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The Top 50 Luchador(a)s of 2016: 40-31
It’s becoming more and more apparent to me that I need to expand this Top 50 Luchador(a)s list to the Top 100 next year. Earlier tonight while watching another mostly painful CMLL Tuesday Show, I got to see Puma pull out a pretty good technico performance in a Lightning Match against Okumura (unusual for Puma considering he’s a rudo) and then saw Sam Adonis get the most heat in Arena Mexico since…ever? Neither one of those guys made the top 50 for a variety of reasons, but both would’ve been in the top 100 for sure. The lesson as always; there’s an amazing amount of talent in lucha libre right now (even if the promotions are like latter stage John Carpenter) and some are sadly going to be left off the list. At least there’s always next year for the top 100 list! We’ll cross that bridge then though; for now let’s get back to the countdown. Moses, you ready for 40-31?!
40. Australian Suicide
I’m sure some will think Suicide, one of the more underrated talents in lucha right now, should be higher, especially since his feud with Daga was the only non Team Trump success AAA had this year as far as angles go. The problem; not only did Suicide not do much else but the mask vs. hair match he and Daga had was a colossal disappointment. It was like watching Sunshine; the buildup was great, the ending was underwhelming and there may or may not have been a monster involved. At least everything leading up to the match (and winning Copa Triplemania) gets Suicide this far, and if he does get a gig with Lucha Underground in season four then his 2017 could be looking up.
Longest reigning AAA Reina de Reinas Champion? Check. Relevant in AAA despite AAA setting up no title feuds for her? Check. The one true leader of Worldwide Underground? Double check. Honestly the only thing missing from Taya’s 2016 was a marquee match, and you can argue that she even had that in her ultraviolent battle with Cage at the beginning of season two. Beyond that she became one of the most beloved characters in all of lucha libre and may have been the best thing to happen to Johnny Mundo since fur coats. If AAA and Lucha Underground give her more in ring stuff to work with come 2017 she’ll be much higher next year.
38. Marty “The Moth” Martinez/Martin Casaus
When the year began, Marty was a fringe LU star who seemed destined to be a cult comedy act. Now he’s arguably the Joker of the promotion, an intriguing talent in AAA (when they decide to use him) and the guy who helped turn Killshot into a household name by stealing his dog tags and driving him towards one of the craziest matches LU has ever done (the WMD match). The only thing missing for Marty is more marquee matches honestly, something that will come calling as long as he remains in LU and AAA decides to keep using him. It’s a testament to his strong character work that he’s this high on the list now.
If there’s anyone I’m underrating it’s probably Daga. He had two highly acclaimed bouts between his Lucha Underground and AAA stints (an Aztec Medallion match with Texano and a whopper of a singles match with Fenix), provided most of the energy in his great feud with Australian Suicide and came out of 2016 more famous than he did going in. I just can’t rank him higher than this. He just didn’t do enough between his LU and AAA runs nor did he close strong enough in that Suicide feud to justify being higher. I’m telling you, we’re going to look back on that Suicide-Daga mask vs. hair match one day and realize that was a big deal. If that match is a hit, both guys are at least in the top thirty and I’ve saved myself a laundry list of complaints from people on Twitter. I can just hear them getting their angry “DAGA IS THIS LOW?!” messages as we speak. Speaking of those…
36. Soberano Jr.
I should be getting plenty for this selection too, especially from one DoradaFan. I get it; I love Soberano Jr. too and if this was based off talent alone he and his buddy Star Jr. (who I painfully had to leave off this list) would be in the top fifteen hands down. There’s sadly more to it than just talent though and on that front Soberano did very little this year aside from several above average trios performances and the best Lightning Match of 2016 with Hechicero. I need more than that to rank you higher. The good news for Soberano fans is that he seems as though he’ll be moving on up (he’s booked for FantasticaMania next month) and he’s still in his early twenties. He will get to the top eventually folks; he’s just not quite there yet.
