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201 Non WWE Matches to See Before You Die #18: Blue Panther vs. Love Machine II
[A long time ago in a War Rig far, far away, a young War Boy named 'Plan wrote an excellent column series called 101 WWE Matches to See Before You Die. It was perfect, so perfect that it's now a book you can buy on Amazon! There was just one problem; it only focused on WWE matches! Thus, as a fellow War Boy, I've taken it upon myself to take a look at the other stuff, compiling a list of 201 Non WWE Matches to See Before You Die. This right here is entry #18. Enjoy! And buy 'Plan's book!]
[If you missed 201 #17, which talks about the first match between Blue Panther and Love Machine, click here to read. If you've caught it already, awesome! Let's get to part two!]
Coming out of the spectacle that was Blue Panther-Love Machine I, most people in lucha libre had only one thing on their mind; when the hell can CMLL do this match again?! A very understandable reaction considering the great business the match did, the controversial finish, Love Machine’s reaction to said finish, the off the charts chemistry between Panther and Love Machine and the fact that Love Machine rocked such a beautiful mullet that it only made sense he put it on the line as often as he could. Whatever way you slice it, this was a can’t miss rematch that CMLL needed to get on. To their credit, they appeared to be in the process of doing so as Panther and Love Machine continued to get matched up with each other once Panther “recovered” from his injury. And that’s about the time that Konnan and Antonio Peña decided to get crazy and turn the lucha libre world upside down.
I’m pretty sure I’ve told this story 9,002 times by now, but for those of you who aren’t familiar with it I’ll give you the brief, BRIEF version; CMLL booker Antonio Peña wanted to push younger, exciting luchadors in CMLL, Paco Alonso preferred Juan Rivera’s style of pushing older, slower luchadors and such an impasse led to Peña and CMLL’s top star Konnan (a close friend of Peña) leaving to start their own promotion; AAA. Or as the great Kevin Kleinrock calls it, TREEPLAYAH! The effect was instantaneous as AAA became a sensation overnight due to Peña’s creativity, Konnan’s star power and, oh yes, the fact that they raided CMLL’s cupboard and left them bare. When I say AAA stole everyone but Atlantis and Negro Casas from CMLL, I mean it; almost every big name in lucha libre at the time wound up in AAA during 1992, including Blue Panther and Love Machine. You’re probably not stunned by this considering Love Machine was only in Mexico because of Konnan; why wouldn’t he follow his good friend to AAA? Ironically enough though, Love Machine was one of the last to jump to AAA, sticking with CMLL until the fall of 1992. In contrast, Panther was one of the first to jump, appearing for AAA only a month after the promotion was formed.
Once Love Machine made the jump, Peña and the gang quickly moved to reignite the feud with a clever angle within an angle. ANGELCEPTION! Throughout 1992, a then 18 year old Rey Mysterio Jr. was having numerous Apuesta matches, first unmasking Mr. Condor before moving on to a feud with Vulcano, Rocco Valente and Tony Arce, a trio known as Los Destructores. After taking Rocco’s hair on October 18th, Peña decided to book another Apuesta match for Rey two and a half weeks later on November 6th, this time against Arce. For the match, Arce was accompanied by Panther (still a rudo) while Mysterio came out with his uncle, Rey Mysterio Sr. There was just one problem; the guy dressed like Rey Mysterio Sr. was way too tall to be Rey Mysterio Sr.! Turns out it was Love Machine in disguise, and his big reveal so flustered Panther that he ended up turning on Tony Arce when the latter tried to calm him down, leading to a Mysterio victory. The finish ultimately served as the kickoff to a short feud between Panther and the Destructores, but more importantly it did the thing everyone and their brother wanted; set up the rematch between Panther and Love Machine. The only question now was when.
Of course, knowing that Antonio Peña was booking this story (much like he did the first time), most people should’ve known it was going to be awhile, and not just cause Panther had the Destructores to distract him. Indeed, AAA stretched out the build for Love Machine-Panther even longer than CMLL did the first match, putting them in trios matches for months against each other for months before finally booking the match, a mask vs. hair bout, for July 18th in Tonala, Jalisco. It was just a week before the show that Peña booked one last angle to put the feud over the top; a Blue Panther interview in the streets of Mexico which Love Machine would interrupt, leading to a brawl. The angle was a big success, largely due to things getting so heated that Panther and Love Machine ended up fighting while simultaneously rolling down some stairs! Talk about throwing caution to the wind. I don’t know how much of a difference it made, but I have to think that final brawl, as hot as it was, got a few extra people into the building come July 18th. If it didn’t, then the history between the two men certainly did, as (supposedly) 20,000 people attended the show to see these two go at it again. If you recall, 18,000 saw the first match in Arena Mexico, with another 8,000 watching outside. I’ll let Brian Griffin sum this all up.
