This Friday (March 17) is not only St. Patrick’s Day but also CMLL’s annual Homenaje a Dos Leyendas.
It’s the second biggest show of CMLL’s year and one of two times CMLL usually delivers a mask or hair match from one of its bigger feuds. Unfortunately, what CMLL considers a big feud this time around is something most people would consider terrible. The significant of the show and of masks being on the line will help a bit, but it’s a disappointing and frustrating main event for the occasion.
Homenaje a Dos Leyendas starts at 8:30 pm local (10:30pm ET due to daylight saving time weirdness), but is not airing anywhere live. It’s apparently as a tactic to protect the turnout, like with the Anniversario show. CMLL has said they’ll instead put their second biggest show of the year up as a VOD after it finishes. It’s not clear how soon after it airs, or how much it’ll cost. It may not even cost anything, CMLL hasn’t mentioned a price and isn’t even specifically advertising it as a paid event. None of this makes any sense in 2017, and you’ll likely be able to find someone broadcasting the show from the third row on Periscope or Facebook Live anyway.
No hay marcha atrás. Homenaje a Dos Leyendas: Don Salvador Lutteroth y Villano III.
Máscara vs Máscara
Diamante Azul vs Pierroth
— CMLL Lucha Libre (@CMLL_OFICIAL) February 24, 2017
This year’s show is meant to honor Villano III, whose mask match on this show seventeen years ago was one of the best matches in the history of the promotion. The historic nature of that match also helped solidify this show as the second major show of the year on CMLL’s calendar. They’d run the event a few years prior, but running a mask match between two obvious hall of famers raised the standard to make it a well-known tradition. This year’s show is really reliant on that tradition; this card would be a much less significant deal if they ran it on any date.
Estrellita, Marcela, Princesa Sugehit vs Amapola, Tiffany, Zeuxis
CMLL has included the women more often on Friday night shows over the last nine months, but seemingly also done less with them. The end result is a lot of OK but unfocused trios matches, though this one might be a little better due to the occasion.
Princesa Sugehit won the Mexican Women’s Championship—the secondary championship in the division—from Zeuxis back in February. Zeuxis is the CMLL luchadora of the moment, but has no route to the main title as long as her partner Dalys holds that belt, so there doesn’t seem to be much point in taking the other title off her. CMLL could be using the title change this match to build to a Zeuxis/Sugeith mask match later this year. It’s also possible Zeuxis is finishing up in Mexico. (Both things could even be true.) Zeuxis’ had a NXT tryout, it’s believed WWE has a new group of people coming in soon, and she’s got the most value to WWE of anyone they could take from CMLL. They have people like Volador & Dragon Lee, Rush might translate, they don’t have a latina who’ll the occasional tornillo moonsault. CMLL’s women matches would be hurt without Zeuxis in them, so we’re stuck kind of holding our breath thru the next set of NXT to see if she’s hanging around, but she’s reached a level where people are going to continue to expect Zeuxis to head north until she actually does. Might as well see her in Arena Mexico while you can.
Dragón Lee, Stuka Jr., Titán vs Euforia, Gran Guerrero, Niebla Roja
Dragon Lee has had match of the year caliber matches in NJPW and ROH but is just kind of hanging around in trios matches in his home promotion. It doesn’t quite seem fair, even before realizing he’s gone from main eventing the Anniversario show to being in a throwaway trios match six months later, but so it goes in CMLL.
Lee is feuding with Niebla Roja on other CMLL shows, but CMLL logic means the blow off singles match is happening on two days later on a show which will not be recorded in any way except maybe a five second clip for Twitter. Can you imagine having a big match and not trying to record and sell it with KUSHIDA? With Will Ospreay? This is the second time CMLL’s done it with this feud. CMLL hasn’t truly figured out what they have with Dragon Lee, and definitely don’t grasp the landscape of the rest of the world. At least it’ll give this match a feud to build around, and the talent involved will mean it’s one of the best matches of the night.
