CMLL’s spring major show, Homenaje a Dos Leyendas, takes place this Friday. It’s a major show simply in name. The high points are a minor apuesta match, CMLL awarded yet more people with title belts, and an outside name coming in. It’d be good enough for the big show of the month, but it doesn’t feel like one of the biggest shows of the year.

Homenaje a Dos Leyendas takes place this Friday. It’ll air live at 8:30 pm from Mexico City. If your clocks changed last week, that’s one hour later than the usual time. (You can find your start time here.) The show will stream live – with no on-demand or delayed option – on TicketMaster Live for 230 pesos (about 11 USD). About two-thirds of the show will air on TV next Saturday, and those matches will be available for free on YouTube starting April 1st.

It’s not all bad news for CMLL.

They’ve rebounded from their pandemic lows, both in-ring and at the ticket booth. Turnout at recent Friday night shows has ranged from acceptable to pretty decent, though the other weekly shows are weaker. CMLL’s programming (booking) department slightly changed near the year’s start, and there are signs of a more coherent product. Regular teams get to the team more often, the weekly shows feel more connected, and there are signs of long-term planning that just wasn’t there. Much of these changes are ideas other groups would’ve already been doing. It’s just a bold leap to the late 1990s from CMLL’s old-fashioned thinking. 

That long-term planning may have been one reason for the disappointing lineups. CMLL planned this card back in January when they came off a short COVID hiatus. They may have played it conservatively in case the situation got worse. Instead, Mexico has generally declared COVID over, with the last capacity limits soon to be dropped. This point is when fans are ready for big shows, and CMLL doesn’t have one prepared. 

CMLL might not be able to deliver a big show even if they wanted, though. They haven’t refilled the cupboard after the departures of the last few years, and those who remain still feel stale.

Atlantis Jr. is the only new name pushed, and he hasn’t caught to such a great degree to spark a turnaround. CMLL’s decision to put all live content behind a paywall or a geoblock also makes it a lot slower to change perceptions of the show. Some recent shows would’ve been hailed as a return to those good mid-2010s days if they were free. Instead, only the most diehard still bother with the most fan unfriendly system paid service in wrestling. Wrestling experts in Mexico would consider Atlantis Jr. and Hijo del Vikingo as two young stars on generally even ground – Vikingo has had better matches, the “Atlantis” name carries far more weight. Their value is not even in the same stratosphere outside of Mexico, much due to CMLL’s choices in presentation. 

The annual Homenaje a Dos Leyendas event honors two legends, where one legend is always CMLL founder Salvador Lutteroth. CMLL will honor Ringo Mendoza as the past legend on this show. Mendoza was a big star for EMLL in the 70s and 80s, hanging around into the 2000s. He was a hard-working and likable tecnico, identified be a trademark headband. The Homenaje a Dos Leyendas honoree is a psuedo-Hall of Fame, and Ringo Mendoza undoubtly belongs. 

Ringo Mendoza also started a wrestling war just by existing. Ray Mendoza was the rapidly aging tecnico face of EMLL before Ringo’s big push. The two Mendozas aren’t related. Ringo was a talented prospect on his own, and EMLL paired them up to get the newer guy over. Ray Mendoza saw EMLL leaning on his family name to get Ringo over while his actual sons (Los Villanos) were going nowhere in EMLL, took offense, and left EMLL to become one of the founders of what would be known as the UWA. 

(Current NXT wrestler Raul Mendoza is unrelated to these men and has not started a promotional war yet. There’s still time!)

There are five matches on this card, including a tournament that’ll push the number of matches to nine. It’s a lot for a CMLL show. Something will end up shortened on time.

Cachorro, El Suicida, Panterita del Ring Jr. vs Eléctrico, Halcón Suriano Jr., Robin

CMLL’s been bunching all the lightweights together lately on Friday, seemingly trying to create more exciting openers. (Robin is not a lightweight, but we’ll go with it.) Everyone involved is a tecnico, though the Electrico team tends to work rudo in these matches. Panterita beat Electrico for the national lightweight title back in December, the closest thing to an issue here. These aren’t hitting the heights of the AAA crazy openers, but they’ve shown some strong effort.

Negro Casas vs. Templario

Negro Casas is still having good matches if kept short, though it’s not clear why this match is happening this week. CMLL set it up out of nowhere last week and added it to a packed card. Templario is in the Titan pool of CMLL luchadors who are entertaining but struggle to get much programming momentum. Even when something happens, it doesn’t feel like anything happened. Templario got dismissed from the Los Guerreros team based on an angle on the least essential show, and it wasn’t clear it was a complete break until weeks later. Templario seems like a guy who would have great options outside of CMLL – he’s got a Bandido connection, and he’d be a perfect rival for Vikingo if built up like a star – but there’s no indication he’s going anywhere or even considering it. Perhaps this match exists to make sure he doesn’t have those thoughts.