And with that folks, it’s time we diverge from formula to talk about this match. And by that I mean it’s time to break down this match, Running Diary style. TO THE YOUTUBE!
1:15: We are live from…the same place we always are! Why did I lead with that? Anyway, Love Machine is currently making his way to the ring as “Jump” by Van Halen blares through the speakers. And now I’m realizing that’s the same song Stuka Jr. uses in CMLL, which means he’s totally aping Love Machine. For shame Stuka; for shame. AND TO THINK I WANTED YOU TO BEAT MEPHISTO NEXT WEEK!
1:17: Panther out to the same theme music The Panther uses these days. Good to see that hasn’t changed much. Important note here; unlike the first match (where Love Machine was the only one who had a second), both guys have a second here. Love Machine’s is the legendary Perro Aguayo Sr., while Panther has the legendary Fishman. Lots of legends on the outside for this one.
1:20: Good Grodd these intros take FOREVER! Almost as long as it took the ring announcer to say Love Machine’s name. Boy could he hold that note. Here’s a fun fact by the way; the referee for this match in none other than Pepe Casas. That’s right; the father of El Felino, Heavy Metal and Negro Casas. Pretty chill, right?
1:22: After six minutes of entrances and intros we are finally off. Panther offers Love Machine his hand…and Love Machine slaps the taste out of Panther’s mouth! Uh oh. No wonder the crowd appears to be more pro Panther at the get go.
1:23: Love Machine with a seated senton off the top for a near fall. Uh oh; all those near falls in the first match was what got Love Machine in trouble to begin with. It appears to get him in trouble initially here as Panther comes back with a clothesline, but Love Machine recovers quickly with a Northern Light Suplex for another near fall. Less than two minutes in and we have two near falls.
1:25: Love Machine floors Panther and drops the leg right on the arm. It’s arm bar time. Love Machine eventually works Panther up to his feet, where Panther tries to fight back before eating a slap. Love Machine hits a few more strikes then nails a Snap Suplex for near fall number three of this match. He then transitions into a Surfboard Stretch, a callback to the first match where Panther used the same move.
1:26: Panther gets back on the offense, sending Love Machine to the ropes and hitting a powerslam for a near fall. And no; we won’t be covering how many near falls Panther gets for those of you wondering. Meanwhile Love Machine comes right back by reversing an Irish Whip into a powerslam of his own, only to get another near fall (three). He transitions quickly into an arm bar and this time keeps it on as Panther tries to escape multiple times.
1:27: Panther finally fights Love Machine off with a facebuster. He sends Love Machine into the ropes, the technico counters with a sunset flip…except Panther goes Davey Boy-Bret Hart on Love Machine and sits down for a pinfall! Love Machine just gets out and my, wouldn’t that have been something if Panther pinned him there? I think Love Machine may have gone full Ben Affleck in Dawn of Justice at that point.
1:28: Love Machine connects with a clothesline, goes up top and nails a crossbody. He knows better than to go for the cover though, and instead picks Panther up for a dangerous looking German Suplex. One, two, THREE! Love Machine has finally gotten a pinfall on Blue Panther in a singles match and now leads 1-0. Hey; perhaps things are looking up after all!
1:30: Because this video has cut out commercials, we don’t have to wait for fall two! It begins with Love Machine in control at first, but Blue Panther comes back quick and nails a nice spinebuster. Not to be outdone, Love Machine comes back to hit one of his own and it appears to really hurt Panther, who sells it like he’s having a seizure. Love Machine doesn’t capitalize soon enough and we now have our fourth near fall.
1:31: Panther dodges a Love Machine Sting Splash in the corner as the crowd goes nuts. We haven’t talked about them much, but the crowd seems very much behind Panther here, despite being the rudo. Very telling. He takes too long to get the cover on Love Machine, and thus only gets a two. The two go back and forth for a moment, but Panther grounds Love Machine and attempts a Figure Four Lock a few times, with Love Machine fighting it off each time.
