Ten Matches That Could Headline the 84th Anniversary Show
One of the things that are constantly on my mind is the CMLL Anniversary Show. How can it not be; it’s the biggest lucha libre show of the year by a vast mile (sorry Triplemania) and, because Triplemania has made it known for a year that Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. Psycho Clown was main eventing Triplemania XXV, it’s the only gigantic lucha show where we don’t know what match is headlining. So as I follow CMLL throughout the course of the year, my mind always is going back to “what match could possibly close this year’s show?” Now that we’re halfway to the big date in September, I thought it be time to survey the land and give you ten matches that I think have the biggest chance of headlining the 84th edition of lucha libre’s grand attraction. As always, these opinions are my own, you may not agree with it, that’s okay blah blah blah, yada yada yada, let’s just get to the column before tonight’s Puebla show starts. Sound good? Sounds good. Moses, just meme it!
10. L.A. Park vs. Rush, Mask vs. Hair
In the words of Hulk Hogan as he opened the July 6th, 1998 episode of WCW Monday Nitro, this match ain’t gonna happen brother. It’s just a sad fact of life. For one, L.A. Park doesn’t work for CMLL anymore and possibly will never do so again after his glorious rant from two years ago that got Paco to boot him from the promotion. Even if he was, the match wouldn’t happen because there’s simply no telling what Park and Rush would do with the fifteen to thirty minutes they’d be given; for all we know their previous brawls could’ve been tame appetizers compared to what their endgame is. Face it sports fans, there’s a 99.9% chance this match doesn’t happen in Arena Mexico. So why does it barely make the list? Because it remains one of the five matches alive that should headline the Anniversary Show AND there’s a 0.1% chance that Rush uses his political pull with the CMLL office and somehow makes the match happen. Seriously folks, how did you think Diamante Azul vs. Pierroth wound up main eventing the second biggest CMLL show of the year? If Rush can pull off that miracle (or travesty), there’s at least a small chance he can get himself vs. Park to happen.
9. Soberano Jr. vs. Misterioso Jr., Mask vs. Mask
You can tell we’re still in the lower half of this list. The only reason I have this match ranked higher than Park-Rush is because both Soberano and Misterioso work for CMLL, while Park doesn’t. Otherwise this match makes little sense to headline an Anniversary Show, due to the midcard status of both guys. And yet…Soberano is currently one of, if not the, hottest luchadors in CMLL and seems poised for big things this year. Add in how they’ve cooled this feud after making it seem like a mask match was imminent (which they only do when they’ve a) canceled the feud or b) are planning to resolve things later) plus the fact that CMLL just ran an Arena Coliseo midcard match as the Homenaje a Dos Leyendas main event and, well, you could talk me into this possibly being the headliner. There are definitely more likely options and Misterioso’s presence makes me think that, at best, this match would have better odds of being the second Apuesta match on the show. But it’s been such a strange year and Soberano is on that much of a roll that I can’t quite discount it. The power of Soberano compels me as it were.
8. Princesa Sugehit vs. Zeuxis, Mask vs. Mask
Working in its favor; like Soberano-Misterioso CMLL has clearly slowed down the pace of this feud, a lucha reporter mentioned the possibility of this match happening at the Anniversary Show and, in a weak year of options, an all luchadoras Apuesta match is definitely an option that would generate interest and intrigue where a normal Apuesta match wouldn’t. Working against this idea; it be a luchadoras Apuesta match headlining a show for a promotion that looks at women so positively, one of its main features remains six scantily clad women dancing for the luchador’s entrances because…because! As cool of an idea as I think it would be to see this headline and as much as I’d love to see Zeuxis holding up Sugehit’s mask for all to see as the Anniversary Show comes to a close, it’s just too hard for me to believe it’s a front runner. Don’t be surprised at all however if this does wind up being the second Apuesta match on the show, which will at least give us Zeuxis holding up Sugehit’s mask for all to see before Carístico comes out and does a bunch of hurricanranas. Really I’ll just take the Queen unmasking Sugehit any place, any time at this point. Revenge is a dish best served cold sugehit! Best! Served! Cold!
7. Atlantis vs. Sam Adonis, Mask vs. Hair
This has all the makings of a red hot, big time drawing match if CMLL wants it. In one corner you’d have one of the greatest luchadors of all time defending one of the three most prestigious masks in lucha libre today, a mask that’s perhaps the biggest draw CMLL has at this moment. In the other corner, you have a white hot American star with a white hot gimmick, some crossover with the American media and the ability to turn Arena Mexico into a sauna with a wave of his Donald Trump flag. Oh, and he’d be trying to take one of the most prestigious masks in the history of lucha libre.
