The Wrestling 101 Match #9
Torneo Cibernetico: Felino vs. Black Warrior vs. Hijo del Santo vs. Silver King vs. Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. El Satanico vs. Kevin Quinn vs. Scorpio Jr. vs. Ultimo Dragon vs. Atlantis vs. Negro Casas vs. El Dandy vs. Shocker vs. Mascara Magica vs. La Fiera vs. Brazo de Oro
April 18, 1997
Consejo Mundial De Lucha Libre
Arena Mexico

Watch it on YouTube here

Look, I just don’t like lucha libre that much. 

I feel terrible typing this and posting it on the internet, but I’ve tried a number of times, and the style just doesn’t land with me. I want to like lucha so badly because it has a sort of cultural currency that makes my wrestling fandom seem more interesting to people who might want to be my friend or have sex with me. And I love watching many luchadors when they wrestle in the U.S. or Japan and mix lucha libre with elements of the local house style. But I usually don’t understand why anyone does any of the things they do in a lucha libre match held in one of the big Mexican wrestling companies.

Take this match, a “torneo cibernetico” where two teams of eight square off against one another in an elimination tag-team match. Or, they’re sort of on teams. But technically, the match is won by the last man standing, and if it turns out that there are more than one wrestler from the same “team” left at the end of the match, they fight each other to determine the winner. So, the whole match is built around the story that a team of good guys are fighting a team of bad guys, but technically, it’s a mutli-man singles match where the last three wrestlers are awarded first, second, and third place with a little podium at the end.

ANYWAY, this one starts off with eight different sections of a rudo and a technico pairing off and trading mostly lucha-style matwork in the ring. It’s sort of like the beginning of a long, main-event Kazuchika Okada match, where you’re watching a bunch of stuff that you know doesn’t really mean anything and won’t figure into the outcome of the match. It’s nice to look at, I guess, but…why? 

I think what grinded my gears about this part of the match was that it felt very formulaic, but the formula didn’t really do anything to maximize drama. Like, if you’re watching a U.S. southern-style tag-team match, you know you’re going to get a bunch of the heels beating up the babyfaces, cutting them off in the corner, and so forth. But the formula is building drama and primes the audience to get excited when the babyface finally makes the hot tag. But the regimented way that guys in this torneo cibernetico tagged in, squared off, and traded arm drags and head scissors for a bit before tagging out? Mostly, it just made me want to get to the part in the match where Stuff Happens.

To this one’s credit, there are moments in the match where there’s some heat and some nastiness, and those spots really do shine. After the first rotation through all eight pairs of rudos and technicos, the match speeds up a bit, and there’s a brawl on the outside when Dr. Wagner Jr. and Mascara Magica roll through the bottom rope while grappling. Later, Shocker hits a genuinely dangerous-looking tope con hilo on Dr. Wagner.

For me, the highlight of the match comes about midway through, when the rudo El Dandy eliminates technico Dr. Wagner Jr. via a schoolboy pin that Wagner Jr. appeared to have kicked out of at the last moment. Wagner is furious, and both he and Silver King get on the ringside microphone to state their displeasure with the officiating. Immediately after, Negro Casas and El Hijo Del Santo get in the ring and just start stomping the shit out of each other. It’s that good heat I’ve been waiting for all match, but they’re sadly both disqualified by the officials for refusing to stop beating up on each other. I thought this was a pro wrestling match!

Anyway, the final segment of the match is kind of interesting, with these little mini-matches where it feels like every missed dive or snazzy pinning combination can lead to an elimination. Things work out where a technico is at a big disadvantage against multiple rudos in the last stages of the match, but he fights each opponent one at a time, and the match isn’t really worked in a way that builds sympathy for a ~babyface in peril~ by stressing his disadvantage.

And now, an abrupt, lucha-style ending to this review: I don’t know, this one was fine and cool to see, but it wasn’t for me.