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OTY: Guerrero Del Infernal 5
Top 2002 matches of the top CMLL trio

Lots of people do awards columns, explaining why they thing so and so was the best, or why that one match sucked big time. I'm kinda different. While I might do an actual awards column (ie: cutting and pasting my ballot for you to read!) in a few weeks, I prefer to take a look at some of the trends that have made this year, explaining why things may (should?) turn out ways when those votes are all tallied up. And this being me, instead of looking at something that many people could relate to ("Kurt Angle: Very Good!"), I've decided to focus on the best exploits of a lucha trio. My goal is always aimed at only 15 people getting the message, you know.

While there are many fine workers in CMLL, the guys who were typically expected to carry the main event rudo workload were Los Guerreros Del Infernals (commonly referred to as GdI.) Ultimo Guerrero, Rey Buccanero and Tarzan Boy not only held up their side of the bargain, but they excelled. When you were looking for a really good match, they were the people you called upon, all year long. Ultimo and Rey's performances made the CMLL Tag Team Championship the most credible belt in the promotion, and Tarzan Boy was a heat magnet when called upon.

These three had many good matches throughout the year, but five of them ranked in the best of all of the CMLL TV show (as aired in the US) in this voting year. Here's a quick spotlight of the five I selected as their highpoints, why some might consider them the best matches, and what flaws others may find. (Quick note: These are necessarily the five best OVERALL matches, just the five best featuring someone from GdI.) 

Ultimo Guerrero and Rey Bucanero (c) vs El Hijo Del Santo and Negro Casas- 11/02/01

Setup: CMLL Tag Team Championship match. Santo and Casas had been tag team champions, but vacated the belts /00 for reasons unclear to me (though I presume "unable to defend.") Rey and Ultimo win a resulting tag team tournament and defeat all challengers. The two teams meet a month before for a title match, but controversy occurs when Satanico (Ultimo/Rey rival) runs in wearing the mask of Mascara Magica (Ultimo/Rey
partner), under the premise of helping "his team" win, but in reality drawing a DQ to cost them titles. The belts are held up (though Ultimo/Rey are still considered the champion) until this rematch.

What made it good: Great mat wrestling to start the first fall, finishing with the champions beating the more experiences challengers with their own moves. Hot finish to fall two, and many believable near fall teases. Santo puts on a great performance, Ulitmo and Rey are showcased as a team, and Negro Casas gives an effort. Despite losing the titles, the match does a great bit of elevated Ultimo and Rey to Santo and Casas' level, legitimizing them as top card rudos.

Why it could be considered the best: Good falls, very good action throughout. Lots of drama building to the final fall.

What detracts from it: Trying Negro Casas is still less fun (or varied) than many other wrestlers. Though the tope is a big move, winning a title via CO isn't something universally accepted. Second fall was on the short side. Ultimo and Rey didn't win.

Tarzan Boy (c) vs Shocker - 02/08/02

Setup: While building to hair/hair matches (Tarzan vs Super Porky, Shocker vs Emilio Charles Jr.), Shocker ends up on the side of good, and ticks of Tarzan Boy and his partners for opposing them. GdI decide to make an example of him with low blows and post-match beatdowns. Shocker isn't one to be made an example of, though, and fights back. Tarzan and Shocker agree to a variation of a title vs title match - this week, Tarzan Boy puts his NWA Light Heavyweight title on the line, and the next week, Shocker would defend his CMLL Light Heavyweight Title.

What made it good: Good near falls in the last falls. Both wrestlers drawing the crowd in with their charisma and also putting on a nice exhibition. Good story telling, working off the low blow stories of previous weeks, but still having a clean finish. 

Why it could be considered the best: Shocker was the number #1 in-house tecnico of the year, and this was his biggest singles win it the biggest arena.

What detracts from it: The abbreviated opening falls; they were just a prelude, and as good as the last fall gets, it's hard to consider an 8 minute match the best. Shocker had a better singles match. The title itself doesn't mean much.

Ultimo Guerrero and Rey Bucanero vs El Hijo Del Santo and Negro Casas (c) - 05/31/02

Setup: After a couple of Santo/Casas title defenses, Ultimo/Rey get their rematch at the CMLL Tag Team Titles.

What made it good: Exciting final fall, with Negro and Santo sticking with the moves that got them the win last time while Ultimo and Rey dig every single high end move out of their bag to try to win the titles, finally coming up with a simultaneous impressive off the top rope moves (inverted suplex/pedigree) to win convincingly.

Why it could be considered the best: Ultimo and Rey - the #1 tag team of the year - get their win and their belts, cleanly. Negro Casas nearly breaks his neck on the finish.

