CMLL’s Juicio Final show is an out of character for the most humdrum wrestling promotion in the world. CMLL rarely bothers to do much at all between March’s Homenaje a Dos Leyendas and the ramp up to the Aniversario. Even when CMLL does get around to trying, that usually means two matches with any stakes. Maybe three if they’re feeling generous. Friday, CMLL will end May with a show including four different important matches—for no clear reason. The important matches are sadly not at all that interesting, but CMLL booking having a pulse is a little bit intriguing.
CMLL’s Juicio Final will air on through media partner Marca, via their website, their Facebook page, and their YouTube channel. Depending on where you live, what settings Marca’s digital crew forgot to change, and a coin flip, you may be blocked from any or all of these feeds live. (It is possible the author of this preview will be streaming an unblocked version on YouTube as well.) The show will be available on CMLL’s own YouTube channel by early Saturday morning if you don’t want to deal with that nonsense.
CMLL announced Juicio Final at a press conference back on May 16. In the process, the promotion declared this would be the beginning of monthly big shows. It is hard to believe CMLL is actually going to make that much an effort on a monthly basis because it flies counter to their current strategy. Arena Mexico’s always focused more on week-to-week storytelling, afraid of teaching the fans losing three weeks of attendance by building towards a fourth. Unfortunately for CMLL, weekly attendance is unnecessary when the promotion feels cold, and their dedicated fans have instead realized that there are about only three to four weeks they need to show up. Maybe promising them twelve important shows will help energize the fans.
It might not even be the fans in the building they’re trying to pull in. CMLL has regained a television slot on Televisa in the last few months, even getting a right’s fee out of it. That rights fee comes with some pressure to deliver and CMLL has shown nothing special in the ratings. It’s possible that television pressure might be causing CMLL to try a little harder at big events.
Juicio Final doesn’t seem like it’ll actually work as a draw. Two hair matches, a retirement match, and a title match all appear to be a big deal on the surface. It doesn’t hold the same appeal to those people who know the names involved. One hair match is an obvious outcome, the other is focused on a division that’s treated as a minor league. The title match features champions with no momentum against challengers who haven’t done anything to earn a shot. The retirement match just came out of the blue, with barely a reason to exist. If Juicio Final draws, it is a statement more about the fan’s affinity for certain wrestlers and the selling power of the concept of a big show rather than any special matchmaking.
Black Panther, Blue Panther Jr., Rey Cometa versus Disturbio, Kawato San, Misterioso Jr.
There are seven matches on this show, so there’s still plenty of room for trademark irrelevant trios matches. Disturbio is recovering from a hair match loss. Rey Cometa is now playing Johnny Depp playing Tonto from the Lone Ranger movie because he thought it looked cool. (There is no consensus about it actually looking cool. ) Kawato still exists. Namajague & Kamaitachi had lost their masks by now. CMLL hasn’t attempted to put Kawato in a feud, which would stick out as a red flag about his development. It doesn’t, only because all the red flags are already being used to warn people against watching Kawato matches. No one needs more of a change of scenery than Kawato but there’s no sign of one coming.
Ángel de Oro, Niebla Roja, Soberano Jr. vs Ephesto, Luciferno, Mephisto
Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja continue to be more successful since losing their masks. Soberano is their best trio partner and the obvious intention here is for an exciting early match. Unfortunately, Los Hijo del Infierno are all past their expiration date. They’ll make a go of it, but most people will be left wondering why NGD was left off this card.
Metalico vs Virus, the loser must retire
A feud taking place on CMLL’s Sunday Arena Mexico shows, which aren’t streamed on the internet, dropped on to a Friday show with no momentum. Even the Sunday build has been slight. These rudos found themselves on opposing sides for two weeks, and it rapidly escalated into a career-ending stipulation. CMLL does not normally do loser must retire matches. No one believes wrestling retirement stipulations anyway, but CMLL is serious enough that the loser really has to go away for a long time.
The idea of these guys going away is weird. Both Virus & Metalico are about 50 years old, which is old yet not mandatory retirement age in CMLL. Neither are in important positions. Both have some popularity as undercard acts. Metalico hasn’t been a great in-ring wrestler for years, but his current gimmick – a parody of popular Mexican Golden Age actor Pedro Infante – has reinvented him as a cult favorite. Virus is still thought off as one of the best technical wrestlers in CMLL, even as he gets few occasions to prove it. Both are working as lucha libre trainers, so it is not like either will be totally stepping away from the sport to do something else. Neither has had a notable injury that might require retirement. My only theory for why this is happening is the currently vacant referee spot in CMLL – Tirantes left the promotion a few months ago to become a television announcer for TV Azteca and AAA. Being a CMLL referee does not pay great, but it is a lifetime appointment. Even the winner of this match will probably be gone from CMLL in a half dozen years, while whoever gets the referee gig might be around for three more decades. No one’s even hinted at this being the reason for the retirement, it is just that hard to come up with one.
Metalico inexplicably beat Disturbio in a hair match last month. (It was less inexplicable for Disturbio, who got a nice bonus right as a new child is on the way.) Metalico has also beaten Virus in all the build-up matches. CMLL booking means this is when Virus gets his revenge. I’m sure Metalico will go all out in his final CMLL match of a 15-year CMLL career. It’ll be great to see Virus in a long form meaningful match again. I just wish I understood why it was happening.
Kaho Kobayashi vs Amapola, hair vs hair
CMLL’s women division generally feels a decade or so behind the rest of the world. There’s a generation of women who brought the women’s wrestling in Arena Mexico back to relevance. They’re now dragging it back to irrelevance by hanging around too long. There’s a newer generation of women who haven’t shown the promise of the previous ones, giving justification for the stagnation. (The few with promise have been successfully run off by the older generation.) Despite this, Arena Mexico is still an aspirational goal for some Japanese female wrestlers. They’re typically pretty good, and their outsider/limited-time nature often means they’re treated like stars since they won’t be long term threats to the veterans.