Atlantis, Carístico, Marco Corleone vs Kráneo, La Máscara, Rush
To round out the undercard, it’s the usual Atlantis trios match to get bigger names who’ve got bigger names on the card. The underrated Kraneo is an odd but welcome inclusion for this sort of match. (CMLL books so far in advance that he mightily simply be taking up a spot intended for Shocker, who’s been out since early February with a broken jaw suffered wrestling Diamante Azul)
Caristico being included is noteworthy. He’s still theoretically part of the Elite promotion, which hasn’t run a show in four months but keeps promising to be back any moment now. It sounds like the usual last words of a dying promotion, but CMLL believes there’s enough to it to start again banning their own wrestlers from being in the same match as Elite wrestlers. That rule’s been enforced in small shows in Sinaloa, but will be ignored on one of the biggest shows of the year. The rules generally haven’t applied to Caristico in a long time, and he’s managed to get himself into a position where he’s safe whatever happens to Elite.
Matt Taven vs Último Guerrero © for the NWA World Middleweight Championship
Matt Taven did well in CMLL in September. Maybe you could say even really well, since he had a high degrees of difficulty. Those were his first matches back from blowing out his knee and he was working with totally unfamiliar people. Taven seemed to like the experience, and definitely earned himself a return trip with effort. He probably deserves better than what he’s getting here, a match that was simply announced quickly at a press conference and has had no other build up; Taven’s doesn’t come back to Mexico until he has this match, which does it no favors.
Still, Taven’s probably the pick because he’s the only ROH person CMLL knows at this point. The only other person brought in from ROH since the partnership began was Raymond Rowe, and that seems to have been just a favor to an indie promotion using him the next day. The cloistered and indifferent CMLL environment means these sort of alliances are rendered largely useless. There’s going to be attempts to fix this issue over WrestleMania weekend, but the current void of information favors the one guy CMLL does know. Taven could earn more trips back to Arena Mexico with another good performance against Ultimo Guerrero.
Everyone has good performances with Ultimo Guerrero (though mostly the same exact good performance), and even a loss here might be the setup for another return down the line. A title change isn’t even out of the question. UG has the belt because someone had to have it when Sombra was leaving, because he’s on one of his patented epic title reigns. Still, CMLL could easily part with one of its two dozen titles without being affected and it’d be a good way to give some meaning to this relationship from the Mexico side.
Mistico, Valiente, Volador Jr. © vs
Ephesto Hechicero, Luciferno, Mephisto for the CMLL World Trios Championship
A Sky Team trios title match is another CMLL big show trope.
They had a great match with the Guerreros back in September. They’ve now been champions for two years, but had not faced the Hijos del Infierno. The rudos have been national trios champions for most of that time and CMLL tends to avoid champion versus champion matches. It was scheduled to finally happen, with the talk about the match mostly being about the Hijos declaring they were so certain they’d win the world titles that they were willing to give up the national titles ahead of time. This seemed like a really bad plan, especially for challengers which were obviously the underdogs.
It’s out the window now. Ephesto’ out of the match, needing surgery on Wednesday for an undisclosed issue. Hechicero comes in as the last second replacement, going for being left off one of the bigger shows of the year to being in the semimain. Hechicero’s been something like the alternate fourth member for the trio, and was a strong candidate to get the spot in the group that went to Lucifierno instead. Hechicero is much better than Ephesto in the ring, and just lacks the experience of consistently working against these tecnicos that Mephisto posses. You never want to see someone hurt, but this title match got a lot better.
Prior to change, I said this didn’t look as strong as the usual Sky Team/Guerreros match, and the guys in the second match might have the better match. With Hechicero involved, this could be something pretty special, and it’s a great chance for him to showcase himself out of maestro situations. The chance of a title chance was never great and is just about nil with the mismatched challengers, but a Sky Team match is about the tecnicos doing crazy moves and Hechicero’s going to help a lot more with that than Ephesto. The Hijos del Infierno themselves need some new blood, and perhaps Hechicero showing up here can be the start the wheels turning in that direction.
