Re: The 2012 MOTYC thread
Blue Panther vs Negro Casas, (CMLL 1/27/12)
This is a lightning match so we only get treated to 10 minutes, but christ what a brilliant 10 minutes it was and the resulting hair vs hair match was set up beautifully. Both men just excellently mix hate filled brawling with some incredibly slick mat counters and submissions to punish the other man, there's a sense of hatred that dominates both men's offence but at the same time the mutual respect and desire to outwrestle and humiliate the other man is clearly demonstrated and therefore we're treated to as much counter wrestling as we are violent brawling. Panther countering into an ankle lock and BITING Casas' foot whilst he has the hold locked on may be the most impressive visual of the year, just so totally awesome at conveying the hatred that drives Panther in hurting Casas. Little touches like Panther grabbing Casas by the hair into a submission and the empathic struggle Panther and Casas exert in an STF hold are remarkable, and there were a bunch of really well timed and impactful transitions which felt organic and allowed both men to get credible spells on offence without making one man look more dominant than the other. Casas was especially great, his brilliant counter into the STF out of the surfboard was made all the more sensational by his little grin and taunt as if to mock every Panther fan and assert his dominance, and he threw some very meaty strikes whenever Panther was grounded. His brief armwork was also appropriately nasty whilst also exhibiting his technical skill, and the finish with both men having dualing leg locks whilst trying to slap (and in Panther's case punch) the other silly was an appropriately choice finish. Panther demanding 5 more minutes only to have Casas kick him in the balls and swiftly exit with the most delightful grin just completed this awesome little match. Has there been a better match minute by minute this year?
La Sombra (c) vs Negro Casas, (CMLL 2/13/12)
Excellent title match built around the agile and athletically superior Sombra against the veteran and instinctive Casas. I wasn't a fan of how they effortlessly moved from feeling out matwork in the first caida to rope running to end the fall, its something that often takes great timing to come off in an organic sense and I didn't think they quite captured that here. That being said the actual finish to the first fall was meticulous in shaping out the remaining 2 falls, Casas avoids a springboard lionsault only for Sombra to pull an Ibushi and hit a reactionary moonsault after landing on his feet from the springboard attempt. From here on Casas is wonderful in employing a variety of veteran tactics to break up Sombra's momentum and prolong the match, he switches up his striking game whenever possible to weaken the bigger Sombra and I loved his set up for the Low Ki double stomp off the ropes, Sombra sold the wear and tear of the match and took a while getting to the top rope and Casas despite sitting up just waited for Sombra to reach the top rope before attacking. Those small veteran spots he added throughout were just wonderful (pulling on Sombra's mask in a rope running attempt etc) but it was the second fall finish where this was most apparent, Casas stalls and breaks up Sombra's momentum and then suckers him into the ropes before hitting a roll through cross body and then a quick dropkick to the knee-cradle pin combo to tie the falls up. Felt like a true veteran spot in baiting the younger and more rash Sombra and the way he executed the flash combo really made it seem like a true 'flash finish'. 3rd fall like true Lucha is where both men break out their best offence, and again Casas trying to momentarily stop Sombra only to have his efforts scuppered as often as he succeeds made for an entralling dynamic. Casas had some of his stellar selling particularly after the ringpost bump, and the 3rd fall finishing playing off of the 1st fall finish with Casas playing possum and countering Sombra's lionsault attempt and immediately hooking a creative pin was a wonderful payoff to the rookie/veteran story which dominated each fall. Special mention to both of Casas' pins in both falls, and the extra attention to detail in noticeably holding down every part of Sombra's body to block any evident kickout.
