guerrero (CMLL, 2/25/05)

365 Wrestling, Day 56: Mistico vs. Ultimo Guerrero (CMLL, 2/25/05)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling

As mentioned before, I’m not very well-versed in the world of lucha libre. So far in the projet I have made a couple of forays into lucha, but both the February 1 and February 9 entries have included outsiders. Not this time. Two homegrown luchadores do battle in this singles match from February 25, 2005, as Mistico takes on Ultimo Guerrero.

This match is available on Youtube and, for your convenience, embedded below:

The Context

You may know Mistico better as Sin Cara, or, rather, the first wrestler to play that character in WWE. The original Sin Cara struggled to connect with WWE fans and he suffered multiple injuries during his time with the company. He currently works back in CMLL, under the moniker Caristico. Before all that happened, as Mistico, he became the top star in CMLL and arguably all of Mexico. In storyline, Mistico was the orphan prodigy wrestling student of Fray Tormenta, the wrestling priest and the real-life inspration behind Nacho Libre (yes, really).

This match, Mistico’s very first singles main event, represents a key moment in his ascension to superstardom in his native country. Just a few weeks before this match, Mistico defeated Ultimo Guerrero’s stablemate, Averno, to become NWA World Middleweight Champion. Now Mistico finds himself taking on the leader of Los Guerreros del Inferno. These two went at it the week’s prior event in Arena Mexico, with mask ripping on both sides and some big dives by Mistico to whet the Arena Mexico crowd’s collective appetite for this mano e mano showdown.

Like most lucha libre matches, this is two out of three falls.

The Match

There’s a big-fight feel for this, and the crowd is buzzing. Extra effort in the entrances goes a long way; Ultimo Guerrero is wearing Aztec warrior gear, and is preceded by four guys in similar Aztec get-ups doing a ceremonial dance. And this is just another weekly Arena Mexico show! Mistico enters the arena on the arm of a lovely young lady, then ditches his entrance gear and comes sprinting down the aisle right at his rival.

The story here is similar to the Booker T-Bret Hart match from a few entries ago, except there’s so much more savagery and urgency. Ultimo lays in a beating on the new tecnico on the block, dominating the first fall and much of the second. Along the way, he rips at Mistico’s mask, jaws at the referee, the fans, and generally has a masterful performance as a heel.

As a relative novice to lucha libre, I had a hard time picking up on the outcome of the first fall, but the replay — and an explanation from the luchawiki site — helped. After a brief comeback by Mistico, Ultimo powders out to the floor and Mistico looks to the fans for approval, leaps for a corkscrew plancha… and completely. Eats. Shit. Ultimo Guerrero just walks out of the way and Mistico hits hard, but the slow-motion replay shows that he is able to brace the impact with his hands and feet in an impressive show of body control.

Mistico is ready to give it up and surrender this first fall, but Ultimo Guerrero doesn’t care… he sets Mistico on the top turnbuckle, picks him up and hits a beautiful moonsault fallaway slam. It’s a spectacular and spectacularly dangerous move and Guerrero makes it look effortless. Because Ultimo won’t calm down, the referee disqualifies Ultimo, reversing the decision on the first call.

The second fall gets under way and Ultimo Guerrero is still out of the ring, throwing a fit, and risking a countout. He comes back in and lays in a savage beating on the tecnico. Mistico makes a comeback cued by Ultimo coming up empty on a corner attack, with the tecnico’s rally including a springboard dive to the floor and catching Ultimo with an armdrag on the way down because why the hell not? Guerrero is reeling but isn’t done. He blocks a top-rope rana by Mistico and answers with a release powerbomb that looks amazing and somehow safe. That rudo conceit strikes again; Ultimo pulls up Mistico rather than score the pin. Guerrero goes for a second top-rope powerbomb, this time sitting out with it, and clutches his right knee upon impact. Ultimo Guerrero transforms from the bully rudo with swagger and starts begging off. It’s a great shift in the dynamic of the match that transcends any language barrier.

Shortly thereafter, the referee gets knocked down, and Mistico uses a page out of the rudo playbook, yanking off Ultimo’s mask, then pulling him into a small package to win the fall and the match in a 2-0 sweep.

Random Thoughts

–Mistico went on to hold the title for 496 days, which sounds impressive until you consider he only defended it successfully four times before dropping it to Black Warrior.

–This was just the start of Mistico’s big push in CMLL. He headlined 18 events for CMLL in 2006, each of which drew more than 10,000 people, and was named Wrestler of the Year for 2006 by The Wrestling Observer.

Final Rating: 7.8

This is a great wrestling match that I highly recommend, and also stands as proof that a match doesn’t have to be a 30-, 40-, or 60-minute epic to shine. The high spots are tremendous. You can see from watching this why Mistico became such a big star. Not only is this a great match on its own, but I also think it’s a good choice for wrestling fans who are unfamiliar with lucha libre but would like to learn more about this style.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

Up Next

A very random match from TNA’s early days.

Got something to say about this match, or the project, or anything wrestling-related? Reach out on Twitter or fill out the contact form on the site.

365 Wrestling, Day 40: El Texano, Silver King & El Fantasma vs. Samu, Fatu & Fishman (UWA, 2/9/92)

365 Wrestling, Day 40: El Texano, Silver King & El Fantasma vs. Samu, Fatu & Fishman (UWA, 2/9/92)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

As a wrestling fan, and someone who appreciates and enjoys history, one of the best parts of this project is jumping around to different years and eras. Right now, with 40 entries in the books, 1992 has been the popular destination yet at this juncture of the project.