This match took on a new context Thursday night when word came out of CMLL trainee Warrior Jr. stunning passing away. Warrior Jr., 24, was the son of former star Black Warrior and appeared to be about to officially debut as part of Volador Jr.’s Los Depredadores last fall before quietly disappearing from all shows. We don’t know what happened or why Warrior Jr. stopped wrestling as I write this. We do know he was married to Negro Casas’ daughter Omii; the two had their second child just this January. It’d obviously be understandable if Negro Casas took the night off. It also wouldn’t be surprising if he dealt with his family’s grief through wrestling. 

Marcela & Metálica vs. La Vaquerita & Reyna Isis, where the losing team will immediately meet in a mask versus hair match

CMLL held a 16 women tag team tournament last week to set this up. They have more terrible luchadoras than good ones, so it went about as badly as you’d think. These weren’t the worst, but they’re not great. Isis is OK, which makes her better than most. Marcela is nearing a decade past her prime. Metálica has never come through in a big match. Vaquerita was a fringe roster member who suddenly got booked a lot more often recently, telegraphing her losing her imminent hair loss. This match should be better than the parts because they’ll be working on it for a whole week, but it’s an uninspiring scenario.

A four-team tournament for the vacant CMLL Trios Championships

CMLL’s March spring cleaning has resolved all the title situations left up in the air due to departures and pandemic stoppages. They handed out the national heavyweight title (formerly Diamante Azul, now Euforia) and the world superlightweight title (formerly Kawato San, now Stigma) earlier this month. The maligned Arena Coliseo Tag Team Championship (formerly Esfinge & Triton) gets taken care of next Saturday. CMLL will decide the world trios belts (formerly NGD) on this show. If this left your head spinning and unable to track who has what, you have the correct CMLL feeling.

Los Guerreros are the obvious favorites as the only team with any spotlight. For the last six months, the dominant plot in CMLL has been Atlantis Jr.’s flirtation with switching to the rudo band. It hasn’t played out with any consistent logic – the younger Atlantis completely changes his personality depending on who he’s teaming with that day – but it seems to be ending with him as a full-time partner to Gran & Ultimo Guerrero on the heel side. Atlantis Jr.’s actions recently started a feud with Stuka Jr., who demanded a mask match between the two on this show. Stuka’s demand came after CMLL announced this tournament, so it wasn’t going to happen. Atlantis Jr. versus Stuka Jr. does feel like a good Aniversario main event if CMLL can keep it hot for that long. CMLL seldom does interference spots, but this would be one time where it’d make all the sense.

The problem with Los Guerreros losing is the lack of momentum for any other team. Los Malditos (Sagrado, Gemelo Diablo I & Gemelo Diablo II) seem to exist solely because they all happened to wear black and white and are slightly better than the other rudo trio that also wears black and white. The still-new Gemelo Diablos haven’t gotten over to the level of their push, and CMLL wisely kept them away from winning titles so far. This version of Los Ingobernable (Angel de Oro, Niebla Roja, Terrible) may one day be ‘rediscovered’ as top guys because of all the long title reigns they’ve had. Hopefully, those future historians will also discover pieces pointing out not a single one of those title reigns felt like it mattered; they’re upper midcard guys who have not caught on. CMLL gave Los Infernales (Hechicero, Euforia, and Mephisto) an impressive reintroduction late last year, and they haven’t done much as a team since. They’re the closest thing to an alternate pick, only Euforia just won a title two weeks ago, and CMLL likes to hand out belts to ask many people as possible. It’ll probably be Los Guerreros coming, and maybe Stuka’s attacking after the win.

Averno & Místico vs TJP & Volador Jr. in a relevos increíbles match

TJP and Averno have been welcome additions to the main event mix. Averno returned full-time in December, though he was missing most of January and hasn’t been used on the main shows a lot. He’s slowed down a bit, but there’s still something left in Averno’s tank, and he remains a great fit in CMLL’s style. TJP (and Jeff Cobb) came through CMLL late fall, booked strongly, and mixed well with the regular roster. His title match with Volador was slightly disappointing, but the rest of the run went well. It’s good to have him back, and it’s crucial to CMLL to show they can co-exist with other promotions instead of living on an island of their own. 

It’s nice to see these guys here. It would be better if there was a reason to see them. A main event of all-stars is appealing for a regular show and something underwhelming for a big card. It should be good, it may get over well, but there’s no anticipation for this match.

CMLL is missing that spark, that urgency to watch. There’s no compelling reason to watch this show live unless you’re the person who always follows CMLL shows live. It’ll turn up as a free YouTube upload in two weeks, and there’s no urgency to watch it before then. CMLL usually produces shows that are fun enough to watch on a Friday night if you’ve got nothing going on. They’re much less frequently producing shows substantial enough to convince people to pay for the privilege of watching them live. This one doesn’t meet that bill for anyone but the most diehard.

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