Fuego & Valiente vs Arkangel de la Muerte & Virus, (CMLL 2/21/12)
Beautiful match here, though I thought Virus and Valiente were pretty much on a whole other level to Fuego and Arkangel, and continue to perhaps be the greatest Lucha pairing at the moment not named Negro Navarro & Solar. Fuego vs Arkangel to open was inoffensive albeit less than stellar, with them focusing on very slow and uninspired matwork, however the moment Valiente and Virus enter after the initial stalemate this match just never fails to drop below awesome. Valiente vs Virus is just a masterclass in sublime chain wrestling with the counters feeling crisp and won via both men's skill rather than overly co-operative hold swapping, and it honestly feels like two masterclass wrestlers squaring off in a battle of supremacy the moment they lock up. Some incredibly beautiful holds and counters in their first exchange and they really achieved this balance between the heroic Valiente up against the dastardly yet deadly Virus. Virus just cutting off Fuego's attempted tope with a running elbow was a wonderful dickhead rudo spot and was one of many awe-inspiring moments from him in the match. First fall finish is superb with Valiente unleashing a wonderfully slick and sudden counter into an armbar allowing Fuego to finish off Arkangel, and I liked how each pairing in the opening fall was essentially concluded with Valiente managing to get the first unbreakable counter in before Virus, and Fuego using his agility to score the fall after this attempt at hold trading proved ineffective earlier. 2nd fall sees Arkangel work far more fluid with the supreme Valiente, and features two AWESOME monkey flip bumps from Arkangel before a terrific comedy rudo spot with Valiente faking a dive and forcing Arkangel to retreat and sit on his ass in the crowd. Loved how the rudos regained momentum due to Fuego ultimately proving to be a lesser opponent technique wise against Virus than Valiente, and therefore allowing the rudos to double team and essentially eliminate Fuego and leave the supreme technico in a numbers disadvantage. Felt like a satisfactory escalation of the prior fall, with Virus and Arkangel focusing more on dickish low blows and strike based offence to wear down the technicos and then score a duelling submission to tie the match up. There were some brilliant rudo spots in the 2nd and 3rd falls, with Virus hilariously begging off to Valiente setting up an Arkangel sucker punch, as well as both rudos focusing their attack primarily on Valiente and Fuego's testicular region. 3rd fall is shorter than you'd usually expect from a 2/3 falls tag but they pack in some brilliantly fluid and well timed counter wrestling and Valiente somehow manages to pull off a heroic technico comeback without making it look ridiculously cheesy and contrived, which given the elaborate set up for the comeback spot was truly remarkable. Fuego hits what looked to be a damn good tope to eliminate Arkangel and himself from the match up, and we end with the two maestros in what feels like an ultimate technico/rudo showdown at a lightning pace with both men just looking to catch that rapid counter to down the opponent. Finish is timed impeccably and feels like a satisfying ending to an excellent bout.
El Hijo Del Santo & Villano IV vs El Hijo Del Solitario & Angel Blanco Jr, (TXT 2/25/12)
HOLY SHIT! To anyone ignorant enough to label Lucha nothing more than perfunctory highspots with no substance behind them I suggest you watch this match. A classic Mid South/Memphis bloodbath with some of the most realistic and violent brawling you are ever likely to see in 2012 and the perfect way to work a hate filled brawl with tons of huge bumps, an electric crowd desperate for rudo blood and some awe inspiring performances from all 4 men. It was amazing to see how the opening minute which resembled a technico squash somehow turned into what felt like an eternal beating by the rudos, with some stiff as hell punches and equally majestic selling from Villano IV in particular. So many awesome moments of pure violence to really list, but the near 15 minute beating the rudos dish out is unlike anything I've seen this year sans for Lesnar/Cena. Its borderline frightening how much abuse the technicos take, but their selling and expressive mannerisms are incredible at constantly keeping the crowd rabid rather than in stunned silence, and Villano IV above anyone just constantly had my attention with the way he was bumping for every bit of offence Solitario in particular was inflicting upon him. Loved how the rudos didn't let up after the 1st fall and continued the relentless beating and finally drew blood from both Santo and Villano, with ripped masks and biting the cut of both men both Solitario and Angel Blanco Jr really went above and beyond at working