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CMLL Tuesday: The Blue Panther Express
What. A. Night. Holy shit sports fans, was this evening something I’m going to remember for awhile. At the risk of getting distracted, I decided earlier this evening that I was going to watch both the Toronto Blue Jays-Baltimore Orioles play in game and CMLL’s Tuesday show simultaneously. At worst, if one sucked, I could just flip that one off and focus on the one. Instead the baseball game turned out to be an instant classic and CMLL’s effort in Arena Mexico wasn’t far behind. What a show they put on! I don’t know if it was a miracle or if Blue Panther stole the book and put together everything we saw, but tonight’s CMLL featured three good matches, a main event that set up what should be a memorable match on next week’s Tuesday show, a memorable Lightning Match and a show stealing trios match that I will be talking about for years to come. Who knows, maybe others will join the conversation too! For now, let’s just preview this so I can try and get some sleep. Moses, put on your Blue Panther mask and meme it like you mean it!
Akuma & Camorra defeated Bengala & Leono two falls to one
In a trend that would continue throughout this show, this opener turned out to be a hundred times better than expected. Who do we have to thank for this? Only the most unlikely source you can think of; the rudo team! In fairness, Leono was pretty good here and did more than enough to make up for Bengala proving the only place he belongs is at the pound next to the fat Bengala from Lucha Underground. But the stars here, against all odds, were Camorra and especially Akuma. The former was solid; the latter was at times spectacular and looked like someone CMLL should be using far higher. Not only did he make Leono look good several times, but Akuma’s offense was actually effective, something most opening match rudos can only dream about. I was highly impressed with him and hopefully we get more performances like this when he appears again. If nothing else, this match being good should’ve served as a clue that this night wasn’t going to be normal.
Arkángel de la Muerte, Cancerbero, Raziel defeated Oro Jr., Starman, Stigma two falls to one
If the last match exceeding expectations didn’t hammer home how good this night would be, this match sure did. Honestly I’m still in shock; I thought this match would be an embarrassment. And granted it was in the sense that Arkángel was allowed to wrestle in it and looked every bit as awful as you’d expect. But besides him everything else in this match worked! Stigma looked good. Starman looked competent. Oro Jr. did some cool stuff for the first time in his life. And mother of puss bucket, Raziel and Cancerbero decided to try tonight and suddenly we were reminded just what these two can do when motivated. They were really something here, especially Raziel, who broke out a few new moves and even a sick Falcon Arrow at one point. That was really a theme of this match here; whether it was that Falcon Arrow, a really awesome technico double team when Starman monkey flipped Stigma into for a sunset roll up or the ending sequence that saw Cancerbero hit a neckbreaker on Stigma while (and this is true) Raziel held him in a Romero Special, a lot of the things done were just wicked cool. And while that isn’t enough to erase away some sloppy parts or Arkángel, it sure as hell was enough for this to be a fun, good match that exceeded all expectations. And no sooner did it end did magic happen.
Blue Panther, Blue Panther Jr., The Panther defeated Bobby Z, Vangellys, Virus two falls to one
This may be a massive bit of hyperbole but fuck it, I’m having too good a time to care; the term show stealer was invented specifically for matches like this. For the love of Cthulhu, this match…this match was something else. I thought it would be good, possibly even great going in; by the end of it I was absolutely blown away and I don’t care if I was the only one. This match, along with Surge soda, Catrina, the King K. Rool theme from Donkey Kong Country and the funeral scene from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the stuff that dreams are made of.
Why am I saying all of this? Because simply put this match was special, starting with how it was structured. You know how every CMLL trios match begins with a first fall filled with mat work and everyone taking turns? Not here. Instead we got Virus and Panther going at it for the whole fall, delivering some pristine work on the ground before Panther actually got the lucha legend to submit! The fall would’ve worked fine on the quality of chain wrestling alone, but Panther getting the best of Virus (something he’s never allowed to do with anyone else) was a great visual and really helps make the youngster look good. It set the tone that anything could happen the rest of the way, and that’s exactly what happened. Blue Panther, a 56 year old man mind you, wrestled like a 26 year old, hitting a flawless suicide dive and an even better hurricanrana off the top rope during the second fall, all before putting on a clinic with Virus during the third fall. Panther got in a dive and looked the most motivated he had in months. Vangellys and Bobby Z were excellent and combined for one of the most memorable moments of the night when Vangellys caught Panther, held him in a Piledriver position so Bobby could basement dropkick him and then hit a sweet sitout powerbomb.