Pierroth vs Diamante Azul, mask vs mask
A classic case of a wrestling promotion trying to tell fans what they should be interested instead of selling them something they’d want to see. This match has no real great story, Azul started feuding with the entire Ingobernables a few months ago and ended up in a mask fight with the least interesting member. It’s probably going to be a poor match, not be the standards of a big CMLL show and probably not based on the standards of any show. And I’m still not sure that’s the worst part.
It’s not that hard to figure out the CMLL logic on this one. CMLL’s always been more a bigger fan of Diamante Azul than the actual fans, giving him tag title runs and a top spot despite a lot of crowd support.
Mexican bookers go crazy for being a ‘real’ wrestler as much as they do elsewhere. Announcers have alluded to Azul’s amateur wrestling background before turning professional. The only traces of it in Azul’s work is in his German suplex finish, but the background combined with his size and strength may cause CMLL to imagine having a new Dos Caras (Sr.) or a Alberto el Patron in their troupe. Giving him the Diamante Azul character – an obvious attempt to mimic Blue Demon (Demonio Azul in Spanish) – was an attempt to make him more mythic. This night is about making giving him a win on a legendary stage.
Diamante Azul’s just never gotten good enough at anything to be worth all this effort. He’s been in CMLL for ten years, but stalled out as a worker soon after taking on this character five years ago. (Azul’s best recent work was a short term rudo in Elite last year, but CMLL’s took no note of it and it was dropped in the split between the promotions.) Azul has a few really flashy moves – his suplexes look dangerous, his dive off the apron is impressive – but isn’t good at the parts in between, doesn’t have much of a personality, and needs someone better to carry the action.
— CMLL Lucha Libre (@CMLL_OFICIAL) March 17, 2017
This Pierroth is not that someone. The original Pierroth might have not been exactly someone; most of the footage we have of him is the latter half of this career, where his great talking covered up for some bad wrestlers. He might have still been one of the better talkers in CMLL if not for a stroke he suffered in 2008. CMLL’s made a habit of bringing back old names and whole characters from the past to paste onto new luchadors, hoping some residual memories of the original will help the new guy get over. It predictably backfired with Pierroth: the Pierroth character was too well remembered and too associated to the original luchador for a new one to be accepted.
Reality doesn’t stop CMLL, and they’ve tried hard to find a way to make New Pierroth work. The gimmick has been retooled twice already, two more times than CMLL tries for most people. Pierroth’s now a mismatch of failed concepts: Sombra’s latest replacement in Los Ingobernables, the acknowledged father of Rush, but still accompanied by the minis who were part of his Puerto Rician army. It’s a lot of bells and whistles for a guys who’s never mean all that much, even in his past identities.
Pierroth’s been a lackluster luchador a long time. His previous biggest run was in the early 2000s, where he was first a member of the original Pierroth’s army (Poder Boricua), and then a patrotic Mexican when Pierroth booted him out (Poder Mexica). You may remember that feud as “the angle with lots of bad matches during the run of all the good Santo/Casas/Ultimo Guerrero/Rey Bucanero/Shocker matches”. The wrestlers involved were not good, the matches were bad, and they stuck out even more because of the hot wrestling on the rest of the shows. You could build a good story off the new Pierroth’s history with the original, but CMLL tied themselves into a knot and can’t acknowledge it. This Pierroth lost his mask as Poder Mexica in that feud years ago, and CMLL would have to acknowledge remasking a person who lost their mask (not uncommon) and putting him in a position to lose the new mask (extremely rare.) CMLL defenders will point to actual Mexican regulations which permit this, but the promotion knows this is shady, and are trying to avoid a light on it.
