Last Saturday’s AAA TripleMania had the reputation of a one match card, but that’s primarily because the mask match was so gigantic. AAA included ladder matches and 30-man messes and enough clowns to staff two or three circuses to try and more value but nothing was just going to approach Psycho/Wagner in importance anyway.
CMLL’s Gran Prix is a one match card but in the opposite sense: they’re not even trying outside the main event. Last year’s Gran Prix included an excellent Barbaro Cavernario vs Rey Cometa hair versus hair match. while this year’s card features nothing of the like, just the same trios matches you’d find on any Friday night show.
The Gran Prix will be the first of two CMLL shows this month to air on internet.tv. The Gran Prix will cost $10 USD, or you can purchase it and the Anniversario show (09/16) combined for $20. The Anniversario show is expected to cost $15 on it’s own, so you’d save $5 if you purchase both now. This is the platform AAA formerly used for their shows, which seemed to have mixed success. CMLL runs four streams a week, rarely with problems, so it should work fine, but you never known. The AAA shows did allow watching the events on demand shortly after they concluded and I’d expect the same here. The show will only be offered in Spanish with the usual CMLL announce crew.
Blue Panther, Blue Panther Jr., The Panther vs Cuatrero, Máscara Año 2000, Sansón
Sansón & Cuatrero keep showing on these big shows, because CMLL has quickly figured out what they have in the two sons of Cien Caras and are well behind them. They came into the year as good prospects for a few years down the line. They’ve since picked up tag team and trios belts (with not present partner Forastero as NGD), and it appears CMLL is moving forward with them much quicker than anticipated.
Their uncle, Máscara Año 2000, is there just to make sure people know these kids are important, but most of the fans have realized it already. The Panthers have been the NGD’s best opponents, and Blue Panther Sr. will balance out the 50 year olds on each side.
Marcela, Princesa Sugehit, Silueta vs Amapola, Dalys, Zeuxis
CMLL throws out one of their better possible women’s trios as part of the build to Princesa Sugehit & Zeuxis’ mask match in two weeks. The two had a great brawl into crowd last Friday, livening up a rivalry that’d grown a little stale because it’s taken so long to get to end. Both women have done a bit fair bit of mask stealing cradles and there’s little reason to believe this one will end cleanly. This’ll be Sugehit’s first appearance since appearing in the Mae Young Classic, though it probably won’t make a difference—CMLL will ignore it, and Mascara Dorada/Gran Metalik didn’t seem to get any extra notice following his first appearances.
That brawl last week got a strong reaction from the crowd, and there’s a building social media campaign to convince Sugehit/Zuexis should be the Anniversario main event over Niebla Roja/Gran Guerrero. Some of it is Mexican fans watching what’s happened in WWE and mimicking it with their own hashtags, and some of it’s just the strong disinterest in Roja/Guerrero. The movement’s gotten far enough along that everyone involved has been asked about in media interviews (with the men respectfully saying both matches are main event caliber), but it hasn’t changed the way CMLL has built up the 09/16 show. This women’s match is really the second biggest event on the Gran Prix card, but CMLL has long ago decided none of these women are real stars and will not put them in star positions. One night in the main event, even the biggest night, won’t change that if it’s just that one night.
Carístico, Mistico, Soberano Jr. vs Cavernario, Felino, Negro Casas
CMLL loves spectacular Sky Team trios matches on these big shows. Valiente & Volador are otherwise occupied, but Caristico & Soberano work as good replacements. Soberano and Cavernario are coming off a fun lightning match ruined by poor refereeing, which has become as much a constant this year as Soberano’s ascension up the ranks. As with the opener, there’s nothing particular on the line here, but a chance to put some people who work together will on a big stage for a match that’ll get over easy.
Noticeable missing here are Gran Guerrero and Niebla Roja; the guys main eventing the biggest show of the year in two weeks always should be on Friday nights. They might have originally been planned for this show, but Niebla Roja has quietly been replaced on every show this week. CMLL has a decent amount of casual no-shows (though less of late), and it’s always CMLL’s policy not to acknowledge or address them publicly. Niebla Roja doesn’t seem hurt in the workout selfies he’s posting, there’s something like a 95% this is nothing at all and he’s just back wrestling in his next match on Sunday normally. It would still mean they missed a chance to push the big feud out in front of the hottest crowd CMLL will have, and that struggling matchup could use all the help it can get.