35. Ronnie Mendoza
The one guy on the list I didn’t see a whole lot of that still got on because a) he was outstanding in his lone WWE CWC match, b) he was the star of a triple threat match in DTU that also featured Flamita and Negro Casas and c) he’s really, REALLY fucking good. In fact Mendoza was so good that it doesn’t matter that his highest profile lucha libre appearances this year were a handful of bookings with Lucha Libre Elite; he’d be getting on the list regardless. He’s definitely a future star somewhere, and if I had to name one luchador(a) on this list everyone needs to get to know soon, it’s Ronnie. And yes, that’s probably because he’ll wind up in WWE sometime in 2017. And now I’m sad again.
I’ve still yet to see a luchador quite like Aerostar. When he’s on, mother of puss bucket is he full of stars. The problem is he isn’t always on, and that inconsistency (plus inconsistent booking by LU and AAA till the second half of the year) keeps him this low and sadly may keep him from getting higher. It’s a shame because when Aerostar is firing on all cylinders no one can touch the majesty and creativity he brings to the table. All he needs is to do it more consistently (I’d say as of now he’s on 75% of the time and off the other 25%) and get some backing. He’s gotten enough to become one third of the Lucha Underground Trios Champions and one half of the AAA Tag Team Champions (not to mention a mega push for CHIKARA every time he shows up there); can he get enough to get the sustained singles push he’s long deserved?
33. Jack Evans
That’s right; not only did Jack Evans (aka Mil Apodos, the man of a thousand nicknames) make the list and not only did he place higher than Angelico, he placed FOURTEEN SPOTS higher than Angelico. And that’s despite the fact that AAA fired him for speaking his mind (THE HORROR) and the fact that he has largely remained the hilarious third wheel of Lucha Underground’s top faction Worldwide Underground. The lesson as always; injuries suck and Jack Evans always wins one way or the other. In all seriousness, Evans remained one of the more entertaining rudos on the planet and was sensational in tag team and trios action all year; name a great trios or tag bout in LU or AAA and Jack was definitely in it. You’d just like to see more singles action from him, and hopefully with AAA now eating his dust he’ll get that. I would be shocked if Jack didn’t get more to do in 2017, and I anticipate the Crash and LU will use him heavily, provided LU doesn’t boot him. And by the way LU higher ups, if you’re reading this, DON’T BOOT HIM! The people need Jack Evans in the Temple, if for no other reason so Angelico can finally mop the floor with him and show us who the true king of Los Güeros del Cielo is.
When I did my Lucha Tribute for Killshot back in January, I told everyone to not be surprised if he ended up becoming a main event player. He may not be in the main event just yet but he definitely came into his own in the Temple during season two, thanks to a dynamite feud with Marty “The Moth”, an in progress dynamite feud with Dante Fox and a character overhaul that turned him from a dude with a cool mask into a tortured soldier who “fights to forget.” Oh, and the spot of the year when he drove Marty through a table via double stomp when they were both standing on top of a ladder. Not since Puff Daddy became P. Diddy has a transformation done so much.
This is a last minute switch we have going on here. I originally had Atlantis higher, but upon thinking back on his year I realized I was ranking more based on his legacy than the actual year he had. Make no mistake; Atlantis is still a high caliber performer who frequently performs just as well as luchadors twice his age. On the CMLL roster, only Negro Casas is there with him in getting better than age. Unlike Negro however, Atlantis had nothing to do in 2016 other than perform in trios matches. He may have been good to great in many of those, but that’s not enough justification to rank him inside the top thirty when you really think about it. Thus 2016 must be chalked up as an off year for the greatest mask vs. mask wrestler alive today. The solution; another mask vs. mask or mask vs. hair match for him in 2017! Come on CMLL; you know you don’t have anything else in the bag as exciting as Atlantis risking the mask again. Give it to the people.
That’s game sports fans. I’ll be back tomorrow for luchador(a)s 30-21 as we inch closer to the top. Till then, MOAR SCULLY!