Kaho Kobayashi, in her second trip to CMLL, has been that as a fun speedy undersized tecnica. CMLL likes Kobayashi enough to give her the spot that would’ve been expected for Kawato, a hair match on a big show against an important opponent. Amapola was a fantastic luchadora at her peak, maybe the best female wrestler in the world during her long CMLL Women’s championship reign. That’s far in the rearview now. Amapola’s decline has been brutal over the last half-decade, with her wrestling like a pale imitation of her peak form. There are a few spots she can still do well, but her best matches were based on athletic ability and that ability has largely left her.
That decline in ability is also why this match is more of a toss-up then it looks at first glance. Amapola was never that much protected in apuesta matches even at her best. She’s far from her best now and she gains or loses little on the result. CMLL standard booking says the foreigner loses the big apuesta match on their way out, but there’s been no certainty this is the end of Kobayashi’s time in CMLL. Amapola is still the favorite but either outcome shouldn’t be a surprise.
Diamante Azul & Valiente © vs Euforia & Gran Guerrero for the CMLL Tag Team Championship
Diamante Azul & Valiente are champions without much steam. They won the belts on the weekly non-televised show and they’ve defended them off TV as well. They appear to be champions solely because CMLL’s always been high on Azul and Valiente happened to be the tecnico available to team with him. I’ve long thought Azul was overpushed by the promotion. Seeing him live in the worst match I’ve seen all year, where it was absolutely Azul’s fault, only confirmed that feeling. CMLL could do a lot more interesting things with two-man tag team titles than have Azul & Valiente.
Gran Guerrero & Euforia as champions would definitely qualify. They remain two of them best rudos in the promotion. They would be set up for interesting matches with various tecnico teams. (Especially Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja, who are clearly the most popular duo in the promotion.) The problem is GG & Euforia already have the CMLL trios titles to face those tecnicos and CMLL is unlikely to give them an overlapping set of titles. There is some small hope to grasp on to here. Diamante Azul is returning from a month-long injury absence, where the injury was never specified and somehow left him fine enough to continue to compete on indie shows. It is the kind of thing that makes me wonder if should put quotation marks around “injury” and might finally convince CMLL Azul is not reliable enough to keep as a champion. That would require a big chance in CMLL thinking and seems unlikely to happen. Still, a Guerrero win would be the happiest possible outcome of any on this show.
Carístico, Místico, Volador Jr. vs Bárbaro Cavernario, Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas
One more trios match to get a few more names on. Barbaro Cavernario is the current best wrestler in Mexico, having proved it once again last week in Mistico’s best singles match yet. This figures to require and have less extraordinary effort. Everyone in this match is popular enough for an easy match to get over at this point. Running seven matches on a card might require this one to be rather quick. The one certainty is Caristico, Mistico and Volador will once again talk about forming a permanent super team trio again in post-match interviews, then CMLL will not book them as a team again for months.
Último Guerrero versus Máscara Año 2000, hair vs hair
Máscara Año 2000 is sixty years old. Máscara Año 2000 is fifteen years out from winning his last CMLL apuesta match. Máscara Año 2000 is headlining a major CMLL show where we are supposed to wonder if he will win or lose to promotional lead rudo Ultimo Guerrero. Máscara Año 2000 is absolutely not winning this. Guerrero could break his leg and he will still win keep his hair.
This match appears to be just an idea to deliver Ultimo Guerrero in a major hair match while lacking a major hair for him to win. CMLL was teasing a match between Guerrero & Gilbert el Boricua (Mesias/Mil Muertes) which may have been originally intended for this spot. Gilbert surely required a higher place than Mascara and has been disappointing and infrequent in his CMLL appearances. There’s a dearth of alternate options. Rey Bucanero versus his old tag partner would have some appeal, but Bucanero just lost in November. Terrible just lost his hair in March. Shocker is unreliable, having gone missing from announced bookings again this week. Blue Panther would be fun but doesn’t have much hair to lose. Negro Casas & Felino might be considered too small. Volador, Cavernario, and Rush all shouldn’t be beat outside an Aniversario show. Maybe the better choice would’ve been just to not do the Ultimo Guerrero if you didn’t have the right opponent. CMLL decided differently, and so a guy a decade-plus since his last relevant match is on top.
The build-up here hasn’t really done anything to calm quality doubts. Máscara Año 2000 has been out of place since returning to CMLL to occasionally team with Nueva Generacion Dinamita. In this feud, Mascara has mostly stood out of the way while his nephews fight Ultimo Guerrero’s partners. The interaction between the protagonists is typically 15 seconds of hard punches. Both men showed off marks on their faces and chests following those punches last week in an attempt to get over the seriousness of the brawl. Convincing fans they’re going to see a real brawl is probably the safest way to sell this match, but fifteen seconds of punching doesn’t make for an actual match. Both guys know all the tricks and it is hard to completely rule them out of making an ok fight of all of this. There’s just as much, if not more, chance this will end badly. Perhaps Máscara Año 2000 will bring in fans from a couple of generations removed, wanting to see one more match from an important part of the early 90s peak of lucha libre, but they’ll need some nostalgia tinted-glasses to enjoy this match.
Juicio Final is really only a show for the most dedicated CMLL fans. There’s no sure great match on this card. The more important matches will struggle to be good. CMLL’s idea of monthly big events sounds promising. It won’t add up to much unless they come up with better ideas for matches than they’re presenting here.