Like I said, this match is huge… if CMLL wants it. And therein lies the problem. CMLL rarely has American luchadors headline major events, let alone Anniversary Shows. It’s so rare the last American to headline an Anniversary Show was Kevin Quinn (one of CM Punk’s three trainers oddly enough) nearly twenty years ago at the 65th Anniversary Show. And that was in six man action; the last recorded time an American headlined a one on one match at the Anniversary Show was the 21st Anniversary Show in 1954, when Gory Guerrero (yes, Gory Guerrero was American) took on Cavernario Galindo. Combine that with how little they’re doing with Sam Adonis right now and I just have a hard time believing he’ll be the one to break the trend. It wouldn’t be hard to get going and it wouldn’t entirely shock me if come August Sam and Atlantis are at each other’s throats and we’re on our way to When Worlds Collide 2017. But CMLL’s history, the lack of momentum for Sam (through no fault of his own) and bigger available options leave this on the “unlikely” end of the spectrum.
6. Volador Jr. vs. Último Guerrero, Hair vs. Hair
This would have an even better chance of happening if CMLL hadn’t done the match to death over the past year. Volador is CMLL’s top technico, UG is CMLL’s top rudo, both guys draw, both guys are really good and I’ve yet to see a match between the two of them that wasn’t at least really, REALLY good. Few matches make more sense to headline an Anniversary Show than this one. In the end though, it’s just been done so much over the past year (with their last match at FantasticaMania feeling like a natural endpoint for the feud) that I think CMLL will look at other options before going with this one. It could happen and it will be quality, but only if every other option falls to pieces along the way.
5. Volador Jr. vs. Rush, Hair vs. Hair
Quietly one of the biggest and freshest matches CMLL has in their bag of tricks. Último Guerrero may be CMLL’s top rudo, but Rush is by far their most dynamic; that’s part of what makes his ideal Anniversary Show pairing with L.A. Park so enticing and so frightening to Paco and the gang. His ability to add all sorts of unpredictability against the by the book Volador is an interesting mesh and, more importantly, CMLL has done their best to keep these two away from each other. There have only been three singles matches between these two during their CMLL runs, one of which was in Arena Coliseo (and thus was likely not seen by many) while another went for only seven minutes. There’s clearly a plan to do this match at some point and it wouldn’t shock me at all if CMLL was planning to let these two loose this year. The only thing that keeps me from going higher is that CMLL has yet to suggest any sort of issues between Volador and Rush, in contrast to last year when both men won hair matches at Homenaje a Dos Leyendas and both seemed destined to face off at the 83rd Anniversary Show. There’s been no hint this time around, which leads me to believe we may be waiting for this match another year.
4. Dragón Lee vs. Rush, Mask vs. Hair
This sure seemed like it was going to headline the Anniversary Show at last year’s Anniversary Show, where we saw Rush betray his own flesh and blood and side with La Máscara after Dragón Lee unmasked him. The feud has definitely cooled off since then, but Rush is a big deal, Lee is a big deal (look no further than New Japan booking him every chance they get) Rush has the pull to make it happen and CMLL isn’t a company that does things and drops them for good. Well unless you’re Blue Panther Jr. and you’re feuding with Ripper; other than that they just delay things for an awfully long time. I’m seeing this match likely be a case of the latter, with an average possibility that CMLL decides to go with this September because Lee, Rush or both will be on the way out the door.
3. Carístico vs. Último Guerrero, Mask vs. Hair
It looked like this was going to be the match to headline Homenaje a Dos Leyendas when Carístico and UG started feuding in the winner, culminating in Carístico winning the right to face UG in an Apuesta Match somewhere down the road. Then CMLL decided Pierroth vs. Diamante Azul was a better idea (yes, this needs to be said every time so CMLL can feel shame) and this feud has been in neutral since, though it doesn’t feel like it considering UG and Carístico have been paired up in singles and tag action several time since. That may be the big thing working against it; Carístico-UG feels like it’s becoming Volador-UG or Valiente-UG, even though the two have only fought a handful of times in the past few years. This is what happens when you watch too much UG folks; everything starts to blend into one giant ball of corner sentons, top rope gordbusters, top rope powerbombs, barricade jumps and dudes attempting moonsaults they really shouldn’t be attempting.
