LuchaPalooza! Why We Need El Hijo del Santo vs. Atlantis, Mask vs. Mask
Dear lucha libre promoters, writers, fans, critics, whoever,
First off, HELLO AGAIN! I know; you’ve got to be sick of me by now. Every single day you see at least one or two columns from me with a bunch of silly jokes, that RAMMING SPEED meme and a whole lot of lucha libre. Well bare with me because you’re about to get one more; alright a whole lot ore but for today it’s just one. As you can clearly tell I’m just absolutely nuts about lucha libre. It’s the bee’s knees, a cold Pepsi on a hot day, a can of Pizza Pringles in your cupboard, the best thing since Donkey Kong Country and Chuck if you will. I used to believe that all wrestling, when done right, was absolutely and positively untouchable in what it could reach. I was wrong; lucha libre can go even higher. And this is why I’m writing to you now, because I’ve figured out at least one way lucha libre can be taken higher than a place with golden streams. It just so happens to involve two distinct dudes; a cool dude by the name of El Hijo del Santo and an even cooler dude in Atlantis.
Now before you pull out your CM Punk, “oh look, this shit again” gif…alright post it anyway but here me out! If you read me you know that I’ve talked about El Hijo del Santo and Atlantis squaring off before and the possibility of them squaring off again. And truthfully after I listed the two of them going at in a mask vs. mask match as the number one lucha dream match I’d like to see I expected that to be that. Sure it was something I wanted to see and thought could do well, but surely I was the only one right? Wrong! As it turns out a few people (two in particular who I have the highest amount of respect for when it comes to lucha) agreed with my assessment that the match would be a huge event in lucha libre. And since then I cannot get the idea out of my head. It haunts me, the same way Morgan Freeman haunted that old witch in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It’s killing me because I know it’s a match that, for a number of reasons will never happen. And that’s a big problem, because it absolutely needs to happen.
You may be asking why. Why does a match between two 50 years old need to happen when we have so much wonderful young talent occupying lucha libre today. It’s a fair point, but it’s also a bit piece in a narrative of just how important this match would be. Let’s look at these two men here, El Hijo del Santo and Atlantis. The former, who Eddie Guerrero once referred to as “spicy”, is definitely not the easiest dude in the world to get along with and he’d probably even admit that (or maybe not). But he’s also still an incredible performer despite his age and recent injury history, and even if he wasn’t it wouldn’t matter because he, and the mask he wears, are an institution in Mexico. The mythical essence of El Santo and El Hijo del Santo is beyond anything that I can ever imagine, and thus it’s always, and I mean ALWAYS, an event when someone with that name puts the famous silver mask on the line. And then there’s Atlantis. I know many people will say that Mil Mascaras or Blue Demon/Blue Demon Jr. wear the second most famous mask in lucha libre behind the Santos. For me it’s Atlantis. Perhaps it’s the new school in me, or perhaps it’s because in my many years of watching all kinds of wrestling the only wrestler I’ve seen that’s on the same level of Atlantis is CM Punk. He is as supreme a story teller as you will ever find and his ability to bring out a myriad of emotions in the biggest of spots is something I don’t think anyone else has. That tends to happen when you have three of the biggest and greatest mask vs. mask matches in history, including two in the last two years alone.
So what do you think happens when you put that kind of talent, two men who are considered to be heroes in across the country, in a match where one of them is going to lose their mask? In the words of James Earl Jones, people will come. And I’m not just talking a crowd big enough to fill up Arena Mexico, Arena Ciudad de Mexico, Arena Naucalpan or any other freakin arena in Mexico you can think. I’m talking a crowd big enough to fill up a stadium. Better yet maybe two stadiums. In the age of wrestling where Wrestlemania tries to put 100,000 people in the building, El Hijo del Santo vs. Atlantis with the masks hanging in the balance could do just that. Hardcore lucha libre fans will come. Casual lucha libre fans would come. Lapsed lucha libre fans would come. American wrestling fans and journalists like Dave Meltzer would be there just to say they were one of the 100,000 plus to witness history. For the love of Cthulhu, even non lucha libre fans in Mexico would be there because it would be an event unlike anything in the history of what many feel is their second biggest sport behind futbol. Santo and Atlantis could retire off the match; the promoters could retire off that match, and best of all it would be a great payday for everyone else on the card.
