the big story: This was a bad month for CMLL and storylines they wanted to get across. It’d take over the summer for everything to be felt, but it started here, so I’ll group it together.
Dr. Wagner vs LA Park: As noted in previous months, this one got started after LA Park beat Black Tiger for his mask, and Black Tiger was shockingly revealed to be Dr. Wagner’s brother. Dr. Wagner wanted revenge, and battled LA Park outside of Arena Mexico. The fans turning on LA Park in Arena Mexico worked to the benefit of the feud; after not getting along as tecnicos, Park turned rudo and they feuded some more. It even continued during the Mexico vs the World Gran Prix on 05/12, where Park caused Dr. Wagner’s elimination from the match (betraying his own country!)
On May 19th, La Park and Dr. Wagner participated in a mostly unnoteworthy main event. LA Park and Dr. Wagner were scheduled to come back in the main event next week in a circulated lineup…
…and then, out of nowhere, CMLL announced LA Park was suspended for 15 days. LA Park had used a chair to beatdown Dr. Wagner during the match, which is atypical for CMLL, but no one had made much of a deal of it at the time. The Arena Mexico card was reshuffled, and the referees for the match were also suspended for letting LA Park use the chair.
LA Park returned after his suspension for a trios match, lost to Dr. Wagner in a singles match the next week, and appeared only twice more till November. Park feuded with Wagner (and also worked tecnico in some locales), but never had the big title match, much less the mask match they were teasing (though probably never planning on delivering.) A feud that had been built for months never peaked, but fizzled out.
What happened here? After the fact gossip said LA Park was scheduled to lose the program to Wagner, probably losing a title match to finish it off. LA Park either wasn’t happy with this or wasn’t happy with how much he was receiving for this. Whatever the reason, he and CMLL had a hard falling out, leading to Park’s official suspension and unofficial banishment.
In 2005, it was Dr. Wagner Jr. vs Atlantis which was teased and never fulfilled. In 2006, it was Dr. Wagner Jr. vs LA Park. Wagner was a loser in all of this, missing on a big show main event he never really got back. CMLL was off one main event.
Rey Bucanero vs Ultimo Guerrero: The breakup of the Best Tag Team In Mexico, four years and running, should’ve been plenty enough to keep CMLL going in place of Wagner/Park. Instead, it was a failure. Of any of the stuff I’ve recounted so far, this is the hardest one for me to go back and look thru. I really wanted this to be awesome, and it’s not fun to relive the disappointment.
In storyline, the Bucanero turn had been foreshadowed back to last fall, when Atlantis joined the Guerreros and immediately usurped Rey as Ultimo Guerrero’s best friend. Rey held a grudge towards Atlantis, and eventually led to them fighting in matches. In real life, it appears Bucanero had been promised a bigger role and probably a turn to accomplish it, to stay with CMLL. Everything was building fine, thru Atlantis and Rey losing a match to Ultimo Dragon and Great Muta because of their infighting.
And then it all fell apart:
Motive: The logical progression, to me, would’ve been building to the moment where Ultimo is forced to choose between his two partners, and chooses Atlantis over Rey. I wouldn’t be saying “the logical progression” if that’s what actually happened. The focus of the turn got switched, from a feud with Atlantis, to a more general and more without a point “I just don’t like being a rudo and other rudos being rudos anymore” bit. Rey just woke up one morning, and decided to stop being a bad guy, we were told.
Orgin: Rey could’ve started his turn with Atlantis, the man he despised on for months. Rey could’ve started his turn with Ultimo Guerrero, angry at his long time partner. Rey could’ve started his turn with Tarzan Boy or Olimpico, allies who could’ve sided with him against Atlantis but choose not to get invovled. Rey could’ve even started his turn on various members of the Guerrero Pandilla b-squad, taking out Ultimo’s students in preparation of fighting the top man himself.
Instead, Rey’s turn started with Averno and Mephisto, two guys he didn’t have any particular association. They’re rudos, he was a rudo, he stopped being a rudo, they got mad – not because they really cared if Rey was a rudo or a teammate, but because he was willfully throwing the match.
Usually, the idea for a guy turning rudo to tecnico is that he’s been wronged, and he’s standing up to the people who cheated him. No one cheated Rey here, and he was wronging people by costing them matches. As various fans noted, and the Guerreros actually picked up on, Rey was not a man looking for revenge for some slight, he was a traitor to all of his fans, selling them out to the tecnicos.
Visbility: That turn on Averno & Mephsito? Happened on an Arena Coliseo show. It aired on Guerreros del Ring, I actually loved the interaction between Rey & Heavy Metal in that match, but it was match in Arena Coliseo (the b-arena) that aired on Guerreros del Ring (the b-show). That’s a great presentation for a midcard storyline. It’s perfect for Stuka Jr. vs Flecha, an opening card bit. It’s not good for Rey turning tecnico, a supposed major deal. Major deals air happen in the big arena on the big TV show.