What detracts from it: Well, wishing paralysis on others isn't nice. Shorter version of the 11/02/01 match that losses in comparisons, except for the differing result. Similar "rushed first two falls" issue as the Shocker/Tarzan Boy match. Casas didn't really bring up the neck thing again, but then we didn't see him for two weeks.

Ultimo Guerrero and Rey Bucanero (c) vs Halloween and Damien - 06/28/02

Setup: Halloween and Damien came back to Mexico City making challenges for all the team belts, and an Atomics match against the 2/3rds of the CMLL Trios Champions (Atlantis, Black Warrior), the Silver Mask Tournament winner (Felino) and Lizmark Jr. would go along way to getting title shots. Ultimo and Rey were wary of Halloween and Damien, but were confident they were good enough to win without the help. In the 07/05/02 match, the rudo team fractured, causing the loss, and the Tijuana duo left the champions laid out. Ultimo and Rey put their CMLL tag team title belts on the line to prove they were the best tag team in all off Mexico.

What made it good: Maybe a defining match for Halloween - it made me take him a lot more seriously, at least. Rey gets his foot stuck in the chair and they can't ever get it out. Very strong last fall, except for the final ending. 

Why it could be considered the best: Intense back and forth. Both teams come out looking great, with Halloween and Damien coming out looking a lot better than "Nicho's lackeys." The match where you're supposed to root for Ultimo and Rey

What detracts from it: Quickly set up - no long issue before or after. Ultimo and Rey become tecnicos by default. The final finish was a simple interference trip and small package, not at the level at the rest of the match. Quick second fall.

Ultimo Guerrero and Rey Bucanero (c) vs Vampiro and Shocker -09/13/02

Setup: Shocker still wasn't getting along with GdI, teaming up with ex-member Mascara Magica frequently. Vampiro came back to Mexico and found himself aligned with Shocker and Magica. The rivalry picked up after Ultimo Dragon returned to say hi to the CMLL fans (and friend Vampiro), but got punked out by GdI. Vampiro and Shocker teamed up to go after the tag team belts (while somehow Negro Casas ended up in Magica's space, going after Tarzan Boy.) The two sides met on the CMLL 69th Anniversary show

What made it good: Lots of big moves, and near falls. Vampiro doesn't look like a monster anymore, but wrestles like one. Gives you a sympathy headache just by watching Rey land on his head like he does. Shocker and Ultimo are their typical excellent selves.

Why it could be considered the best: It's the best match (we saw) from the Anniversary show. The top pushed single (w/the top pushed visitor not named Santo) vs the top tag team. Very good for what we saw.

What detracts from it: Clipped, quite a bit - no fall makes it past 4:01 as a result. Vampiro and Shocker weren't an established team, and wrestled more as two singles guys than a team. Last finish was an example of Ultimo and Rey being a better team, but didn't help drama wise.  

Notice the oddity? For being the best trio, I couldn't find a way to squeeze a trios match on the list. They did have some good matches as a group, but never really got to go all out. They had one CMLL trios title shot (03/22/02), but it was clipped down to 4:13 on TV. There were assorted non-title trios matches (the best of which was a battle against Casas/Santo/Niebla to set up the return tag team title match), but because those matches typically served to set up the next week's show, the finishes were marred by DQs and screwy endings, taking them down a peg. The failure to have a great trios match was more a quirk of how they were used (Ultimo and Rey heavily as a tag team) more than anything.

If you asked me right now "how would you rank those five matches", I'd go something like this

  1. Ultimo Guerrero and Rey Bucanero (c) vs El Hijo Del Santo and Negro Casas - 11/02/01
  2. Ultimo Guerrero and Rey Bucanero (c) vs Halloween and Damien - 06/28/02
  3. Ultimo Guerrero and Rey Bucanero (c) vs Vampiro and Shocker - 09/13/02
  4. Tarzan Boy (c) vs Shocker - 02/08/02
  5. Ultimo Guerrero and Rey Bucanero vs El Hijo Del Santo and Negro Casas (c) - 05/31/02

I'm biased towards match #1, because that was the first really great match I saw, and it was the one that probably hooked me into doing this. I could see people who've watched longer liking one of the other matches more. Those who are big fans of Ultimo and Rey might pick their title change first, and I've got it last. Good thing I wrote this!

Next: The guy with the bad rep who among (some) lucha fans who doesn't deserve it, and the guy with the good rep among (some) US fans who doesn't deserve it! (Or: My choice for "most deteriorated wrestler" revealed.")

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