I’ve had these disc since – October, maybe? And I’m just now getting thru the first, of ten. And these aren’t even the matches I meant to review this week. Everything is going great!
I made larger gifs as an experiment. They turned out large, what an experiment.
The backstory here is the good people at DVDVR put together decade DVD sets off various genres of wrestling so everyone (who pays the cost of DVDs and shipping) can check them out. This is set is the best of lucha libre in the 1980s – or the best anyone could find, because lucha libre in the 80s is hard to come by. (For instance, El Toreo was rarely taped outside of when Japanese wrestlers would visit, so there’s very little footage available.) You can find more info about this set here. This is paid content, so I’m not putting the matches online, but some of these are on YouTube already. Hopefully GIFs are OK because I was too dumb to ask before writing this post. No, I will not send you the footage, go buy it.
This is the first time I’ve ever tried to participate in one of these, and I literally have no idea what I’m doing. Seriously, I think I’m supposed to be ranking these, but I’m not 100% sure. There are 10 matches on this DVD, so I’ll split up in half.
Satoru Sayama y Gran Hamada vs. Perro Aguayo y Baby Face (4/13/80) – First thought: Man, el Toreo is a pretty incredible looking venue when it’s full. Second thought: how do I even pretend I have the context to evaluate these matches? Third thought: if they’re all going to be like this then I really don’t care if my evaluations are awful, I get to watch some really good matches. I feel there is stuff here that’s going to impress me that’s old news to people who go thru these sets and older footage a lot more than I do – Sayama’s speed is incredible but you probably knew that. I think it was in the second fall where he fought off both rudos and they both were just taking super bumps for whatever he did. Babe Face is really good here and seeing a non-1000-year-old Perro Aguayo is a trip. He made the DQ work by being so set on killing Hamada after the fact, forcing the referees to ply him off and then going right back at Hamada again and again. This was so different than modern lucha – there’s not today’s match structure, but just a few minutes of the tecnicos controlling and then suddenly the rudo would be in control – but a lot of it would fit in today and the fluidity surpasses most anything in 2014. (I hope this isn’t 8 discs of me comparing 80s lucha to today, that’d be boring.)
Andre el Gigante & Cien Caras vs. Alfonso Dantes, Herodes y Sangre Chicana (1981): Gum Chewing Sangre Chicana convincing himself he wasn’t scare of no Gigantes, then being very sad when finding himself sadly alone was so great. I want to see all the old Sangre Chicana based off the start to this match. The rudos had no game plan here. I’ve seen parts of Canek/Andre, and Andre looks like a movie special effect monster in that one. Here, he’s a 10 foot tall alien, how do you fight a 10 foot tall alien? (You make him accidentally tag in Cien Caras. Cien Caras looked amazingly mobile for Cien Caras but he really wasn’t helping the cause here.) The rudos never came off as clowns, they were just tough guys totally out of their league. Also neat seeing Diablo Velasco as a referee and not a mythical luchador maestro.
Centurion Negro vs. Gran Hamada (2/14/82) – This match grew on me in the last couple falls. The first fall mat work wasn’t interesting enough but it felt more heated as they got on with it. There’s stuff on the luchawiki I know must be wrong but have no idea what the correct answer is; Gran Hamada’s height (5′ 6″) is definitely one of those things. Someone might dumbly put him in a minis division today. I think the green trunks and the no knee pads which make him look shorter; he looked taller when he popped up in AAA with his daughters many years ago. His best move of the match, to me, wasn’t even a move but his quick recovery from slipping on the wet Toreo floor to catch Centruion Negro’s dive in time. Centurion’s eating gravel if he did that with a lesser guy. Gran Hamada is pretty sharp with the actual wrestling too. Centurion Negro wasn’t bad, but I think Hamada made him look more exceptional than he might have been. I hope the special referee’s importance meant a lot to the crowd, because he was not really great at the functional part of the job. Me and the crowd weren’t quite sure if this was over for about a minute. Blackman’s Centurion Negro ring jacket was sweet.
El Canek vs. Don Corleone (2/14/82) – This match had Canek give Corleone a piledriver, then Don got up and was beating Canek up in a minute, so it could also fit in today. Kinda more interested in Thesz/Canek than Corleone, but maybe the other Canek matches will have more. This felt like Canek versus rival strong man of the month match, and I got that Canek was able to carry a generic strong man to a good match. Not a lot more than that. Still feel like Marco should claim Don is his dad or uncle or something to get in Copa Junior next time they do it with top guys. It would make as much sense as Dragon Rojo.
Ring Fujinami vs. El Canek (6/12/83) – much more intensity in the battle for holds, much more of a consistent battle the way thru, more interesting than the last Canek title match. Fujinami seemed like the better man, but it was easily the best Canek match I’ve seen, but I wish I saw more of them from this era. He was a more varied luchador than I was expecting. That match ended just when it was getting good and the slight post match brawl was good. Fun to the see the figure four roll out of the ring spot way back here.