Multiperson apuesta matches are bad news for lucha libre fans. The more people involved, the more likely the most prominent names won’t be involved in the ending. It can be a bit of a shell game. CMLL’s Homenaje a Dos Leyendas has a slight variation on that usual lucha multiperson match; it’s fewer people with the same potential for a letdown. Either the rare CMLL feud to get attention outside the usual bubble gets paid off, or the promotion takes an easy out and hopes people continue to care. I really can’t say I know how this is going to go.
Homenaje a Dos Leyendas takes place Friday at 8:30 pm local time. Mexico outlawed Daylight Saving Time, so that starting time is an hour later than usual if you changed your clocks this past weekend. (You can find your start time here.) The show streams via TicketmasterLive for 199 Mexican Pesos, a little over 11 USD. It is a live-only stream; there is no paid VOD. Matches from the show will go up on CMLL’s YouTube on April 2.
Homenaje a Dos Leyendas arrives after a well-received Fantasticamania. I’m skeptical there’s much on this card that will compete with the best matches from those shows; maybe just the main event if Arena Mexico is into it and everything goes correctly. Most everything else should be good, CMLL is just not going for it as much as they were on the Japanese tour, and that’s a little bit frustrating. Between the lack of a surefire Match of the Year contender and the games played with the main event, H2L feels a little short of what the second-biggest show of the year should be.
There are six matches scheduled. Going from the main event to the opener:
All the emotion in this card is in the four-way apuesta match. Ángel de Oro, Oráculo, Volador Jr., and Rocky Romero meet where only one person will lose their hair. CMLL has to put a twist on it, so it’s not as simple as an elimination match. The wrestlers have to win their win into the hair match. The first two to win via pinfall or submission advance to the final, and then the loser of that match loses their hair. (The two previous losers don’t lose their hair, they lose a chance to wrestle a hated rival.)
Rocky Romero has lived in Volador’s Jr.’s head since last August’s Gran Prix. In some wonderfully unhinged promos, Romero declared Volador was some guy who’s only a star in CMLL, not as internationally renowned as some others there, definitely not a star on the level of Rocky Romero.
Volador brushed it off until the match ended, then expressed his total and heavy dislike of Romero in his victory speech. Romero has been in and out of CMLL in the months since, including winning a tournament celebrating the relationship between the US and Mexico with a very unhappy Volador. He was even more unhappy after Romero cleanly and emphatically dethroned Volador as (NWA) World Historic Welterweight champion. Romero declared himself Volador’s father, mocking him with birthday cakes and novelty t-shirts in a more personal and gimmicky rivalry than ordinary for CMLL. CMLL loves Rocky, giving him a lot of leeway to try things their native talent couldn’t or wouldn’t do, and it’s worked out well for everyone. Romero’s celebratory music video is the most recent example of the mad genius in this feud.
Oráculo and Ángel de Oro first got sucked in as allies of Romero and Volador, then started having issues with each other. The extra wrestlers appeared to shift this to a tag feud, except the teams dissolved into in-fighting and everyone for themselves. The Romero/Volador issue is the one that’s shined the brightest by far, but the rules of the match mean any two-person combination of the four could end up in the hair match.
The six possible match-ups, ranked from best to worst
- Volador Jr. versus Rocky Romero – feels like a big show main event
- Volador Jr. versus Angel de Oro – top CMLL names, a little doubt about the result
- Rocky Romero versus Angel de Oro – likely pretty good, and no idea who’d win
- Angel de Oro versus Oraculo – an actual feud, but the b-side rivalry
- Volador versus Oraculo – match would be fine, no doubt on the finish
- Rocky Romero versus Oraculo – they’ve tried to lay the groundwork, but not sure the crowd would care
I need to pause here to talk about Oráculo. It’s a strange situation: he’s been coming to Mexico for nearly a decade now, everything I’m about to write about is old news, but he’s never been on a show this big, and there are a lot of people who are probably going to see him for the first time. This Oráculo name is the remainder of a masked gimmick, and this man previously wrestled under the name Jay Rios. As Rios, he was based in Florida and was publically in a relationship with now-WWE’s Mia Yim. Yim later detailed an abusive relationship with a fellow wrestler. She didn’t file charges, as far as I know. She’s also been careful never to reveal the name of her abuser, but the information she’s consistently given points at Rios as the wrestler. He’s denied the accusations repeatedly, but his match listings come off like he was mostly blackballed out of his local scene after Yim told her story. Rios had a little national name, much less an international one, so CMLL diehards likely only know him as a Puerto Rican wrestler who has been in for some Gran Prixs and might remember him being in the Crash at one point. (The media haven’t touched on the story in Mexico; legal protections around accusations play a part.) Even if everyone in Mexico knew, I’m not sure if they’d care – there’s a greater sense of separating the personal lives from the professional lives of celebrities in the culture. I’m not sure, even outside of Mexico, that people have put 2+2 together on this – it’s a local guy who changed countries and names (and even was under a mask for a while) from a controversy that didn’t mention his name. I’m not telling you how you should feel about this, but I think you should have all the public information to make informed decisions.