AND HOW ABOUT JUNIOR?! The young luchador continued his trend of looking better than the last time we saw him and best of all got the big moments towards the end of this match; he submitted Vangellys with an armbar and then put Bobby Z away with his signature submission (Nudo Lagunero according to gif master Jocay). That was a super cool moment that I and everyone in Arena Mexico marked out for, and just goes to show just how much of a boss Blue Panther is. There’s no question he structured this match and he couldn’t have done it better; it was different, it was full of excitement, it got everyone involved and at the end it gave both his sons moments where they looked strong and got over. Tremendous work from him, Junior, Panther, Vangellys, Bobby and Virus for this. I thought this was a borderline masterpiece and in the end may include it as one of the best matches of the year. I don’t care if I’m crazy; I loved this match that much.
Hechicero defeated Guerrero Maya Jr.
There’s going to be people who underrate this match because a) it did occur after an amazing trios match and b) it didn’t have the flash that the famed Soberano-Hechicero match had a few weeks ago. And while I will say the Panther match was better, this was an excellent match in its own right and for far different reasons then Hechicero’s last Lightning Match classic. Whereas CMLL presented Soberano as a young luchador having to try and overcome the master class wizardry of Hechicero, Guerrero Maya was (rightfully) presented as Hechicero’s equal and at times superior. Thus the story of this match was about Maya revealing he could stay one step ahead of Hechicero with a combination of technical lucha and high flying offense, while Hechicero spent the whole match trying to figure his opponent out. Ultimately he did, thanks to the running knee and a submission that once again came less than a minute away from the ten minute mark. Sure it wasn’t flashy and yes it came after a borderline classic match, but overall I found both men to be sharp, I liked the story they told and I thought this match worked in a really understated way. Not everything needs to be high spots and balls to the wall action, and these two proved it here by giving us the second straight great match of the night. That’s right; CMLL delivered two great matches in a row! I’m surprised Paco didn’t cave in the Arena Mexico roof at that point. In fact, here's a live look at Paco's reaction to that match.
Rey Bucanero, Sam Adonis, Terrible defeated Ángel de Oro, Johnny Idol, Máximo Sexy two falls to one
The good times kept rolling with the semi-main, which may not have equaled the previous two matches but was super, super fun. And yes, it was because of the thing I hoped CMLL would do in my preview. It took a little bit, but eventually Máximo and Sam Adonis started interacting in this match and once they did the Arena Mexico crowd lit up like a Christmas tree. Not that was shocking; Máximo always gets the crowd fired up and Adonis, the expressive rudo that he is, only needed to turn up his gimmick to an eleven to make things work when Máximo tried to put the moves on him. He did and the crowd was in the palms of their hands for the rest of the match. Everything else worked well too. Johnny Idol didn’t have nearly as much to do as usual, but he got in his usual spots and continued to show off the great chemistry he has with Adonis (if they don’t do a singles match between these two eventually then something is wrong). Ángel de Oro and Rey Bucanero didn’t have much to do, and that’s fine considering their limitations. The great sign here was that Terrible was active and my goodness did he look good. I loved his opening match sequences with Idol and I especially loved how ended the match by hitting Idol with a Last Ride that I’m pretty sure knocked Idol’s soul all the way into the depths of hell. The Undertaker is currently practicing Last Ride’s on Kane as we speak just so he can try and reclaim the title of best Last Ride after that beaut Terrible unleashed. An absolutely fun and brutal way to close out a fun match. My only request; GIVE US MORE ADONIS-MÁXIMO CMLL! If you think the heat was great in their limited interactions tonight, imagine how it’ll be if Adonis gets a title shot.
Kráneo, Pierroth, Rush defeated Diamante Azul, Marco Corleone, Titán two falls to none
The most disappointing match at the end of the day, and really it didn’t matter because this bout was always going to be used to set up something for next week. I do wish they could’ve gone a better route than Rush faking a foul to get Diamante DQ’d, but it’s hard to be too mad when a) the rest of this card was so good and b) we’re getting Rush vs. Diamante next week. And yes my hopes are still high for that match; Rush looked great in this match (dare I say better than he did last night against UG?) and Diamante was once more a force, nailing some great power moves and once more performing a pretty damn good suicide dive. I have every reason to believe these two can carry this over to next week and I’m honestly really hyped to see what they can do. As such the match did what it needed to, while also giving us a great Titán dive and, in a night already full of surprises, yet another competent Pierroth performance. It has to be someone else under the mask at this point right? The guy actually attempted a dropkick tonight AND NAILED IT PRETTY GOOD! There’s no way the Pierroth of a month ago could do that. I’m telling you, it’s someone else under that mask; maybe Rey Escorpión is staying around and just doesn’t want anyone to know? I’M ON TO YOU REY!
That’s the show folks. I’m off to pass out so I can wake up early tomorrow and give you guys a non wrestling column in the form of an ALDS preview! Don’t worry; the lucha stuff will return when I review Lucha Underground later in the evening. Till we get to all of that, BATFLIPS!