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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:
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.
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.
–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.