1:32: Unable to get the hold on, Panther picks Love Machine up, clotheslines him then does a knee buster. Poor Love Machine can’t fight the submission off this time and Panther finally has his Figure Four, which Love Machine quickly taps to as the crowd goes wild. We’re tied and going much further than we did in the first match. More importantly though, the crowd has firmly gotten behind Blue Panther in a way they weren’t even behind him in the first match. For the first time, it appears fans are really rallying behind the Mexican over the American.
1:33: Love Machine is quickly in control to start fall three, going up top to hit a facebuster. One, two, near fall. That’s now near fall number five, almost as many as Love Machine had in the first match.
1:34: Love Machine is flustered for a minute but he keeps control, sending Panther to the floor with a dropkick. And just like that we finally have our first dive of the evening; a suicide dive from Love Machine that sends Panther all the way back to the Lagoon! Seriously, the poor bastard was sent deep into the seats on that dive.
1:35: Back in the ring, Love Machine goes full El Hijo del Santo on Panther with a Camel Clutch. Panther won’t tap out though, so Love Machine lets go of the hold and then puts on an armbar. Perro is yelling instructions at Love Machine from the outside; it’s not clear if Love Machine is taking it to heart or if he’s acting like Perro doesn’t exist. I’ll say the latter.
1:36: Body attack on Panther by Love Machine while the former is in the ropes! Unfortunately, they remain too close to the ropes and Love Machine takes too long to move Panther away, thus getting another near fall. We’re up to six.
1:37: Love Machine connects with a hurricanrana roll up! One, two, near fall. Seven. The crowd breathes a sigh of relief and Fishman celebrates in the corner. The near death escape motivates Panther, and he immediately puts Love Machine in a Vertebreaker esq submission. In an awesome moment, Love Machine will himself out of it, gets on Panther’s shoulders and rolls him up for a cradle. Once again though, Panther is out at two, making this Love Machine’s eighth near fall of the night.
1:40: Love Machine has Panther in a powerbomb position…but Panther is too strong and lifts Love Machine out. The technico is crafty though and he reverses that into a roll up for yet another near fall. Nine by my count. Panther quickly floors Love Machine and gets a near fall himself. The tension is growing in Jalisco as Love Machine tries to get the crowd behind him. It has no effect, so Love Machine then viciously attacks Panther’s arm with an arm wrench, then begins tearing and clawing at Panther’s mask in the ropes. HUGE moment here sports fans.
1:41: Love Machine goes for a cover on Panther and winds up with his tenth near fall of the match. Panther recovers quickly, nails some great strikes on Love Machine then clotheslines him to the floor. Panther then follows up with his classic suicide dive (he’s still doing it today that beautiful bastard) as the crowd again goes nuts. Combined with what happened a minute ago, and this was a huge turning point not just in the match, but for Love Machine the performer. You watch; he’s never going to be the same from this point forward, in the best way possible.
1:43: The crowd counts along with Pepe as both men are nearly counted out. Eventually they get back in and Love Machine takes control with a facebuster. He then sets up Panther for a powerbomb and this time connects. One, two…wait a minute. It looks like Panther kicked out, but it also kind of looks like Love Machine let him go. Love Machine immediately goes for Panther’s mask with one hand and wags his finger no at the crowd with the other. Hot damn; he did let him out!
1:45: Love Machine places Blue Panther on the apron and does a precursor to the dead lift apron superplex back in 1993. Awesome. One, two…only two and this time Love Machine clearly raised Panther off the mat. He then does it again after nailing Panther with an atomic leg drop, and it’s clear that the crowd and the inability to put Panther away has turned Love Machine mad; he doesn’t want to just win anymore, he wants to punish Panther.
1:47: Love Machine again keeps Panther alive after nailing a Northern Lights Suplex. That’s now four straight covers he had the match won and let Panther off the hook. Truly, the Love Machine is his own worst enemy. Panther tries to fight back, but instead eats a neckbreaker from Love Machine, who again pulls Panther up before the three.
1:48: Panther tries to use a closed fist on Love Machine but Casas, ever the fair official, stops him. This allows Love Machine to hit another facebuster and…HE’S GOING FOR THE MARTINETE AGAIN?!
1:50: Yes indeed, Love Machine has Panther up for yet another Tombstone. Did he not learn his lesson from the first time? Perro Aguayo, realizing that Love Machine is about to make a mistake that will lose him his hair, jumps in the ring and begs Love Machine to put the dude down. Love Machine has gone the way of Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now however and refuses. So Perro does the only thing he can do; he grabs a hold of both guys and sends them to the mat, preventing the Tombstone. Smart plan…EXCEPT HE PUT HIS HANDS ON PANTHER FIRST! Pepe sees this as interference and HOLY BALLS BLUE PANTHER HAS BEATEN LOVE MACHINE AGAIN! That’s right sports fans; Blue Panther has once again defeated Love Machine in an Apuesta match, and once again did so because Love Machine was DQ’d. Gotta love that Antonio Peña booking.