and deepening the cuts of both technicos and deserve great credit for being sensational rudos and also in constantly working the crowd and building to the technico comeback. Santo's famous silver mask is completely stained red by the end of this, and everyone bleeds a disgusting amount of blood and makes for some incredible visuals. The technico comeback feels really organic on the back of the first mis-communication between the rudos, and the intensity and pace behind their comeback suitably keeps the crowd engaged in every bit of action, Villano hits a sensational fatman tope and Santo lands his famous crossbody to the floor in between all of this and the crowd is just losing their shit for everything. Villano crushing Solitario with a revenge chairshot was brilliant, but the spot of the match has to be the boxing exchange between Villano and Solitario with both men just unleashing ridiculously awesome punches at a breathtaking pace and doing a tremendous job at making Villano look heroic as he staggers with blood dripping down his body and Solitario looking like the toughest SOB to ever walk the earth. Finish is absolutely timed superbly as the ulimate heartbreaking defeat for the technicos, Santo looks set to hit his renowned somersault-tope combo but Blanco ducks the initial somersault leaving Villano to eat it square on the face, and then Santo's follow up tope to the floor gets interrupted by the mother of all chair shots from Solitario. Post match pull apart brawl just added to the insanity, Villano looks possessed and wants to maim Solitario at every opportunity and Santo and Blanco continue to duck it out with their blood stained masks making for one of the most impressive visuals of 2012. Lucha MOTY so far and running neck and neck with Lesnar/Cena for my worldwide MOTY. Fucking stupendous technico performance complimented by a dominant and ruthless rudo performance, transcendent Lucha brawling at its finest and a molten crowd. Perfection.
Blue Panther vs Negro Casas Hair vs Hair, (CMLL 3/2/12)
I've found out that CMLL and specifically Arena Mexico don't do blood these days, so sadly this isn't strictly the bloodbath brawl you expect from a Hair vs Hair match. However these two had mixed violent brawling with competitive matwork throughout their feud and therefore I had no mither with them working their own style of hair match, built on bodypart work, selling, superb pacing and the occasional stiff strike or two. Opening fall is tremendous, Casas sets the tempo with a nasty as fuck headbutt as Panther tries to drag him into the ring and the next few minutes are loaded with some strong offence from Casas in particular before a superb flash Fujiwara armbar from Panther for the instant submission. The second fall may even be better as Panther now sets about destroying Casas' shoulder and Casas sells it superbly before unleashing a superb counter into a stretch muffler and immediately capitalises on the weakened leg with a snap dropkick followed by a flash pin to tie the match up. The 3rd fall however is where this really steps into 'excellent' and MOTY territory, Casas destroys Panther's leg with an array of offence and there's this awesome Bryan/Sheamus esque spot where Panther is slowly struggling to put any weight on his leg, and Casas has this shit eating grin at how well his attack has payed off and takes the time to stretch his own legs as an insult. Panther's selling is superb and despite gradually shaking off the work, he sells it in a few sequences to really emphasise the damage still exists, e.g his hobble in the reverse gory bomb hold. A few people may dislike how Casas switches his focus away from the leg, but tbh this feud revolved around the skill and ability of both men, and I saw it more as Casas seeing the leg as something he could exploit whenever he was in danger, but just sought to hook any limb he could get his hands on rather than making his attack predictable and risking Panther spotting this and positioning a flash counter like the one which won him the opening fall. Both men sell the wear and tear of their onslaught like only the best can, and Panther's superb tope and Casas' resulting selling as his previously injured arm bounces off the guardrail was just a supreme little attention to detail that left me thoroughly impressed. Both men save the big bumps and transitions for the final fall and the pace throughout is flat out superb, there were multiple occasions where one of them would find an opening and look to be on the verge of victory and as a result every little moment of struggle and fight felt that much more emotive and dramatic due to how skilled and vicious both men were throughout. Finish isn't what I'd hope for in a hair match, but it was probably executed as well as it could have been for what they were going for.