Counting the two January entries featuring matches with the Dangerous Alliance, today’s stop in 1992 gives that year the most entries — three — out of the 40 to date.

We’re also visiting another gap in my wrestling viewing: lucha libre, in this case. For the first time in the project, we venture into Mexico for this match from the UWA promotion on Feb. 9, 1992. Check out this contest as El Texano, Silver King, and El Fantasma battle Samu, Fatu and Fishman.

You can watch this match on Dailymotion.

The Context

The UWA is the Universal Wrestling Association, a promotion that opened in 1975 when it split off from the CMLL. The UWA might have closed in 1995 but it’s credited for two innovations that remain mainstays in Mexican wrestling: the two out of three falls format for the majority of matches, and the trios match, an example of which we’re about to see here.

Samu and Fatu, as the Samoan Swat Team, already had seen successful runs for both World Class and WCW. They left the latter in 1990 and bounced around working for promotions all over the world, including the UWA, where they enjoyed a short reign in 1991 as trios champs with their cousin, Kokina Maximus (who you probably know better as Yokozuna). Here, the duo formerly known as the SST is teaming with Fishman, a veteran luchador who jumped from CMLL to the UWA when that promotional split first happened. You might have seen Fishman make a few appearances at major World Class shows in 1983.

Texano and Silver King are in the midst of a lengthy and successful run as the Los Cowboys tag team. They started teaming together in 1990 and won titles in four different promotions. At the time of this match, they’re the UWA World Tag Champions. Texano, who debuted as a wrestler at the age of 13(!), is a tecnico here but he reached star level in lucha as a rudo, combining with Negro Navarro and El Signo as Los Misioneros de la Muerte (The Missionaries of Death), which might be one of the coolest group names in the history of wrestling. Silver King is still growing into his own at this point and we’re several years before he comes to WCW as part of their influx of luchador signings. Their partner here is El Fantasma, whose mask and black and purple color scheme hearken to The Phantom, the classic comic hero.

The Match

Samu and Fatu really keep this match going and moving, whether it be with classic heel tactics (biting and gouging and choking, oh my!) or little touches of character work, especially during the third fall.

This is more of a brawl than a wrestling match and it starts in a hurry when Fatu and Fantasma get into it, sparking a melee involving all six. The tecnico trio get wrecked in the ensuing brawl, and the rudos take the one fall lead after about a minute when Samu pins Texano off camera. It takes longer to stop the combatants from fighting to start the second fall than it did for the first fall to take place in its entirety.

The second fall (or segunda caida) is under way coming back from a commercial and Texano still is getting clobbered by the Samoans and Fishman. Fatu hits a sweet powerslam after firing Texano into the ropes as part of this. When Samu misses on a leaping corner attack and ends up straddling the middle turnbuckle, Texano makes the tag to Silver King and the crowd comes alive. The tecnicos tie it up in short order, and there’s another extended scrum while the two referees try to restore order. Maybe this one needs a third ref?

The third fall feels more like serious business than the first two, which are just indiscriminate and often chaotic brawls. Texano, who has a couple of rough moments earlier, combines with Fishman to work well together on an early exchange. Texano ends up back in peril after a commercial break and we go quickly to the finish. Silver King gets tagged in like a house afire until he learns of the perils of striking Samoan wrestlers in the head. Fantasma saves the day with two dropkicks and a great-looking suicide dive. The finish comes when the Samoans break up a double-team by Los Cowboys, leading both Silver King and Texano to get pinned. Score this one for the rudos …

Random Thoughts

–If you’re a fan of family connections in wrestling, there are a ton of them in this match. Samu and Fatu are part of the Anoa’i family tree, which includes The Rock, Roman Reigns, the aforementioned Yokozuna, the Wild Samoans Sika and Afa, Umaga, and The Usos (Fatu’s sons). Texano’s son, El Texano, Jr., went on to carve out a fine career for AAA and was a regular on the first three seasons of Lucha Underground. Silver King was part of one of the wrestling dynasties of Mexico. His father was famed luchador Dr. Wagner and his brother was Dr. Wagner, Jr. Silver King also was the uncle of El Hijo de Dr. Wagner. Lastly, Fantasma’s son is currently a featured talent for WWE’s NXT brand, as Santos Escobar after debuting in WWE as El Hijo del Fantasma — the gimmick he used throughout his lucha libre career in Mexico. You may also know him as King Cuerno from Lucha Underground. Fishman wasn’t the exclusion to all these family connections; each of his sons followed in his footsteps as a masked wrestler.

–As seen in the featured image for this entry, the pre-match graphic identifies Samu and Fatu as Samoano I and II. I’m not sure which is which.

Final Rating: 5.2

There’s a decent pace throughout but the first two falls meander and there’s not enough about the third fall to make this match jump off the proverbial page for me, aside from a couple of quick highlights like Fantasma’s dive and some of the antics of the Samoans. This one definitely falls in the skippable category for me.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

Up Next

In our next installment, two Women of Honor are in action.

I love having feedback from readers. Send it to me — good or bad — along with any match recommendations you have! Just reach out on Twitter or fill out the contact form on the site.