1:52: After a replay, we cut back to the fans going nuts for Panther, Perro trying to plead to Pepe Casas and Love Machine looking like he wants rage quit like a dude who just lost at Super Smash Brothers. He’s not being too kind to Perro either, screaming at him for costing him the match. I mean…you could’ve won the match about five times prior to going for a boneheaded Tombstone Mr. Machine. Clearly you’re to blame here.
1:53: Love Machine is pretty much one attack from a rudo turn now; he’s even refusing to get his hair cut. Antonio Peña comes out and Love Machine begs Peña for a reprieve; unfortunately Peña only grants reprieves for Heavy Metal and so Love Machine has no choice but to say goodbye to the mullet. Initially it appears he’s going to allow himself to be buzzed, but instead Love Machine grabs the clippers himself and starts cutting his hair.
1:55: OH MY! Love Machine just threw the hair at Perro Aguayo. Perro is a proud man, so he immediately shoves Love Machine before the latter seals his rudo turn by attacking the beloved technico. Fishman is soon joining in while Blue Panther looks like the average American reading the news on Yahoo every morning. What will he do? Will he help Aguayo? Or will he join in?
1:56: BLUE PANTHER TO THE RESCUE! After pulling Fishman away, he then closes in and decks Love Machine with a right to noticeable cheers. Looks like the double turn is complete! Panther shields Perro from Love Machine and Fishman (who seems reluctant to attack his ally anyway) and Love Machine has little choice but to go back to having his haircut. Highlight of the cutting; Fishman trying to appeal to Panther to be evil and Panther having none of it. Well that and Love Machine sobbing like a five year old as his hair was cut. Don’t worry Mr. Machine; this is surely the last time you’ll ever lose your hair in an OH MY GRODD I COULDN’T FINISH THAT SENTENCE WITH A STRAIGHT FACE! Yeah, you’re totally losing your hair again Art. Sorry.
Once again, Blue Panther vs. Love Machine turned out to be huge, and not just because the match drew a huge crowd and was excellent. Just a few days after turning rudo, Love Machine cemented it by manipulating a young luchador named Eddy Guerrero into betraying his partner El Hijo del Santo. With that, Los Gringos Locos was born and began their year and a half long run as one of the greatest tag teams/factions in the history of wrestling. Though he eventually took somewhat of a backseat to Santo and Octagón, Blue Panther continued to be one of Love Machine’s greatest rivals, with the two facing off numerous times in trios action. Unfortunately a third big singles match between the two never happened, as Love Machine Art Barr passed away a little over a year later on November 23rd, 1994. Fittingly, Love Machine’s last match (the famous When Worlds Collide tag match) featured him being eliminated by El Hijo del Santo after he received a Martinete from Santo/Octagón’s second; Blue Panther. A poetic, fitting end to a rivalry, one that ended long before it should have.
Now, twenty five years after their famous Arena Mexico match and twenty four years after their AAA encounter, Blue Panther continues to be one of the steadiest luchadors in the world. Oh yeah, he’s also taking on another young, hot shot American named Sam Adonis in an Apuesta match this Friday (you may have heard!). As I’ve stated, the Adonis-Panther feud isn’t a carbon copy of the Panther-Love Machine one, with the former being built around the America vs. Mexico angle more than the latter ever was. But in many ways the two feuds are a lot alike, from the fact that both featured two luchadors needing to prove themselves to the epic feel you get when thinking about these feuds (though in fairness, we still have no idea if Adonis-Panther is even in the same league to its predecessor in regards to interest). Most importantly though, Adonis-Panther has reminded us all just how big Panther-Love Machine was. And it was big; together these two sold out the most famous arena in lucha libre, a 20,000 plus building in Jalisco and produced two compelling, wonderful matches with great stories and even better finishes. And they did it all for not one, but two companies without losing any momentum along the way. If nothing else, Sam Adonis vs. Blue Panther will have served as a reminder to how great Blue Panther vs. Love Machine. Now there’s just one question left to ask; can Sam and Panther live up to the hype themselves? And for that, you’re just going to have to tune in Friday night to find out.