It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Yes, it’s Voices of Wrestling Secret Santa time again, everyone. The brainchild of JR Goldberg (@wrestlingbubble), VOW Secret Santa sees all participating website contributors give their fellow contributors, the greatest gift of all: wrestling matches!

VOW Secret Santa Archives:

Rey Cometa vs. Namajague
April 26, 2013

Reviewed by S. Dakota Jones (@DakotaIbushi)

Gifted by Joe Gagne (@joegagne)

Like many writers here and fans in our bubble of the wrestling world, lucha libre is a bit of a blind spot in my fandom and something I always want to watch more. In fact, you’ve probably already read a few of these Secret Santa pieces about lucha libre matches where the author expresses the same thought. Beyond experiencing great wrestling and opening up my fandom to new styles, another reason I often tell myself I should match more lucha is to help practice and improve my Spanish language skills. That way when my wife makes fun of me for watching YouTube videos of wrestling on my phone, I can at least say I’m doing it to LEARN and better myself. I took a decent amount of Spanish in college and even did the study abroad gimmick. I’ve kept it up since then by using it from time to time at my various jobs – enough to get by in the specific context and situations I’m familiar with. 

So the few times a year I watch TripleMania or other various AAA shows – depending on the availability of a Twitch stream, I always enjoy challenging myself to understand the great commentary by Hugo Sanvinovich and going into the VOW Slack chat with a few native speakers to check on what I think I’m hearing. And now for the CHEAP PLUG. If you are interested in working on your Spanish beyond watch lucha libre matches, go out and buy the newest novel by one of VOW’s own native Spanish speakers – Abraham Delgado. His book “La Tercera Venida” is available now on Amazon and is a great satirical read about the end times (the end of the world, not the Jimmy Jacobs guillotine choke). 

Ok now that we are through with the cheap plugs, let’s get to the match. Again, my main focus with this match was seeing how much Spanish I could understand, so I avoided looking up information about the match before I watched it. Afterwards I checked on a few things to make sure I wasn’t way off base – so I’ll include that in the end. The video starts with a fantastic pre-match segment with what I believe is a fan that won some sort of competition/trivia challenge. They ask about a hair versus hair match from an anniversary show in 1982 I believe, which the fan states was won by Perro Aguayo. A quick wikipedia check shows that yes, in fact Perro Aguayo did win a hair vs. hair match against Tony Salazar at the EMLL 49th anniversary show on September 17th, 1982. Score one for the South Dakota educational system! The best parts of this are the obligatory hot women in bikinis which are practically required at any lucha libre event. There are two standing with the fan and the backstage interviewer guy. In fact at one point the interviewer encourages the fan to put his arm around one of the lady’s waist and essentially tells him not to be shy. This uncomfortableness continues at the end when he has his picture taken with the ladies kissing him on both cheeks. This is interspersed with pictures of him posing in fake headlocks with what looks to be an older luchador, maybe manager that talked about the great 1982 match previously mentioned. 

The gratuitous shots of scantily clad women continues as we go into Arena Mexico for the match and a number of women dancing to Rey Cometa’s entrance music. Bonus points to Cometa for using “Come With Me”, the great Puff Daddy song featuring Jimmy Page , which is essentially Diddy rapping over the Led Zeppelin classic “Kashmir.” While you are at it, please check out the music video for this song. It features Diddy rapping out into the NYC skyline from an apartment partially destroyed by Godzilla, then in an elevator which gets ejected out of a skyscraper as Puffy explodes into doves. It also features random video boards showing old man Jimmy Page playing the guitar. And this is all in the first 2 minutes of a 6 minute video! The song also features the greatest bars ever rapped in history – “I wanna fight you. I fucking bite you.” Lastly on this tangent I have to shout out the amazing Godzilla soundtrack that this song came from. Just a killer 90s soundtrack that I loved as a kid and also has great songs by Rage Against the Machine (“No Shelter”), The Wallflowers covering David Bowie’s “Heroes”, a remix of Green Day’s “Brain Stew” with lots of random Godzilla roars, and – just in case this wasn’t 90s enough for you – a freaking Jamiroquai song. 

Ok, back to the match – again. I get thrown off a little at the beginning of the match, as the ring announcer sounds more like a commentator in his long introduction of the wrestlers. It might be that they just have the commentators broadcast over the PA in the arena to introduce the wrestlers? The commentators state this is a “revancha” from Homanje a Dos Leyendas where Rey Cometa took Namajague’s mask. In my mind, I’m thinking “revancha” is Spanish for revenge, and in this context means rematch, and a quick look at Google translate shows that I’m pretty much on the right path there, though “venganza” is also listed as a possible translation for revenge. Which makes sense as “venganza” is close to vengeance, so there we go. And no, we aren’t talking about a WWE PPV in the 2000s, so I’ll get back to the match and off this tangent! 

A wikipedia search shows that Cometa did indeed take Namajague’s mask at the aforementioned event about 1 month prior on March 15, 2013 in a tag match in which Cometa teamed with Stuka Jr. and also took the hair from Okumura who was Namajague’s tag team partner. Okumura is a Japanese wrestler who has been in CMLL since about 2005 and serves as a frequent teammate and guide to NJPW wrestlers on their excursion. He has won titles or tournaments with Yujiro as well as an incredible trios team featuring Hiroshi Tanahashi and Taichi. His team here with Namajague was known as “La Fiebre Amarillo” – the Yellow Fever, and his other teams with Japenese wrestlers were often part of the faction “La Ola Amarillo” – the Yellow Wave. Yes, those are the names. I will just leave it at that. Anyway the partners from that previous apuestas match are both here at ringside as seconds. 

