photo by @apolovaldes/MT

At a press conference today at Arena Mexcio, CMLL announced young Guadalajara tecnico Dragon Lee would now be known as Mistico, the second to use that name. Fray Tormenta, the luchador priest who had been said to raise and teach the original Mistico in his original back story, anointed Dragon Lee with the new name. Tormenta had appeared in Lee’s corner last Friday, and explained he was impressed with Lee’s performance (despite losing) to offer him the new name. Dragon Lee immediately accepted and donned the mask.

The Mistico name had previously been used by WWE’s Sin Cara, and his popularity was the driving force behind the last great boom in CMLL business. Sin Cara made a sudden acrimonious departure from CMLL in early 2011, and CMLL indicated at the time that they would one day give the character to a new luchador.

Angel de Oro, also present at this press conference, was the name most often rumored to take over the role. Sin Cara’s cousin, Magnus, was also rumored to be in the running, and his ‘candidacy’ for the (only hinted at) position was a storyline on last year’s El Luchador reality show. Dragon Lee, who has also rumored been mentioned as possibility, appeared on that show as Magnus’ best friend and superior as luchador. Season 2 of El Luchador is currently being filmed, and this development would continue the storyline of the Magnus/Dragon Lee relationship.

It’s uncertain how the casual fanbase will react to a new Mistico. Both AAA and CMLL have a Psicosis luchador at the moment, and both have had La Parkas at times. In both case, it’s proven surprisingly easy to fool the general public, who see the mask and not the luchador underneath. It may not be as easy to do it with ‘the real Mistico’ on WWE TV. The core audience has reacted strongly against all suggestions of a new Mistico. Those same fans do not particular seem to like Dragon Lee, though not quite as strongly as they dislike his brother Rush. CMLL is desperate to draw from beyond their base group of fans, but there is going to be a strong and vocal push back on this move.

Dragon Lee’s change to Mistico was the tail end of the discussion of the En Busca de un Idolo tournament. CMLL presented the four finalists. Dragon Lee finished third, behind fellow Guadalajara tecnico Titan and rudo Euforia, who meet in the final on Friday. CMLL also the winner would receive an all expense paid trip to Cancun, a one year gym membership, a shot at the CMLL title for their weight class, and elevation to the top matches in CMLL. Dragon Lee, as the new Mistico, will be elevated to the top matches and likely will soon win a title match, and those announced awards make it seem as though the plan for this tournament was for Dragon Lee to win this tournament en route to becoming Mistico. As far back as month ago, when all four finalists and their mentors met in a special trios match, Dragon Lee (and Euforia, to a much lesser extent) was showcased as the star of the quartet. In addition, the shadiest portion of the tournament was when Dragon Lee received a surge of fan votes right before the semifinal round ended, saving him from elimination at the last moment.

CMLL’s plans were fouled up by fans of Titan voting for him many times in the public balloting. It was enough to advance Titan from the semifinals to the final four despite a losing record, and it was enough to get Titan to the final match despite another losing record and his only win coming on a reversed decision. CMLL appears to have realized Titan was going to be in the final and decided a natural final against rudo Euforia would be better than one where Dragon Lee might be exposed. The final round was booked accordingly, though there are a lot of peculiar booking decisions in retrospect (Diamante beating both Dragon Lee just before he was to become Mistico and beating Titan right before he went to the final.) In the end, and despite his evident popularity, Titan appears to be least likely to get anything out of this tournament of the four finalists. Third place Dragon Lee is now Mistico. Fourth place Diamante has a new Santo/Zorro Plateado look. Second place Euforia is the expected favorite to beat Titan and get that beach trip and title shot, though a Titan win still is possible.

Dragon Lee’s next scheduled match is Sunday, in Arena Coliseo, on a match that is scheduled to be streamed live on Dragon Lee could be in the new identity then, though they may hold it off until his next Arena Mexico appearance.

Changing Dragon Lee to Mistico is a desperate move. It is highly unlikely to fix anything, and misunderstands why Mistico was so popular in the first place.  It was never as much about the specific name and mask as CMLL seems to believe. A new Mistico pushed and booked like the original might work, but would require a lucahdor as sensactional and steady as the original. Dragon Lee got this far based on his ability and willingness to do spectacular moves, but has proven to be anything but steady. There were, and are, many people better qualified for the position. It will take outstanding effort by Dragon Lee’s opponents to make this work.

(the rest of the news from the press conference to follow)