CMLL 2017 Gran Prix
Team Mexico (Diamante Azul, Dragón Lee, Euforia, Mephisto, Rush, Último Guerrero, Valiente, Volador Jr.) vs Team Rest of the Mundo (Johnny Idol, Juice Robinson, Kenny King, Kojima, Marco Corleone, Matt Taven, Michael Elgin, Sam Adonis)
CMLL ‘brought back’ the concept of a home team battling the world last week—in as much they saw AAA & Elite doing it and recalled they used to do one too. What CMLL remembers and does not seems random at times: King Haku was going to be part of Team World primarily because he was the runner up in the first Gran Prix they ran twenty three years. (He’s not in it because of visa issues, with Kenny King fulfilling the King quota instead.)
That first Gran Prix 1994, and the four that followed, were all single elimination tournaments. Those are not a CMLL strength. CMLL’s since switched to a cibernetico elimination 8 vs. 8 tag match, usually running fifteen minutes before an elimination, and then weeding people out over the next twenty to thirty minutes. CMLL’s done a strange thing of late, where the last three in a cibernetico fight among themselves, and we can only hope they don’t do in this one.
Past Gran Prix tournament have been CMLL piggybacking off other promotion in selecting talent. The foreigners last year were also working Elite and past years have been timed to use those Ultimo Dragon was bringing in for Dragonmania, or using whoever was sent in by NJPW or TNA. This year seems like the first where CMLL was interested enough in what was going on outside of it’s walls to select a foreign team themselves. They pulled in two from ROH (Taven, King), three from NJPW (Elgin, Juice, Kojima) and the remaining three are regulars on their roster (Corleone, Adonis, Idol). The Gran Prix is unique because there’s never this many foreigners in CMLL at the same time, but they’ve promotion seems more interested in using outsiders than at any time in the recent past.
Matt Taven & Juice Robinson wrestled as clean tecnicos alongside Marco Corleone in their first match. It didn’t totally click, and they’ve since adopted Sam Adonis’ over the top personality (if not his character’s political beliefs) and played evil foreign rudo. No one is going to mistake it for some subtle, sophisticated storyline, but it has made for fun matches and that’s plenty good for this arena. CMLL’s loved what Elgin can do in the ring, and he’s likely to be the last man standing for side. Marco, as current heavyweight champion, and Taven, as the guy who’s been here the most, should go pretty far.
Kojima and King are debuting in this match and it’s unclear how they’ll fit in, but Kojima does seem to be sticking around for a while afterwards. On the Mexico side, Volador & Ultimo Guerrero are the big names, and Rush is the big wild card in if he’ll manage to get along with his teammates for the whole match. This doesn’t look like a great match for Dragon Lee, who is the smallest guy on his team and doesn’t have a natural opponent on the other side.
Team Rest of the Mundo won every single match leading up to this, until Volador managed to beat Elgin in a 6v6 of this match on Monday night. That makes it not a complete certainty Team Mexico is going to win, but it’s still the most likely outcome.
Should you buy this?
The CMLL Gran Prix show probably will have a pretty average star rating, if that appeals to you.
It’ll get lost in PWG BOLA weekend, but the top two matches look like four star matches and the opener isn’t that far off. The problem is a lot of these CMLL Friday night shows this year are having close to the same caliber of matches, and those have and will all be available for free. The main event should be a great all star exhibition match, but it is an exhibition, without the stakes of a normal CMLL show.
If you’re interested enough in CMLL to sample this show, your move should be to just buy the 2 for 1 special and get the anniversary show at the same time for $20. The spectacle of that is more likely to be worth the full $15, and the one match Gran Prix is a reasonable bargain at $5 instead of $10. If you don’t have time to get both, I’d say to skip this one and check back in on CMLL in two weeks.