As Rey Cometa makes his entrance he is immediately attacked by Namajague on the entrance ramp. Namajague is wearing his mask here and even though the title of the video read “cabellera vs. cabellera (hair vs. hair)”, I thought perhaps it was a mistake and this was actually mask vs. hair. But no, soon after taking the advantage Namajague removes his mask to reveal a cool half painted face and hair of his black hair dyed white. Now one of the reasons I thought this was mask vs. hair at first, is because I didn’t realize that Namajague had unmasked in Mexico at all. The main reason for that, is because the wrestler known as Namajague would eventually return to Japan with a mask, a guitar case, and a bouquet of flowers as El Desperado. There’s been a lot of talk about Despy losing his mask for a few years, especially after he voluntarily removed it at the climax of last year’s incredible Best of the Super Juniors final against Hiromu Takahashi (#7 in the 2020 Voices of Wrestling Match of the Year Poll). This match does show the potential in an unmasked Despy going forward, as he has a great look without the mask. With Hiromu likely to beat Despy for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title at WrestleKingdom in January – perhaps we will get Despy to put his mask on the line to entice Hiromu into a rematch for the title in 2022. 

As the match continues and I try to decipher the Spanish as best as possible, I start to wonder if I’m continuing to hear some Asian stereotyping beyond the already mentioned Yellow Fever and Yellow Wave. I may be mistaken, but at one point one of the commentators starts to bring up other Japenese wrestlers that have been successful in the past. The other commentator then chimes in and I believe says something along the lines of “the main thing I remember about Japan is…SUSHI!” I could be way off base, but again – it’s pro wrestling folks. USA aren’t the only one with stereotypes, xenophobia, jingoism, and bad annoucners! I also get worried as I hear the announcers talk about “Chino” and “El Terror Chino” on multiple occasions. I worry that they are repeatedly calling Namajague Chinese. It seems weird though, as they frequently mention that he is “Japones” (Japanese) ,so it’s not like he was portraying a Chinese character. I mean this isn’t WWE. On closer listen though, it starts to seem like they are talking about “el arbitro” (referee). And on search, it turns out I am correct! “Terror Chino” actually is a well known referee in CMLL. Yay for my Spanish and yay for one less stereotype!

In the actual wrestling, Namajague hits a nice spear. The Spanish used in commentary for the move is “lanza” which makes sense as a lance is a similar weapon to a spear. It takes me a minute to put that together though, as a “spear” in wrestling has become so detached from the object it shares a name with. To me a “spear” in a wrestling match is just a spear. It has no relation whatsoever to the long, pointed, medieval weapons. The first fall soon ends with a pop-up powerbomb by Namajague to take a 1-0 lead over Cometa. Like many two out of three falls lucha matches, the first fall comes way more suddenly than expected for those used to the more USA style of epic two out of three fall matches. The second fall is also quite sudden as Cometa is able to get a tap out with a wacky lucha submission. Just a part of the lucha style I have to get used to, as the first two falls after often gotten out of the way early like this to then put all the drama and emphasis on the final fall. 

The most impressive thing in the action of the match has to be Rey Cometa’s tornillos (twisting body pressers). He gets amazing rotation on the moves and always finishes them with excellent impact. The few wrestlers I have seen do tornillos in US wrestling typically lack that impact and the spin just seems to weaken the move. Not with Rey Cometa. Near the end of the match he hits an especially impressive tornillo where he runs, springboard off the second rope while in the ring and uses it to catapult himself to the outside. Another incredible Rey Cometa high spot is a top rope hurricanrana (which I have been misspelling as huricarana until this article). He is standing on the adjacent top rope with Namajague on the turnbuckle and leaps over to hit the move. What makes it stand out is that as you are watching him set up the move you expect him to do a simple 90 degree turn toward his opponent to hit the move. But no! He totally screws with my eyes and mind as he rotates in the opposite direction I am expecting – turning away from his opponent into hitting the move. It comes off very surprising and unexpected and helps make the move all the better. 

After some of these great high spots by Cometa, he eventually hits a one man Spanish Fly, followed by a 450 splash for the win. And like the first two falls, this too was a bit anticlimactic for me. All in all, this was a good match with some cool high spots by Cometa. Nothing next level like Hijo de Vikingo in the high spot, and I don’t think the match really reaches “great” territory. Still though, a very fun and enjoyable watch to dip my toes into lucha a little bit and practice my Spanish. I don’t think everyone needs to see this match, but if you want to see how an unmasked El Desperado works or just have a simple introduction to lucha libre this is a good match to start. For any El Desperado superfan it’s probably necessary, as apuestas matches are always a big deal in wrestler’s careers. Speaking of El Desperado superfans, I was going to pick Voices of Wrestling’s resident Desperado flag waiver J. Michael, but it doesn’t appear he’s participating in Secret Santa this year! Hmm, I guess I could go with one of our lucha fans – such as the aforementioned Abraham Delgado or Ricardo Gallegos. Or our favorite Canadian lucha appreciator who isn’t El Generico – Griffin Peltier. But you know what? I’m going to guess another Despy appreciator. Someone who wrote poetically about Despy vs. Hiromu last year in the 2020 New Japan ebookthe Super J Cast’s very own co-host,  and fellow Arthurdad – Joel Abraham.