MARCH 29, 2023

Watch: YouTube

If you haven’t been staying up to date with CMLL over the past year or so, I highly recommend checking out thecubsfan’s excellent Homenaje a dos Leyendas preview here on Voices of Wrestling.

Arena Mexico is packed as this show starts. The regular Friday night crowds get to their seats as the show goes on but this feels like an extraordinary night. The drone shot could be better but it feels different from what other companies are doing and really adds to this huge event feeling.

Mexican National Tag Team Championship
Magnus & Rugido © def. Brillante Jr. & Neon

Nearly every combination of Magnus & Rugido against Neon and X has been magical. The Mexican National Tag title match last year between those three and Futuro was amazing and made a good run in Match of the Year discussions. I hope all the AEW fans tuning in for the first time demand that Tony Khan introduces mascots like Mije. With such a loaded card, they rushed a lot of their spots and the match didn’t click as well as some of the others they had. Neon is still a human highlight reel, however, and that was the clear focus of much of the match. His ramp run springboard plancha is always a treat and would blow your mind if this is the first time you’re watching him. Brillante Jr. had an off night, or maybe this was actually an on night for him, and it hampered the overall match. Magnus pinned Brillante and Rugido made Neon tap to an armbreaker for the win. ***¼ 

Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship
Esfinge © def. Zandokan Jr.

Good lord, these two saw the lineup tonight and decided to steal the show! Zandokan’s dive from the ring onto a laying down on the barricade Esfinge was incredible and really got this insane crowd into the match. It was total non-stop action that really put over both luchadors in a way where Zandokan came out looking great in defeat while Esfinge earned the win and proved himself as a fighting champion. Esfinge won with the Nudo Egipcio in around ten minutes. You should definitely watch this, especially if you’re into wild sprints. **** 

CMLL World Light Heavyweight Championship
Averno def. Barbaro Cavernario ©

Cavernario has been extra motivated since Los Barbaros finally started as a group late last year. Despite being a rudo, Cavernario had this raucous crowd in the palm of his hands as he tried to defend the title against his current rival. The story of the match was simple and it worked well: Averno, the rudo’s rudo, had an answer for everything Cavernario tried to do. If Cavernario tried to go for his splash off the ropes, Averno either got the knees up or rolled out of the way. If Cavernario tried to go for a submission, Averno knew how to escape. He had his number on this night and, to add insult to injury, submitted the champion with Cavernario’s own move. Averno is the 20th CMLL World Light Heavyweight Champion. Cavernario’s reign ends at 623 days. This was real good with a good story that continues to build the Los Barbaros vs. Los Infernales feud. ***¾ 

Lucha de Apuestas – Loser Must Unmask
Acero, Angelito, Pierrothito def. Pequeno Olimpico

Acero and Angelito started the match as Pequeno Olimpico and Pierrothito made their entrances. Hot start but the rules for this match were confusing and it hurt whatever they were trying to do. The crowd wasn’t into the rules either and they lost them. Acero and Pierrothito were pinned and eliminated from the match so it transitioned into a mask vs. mask match between Angelito and Pequeno Olimpico. The whole match wasn’t actively bad but it wasn’t engaging either. Angelito beat Olimpico for the mask after a quick two-minute back and forth. In a nice moment, Olimpico helped unmask his mini. Pequeno Olimpico is Andres Munoz Andrade, 58 years old, from Mexico City. **¾ 

La Catalina, Tessa Blanchard, Willow Nightingale def. Lluvia, Stephanie Vaquer, Zeuxis

Willow’s theme is such a bop the production crew never wanted it to stop. This was a lot of fun with all six women getting an opportunity to shine but Willow was established as the clear star of the match in her CMLL debut. There were lots of hard-hitting corner attacks and Willow worked well with Tessa and Catalina as a team. The rudas won the first fall and the technicas won the second. Final fall had a fun sequence where none of Tessa’s team moves worked out but it was fine as Willow planted Vaquer with a huge lariat and a powerbomb for the win. Sloppy at times but a good match. I imagine we’ll get a Willow vs. Vaquer singles match down the line. ***½ 

Torneo Increible de Parejas 2024 Final
Mascara Dorada & Rocky Romero def. Atlantis Jr. & Soberano Jr.

This tournament is always a highlight for the year with the “enemies as reluctant partners” dynamic. This year’s final was tremendous and really showcased how well great wrestlers can incorporate the “can they co-exist” dynamic into their tag matches without overdoing it. Rocky and Soberano were pals at the start but had no issues going up against each other as the match progressed. Mascara Dorada, as always, impressed and was great in his role as Rocky’s partner. His shooting star press over the ring post was amazing and he showed great chemistry with Atlantis Jr. The shooting star press reversed into a cutter spot when Atlantis eliminated Dorada was very clever. With both Soberano and Dorada eliminated, it came down to Rocky and Atlantis to fight to win for their respective teams – except Soberano had had enough and betrayed Atlantis to let Rocky get the win. I liked the finish as it continues both Dorada and Atlantis’ feud with the Soberano, Rocky, and Templario stable. After the match, Rocky and Soberano celebrated as if they won the tournament together and smashed the trophies. The post-match was well done and put an exclamation point on this well-worked and intelligently booked tournament final. ****½ 

Mistico, Blue Panther, Volador Jr., Ultimo Guerrero def. Matt Sydal, Bryan Danielson, Claudio Castagnoli, Jon Moxley

Mistico and Matt Sydal were the captains because the CMLL booking committee put a lot of stock into 2011 RAW mini-feuds. The atmosphere in Arena Mexico was electric from the entrances to the final bell. Starting the match with Danielson and Panther was an excellent choice as that’s the big dream match out of all these guys involved. The Blackpool Combat Club rocked as the foreign invaders and were heeling it up big time. Claudio hit one of the best swings on Volador. The yes/no battle between Danielson and Mistico leading to Danielson blindsiding Mistico from behind was another great spot. Ultimo Guerrero working as the underdog at one point was an interesting little wrinkle and he’s the only CMLL guy that was pinned (by Moxley). Everybody worked to their strengths and seemed to have a blast with one of the best crowds in recent modern wrestling history. The match only lasted sixteen minutes and they could have done so much more. Matt Sydal, who was obviously going to take the fall as he was the captain of team AEW, tapped to La Mistica to end the match. The real story of this match was the incredible atmosphere and how it propelled a kind of basic match into something incredible. This match is must-see and the singles match between Danielson and Panther on Friday, April 5th might eclipse this match in terms of crowd interaction. ****

Final Thoughts

The CMLL has been the best wrestling promotion for over a year now and hit yet another home run. They rarely miss with these big shows nowadays and this was one of the best wrestling shows of the year so far. It goes to show just how much a loud crowd that is receptive to every match can enhance a show. You need to watch this show.