They did follow up on the turn on the big Galavision show the next week, pretty much repeating the same match from Coliseo. This was good.
That Sunday, they broke up the Guerreros – one of the biggest and long running groups of the decade – on another Arena Coliseo show, in a match that never aired. CMLL would find time to air the Stuka/Flecha match, a mask match between opening match workers who were normally lucky to get on TV once a year. CMLL would fine time to air the complete India Sioux/Medusa feud, a rivalry between two women who neither highly pushed nor really in-ring ready for the exposure they were getting. CMLL could not find time, on it’s Galavision show, on it’s Canal52 show, on it’s website, or anywhere else, to show the breakup they were going to base a couple months of main event angles on.
When they buried the match, that was the sign that this going to be a disappointment. I don’t care if the match was bad or if the crowd didn’t buy into or what, you’ve absolutely got to air the match where the team breaks up if you want people to actually care about the team breaking up. They buried it.
followup: Recall February, when Black Warrior turned on Mistico and was instantly moved to the rudo side. Somehow, the power CMLL had to change all those lineups disappeared when Rey turned tecnico. For one week, this was semi believable, and it got a chance to get over the turn to those who hadn’t seen it (which would be everyone). But one week turned into two, two weeks turned into three, and things were slow to change. Rey Bucanero appeared to spend a month, in arenas small and large, being turned on and beat up by his teammates time and time again, occasionally screwing his own team and helping the tecnicos win.
At this point, the new tecnico star was a traitor who turned in unimportant matches and then got destroyed for a month. At least he was still Rey Bucanero!
attitude: Or not. Rey had been doing the ladies man bit as a rudo, but he turned it up a few dozen notches. He was aiming to appeal to women fans, which appeared to work, but any male fan who was him at that time was a little put off. This may have worked fine in AAA, with a different mix of fans, but it seemed to backfire with the CMLL audience.
Look, a great wrestler can overcome all kinds of handicaps – you can put them in all sorts of stupid positions or give them unfair situations, and they’ll eventually shine thru, because that’s what makes them great. Rey could’ve overcome this to be a bigger star, Rey and Ultimo could’ve seized upon the CMLL Light Heavyweight Title match they had (which Rey won, ending Ultimo’s long reign) and if they were better, could’ve turned into one which would’ve made Bucanero by itself. It certainly was still possible at that point.
And while I’m at it, let’s also be clear and acknowledge that, even at his best, no one believed Rey Bucanero would be a promotion carrying babyface. He’s a good worker, who can have great matches with good and great people, and he’s got charisma, but not enough to make him. His upside is probably a second tier guy, not one who can carry everything all year, but who can step up at times to that level. He’s not going to be Mistico, but no one can be – that’s why he’s Mistico.
Still, the bottom line is they took a great storyline people easily would’ve bought into, and ran it into the ground before it even had the chance to succeed or fail on it’s own. When I’m feeling extra conspiratorial, I wonder if this may have been a case of being careful what you wish for – Bucanero wanted his turn, so they gave him his turn, but didn’t promise to make it good. I think it’s more likely this was simply ill thought out and badly presented. Whatever it was, it was a clear miss. Rey was less over than he started, and they had to restart pushing him in the fall, and it still hasn’t seemed to paid off for CMLL at all.
Great Muta cameo: He came in for a weekend of Dragon shows, he acted like a horror movie villain, and then he left. Those who knew Muta’s history were awed by seeing him live and in Mexico and those who were expecting 1991 Great Muta and got 2006 Great Muta were disappointed and wondering what the hype was all about. By the way, this is how I feel every time a Canek or a Mil Mascaras or a Hulk Hogan comes to a Chicago show.
AAA notes: Cibernetico was officially suspended around the 12th, and talked about the injustice to Galavision ten days later and we got confirmation at the end of the month that it was cover for a knee injury.
Also, Zorro won the Mexican Heavyweight Championship in a bloody cage match from Charly Manson, and La Parka Jr. and Muerte Cibernetico continued towards their mask match.
New Santo Statue: The statue was put up in Tepito district of Mexico City, with a lot of older wrestlers showing up for the dedication. (The best picture is linked to in this post)
Others: Once the Wagner/Park feud fell thru, CMLL started ratcheting back up the Warrior/Mistico feud, with Black Warrior getting an actual big win over Mistico by taking the NWA Middleweight title. Speaking of NWA Titles, Dragon revived the NWA Welterweight Championship, with prospect Hajime Ohara beating La Mascara in a decision match. Ohara would wrestle in in CMLL while holding the belt, but it was functionally a Toryumon Mexico championship…Sangre Azteca participated in NJPW’s Super J tournament, and lost a lot…El Dandy asked for a chance to return to Arena Mexico, and was seemingly ignored…“Are you dying in anticipation of how they spell Jindrak?” How little did I know…