Bringing up Oráculo’s history isn’t just about digging up old dirt. This weekend is full of people with questionable pasts in prominent situations. Alberto el Patron makes the first of many scheduled high-profile appearances for AAA on Sunday’s Lucha Libre World Cup. (Thomas Latimer also is working on the show.) The biggest Mexican wrestling story of the weekend isn’t either of those two shows, though. That story is about AAA wrestler Cuatrero arrested on domestic violence charges and attempted femicide towards CMLL wrestler Stephanie Vaquer. AAA and CMLL put out the standard press releases – the “we care about equality, and we’re totally against violence towards women” standard stuff. It’s generic corporate speech and feels more patronizing than usual this week. I’ve given up hoping for change, but I wish they wouldn’t lie to me about how much they care.
Maybe this wouldn’t be as big a deal if this Homenaje a Dos Leyendas main event was a ten-person field, and Oráculo was there to make up the numbers. He’s instead the least essential person in the match and, thereby, the most likely to lose. Even putting aside feelings about Oráculo as a person, it’d be disappointing to see the Romero/Volador feud pushed off to the side. (Will CMLL get around to finishing it? The big 90th Aniversario show needs to end with someone losing their mask this year, they’ve already got the feud for it, and a lot can go off the track when you’re relying on someone like Romero, who’s got business elsewhere.) There is a little hope. In his recent appearance on Wrestling Observer Radio, Romero acknowledged how fortunate he was to get this Homenaje a Dos Leyendas main event. He knows his role isn’t to main event big shows in Japan or the United States at this point in his career, and everything had to work out just right for it to happen in Mexico. He talked up Homenaje a Dos Leyendas as a big night for him, not just a waypoint to something down the road. CMLL has also become slightly self-aware about fan expectations on multiperson apuesta matches. Cage matches are slightly different, but CMLL has purposefully engineered those, so it’s no longer the lowest-ranked person who automatically loses. Volador or Rocky losing his hair would be a big deal, and Angel de Oro losing is at least a guy who’s been in CMLL for a long time and has never gotten shaved. They don’t have to pick Oráculo. I’m still hoping it’ll be Rocky and Volador in the end, and I know it will be hard to give this show a thumbs-up if it ends another way.
There’s no hope needed for the semi-main. We know what we’re getting there. Atlantis Jr., Mistico, Soberano Jr. versus Dragon Rojo Jr., Niebla Roja, Templario is a timebomb of a match, guaranteed to self-destruct in the moments before the final pin. Templario and Dragon Rojo want Soberano Jr.’s mask and are now feuding about who gets it. Atlantis Jr. and Mistico’s Fantastica Mania rivalry unexpectedly carried over back to Mexico; those universes are usually kept separate. (Niebla Roja is not feuding with anyone, except maybe with any doctor who tells him his shoulder will keep popping out in matches until he gets surgery.) Atlantis Jr./Mistico is a match CMLL would like their fans to dream of for the 90th Anniversary main event. Soberano/Templario/Dragon Rojo is much more likely to be it. This one’s more about getting those ideas over in front of a big crowd than putting together something great on this night.
Homenaje a Dos Leyendas always honors CMLL founder Salvador Lutteroth and a wrestler of the year. 2023’s honoree is Irma González, perhaps the most revered women’s wrestler in the history of Mexico. Women’s wrestling in Mexico in the 30s and 40s was primarily foreign troupes coming to the country for a couple of weeks yearly. Mexican women started to enter wrestling themselves in the 50s, only for Mexico City’s government to outlaw women’s wrestling (and dancehalls and other activities considered harmful to the moral fiber of their citizens.) Irma González had the misfortune to start her career in 1955. She spent decades crisscrossing Mexico to wrestle in the cities and towns where women were still allowed to wrestle. González was a seven-time Mexican national women’s wrestling champion when that title was the most prestigious belt and also completely unrecognized by any promotion or sanctioning body. González won a dozen apuesta matches and maybe more; wrestling in the wilds of Mexico meant the Mexico City-focused magazines wrote about her maybe twice a year. She wrestled in Japan during the embryonic stages of women’s wrestling in that country; how much of a factor she was in that country is way outside my knowledge base. Back home, women’s wrestling nearly ceased to exist during the 60s and 70s in Mexico, and González was one of few to keep it going.
