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 32: El Mesias vs. Takeshi Morishima (AAA, 2/1/10)

365 Wrestling, Day 32: El Mesias vs. Takeshi Morishima (AAA, 2/1/10)

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

One month worth of matches is in the books and now it’s on to February. This also marks the project’s first foray into Mexico–specifically, AAA, for this match between El Mesias and Takeshi Morishima from February 1, 2010.

You can watch this match on Dailymotion.

The Context

Mesias has gone by all kinds of names in wrestling, starting out in his native Puerto Rico as Ricky Banderas. He also worked as Banderas in Wrestling Society X. He started out in AAA in 2006 as Muerte Cibernetica, masked muscle for top rudo Cibernetico. After losing his mask to La Parka, he shifted to the El Mesias gimmick. After several years as a top heel himself in AAA, Mesias turned at the end of 2008 and he’s still a strong fan favorite here. Mesias also is in his third reign as Mega Champion at the time of this match. Positioned as the top title in AAA, Mesias was also the first to hold the championship back in 2007. If you’re not a big fan of lucha libre, or unless you caught his run in TNA as Judas Mesias, you probably know him best as Mil Muertes from Lucha Underground and, now, MLW.

Morishima already has reigns as ROH World Champion and GHC Heavyweight Champion — the top title in Pro Wrestling NOAH — under his belt as he makes his way to Mexico for this match. He’s actually an injury replacement, according to some research I did. The original matchup was meant to be a champion vs. champion meeting with Mesias defending against Go Shiozaki, the reigning GHC champ at the time. When Shiozaki got hurt, Morishima stepped in as the replacement.

The Match

AAA is using a six-sided ring, and not a big one at that. It makes Morishima look gigantic, and he towers over the tecnico Mesias and dominates the first half of the match. I don’t speak enough Spanish to understand the commentary but some of the reactions transcend the language barrier; take, for example, how the announcer reacts when Morishima hits a charging hip attack on a seated Mesias. The production crew finds this match so nice they show it twice, with a slow-motion replay. Mid-match replays become frequent in this match (I counted six of them), and while they all come after big spots, by the time the camera cuts back to live action, the next big move is already being set up. Seeing big move after big move with none of the in-between made me feel like I was watching a highlight reel rather than a match.

Mesias finally drops Morishima by putting some extra mustard on a spear (he actually flips over in midair). After finally felling his Japanese foe, the match breaks down when members of La Legion Extranjera — aka The Foreign Legion — hit the ring and attack Mesias. Four tecnicos sprint out to even the odds and chase away the heels. The good guys then decide to pounce on Morishima and all get wiped out for their trouble. Unbeknownst to him but knownst to everyone else, Mesias is lying in wait, hoisting Morishima for a fireman’s carry and hitting a cutter to finish the match.

Random Thoughts

–The archives of Luchablog, an outstanding and highly-recommended resource for all things related to lucha libre, helped me identify all the guys involved in the run-ins at the end. Alex Koslov, Zorro, and Chessman are the three Legion members who hit the ring. They’re countered by the tecnico quartet of Super Fly, Argenis, Gato Eveready, and Laredo Kid. You might know Koslov from his run in New Japan Pro Wrestling, while Super Fly and Argenis were also part of the Lucha Underground cast of characters. Gato was also in Lucha Underground, but as Drago–one of my favorites from the show.

–Mesias is still active but Morishima had to retire from wrestling in 2015 due to poor physical and mental health. If you’ve not checked out any of his run as ROH champ, you should. He had memorable matches against Bryan Danielson and the man who defeated him, Nigel McGuinness, but don’t sleep on other defenses against other legit heavyweights like Claudio Castagnoli and Brent Albright.

Final Rating: 5.0

Morishima hits some impressive moves (that shotgun dropkick off the top stands out, and is treated as the big deal it should be), and there’s nothing really wrong with it, but this match is too short to truly be memorable.

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

Up Next

What happens when two of the most popular tag teams of the 1980s face off in their one and only meeting?

(Photo by Daniela Herrerias)

I welcome any and all feedback. Feel free to reach out on Twitter where you also can keep up with all the updates on 365 Wrestling. Send a tweet, a DM, or fill out the contact form on the site to suggest a match to watch for one of the upcoming dates.