(CMLL’s also pressured the lucha libre media not to go along with their story and not mention this is a man losing his match twice in Arena Mexico, but all the CMLL dedicated fans still know the score. It’s led to a couple weird months of social media, where fans in comments can’t stop talking about the thing people who are producing content won’t talk about.)
Poder Mexica was known for his muscles, not for his agility or ring awareness. The upside to not having a lot of athleticism is you’re not lost when it’s gone fifteen years later. There’s not much else he ever had to offer though. He’s still not much of a talker, only doing pale imitations of his predecessor’s promos. Pierroth works a brawling style, but his kicks and punches look miserable.
It’s hard to understand why Pierroth is employed as a luchador at all, given the thousands of better people who could be in his same spot. The simply answer is he’s there as a favor to his sons (Mistico, Rush, Dragon Lee), now three of the biggest stars in the company. It feels like a University giving a job to a recruit’s father to keep them happy (and from transferring to the program in Orlando) – only a college athletic program would stash the father in an “assistant to the assistant strength and conditional coordinator” redundant job, and CMLL’s made him the offense coordinator instead. Modern CMLL (and lucha libre) is a nepotistic organization, and this is still off the charts.
There are some less scandalous theories why CMLL might be running this match. The biggest shows of the year are consistently Los Ingobernables apuesta matches right now. Sombra lost his mask on his way out of town in September 2015, Rush took Maximo’s hair in March 2016, and La Mascara lost his mask to Dragon Lee last September. The group is over, even if Pierroth sticks out like a sore thumb. CMLL prefers to match up heavyweights against heavyweights, but has the same problem with Diamante Azul that AAA had last year with Psycho Clown, there’s not that many useful heavyweights available. (Euforia would be a much more interesting opponent, but would’ve required more forethought into the build.)
Pierroth & Diamante Azul might be able to make it work. The current CMLL main event standard, built around big moves and the dramatic kickouts of finishers, isn’t the right fit for these guys, but there’s other ways to go. Diamante Azul has those few flashy spots to build around and he can look fearsome when he’s wildly throwing fists. The Ingobernables strengths have been in brawls, and the chaos of a fist fight sprawling into the stands or a drink thrown in the face can cover up a lot of sloppiness. If the idea here is for Diamante Azul to be a new hero, have him become a much different hero than the ones they’ve had, a luchador who’ll leave his rival pummeled (and bloodied, if you can get away with it.) This match could be good, or at least be successful, if it’s worked more like a bar fight than a dramatic pinfall contest. CMLL went a little bit this direction last Friday, when the main event concluded with Azul being pelted with bags of potato chips, but need to go even stronger to make this work.
That kind of match would requires a lot of compromise. It’s certain CMLL will be making some compromises – La Mascara & Rush running interference, Tirantes doing weird Tirantes things – but CMLL’s long ago comprised this show by building around this match. If CMLL is going to promote a main event that doesn’t meet CMLL quality standards, then go all the way with and break all the rules.
Diamante Azul is a safely winning this. There’s some thought CMLL might be trying to get out of the Blue Demon knockoff gimmick by unmasking him, but they’ve instead changed the look. He’s wearing aquamarine instead of the Demon royal blue, the mask has been changed a bit, and they’ve added more Diamonds to his gear. We’re probably stuck with Azul for a while. Maybe Pierroth too.
Should you watch it?
Probably! If this is a free show, it’s a pretty easy to just skip the bad stuff. Even if it’s CMLL charges a few bucks for it, it’s not too much if those two title matches deliver (and that second match could still be a sleeper.)
On the other hand, CMLL’s decided this awful, cynical, main event is worthy of one of the two biggest matches of the years. It’s hard to get thru messages to CMLL, and they’re not a company that’s going to react much based on complaints on social media or even from fans in a stand. The other matches on the card might be good or great, but there will be other good or great matches in CMLL. There won’t be a clearer time to protest CMLL’s practices than this show. You probably will enjoy this show, but your only chance of sending a message is to skip it.