Oh yes, I almost forgot about those guys. The young luchadors we all love, the ones we want to see get to a level that Atlantis and Santo are at? Well getting on a card with a main event that draws all those eyeballs will definitely help. We like to think that having guys like Dragón Lee, Mistico, Pentagon Jr., Fenix, Flamita, Jack and Angelico, El Hijo del Fantasma and others headlining top shows is enough to make them household names. But what’s a bigger deal; main eventing a show in front of 11,000 people after a lukewarm build up (ala Triplemania) or being part of a show with as many people as Santo-Atlantis would draw? It doesn’t matter where you place the young guys; upper card, mid card, openers, and the fans will walk away with a better sense of who the next generation is. Better yet these guys are also getting paid great money to because, again, this isn’t just your every day lucha libre show in the heart of Mexico City. I feel like I’m being almost belittling here of the guys, gals and promotions I really enjoy but that’s not my intent. I want to see these guys get bigger paychecks and bigger exposure, and while Lucha Underground may help here for some and more people are watching CMLL streams than ever, it’s only making an impact in the States. It isn’t in Mexico.
And that’s truthfully the biggest thing on my mind here. What exactly has happened in lucha libre down in Mexico that’s been a true event that everyone needed to see? L.A. Park and Rush tearing Arena Mexico down? Octagón nuking his legacy by interrupting autograph sessions with armed bodyguards? The Triplemania XXIII fiasco? There have good, even great shows from both AAA and CMLL these last several years but the only one that truly felt like a can’t miss was CMLL’s 81st Anniversary Show, a show that was headlined by, wait for it, some guy named Atlantis. Beyond that it’s largely the same; there is a sameness, a stagnancy, a feeling of standing still. Triplemania may have been a fine (if flawed) show, the IWRG show will be fine and tomorrow (or today, depending on when you’re reading) the 83rd Anniversary Show will likely deliver something along the same lines. But nothing will change afterwards and both promotions will go back to the same old same old while Lucha Underground continues to do a better job at revolutionizing lucha libre than they do. I love Lucha Underground and I love the big dreams it looks to accomplish. But it’s not enough for just them to do it. Lucha libre in Mexico needs to start dreaming big again; it needs brave and bold people like Salvatore Lutteroth when he dared to build Arena Mexico or Antonio Peña when he dreamed of filling Estadio Azteca with over 130,000 people for Triplemania III. It needs someone to come along and realize that things can and should be better, and El Hijo del Santo vs. Atlantis, mask vs. mask is one of those ways.
I’m not saying it’s the only way. And as much as it pains me to say it it’ll probably be a route that’s never explored. The naïve aspect of me would like to believe that a match of this magnitude with all that money around couldn’t be ignored, but there are simply too many politics, grudges and stubbornness between many of the top lucha promotions and the performers (particularly Santo) to make this match possible. But even with that knowledge I can’t help it. I want this match to happen; I NEED this match to happen. I need it because it would be the most ambitious idea in the history of lucha libre. I need it because it would sell out Estadio Azteca as Antonio Peña always dreamed and be good money and exposure for the promotion, the luchador(a)s and everyone involved down to the lowest level vender. I need it because it would be two of the greatest luchadors I’ve ever seen going at it for only the second time in their entire careers. But you know the biggest reason I selfishly need it? Because I know that if this were to happen, there would be some point in the third fall where I, the 100,000 plus in the stadium and many more watching at home would realize that one of these legends is about to be significantly altered forever, be it the greatest mask vs. mask wrestler ever or the man who wears the most important mask in wrestling history. Either result is like this match; it’s something you could never fathom, something you’d never foresee in your wildest dreams. It would be a moment no one would ever forget. And in a day and age where we don’t have nearly enough of those in lucha libre or wrestling in general, that is why I need this match. That is why you need this match.
So fans, promoters, luchador(a)s, whoever out there that’s reading this; let’s find a way. Let’s entertain the crazy. Let’s make it happen. Or if not, let’s forget I went mad with the thought of this match and move onto the IWRG preview tomorrow!