365 Wrestling, Day 24: Eight Man Tag (WCW Souled Out, 1/24/98)

365 Wrestling, Day 24: Eight Man Tag (WCW Souled Out, 1/24/98)

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

If you wanted to introduce wrestling to a friend of yours who hadn’t seen it, what would you show them? This is a question I’ve tossed about in my head for years, and one with endless potential answers depending on what you define as good wrestling. What about if you wanted to show someone a specific style of wrestling… lucha libre for example? I might suggest showing them this match that served as the opener of Souled Out 1998. Sit back and enjoy this eight-man tag (or, to use the parlance of lucha libre, atomicos) in all its splendor: Chavo Guerrero, Jr., Lizmark, Jr., Super Calo, and Juventud Guerrera facing La Parka. Psicosis (billed as Psychosis at this time by WCW), El Dandy, and Silver King.

You can watch this match on the WWE Network.

The Context

Eric Bischoff and his role in wrestling remains a pretty polarizing topic, but I always felt he deserved credit for making the cruiserweight division relevant during his time running WCW (which was the predecessor in many ways to Ring of Honor and the X-Division of TNA and the style that is now popular across a variety of promotions with TV exposure). Bischoff also brought in a solid contingent of luchadores in the summer of 1996, most of them straight from Mexico, and several of them taking part in this match. Both these moves — emphasizing the cruiserweights and giving luchadores a platform on nationwide American TV — changed wrestling. Not only that. Bischoff let the Mexican luchadores wrestle their style, as opposed to signing them and trying to “Americanize” them. Would there have been a Lucha Underground if not for these moves? I think it’s a fair question.

This is the first look at most of these guys as part of the project, although La Parka is a longtime favorite of mine. Juventud was part of the January 3 selection, and since that match aired, has already won and lost the Cruiserweight Title.

The Match

This match is contested under lucha libre rules, meaning that leaving the ring is just as good as a tag in the corner. Even then, the rules kinda sorta pretty much get thrown out the window by the end of this match. If you’ve been reading this long, you know these write-ups are not intended to be a move-for-move recap of every match I watch, mainly because I want to encourage you to seek these matches out, watch them for yourself, and come along on this journey with me.

That said, there are some highlights:

–Calo and Psicosis start, but Silver King and Lizmark really get the crowd going with a swank exchange of chops punctuated by a titl-a-whirl backbreaker by Lizmark, Jr.
–El Dandy doesn’t play a big role in the match but he makes the most of his ring time, most notably taking a monkey flip by Chavo and then delivering a headfirst suicide dive as part of a sequence of dives near the end of the match.
–A couple of nasty-looking clotheslines to cut off dive attempts.

If I had to give an MVP to the match, it might be Silver King. He fully commits at every moment he’s in the match, whether on offense or feeding into one of the four tecnicos. He also takes the biggest bump of the match, springing off the middle rope on a plancha to the floor only to miss and eat the concrete.

After Chavo finishes things with a tornado DDT on Psicosis, La Parka runs amok with a steel chair, wiping out every member of the four-man team that just defeated him, and then bonking Dandy and Silver King for good measure. Following a celebratory dance on the chair to the delight of the crowd, La Parka tucks it under his arm and strolls out. The character work here is a delight.

Random Thoughts

-This appears to take place before Heenan starts waxing philosophic about how Super Calo’s hat always stays on his head. Or maybe it just doesn’t come up here?

–Speaking of Heenan, I laughed out loud when he praised La Parka for having “pizazz.”

-I always love those moments when Dusty is on commentary and gets so excited about what he’s seeing that he drops his accent and reacts in his normal speaking voice. That happens at least twice in this match, by my count.

Final Rating: 7.1

This match lasts less than 10 minutes but damn if these eight don’t pack in a good 20 minutes’ worth of action (or more) in the time that they are given. It’s also a fantastic opening match for a card, with nothing but action and a bunch of big moves to get the crowd fired up for anything and everything coming next.

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

What’s Next

We head back to Japan for another joshi offering, this time featuring one of AEW’s top women’s talents.

Got a match you’d like me to watch as part of this 365 Wrestling project? Agree or disagree with my take on this match? Let me know by using the contact form on this site, or reach me on Twitter.