The one reason I really like the idea of this match, and the biggest reason I think it has a shot to headline this September, is the story of Carístico. Maybe I’m the only one but I’m fascinated by almost everything he does in CMLL these days, as he continuously tries to regain the form he lost in disappointing runs for WWE, AAA and Elite. It’s spilled over into kayfabe as well, with Carístico losing almost every big match he’s had since returning. I’m not saying that’s CMLL’s intent here, but it’s definitely created a sort of a story within a story situation, with Carístico trying so hard to redeem himself and coming up short every time. Eventually you just know he’s going to get that big win or be put down for good, and a match with the UG at an Anniversary Show is exactly the stage for it to happen. Arena Mexico will be full, the crowd will be hot in a way that helps add an extra gear to the match and there are few guys that work as well together as Carístico and UG do. I definitely see this as one of the three favorites to headline, and even if it doesn’t, I’d expect it’ll be the marquee match either this December or next March.
2. Volador Jr. vs. Cavernario, Hair vs. Hair
Other than Soberano and Dragón Lee, there’s no young luchador hotter than Cavernario right now. In the last year he won Reyes del Aire, took Rey Cometa’s hair again, had great matches with almost everyone he faced and was one half of the Torneo de Parejas Increibles winning team with his potential Anniversary Show opponent. You know, the same man he had two Match of the Year contenders with this past September and October. Maybe that’s too bold a statement but I personally found Volador and Cavernario’s two clashes to be the two best matches CMLL offered in 2016, filled with death defying sequence after death defying sequence and lucha libre so good that even Tirantes’ shenanigans couldn’t keep them down. Both guys wanted a hair match then, they seem to want it now and the fact that they’re tied 1-1 in the series makes the Anniversary Show the most natural fit to end the tie. The only problem; there’s just one match that is a bigger draw than this one, leading me to believe that CMLL decides to resolve Volador-Cavernario III at another event sometime this year. It’s a little disheartening I know, until you see the number one spot.
1. Atlantis vs. Rush, Mask vs. Hair
Like I said earlier, there are five potential Apuesta matches in lucha libre today that could be announced tomorrow and instantly sell out. They are L.A. Park vs. Rush, Atlantis vs. El Hijo del Santo, Atlantis vs. Rey Mysterio, Rey Mysterio vs. El Hijo del Santo and this match we’re about to talk about. From a mask vs. hair standpoint, it’s hard to get much bigger than this. Atlantis has arguably the most important mask in lucha and is Undertaker esq in Apuesta matches. Rush is the most controversial luchador in the world and a luchador who’s never lost his hair. Something would have to give. If that’s not enough for you, there’s the underlying tension of Atlantis unmasking Rush’s best friend La Sombra two years ago, a moment that led to Sombra’s departure and the fracturing of Los Ingobernables (can you say the stable has been the same since then?). Whatever way you slice it, this match is...
So nice I used it twice!
Now sure, this isn’t what I would say is the most exciting match of the possibilities. It doesn’t feature the potential awe inspiring feats of Volador-Cavernario, the family dynamics of Dragón Lee-Rush, the collision of two mega stars like Volador-Rush or Carístico-UG and it definitely wouldn’t be the chaotic masterpiece we know Rush vs. L.A. Park can be (and make no mistake; this match would face heavy comparisons to that one). There are two things you’ve got to keep in mind though. First, no match in CMLL is going to sell more tickets than this one, for the simple fact that Atlantis’ mask is on the line. Two and this is the thing I think people forget these days, Atlantis is still awesome! His last two Anniversary Show headliners were two of the best matches of their respective years, and it wasn’t just UG or Sombra carrying Atlantis to the finish line. And if that’s not proof, the two matches Atlantis had with Rush this year should suffice, where the legend showed he could adapt to Rush’s chaotic style and even broke out a little L.A. Park flavor at times. He has the tools to make a match with Rush one of the most memorable of the year. And once you factor that in with the fact that it’ll make huge money, feature a compelling story and the most sought after thing in wrestling (the fact that none of us will have any clue who’s going to win) and this is a no brainer. Unless Atlantis is injured or Rush is suspended in the next few months, this will close the Anniversary Show this year and I can’t wait.
Game… blouses. So long for now sports fans, though I will return later tonight for some CMLL Running Diary shenanigans. Till then, this!