The UWA promotion finally opened to women in the 70s, and González became a two-time world champion here. When Mexico City finally allowed women to wrestle, Irma González came to EMLL. She faced Martha Villalobos in a 1987 hair match believed to be the first-ever women’s main event in the history of Arena Mexico.
Irma González likely wrestled fewer matches for CMLL than any other wrestler honored in this event, but she’s as famous as many. González would be an interesting Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame candidate. She has a long career, but not one where she could be considered a draw. Video of her in-ring career barely exists, and what glimpses we can see are outside of her prime. She was influential in keeping the idea of women’s wrestling alive, but she couldn’t overcome the rules restricting her gender. The obvious comparison is “Fabolous Moolah without the baggage,” but Moolah struggled to get enough votes even before the baggage came to light. A González candidacy is a distant cousin of the various WWE women credited with inspiring those who came after them, only over a long time and in some harsher circumstances. She’s also nowhere near as famous as those women to the WONHOF vote base. No Mexican candidate based outside of Mexico City has ever gotten in the WON HOF. I don’t think she’d be able to break that stigma, but I’m also not sure it matters much. Gonzalez will be deeply appreciative of being honored on this show.
CMLL will hold the first edition of Copa Irma Gonzalez in her honor on this show, with the idea of making it an annual staple. It’s a standard cibernetico, with the distinguishing feature CMLL repeatedly expanding a field – 10, to 12, to 14 so far. Many (Hera, Metálica, Amapola, Marcela, Valkriya, Reyna Isis) are here to make up the numbers. Sumie Sakai debuts in Arena Mexico in this match. Sanely returns after a two-year break to become a mom. The focus is on Mexicans Jarochita, Lluvia, and Sugehit against foreigners Vaquer, Zeuxis, and (ex-WWE) Catalina, with the outsiders getting the best of the feud. I promise there’s been no spray paint. It’s about time for the Mexicans to get their big win in the match to celebrate a Mexican pioneer, and one of those three will likely get the new trophy.
Titán versus Virus exists to have another really good match on the card. Titán has been hanging out, having fun matches, and doing nothing of note, in his CMLL downtime since joining LIJ. Virus just led Team Mexico City to a second-place finish in an inter-school tournament, picking up a personal win over Blue Panther. The two had a fantastic match in 2014, which is only relevant in it being the last time they had a singles match somehow. These two feel like they should’ve had more interactions over the years but have just gone in different directions and likely will continue that way once this lightning match.
Euforia, Hechicero, Mephisto versus Gran Guerrero, Stuka Jr., Último Guerrero might be going somewhere. Hechicero’s Los Infernales remain the CMLL World Trios champions and require some new opposition. CMLL’s cycled down Último Guerrero to an unusual degree over the last six months, and there’s a fair bit of curiosity about when that might change. Los Guerreros seemed like they might continue to mix it up with Atlantis Jr., but maybe not if he’s dancing with Mistico instead. Perhaps a trios title feud will be the direction instead. These are the two best regular rudo units in CMLL fighting on a big show, so seeing who the crowd gets behind seems half the fun. (It’ll be Los Infernales)
On what could be a massive night for Volador, his Los Depredadores minions (Magia Blanca, Magnus, Rugido) take on Los Atrapasuenos (Dulce Gardenia, Espíritu Negro, Rey Cometa). Rey Cometa’s team is national trios champions, though the titles aren’t on the line here. Los Depredadores struggled to find their footing after a high-profile introduction, then found their footing over the last few months. Magia Blanca’s Fantastica Mania tour was a personal success, and his pals found a niche as bullying rudos. Exotico Dulce Gardenia and small Rey Cometa are perfect targets for bullies. Los Atrapsuenos had a very good match to open the Aniversario show. The goal is the same here.
Every match on this card has a chance to be good, and the possibilities go up significantly with a vocal Arena Mexico crowd. Still, the main event will be the memory. If CMLL finishes the night with Orcaulo or Angel de Oro getting their head shaved while putting off Volador Jr. and Rocky Romero to another day, everyone will walk away sour. If Homenaje a Dos Leyendas ends with Volador and Romero battling it out, it won’t matter that there’s not a lot of importance to the rest of the card. I usually end these by trying to tell you if this is worth getting. This time, it all depends on how much faith you have in CMLL finishing out a story at the right time to do it.
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